Total Pageviews

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Santa Monica Blvd (Part VI: Century City and the Century Plaza Hotel)

Century City is a large office, retail, and residential complex located on the westside of Los Angeles, immediately adjacent to Beverly Hills. It occupies the former backlot of the 20th Century Fox Studios, and was developed in the mid 1960's. A large, outdoor shopping center (managed by the "Westfield Corporation") occupies the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Century Park West.

My dad had an office in the Century Park West building located at 1801 Avenue of the Stars. It was the first office building in Century City and was built in 1963. It now sports a large, red (and, in my opinion very unattractive) "Westfield" logo.

Much of the outdoor scenes were filmed here in the less than memorable 1972 film "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" - with the apes burning down my dad's office building in the final scenes. As a kid, I thought it was pretty a cool special effect.

Across Santa Monica Blvd, in what's technically "Westwood," is a small office building with a 1969 Statue of Liberty mural. Apparently, the owner of several Los Angeles office buildings is pushing the envelope in terms of wrapping his buildings with murals, and eventually commercial billboards. Here's a link to a previous post on this.
 The Statue of Liberty mural looks "OK" ... but few of us want to see buildings wrapped in ads.

My six mile walk, which started at Santa Monica Blvd. and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica at 5:45am, ended here at the Century Plaza Hotel.

The Century Plaza opened in 1966 and at one time was the premier five-star hotel in Los Angeles. Presidents and world leaders and celebrities have stayed here, and it was the location for the State Dinner honoring the Apollo 11 astronauts. Here's some additional information from our friends at wikipedia:

It's still a beautiful hotel, but perhaps no longer the world famous destination, or five star resort, it once was.

Apparently, Michael Rosenfeld, the local investor who owns the Century Plaza wants to tear down the building, and replace it with two fifty-story, state of the art buildings. (Sounds like the backstory of the recent Adam Sandler film "Bedtime Stories").

Sam Watters of the Los Angeles Times wrote a passionate article about the historic importance of the Century Plaza, and why the City should move to prevent it's demolition,0,4004631.story

On one hand, the Century Plaza is a landmark and an vital part of our City's history. It was designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki and is one of the finest examples of "mid-century" architecture in the City. And it remains a beautiful, classy (although, yes, somewhat dated) building.

On the other hand, don't the owners have the right to bring their property (and Century City) into the 21st Century? To bring the Century Plaza - back to a world class, five star resort?

Of course, both sides are playing the "environmentalist" card. The developers are touting how much more energy efficient a new hotel will be. The preservationists are countering that it will take over fifty years of energy savings to make up for the amount of energy it will take to both demolish the older building, and build a new one.

Speaking of fifty years, I wonder what Angelenos in 2059 will think of the Century Plaza, or whatever takes it's place? As a Christian, I often what kind of legacy - spiritually, physically, morally, culturally - we're leaving for our great grand-children. Those who, God-willing, will be here 50-100 years from now. What the pslamist called "a people not yet created" (Psalm 102:18).

In that sense, tearing down the Century Plaza, for something "bigger and better" seems veryshort sighted.

Especially if we get something like this. Across the street from the Century Plaza Hotel is the new "2000 Avenue of the Stars" building, occupying the site of the former ABC Entertainment Center. The building is affectionately (or not so affectionately) known as the Death Star.

Walking back to Santa Monica Blvd along Avenue of the Stars I passed the Century Park East building. The grassy setbacks provide space between the buildings, as well as the street. On the other hand, they seem to remove pedestrian traffic from the streets. Ironically, you'll see many more people "out and about" in lower density Santa Monica than you will in Century City.

I caught the 704 MTA "Rapid" back to Santa Monica. These buses really move. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it's actually true. Not only do they only stop every mile or so, but they each bus is equipped with special transmittal devices that cause traffic signals to favor the bus, with green lights held longer and red lights shortened. Really worked - we made great time back to Santa Monica.

A last look at Century City. There's a red "Metro Rapid" heading east towards Beverly Hills on Santa Monica Blvd.

Click on the above map for a larger view.

Nice walk. I'd like to take anther stab at Santa Monica Blvd, aka "California State Highway 2," aka "Historic Route 66," into Beverly Hills and on to Hollywood sometime in the future.



Saturday, August 15, 2009

Santa Monica Blvd (Part V: West L.A. & Westwood)

Earlier this month I decided to walk from the Pacific Ocean to Century City, a distance of about six miles, along Santa Monica Blvd through both Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

Santa Monica Blvd is technically "California State Hwy 2" - as you can see from this AAA map. But, unlike freeways, no one ever refers to it as "the 2."
It's also the path of Historic "Route 66."

The West L.A. Public Library, located at Santa Monica Blvd & Purdue, needs some love - and a new lawn. Sad, really. Not sure why some branches are in excellent shape, and others look like this.

The Nurat Theater at Santa Monica Blvd and Sawtelle. A single screen theater with a historic sidewalk design out front. Showing a film I've never heard of.

The Nuart specializes in "art" and independent films (above). Not my cup of tea, but this being Los Angeles, there's obviously a market.

This isn't "art" - it's just criminal vandelism. Graffiti is continuing problem throughout Los Angeles. Infurruratting, really. (I've got my ideas: banning the sale or possession of spray paint to anyone under the age of 25 - how hard would that be?)

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich wants to give police the ability to arrest "taggers" simply for hanging out together, without having to catch them in the act.,0,138131.story. Sounds like a great idea, although I realize it also opens up other issues. None the less, I'm glad City Attorney Trutanich is addressing the issue.

Continuing along Santa Monica Blvd underneath the San Diego Frwy (the 405) are a few office buildings at the corner of Santa Monica and Sepulveda.

Santa Monica Blvd widens out quit a bit between Sepulveda and Century City (1.7 miles away). Mostly 2-3 story apartment buildings, offices, and retail: typical to much of Los Angeles.

On the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Overland is a large Mormon Temple and Visitors Center - the Temple is not open to the public; obviously, the Visitors' Center is.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Jim Robertson, a former leader within the Mormon Church speak about his experiences: Really interesting: dozens of Mormons, evangelical Christians and other members of other faiths came out to hear him speak (I realize this topic could be another blog entry).

Onward to Century City in Part VI (my sixth and final post).


Santa Monica Blvd (Part IV: Not a Movie Shoot)

Walking up Santa Monica Blvd into West L.A. I noticed a stationary helicopter in the air (actually, a couple). A major accident on the freeway? Police activity? A movie shoot?

Nope. A fire, a major fire. Santa Monica Blvd. was completely closed from Bundy all the way to to Barrington (about half a mile).

Apparently, there was a major fire in the mini mall I had walked by a week earlier, at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and Brockton. A local news reporter and camera crew were there for the "all important" live report.

Pedestrians were permitted in the area - of course, we were expected to stay out of the way.

Tons of equipment.

This being Los Angeles, I kept thinking, "so where's all the lights and equipment and camera crew and catering trucks?"

Maybe I've been here too long.

The side of one of the fire trucks.

I've always liked design the City's seal, with the "four flags" that have flown over Los Angeles: Spain, Mexico, the California Republic, and the United States.

A group of firefighters debriefing. Always impressive.

According to one of the firefighters I asked, this is only a third of the truck and equipment at the scene earlier in the morning. Apparently, they had crews from all over the City here, over 200 firefighters.

More trucks and equipment on Armacost Street.

Many thanks to the men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

More on the walk up Santa Monica Blvd in Part V.


Santa Monica Blvd (Part III: back through Santa Monica)

Early in the month I took an early morning walk up Santa Monica Blvd, following the course of Historic "Route 66" through Santa Monica and on into West Los Angeles. I began to wonder, how far could I go if I got a really early start? Could I make it all the way to Century City (just shy of Beverly Hills)? A week later I decided to give it a shot.

I showed up at Santa Monica Blvd and Ocean Ave at 5:45am. Crazy, I know.

And dark. This is looking out at the Santa Monica Pier at 5:45am.

Looking north up Ocean Avenue.

Walking up Santa Monica Blvd, I made good time. I didn't stop to take any photos. Too dark, and besides, I had already taken a lot of photos along this same strech the week before.

A couple miles up, at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Cloverfield, I did notice the "sale" price for a couple of bikes in the window at Cynergy Cycles.

MSRP = $5500.

"Sale" = $5000.


The same price I paid for my car.

Another bike was on "sale" for $5850.


I guess I have no concept of what top-end bicycles go for.

I paid $150 for my used mountain bike 18 years ago.

Cynergy Cyles like a nice enough bike shop. But I think I'll stick with my 18 year old bike for now (and hiking and walking, which doesn't cost anything).

Next stop: West Los Angeles (Part IV).


Santa Monica Blvd (Part II: West L.A.)

Walking up Santa Monica Blvd. from the ocean (see Part I of this series) had me crossing over from Santa Monica to Los Angeles at Centinela.

The area in yellow in the above map is called West Los Angeles (not to be confused with "the westside" of L.A., which encompasses a much larger area) and is part of the City of Los Angeles.

Crossing over into West L.A. I noticed a plethoria of "mini-malls" - most of which sprang up in the 1980's. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

These are just a few of the many I saw in a one mile stretch through West L.A. On one hand, they're considered fairly ugly in terms of architecture and overall athestics. Many of them are on the sites of former gas stations.

On the other hand, they provide much cheaper retail space for merchants and their customers. Not everything can - or should - be Rodeo Drive.

Yet another mini mall. Little did I know that this one at Santa Monica Blvd and Brockton would make the news in less than a week (stay tuned).

I walked to Barrington Drive - a little over three miles, then took a MTA bus back to my car. Nice walk ... wonder if I could go further next time?

More in Part III.


Santa Monica Blvd (Part I: in Santa Monica)

This summer our work to us to Chicago for six weeks (topic for another post), the starting point of historic "Route 66". Back in Los Angeles, I decided it'd be interesting to walk along the last final section of Route 66 that goes through Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

I got started about 6:30am and parked on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd. Free parking on the street until 9am: great. I walked across the street to the cliffs, and got this early morning photo of the Santa Monica Pier (above).

Another nice shot looking north towards Pacific Palisades and Malibu.

Looking across Ocean Avenue up Santa Monica Blvd. This is the official end of Route 66, and the beginning of my walk.

Crossing the street, Santa Monica Blvd street sign with the palm trees of Palisades Park in the background.

A final look at Palisades Park and the Pacific Ocean. It was a great time of the day to be there.

Some of office buildings in the business district of Santa Monica.

Third Street Promenade, normally very busy and lively with both tourists and locals, was quiet.

The tall buildings office buildings near the Third Street Promenade drop off quickly. Santa Monica Blvd has lots of older, interesting one story commercial buildings.

This is one of several new condo developments popping up along Santa Monica Blvd.

Staring around 10th Street, or so, are a dozen small car dealerships on Santa Monica Blvd, a couple of which are in beautiful, historic buildings (above). Years ago, my dad helped me negotiate the price for a used car in one of these places (man, he was good).

This old brick building on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and 15th Street really caught my eye. I really like the mixture of architecture styles found up and down the street.

You won't find any "big box" stores (Home Depot, Target, WalMart, etc) anywhere in Santa Monica. Here's the local Busy Bee hardware store. Looks like it's been around since the early days of Route 66.

Another interesting building: classic art deco architecture alongside some beautiful palms.

Looking west from Santa Monica Blvd around 20th Street, or so. Mostly two and three story apartment buildings and condos ... with the Santa Monica Mountains in the background.

Nothing special about this shot - except that it seems so "typical" of Santa Monica and the westside of Los Angeles.

Here's a map of the first leg of my walk.

Santa Monica Blvd (which parallels Wilshire Blvd. through the city of Santa Monica) also has the designation of "California State Highway 2" - although no one calls it that.

More in Part II.