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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Americana at Brand: The Effects of Time (Part 2)

We had heard a lot about "Americana at Brand" in Glendale, but had never been there. As my family and I were at Travel Town - here's a link - we decided to drive the extra three miles to see what it was all about. Pictured above, driving south along Brand Blvd in Glendale.

Americana at Brand, a large outdoor shopping center, opened in May of 2008.

Located at Brand Blvd and a street called Americana Way, it's the creation of Los Angeles area developer Rick Caruso. Caruso also developed "The Grove" next to Farmer's Market (in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles). Here's their website:

Another view from Brand Blvd. The complex has a nostalgic, early 20th Century industrial look and feel.

Here's a view showing the size of the development, including the large two acre park in the center of the property.

In addition to dozens of stores and shops, there are also 238 apartments and 100 condominiums.

If you've ever dreamed of living in a shopping center, then - brother - Americana at Brand is for you!
Here's another view - this one from the upper deck of the parking structure.

As soon as we got off the elevator, my kids ran to see the fountain.

The fountain jets moved to "crooner" (think Frank Sinatra) music.

You can see the apartments and condos in the background. Wonder how the HOA works?

Ah, my ride. Here's the trolley car we had heard about.
It's about as authentic as the rest of Americana (meaning, not at all) but my kids - ages 9 1/2 and 7 - thought it was great. And, yes, it's free.

The thing my kids like most about this place is that it was clean. Americana may been somewhat contrived, somewhat "fake" ... but, yes, it was clean.

And, compared to, say, the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, it felt like Disneyland.

There is no question it's a beautiful development. Rick Caruso and his team did an amazing job.

But thinking back an hour to our time at Travel Town, I wonder how the effects of time will treat Americana? I don't mean the physical structure. The complex looks well built, and they'll no doubt do a great job keeping it up in terms of maintenance.
But styles and tastes change.

How will Americana feel in 20 or 30 or 40 years? Will it look and feel like an enclosed shopping mall from the 1970's (dated -or even defunct)?

Or will it somehow be able to defy the odds and capture the timeless magic of, say, a "Main Street, USA" at Disneyland?

In some ways, Americana reminds me of the "Old Towne Mall" in Torrance Growing up in the 1970's I loved going to that place. But it doesn't exist anymore.

I'm not really into shopping, or shopping centers. Americana felt a bit too "Stepford Wives" for me, but I appreciated the open, outdoor feel - versus an enclosed mall (aka "maul").

I wouldn't make a special trip just to see it, but once we were in the area it was nice to stop by for an hour or so.

Most of all, especially in contrasting it to Travel Town, I'm curious to see how the effects of time treat it.



mike90405 said...

I agree - and really don't understand the appeal of visiting something like "Americana at Brand" more than once or twice. I guess if you like hanging out at a mall (I don't) then it's OK. Like a lot of Angelenos, I prefer something more organic.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm really big on fountains, so I don't mind visiting the Americana just for that. The fountain performs to all sorts of music every hour and was designed by WET, who also made the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas.
I've been there twice, and plan to go a third time this summer. I live in a suburb of LA, so the Americana isn't that far for me.
But when it comes to the fountain, the Americana sure beats The Grove.