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Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Flash Mob: Journey of Faith Church at South Bay Galleria

With over six million views and counting, Journey of Faith Church's 2010 Flashmob at the South Bay Galleria is an outstanding reminder of what - or, better, who - Christmas is all about. As my family and I join Christians from around the world celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, I thought today would be a good time to repost this video.

I love the fresh take on some very familiar Christmas Carol - and taking the Christmas message beyond the walls of the church in such a creative, winsome way. And every Christmas, I'm  also reminded of the words of renowned British science fiction author H.G. Wells: If there is no God, nothing matter. If there is a God, nothing else matters.

A friend of mine will be starting at a new job in Los Angeles, a couple of miles from Journey of Faith Church. I showed him the video and suggested he try visiting the church once he gets settled in to his new job in L.A. 

That's his plan. If you're anywhere in the South Bay and are looking for a church community, I'd suggest stopping by (Journey of Faith is located in Manhattan Beach - six miles directly south from Los Angeles International airport). Here's a link to their website.

Wishing everyone a blessed and meaningful Christmas.

© 2015


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Re-Experiencing Los Angeles: Historic Downtown Core (Part IV)

Two years ago, I was back in Los Angeles and had a bit of time to explore the Historic Downtown Core. Here's a link to Part I, Part II, and Part III of this multi part series. 

This week continues along Broadway Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. 

Downtown Los Angeles is undergoing an incredible transformation. Much of the impetus for historic is the 1999 Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. This single act of registration has allowed for a radical change of downtown Los Angeles, allowing for tens of thousands of new housing units in previously under utilized historic buildings. 

If Main Street Street and Spring Street, both adjacent to Broadway, are any indicator, it's not a question of if - but when - Broadway will undergo similar gentrification. Figaro Bistro is one of the first attempts on Broadway. 

Figaro Bisto was "opening soon" back in November 2013. I checked on-line; apparently they didn't make it. 

But a few doors down is a historic business that came back strong. 

Back in November 2013, Clifton's Cafeteria was closed and in the process of going through an incredible renovation and makeover. 

After a multi-million dollar rehab, It opened in 2015 to absolutely rave reviews. I had a chance to make a brief visit once it opened, I'll post those photos on a future post. 

This is the intersection of Broadway and 7th Street, looking northwest up 7th Street towards the office buildings along Flower and Figueroa Streets. Today, construction of the massive 73 story, 1099 foot Wilshire Grand Tower - located six blocks away at 7th and Figueroa - would dominate the landscape. The Wilshire Grand Tower is scheduled to open in 2017. 

This is continuing to look at the west side of Broadway. A Spanish language congregation - Catedral de la Fe - currently is meeting in The State Theater, located at 703 Broadway. 

The State theater is part of the 13 story 1921 United Building, another of the dozen of historic theaters located on (or near) Broadway. 

Aside from the obvious language differences, it's probably not my style in terms of style or theology. Still, I very much appreciate seeing churches a part of the urban mix of Los Angeles. 

Apparently, Catedral de la Fe is part of a pentacostal denomination called The Universal Church. I also found this review from Wendy Gilmartin from L.A. Weekly:

Loads of L.A.'s Latino brethren (and sistren) are flocking to emerging forms of neo-Pentecostal religion because, for many, it eclipses the staid rigorousness of traditional worship in a Catholic church. And how. Catholic mass never got this many feet a'stomping and tambourines a'janglin'. The most musical of the week's events (and, yes, noise complaints do occur) usually happens on Friday evenings. 

Catedral de la Fe (formerly the State Theater) downtown is bigger (and louder) than most storefront Pentecostal churches around town, and the folks here definitely make the funkiest ruckus. By day, the rundown exterior of the formerly grandiose theater sits quietly, like a defunct storefront shell — even though some of the original 1921 filigree still shows through — but then the sun sets and the marquee glows, chandeliers flicker on, the house grows crowded, and spare seats are hard to come by. 

Arms raised, keyboards twinkling, drums crashing and Hallelujahs filling the air: The building practically rocks back and forth on its foundation in the spirit of Jesucristo. Whether you're passing by outside or stomping inside the church, on Broadway and 7th, it's hard to ignore the power of the Lord. 

If you're in Los Angeles, and looking an English speaking congregation, I'd recommend either Pacific Crossroads Church or Reality Los Angeles. Both great churches.

This is looking back at the north corner of 7th and Broadway. 

And another view looking back up Broadway at the east corner of 7th and Broadway. 

I crossed Broadway and headed east (technically, southeast) on 7th towards Spring Street. Silo Vodka Bar was under construction. 

Certainly a contrast from Carl's Jr and KFC on the same block. Of course, it's normal to find both in an urban center. 

7th Sole - a boutique shoe store. This seems to be the look and feel of the newer, gentrifying downtown Los Angeles: small, upscale retail located right at street level. 

The 14 story 1927 Financial Center Building, located on the corner of 7th & Spring Street. 

My understanding is that this building is made up of offices - rather than having converted to residential. 

I turned the corner and headed north (technically, northeast) back up Spring Street. I'll save that for next time in Part V

© 2015


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Re-Experiencing Los Angeles: Historic Downtown Core (Part III)

Two years ago, I was back in Los Angeles and had a bit of time to explore the Historic Downtown Core. Here's a link to Part I and Part II of this multi part series. 

The historic Rowan Building, located on the corner of 5th and Spring, built in 1912 and recently converted into residential units. 

Spring Street, looking south (technically, southwest). I turned the corner and headed west (technically, northwest) on 5th Street. 

The Last Bookstore - Los Angeles' largest independent bookstore - located at the corner of 5th and Spring Street. This is the entrance off of 5th Street. 

The 1913 Jewelry Trades Building - originally known as the Title Guarantee Block - on the corner of 5th and Broadway. This is looking northwest on 5th Street.

Another view of the Jewelry Trades Building.

A local resident with dog in tow. 

Downtown Los Angeles has seen a huge influx of new residents. Over 50,000 new residents have more into downtown L.A. since the 1999 enactment of the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance. According to the Downtown L.A. News website - Los Angeles is not as much gentrifying as it  is evolving.

Gentrification implies displacing existing residents. For the most part, these new residents are moving into previously empty buildings, or brand new buildings built on former surface parking lots. 

Leasing information for the Jewelry Trades Building. 

I crossed Broadway and turned around for another view of the Jewelry Trades Building. This is looking north (technically northeast) up Broadway. 

Another view looking up Broadway. 

The crosswalk at 5th Street & Broadway - looking back north on Broadway..

Looking across the street, south down Broadway towards 6th Street. 

While the the addition of 50,000 new residents - with, no doubt, many more to come over the next twenty years - isn't necessarily pushing out a lot of existing residents. However, it is - or eventually will be - replacing retail businesses. 

Up until WWII, Broadway was THE upscale shopping district in Los Angeles, with the largest concentration of theaters, departments store, and shopping. 

Broadway continues to thrive as a commercial district, catering almost exclusively to working class Latinos. 

As a student at UCLA back in the 1980's, a visit to Broadway was a cross cultural experience - it was like another world. 

Then, as now, the contrast between the white collar office towers just a few blocks away on Bunker Hill and the sights and sounds of working class Broadway were really incredible. 

The Arcade Theater, built in 1910, is one of a dozen surviving movie palaces along Broadway. I was amazed to learn that Broadway (between 3rd and Olympic) has the largest surviving collection of pre-WWII movie palaces in the United States. 

There is a push to "bring back Broadway" as a cultural and entertainment hub. The city has recently approved plans to bring a streetcar (light rail) back along Broadway in the near future. Actually, I couldn't find a date when the Broadway streetcar is suppose to be up and running - so maybe not so "near" future. 

The ground floor of the Broadway-Spring Arcade Building. The enclosed arcade stretches between Broadway and Spring Streets. This has always reminded me of something you'd find in either Europe or Mexico. According to a wikipedia article, this place was packed with shoppers - mostly from Mexico or Central America - up until the mid 1990's. 

Apparently, the previously vacant upper floors were converted to upper end residential in 2003. My guess is that - similar to Spring and Main Streets, these shops will be catering to the influx of new downtown residents in the not so distant future. 

A final photo at the corner of 6th and Broadway. More next time in Part IV

© 2015


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Re-Experiencing Los Angeles: Historic Downtown Core (Part II)

Two years ago, I was back in Los Angeles and had a bit of time to explore the Historic Downtown Core. Here's a link to Part I from last week.

This is walking west (technically northwest) along 4th Street towards Spring Street. In the background is one of the office towers on Los Angeles' Bunker Hill. 

Across the street was a vintage sign for Heilman's Old Style. My educated guess is that this isn't original, but an attempt to create a working class style dive bar (think Milwaukee, circa 1975) in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Or, maybe it's been there for years, and this is all authentic? 

The six story Barclay Hotel was built in 1897 and was originally known as the Van Nuys Hotel. When it opened, it was the most state of the art hotel in Los Angeles, with telephones and electricity in every room. It has the distinction of being the oldest hotel in continuous operation in Los Angeles. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy website, it is currently operated as a low income residential hotel. 

Another view across the street, this time of the Popular Center Building. Couldn't seem to find too much information on-line on this building, aside from the fact that it was built in 1908. 

Personally, I'd ditch the aqua blue lettering, but maybe that's just me. 

This looks much more like New York or Chicago, definitely not what one images when thinking about Los Angeles. 

Robert Reynolds Art Studio - located on the corner of 4th and Spring Streets. This is a good example of the massive gentrification and changes that are currently occurring in downtown Los Angeles. 

I've got a lot of information from this blog from google maps and other web searches. But in this case it was pretty to figure out the name of this art gallery. 

I crossed the street for a quick view back down 4th Street where I was a few minutes earlier. This is looking south towards Rocket Pizza. 

Another view of Rocket Pizza. 

Back on the corner of 4th and Spring, Robert Reynolds Art Studio is located in the historic Continental Building.   

The 13 story Continental Building was built in 1903, and was the tallest building in Los Angeles at the time. Almost 100 years later, it was converted into loft style residential apartments, and - apparently - is managed by the same firm that operates the San Fernando Building, located a block away. 

View looking up from the street. 

Public Parking. $5 for what? For the day? Per hour? For 20 minutes? Parking a few blocks away at the Bonaventure Hotel runs $30 for two hours (or $47 for the day) ... so I'm a bit cautious of what "$5 parking" really means. I'd definitely read the fine print first. 

Across the street, advertising for filming. A bit later that same day, a security guard saw me taking photos and asked if I was a location scout. Downtown Los Angeles has the advantage of a dozen or more early 20th Century buildings that ar ideal as filming locations. 

The Lunch Box cafe. Not a standout - but not everything can be in a 100 year old restored building, or sidewalk cafe. 

Mixed in with historic buildings being converted to residential were new apartments (or condos) going up. Ideally, this section of downtown will eventually be a mix of old and new buildings - saying goodbye to surface parking lots and saying hello to street level retail with residential or commercial above it - in many ways bringing Los Angeles back to how most cities were designed up until the 1950's. 

These photos were all taken back in November 2013. Actually this was a parking lot, that was in the process of being turned into the .7 acre Spring Street Park.

The 1915 twelve-story Spring Arts Tower, a historic office building located on the corner of Spring & 5th Streets. The Crocker Club - located in the former first floor bank - is a 1920's themed bar and nightclub. 

Looking back at the former parking lot - now Spring Street Park. 

Cross the street, on the corner of of Spring and 5th Streets, sits the Rowan Building, built in 1912 and converted into upscale loft condominiums in 2008. So, what does an 800 square foot unit goes for? About $400-$500 thousand. Here's a link to some listings. 

I turned the corner and headed northwest on 5th Street towards Broadway. 

More next week in Part III

© 2015