A Walking History Lesson: Downtown Los Angeles

A Walking History Lesson: Downtown Los Angeles

Alison Brislin
Feb 21, 2012

I've lived in Los Angeles for a little over a year now and I'm constantly discovering neighborhoods, historic buildings, restaurants, and more. I love hopping in the car with the intention of getting a little lost and finding different enclaves of my new home.

This weekend I signed up for a walking tour of Historic Downtown LA with the Los Angeles Conservancy. I wanted to learn more about the buildings I pass by in the car on a weekly basis or have seen in movies like 500 Days of Summer that highlight areas of LA that aren't Hollywood/Rodeo Drive-centric.

The Conservancy runs eight different walking tours on Saturday and Sundays, all lasting about 2.5 hours and cost $10. I went on the Historic Downtown tour which provided a great overview of the historical and cultural landmarks of downtown. Our docent enthusiastically led us around town educating us on the architectural styles surrounding us and how they've evolved to reflect population growth and changes in technology and trends. We started at Pershing Square and continued onto the Biltmore Hotel, Pacific Mutual Building, Mayflower Hotel (now Hilton Checkers), Edison Building, Los Angeles Central Library, Subway Terminal Building, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, and finished at the Bradbury Building. Wow, seems like a lot to cover, right?

I was surprised at how many buildings and parks we were able to visit in a short amount of time. I was also pleasantly surprised at how in-depth the docent made each stop along the tour. I knew basic factoids, like the Bradbury Building was in Bladerunner, but had no idea that most of the neon signs in Grand Central Market are original from the 1920s.

If you have parents or friends coming to visit LA, I highly recommend one of the Conservancy's tours. Or if you are a big nerd like myself, sign up for one! I'm planning on taking the Art Deco tour in the near future to further my knowledge on landmarks like the Eastern and Oviatt buildings. So park your car, put on your walking shoes, and go learn about the other side of Los Angeles!

For the Love of Los Angeles: 500 Days of Summer
Destination: Los Angeles A "Best Of" City Guide

(Images: Alison Brislin)

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