Los Angeles didn’t reach the true status of city-hood until the Second World War. The country realized our year round warm climate was ideal for year round aircraft production. Another deep water port on the Pacific Ocean side of the country for shipping also attracted attention. From the 60’s through the 80’s the rise of the Pacific Rim economies coincided with a withering of European influence. The emergence of California as a major economy player, thrust Los Angeles forward as a new leading city in a new era.
The reality is that the cities to the north and east of us are older, and more set in their ways. The east is historic and the west is futuristic. The east is old brick buildings, old money, bluebloods, and cold weather; the west is new, glitzy and gleaming towers, creative, energetic, and fun in the sun.
What else makes Los Angeles unique? LA is a city with a Mediterranean climate bracketed by beaches and mountain ranges There are many places in our community that are so unique they add to the definition of who we are and what we are. We see ourselves as young, diverse, and fun loving. Here are a some of the places that we point to with pride:
Friends, Romans, and …Angelenos
Several weeks ago my wife and I toured the J. Paul Getty Villa Museum with some friends. The day was pleasantly warm and sunny and the crisp air made the autumn day spectacular. There were a number of classes on field trips. Being a retired teacher, I’m always happy to see students touring the grounds and experiencing art up close and first hand. I personally love the art and artifacts from the Greek and Roman periods and enjoyed the idea that these young people would have the opportunity to get close to the many historical objects on display.
For me, a true connection with this historical period only comes by interacting with real items. It makes me pause when I realize that long ago a real, living person chiseled the details into the arm or torso of that statue before me. A hard working artisan created this artifact. It’s easy to contemplate that the person who chiseled and rubbed that stone, stood scrutinizing the piece from the same angle as I did; His eyes were more critical, mine more admiring. Though separated by two thousand years it’s easy to think that the statue is a link from his hand to us. Pictures in a textbook can’t give you that feeling.
The villa sits snugly in a Pacific Palisades canyon overlooking the distant blue Pacific. The architectural design of the villa was adopted from the original Villa of the Papiri, currently being excavated from the volcanic flows of the 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius. The Villa, though smaller in scale than the original, represents a vivid portrait of a grand country home and gardens once enjoyed by the Roman ruling class.
A very knowledgeable guide led our group of visitors through a portion of the villa explaining the intricacies and reasons for different features of the building and their uses. They grew many of their own food items used daily and seasonally. The practical Roman engineering and construction still commands the admiration of professionals as well as everybody else, even to this day.
If you haven’t been to the J. Paul Getty Villa Museum I highly recommend a trip. Located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, it is only about a fifteen-minute drive north of Santa Monica. Tickets are free but must be ordered in advance and will have a specific timed entry. Parking currently is $15.00. There’s a convenient café at the villa. Also, you can order boxed lunches for picnic. Public seating is available. It is closed on Tuesdays. Call 1-310-440-7300 to book tickets.
Bradbury Building- A Lasting Gem in Los Angeles
The Bradbury Building, 304 S. Broadway, Los Angeles.
In my opinion the Bradbury Building, vies for the title as the most beautiful and most famous building in Los Angeles. The outside of the Bradbury is nicely maintained but the real treasure is on the inside. There a soothing blend of wood, terra cotta tiles, and lacy wrought iron create a unique geometric pattern. The antique cage elevator in the center of the atrium harkens back to yesteryear.
The soft light on the warm wood and iron filigree reflect back to days when ladies wore frilly blouses, floor length dresses on tightly corseted waists, and large hats. Gentlemen wore suits with waistcoats, stiff shirts, and a homburg hat while the young swains with their gals sallied about town in plaid knickerbockers with a bowler or a boater on his head.
The building is a lasting piece of LA history. Commissioned by mining tycoon Lewis L. Bradbury, the building was completed by architect Mark Wyman, in 1893. Ever since it open, the structure has served as an office building conveniently close to Bunker Hill.
When the film industry came into being, movie directors realized what a unique building they had so close at hand. It was often used as settings for early picture films. Then starting in the 1950’s, it became a favorite setting for a large number of LA noir style movies. Then the popular sci-fi film, Blade Runner, a cult movie from 1982, featured the interior prominently to lend the dark mood for a fictional dystopia future.
The Bradbury Building was added to the list of Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monuments in 1962, and then also added to the National Register of Historic Places, in 1971. It was eventually recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
Currently, one of the building’s tenants happens to be the Los Angeles Police Department, Internal Affairs as well as other government offices. So, there’s not the usual hustle and and bustle of people coming and going, nor the chatter of throngs of men and women striding through the lobby, so typical in other office buildings. A city employee supervises people who enter the building and passes out brochures to visitors. The bottom floor tends to be quiet.
It ranks as one of the most popular tourist destinations downtown. The reason for the building’s popularity? It’s beauty and charm is renown. The skylight overhead lets in a defused natural light on central court. The movement of the sun’s rays cast ever-changing shadows around the interior. The ascending pattern of warm wood and ironwork railings subtly leads the eyes upward to the light.
Tourists walk around the ground floor looking up admiring the lovely glow patterns, often pointing. They speak in hushed respectful voices usually reserved for Cathedrals.
The Bradbury attracts admirers because it stands as a window to the past and a national treasure, that will give inspiration to all, well into the future. If you haven’t been, go see it for yourself. The Bradbury building is located in the Historic section of downtown across the street from Grand Central Market.
The Last Book Store
453 Spring Street, Los Angeles: This is a bookstore like no other. You can search for a used book or LPs in a two-story shop complete with a wooly mammoth on the wall.
Upstairs I expected to encounter Guy Montag, right off the pages of Farenheit 451, pacing through the labyrinth reciting to himself. Here you will find tons and tons of books, a treasure-trove of LPs, and..and…. This place is fast becoming a landmark in L.A.
So, if you’re looking to buy, sell, or trade books or vinyl records you might give this shop a try. To get directions on how to sell or trade your books or LPs, or other information on upcoming events, call 1-213-488-0599, or go to http://lastbookstorela.com/. Metered street parking or commercial parking lots are available.
The Magic Castle
7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood: Here is a nightclub for magic lovers. To enter this private nightclub you must be a member or a guest of a member. To dine in the restaurant the member must have reservations for his or her party, and formal attire required. Once inside, you can relax and dine in the castle’s fine restaurant, hang out in one of the bars and rub elbows with celebrities and renown magicians, and then attend magic shows where the featured performers put on their latest acts. Go to http://www.magiccastle.com for reservations, dress code, hours, directions, and upcoming shows and events.”.
125 Paseo De La Plaza, Los Angeles: In 1781, The original settlers (pobladores) moved on the site of the Indian village, Yang-na, which was, at that time, much closer to the Los Angeles River over to the east. However, flooding caused the villagers to move the pueblo on higher ground, at its current site. Since that time, the city, as we now know it, expanded toward the Pacific Ocean and all around, neighborhood by neighborhood. The Plaza evolved into a picturesque version of the old historical Mexican pueblo. The small street lined with vendors, bursts with colorful souvenirs, artifacts, and food. Nearly two million people visit every year. Put it on your must-do list.
6333 W 3rd St., Los Angeles: The market, recognizable by the iconic clock tower is located at the intersection of 3rd st. and Fairfax Ave. It features many permanent stalls and sit down eating places. While many of the eating places feature popular ethnic foods such as Latin or Asian cuisine, the shops and stalls cater to tourists as well as locals with a variety of services and gift items.
The market is just south of CBS Television Studios and is a convenient lunch and shop stop for its employees. “The Grove”, a very upscale outdoor mall , complete with trolley, is right next door.This is a great place for the entire family to browse and poke around the wide variety of goods. Validated parking is available. Call 1-323-933-9211 or go to http://farmersmarketla.com/ for hours of operations and special events.
Grauman’s Chinese Theater
(now know as TCL Chinese Theater), 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles: What can I say? Here it is- the mecca for all star-struck tourists. Down through the decades famous stars pressed hands and feet into wet cement in recognition of their celebrity-hood. Comparing your foot or hand in the impression somehow makes those famous movie stars seem like real people. Was his foot really that small? He looked so big on the screen. Go ahead and try it. Everyone else is doing it.
A number of persons costumed as popular movie characters will pose with you or family members for a tip or a fee. This is also the bullseye for the Hollywood district, so there’s a plethora of tourist shops up and down the Boulevard. Parking is available in nearby lots. Call 1-323-465-4847 or go to http://www.tclchinesetheatres.com/ for the theater’s current showings, schedules, ticket prices, and upcoming events.
Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd, LA. Los Angeles boasts being the only city in the country with an active paleontological site. The Page Museum has many of the ice age animal and plant fossils extracted from the tar on display. It is an educational experience for the whole family, but particularly for the kids. The surrounding grassy area is a great place for picnicking.
There is a replica of a mammoth-like creature stuck in the tar in full view from Wilshire Blvd. You can’t miss it when you drive by, so you’ll know you at the right place. When you’re in the museum be sure to visit the Fishbowl Lab, a real paleontological lab where scientific field work is in progress for your viewing, seven days a week. The kids will be awe struck. Call (310) 934-7243 or go to http://www.tarpits.org/ for hours of operation, parking and validation, and other information. PS- if you have time, stroll on over to the LA County Museum of Art, next door.
Jet Propulsion laboratory (JPL)
4800 Oak Grove Dr, Pasadena. JPL is a division of nearby California Institute of Technology. This is the world renown lab that makes NASA’s programs happen. Currently JPL has about 21 spacecraft and 9 other instruments exploring our Earth, our Solar System, and deep space.
The lab conducts a free lecture series both for employees of JPL as well as the public twice a month. Thursday lectures are in the von Karman Auditorium and the Friday lectures are in Pasadena City College’s Vosloh Forum. All lectures start at 7:00 PM. There is Free parking. No reservations required, but seating is limited. Call (818) 354-4321 for information for specific dates, topics, and directions or go to http://www.jpl.nasa.gov then Public Events in the drop down menu, and click on Lecture Series.
Rose Bowl Stadium
1001 Rose Bowl Dr., Pasadena. This is the famous stadium seen world wide every New Years Day when the famous Rose Bowl Game is played. As a kid in Iowa every New Years I saw the bowl gleaming in beautiful sunlight. I realized I was on a different planet where dreary snow was up to my cold, cold cheeks. It was then I swore to all the gods that lurked about in snow drifts, I was going to live on the planet where the Rose Bowl was at.
In addition to the annual Rose Bowl game, many other world class and professional athletic events are held here. It is also the home stadium for UCLA football team. Oh, yes, on The first Sunday of every month it hosts, according to the promoters, the WORLDS LARGEST FLEA MARKET! It can’t get any better than that.