Recently I got the opportunity to stay in downtown Los Angeles an area that was once neglected and crime ridden, a far cry from its past glory. Well today things have changed somewhat and a lot of the area has been regenerated bringing some of the beautiful old buildings back to life. This is my top 5 things to do if you venture to downtown LA.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall
Situated on Grand Avenue in the heart of downtown is the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Part of the Los Angeles Music Centre it was opened in 2003, it seats 2265 people and serves as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra. The buildings design is quite something to look at and is very futuristic being made from stainless steel. Climb the stairs from Hope Street and you walk into a lovely roof top garden filled with plants, trees and benches to relax on.
Across the road from the concert hall is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and for those that are into their movie trivia this is where the Oscars ceremony was held from 1969 to 1987, 1990, 1992 to 1994, 1996 and 1999.
Los Angeles has a large Mexican community and Olvera Street is probably one of the best places to see it. The tree shaded pedestrian street is filled with craft shops, restaurants and roving troubadours. Aside from marketplace, Olvera Street is also part of the historic El Pueblo de Los Angeles officially founded in 1781. The street was given its present name in 1877. There are a lot of historic buildings and monuments on Olvera Street including the Avila Adobe, Pelanconi House and the Sepulveda House.
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market first opened its doors in 1917 and has been in continuous operation ever since. Situated on South Broadway today the market boasts over 30 different vendors serving a wide variety of food and drinks. It’s a busy place but there’s plenty to satisfy a hungry stomach.
Next to the market and part of the same complex is the Million Dollar Theatre, the first movie house built by entrepreneur Sid Grauman (more well known for the Hollywood Chinese Theatre). It opened in 1918 and is built in an elaborate Spanish Colonial Revival style.
Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA)
The Museum of Contemporary Art has four locations across Los Angeles with one of the biggest being on Grand Avenue in downtown. The museum’s exhibits consist mainly of American and European contemporary art created after 1940. There is an admission fee to enter the museum, although it is free on Thursday’s between 5 & 8pm. There is also a shop and a cafe on site too.
Across the road from MOCA is The Broad, another contemporary art museum. Named after the philanthropist Eli Broad the building houses the Broad art collections. It’s free to enter but even if you don’t go in the building is stunning to look at.
Union Station is widely regarded as the last of the great train stations and is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. It was built in 1939 and combines Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles of architecture. Inside there is the original ticket counter and many other features that will take you back to the golden age of rail travel. The station has been used as a backdrop for many movies that include Blade Runner, The Way We Were, Pearl Harbour and Silver Streak.
So there you have it, my 5 top things to do in downtown Los Angeles with a couple of extras thrown in. I really do hope the area keeps improving as I think it has real potential and a feel of Hollywood glamour from back in the day.