Many good memories were stirred up when I had a business meeting downtown on Thursday at the Biltmore Hotel. When I was a Downtown Walking Tour docent for the Los Angeles Conservancy many years ago, I gave tours of the hotel. I also used to start my Marble Masterpieces tours in the Rendezvous Court (the original lobby). I miss leading those walks but there are only so many things one person can do at one time, and life goes on.
Of the four tour guides who were in the meeting I had already worked with three of them. Like any field of work, tour guiding is a finite world and after a while there are only so many new people you are going to meet.
When the interview was over I decided to wander around some of my favorite places. I walked over to California Plaza and rode Angel’s Flight, the funicular railway, down to Hill Street and the Grand Central Market. Angel’s Flight was built in 1901 and originally ran from Hill Street at Third Street up to Olive Street. It was dismantled in 1969 to make way for the Bunker Hill redevelopment project. The twin cars Sinai and Olivet languished in storage for 27 years. In 1996 the railway was reopened a half block south of the original location.
Although the original cars were utilized the engineering was all new. Unfortunately it was built on faulty principles and the cables failed in 2001 killing an 83-year-old passenger. So Sinai and Olivet went back into storage and the owner of the engineering company fled, never to be seen again. Happily in March of 2010 the railway was certified as safe (it was re-engineered more closely to the original design) and has been running since with no problems.
This was my first ride since the accident and it was wonderful to once again greet my old friends Olivet and Sinai. The most fun part of the short ride (all of 298 feet) is when the cars meet halfway down (or up) the track and you think for sure they must collide.
Although it was still early my tummy was pleading to be fed so I crossed the street to the Grand Central Market. Founded in 1917, the market was upgraded in the 1980s with 52 neon signs marking the diverse stalls. Since my last visit several years ago the market has shrunk. But it is still lively and offers everything from spices and fruit to meat and fish. I decided to try a burrito pescado at Roast to Go. I’ve eaten plenty of fish tacos but never a fish burrito before. I also ordered a Jamaica (pronounced ham-eye-aka), a tea made of hibiscus and my favorite drink at Mexican restaurants.
The burrito was muy grande and I hate to admit that I ate the whole thing (although not the tortilla wrapping which I left—too many carbs). It came with a whole cut-up lemon.
I rode Angel’s Flight back up to California Plaza and to work off the burrito I walked through the Music Center, over to the Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels (sat through part of a service), then down Temple to Spring. I stopped to take some photos of the jacarandas. Several people turned around and stared to see what I was shooting, perhaps hoping for a celebrity sighting—sorry, merely the beautiful purple trees, didn’t you notice them?
It was noon and the sun was heating up. I walked eight long blocks along Spring Street to catch the 733 Rapid back to the cooler breezes of Culver City.
(Photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)