RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life


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Culver City photo walk

sony studios

Yesterday was the inaugural walk of my photography Meetup group, Walk & Talk Photography. It was a good group and an interesting experience.

Although I’ve taken photos of most of these places before, every time I look through the lens I see something new and different.

Following are some of the photos I took on the walk. Click on a photo for the slide show.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Southwestern Law School at the former Bullocks Wilshire

Bullocks Wilshire

Some weeks ago B, G, E and I (as in me) went on the self-guided tour of the Bullocks Wilshire Building. Several months ago G mentioned that once a year, the Southwestern Law School opened its doors to the public. So I was looking forward to a look inside this Los Angeles icon.

Bullocks Wilshire

The text in italics is from the tour literature and copyright 2014 Southwestern Law School.

Designed in 1929 by renowned Los Angeles architects John and Donald Parkinson, the Bullocks Wilshire Building operated as a luxury department store for more than 60 years.

Bullocks Wilshire

Ceiling of the cactus lounge.

In 1994, Southwestern purchased the landmark [building] and set out to convert it into a dynamic academic venue, while retaining its historic character.

Bullocks Wilshire

A decade and $29 million later, the gleaming property features cutting edge scholastic, professional and social resources that represent the heart of the Southwestern community.

Bullocks Wilshire

I remember enjoying an afternoon in the tea room with my mother in the 1960s when we first arrived in Los Angeles. I don’t believe the tea room has changed very much since that time.

Bullocks Wilshire

Replica of one of the gorgeous art deco serving stations.

Bullocks Wilshire

Exterior building detail seen from  the window of the tea room.

Bullocks Wilshire

I love light fixtures and these art deco beauties really caught my eye.

Apparently the light fixtures, serving centers, tables and chairs are exact replicas of the originals.

Bullocks Wilshire

This original mosaic tile floor was in a passageway off the tea room.

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Bullocks Wilshire

John Bullock’s Suite, his private office and apartment.

Bullocks Wilshire

The office leads out on to a rooftop garden.

Bullocks Wilshire

This wonderful tile drinking fountain was discovered behind a plaster wall. Note the child’s step which was replaced during the restoration.

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Bullocks Wilshire

I am a big fan of art deco design so I was in heaven on this tour.

Now, where patrons once shopped for women’s sportswear, students study in the school’s beautiful and expansive Leigh H. Taylor Law Library, which occupies about one-third of the building.

Bullocks Wilshire

In what was once the first floor shoe salon and accessories department, the Julian C. Dixon Courtroom and Advocacy Center provides the most technologically advanced facility of its kind.

Southwestern has received numerous honors from preservation groups for its sensitive restoration of the structure. Blending elegant architecture with state-of-the-art educational resources, the Bullocks Wilshire Building epitomizes Southwestern’s commitment to excellence.

I am grateful that Southwestern is willing to allow public tours of the campus. The Bullocks Wilshire Building is a Los Angeles jewel and a fabulous example of art deco design so popular in our city in the 1920s. And most important, the building is an outstanding model of successful reuse.

Bullocks Wilshire

Department stores have played a big part in the history of LA. See my post here on the Virginia Robinson Gardens and the home of the heir to the Robinson Department Stores.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Gardens of privilege – Virginia Robinson Estate

virginia robinson gardens

View of the main house

The informative text in italics is taken directly from the Virgina Robinson Gardens website.

As long as I have lived in Los Angeles (all my adult life) I am still learning about and discovering new places. This is one such place.

virginia robinson gardens

Lawns are no longer bright green in LA due to the severe drought.

It was a hot day so I decided against taking the bus and struggling up the hill behind Sunset Boulevard… and Cinnamon Girl needed an outing. So I drove my car with the lovely air conditioning.

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Pool house is undergoing renovation and pool is drained.

Built in 1911, the Robinson mansion was one of the first homes in Beverly Hills. Known for hosting the areas most legendary parties—it was not uncommon to catch famed individuals entering and leaving the estate.

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Today, the garden is recognized as not only a historical landmark, but also as an exotic paradise that all sightseers are invited to enjoy.

virginia robinson gardens

When Virginia Robinson died in 1977 just before her 100th birthday, she was arguably one of the last grand dames of the Hollywood era. Nevertheless, she left her legendary home and gardens in serious disrepair. A leaky roof and a dangerous electrical system threatened the very survival of this cultural landmark.

virginia robinson gardens

“The Friends of Robinson Gardens” was founded in 1982 with a Board of Directors and a general membership of over 75 committed women.

virginia robinson gardens

A great deal was accomplished in a short period of time. The Friends of Robinson Gardens raised enough money to begin crucial repairs, establish docent programs, and begin educational seminars. Coincidentally, Robinsons Department Store, originally known as the Boston Dry Goods Store in downtown Los Angeles and owned by Harry Robinson’s family, was celebrating its 100th anniversary.

virginia robinson gardens

A letter from President Reagan that year called the Friends of Robinson Gardens “a fine example of what can be accomplished through cooperation between the private and public sector,” and congratulated the group on its significant accomplishments. Since its inception in 1982, the Friends have restored all of the historic buildings on the property according to the strict standards set by the Department of Interior and the Friends are contributing one quarter of the Gardens annual operating budget.

virginia robinson gardens

Today, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open by appointment to the public. Located behind the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, the beautiful six-acre property contains a breathtaking display garden, mansion and pool pavilion.

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virginia robinson gardens

The Robinson Gardens was once the site of lavish Hollywood parties. Mrs. Robinson was known as the first lady of Beverly Hills and her triumphs as a hostess are legendary: her diverse guests included royalty such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Fred Astaire; her neighbors were Glenn Ford, Lillian Disney and Elvis Presley. She sipped champagne cocktails with Sophia Loren and challenged Charlie Chaplin to a spirited game of tennis – all with her signature elegance and class.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

She was equally renowned for her philanthropy. Among the many benefits she hosted, the Hollywood Bowl Patronesses Benefit was a favorite. Each year, after the opening of the Hollywood Bowl season, the orchestra would repeat their performance on the estate’s Great Lawn, to the delight of her guests.

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virginia robinson gardens

Shortly before her death in 1977, Mrs. Robinson bequeathed her estate to Los Angeles County. The County, along with the not-for-profit organization Friends of Robinson Gardens, preserves the estate for future generations to enjoy.

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virginia robinson gardens

As the first luxury estate built in the world’s most famous residential neighborhood [Beverly Hills], the multi-faceted historic property provides an opportunity to experience the world of privilege in early Los Angeles.

virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

This cat was not at all disturbed by the visitors intruding on his shady nap. I believe his name is Henry or Harry, just can’t remember which!

virginia robinson gardens

A couple of very fancy bird houses… well, they are Beverly Hills birds!

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virginia robinson gardens

The potting shed

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virginia robinson gardens

It’s Southern California so you gotta have a palm tree forest in your garden!

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virginia robinson gardens

virginia robinson gardens

The perfect location for a mid afternoon cup of tea!

virginia robinson gardens

And of course, a pink tennis court. Why not?

We were able to tour the interior of the house but not allowed to take photos.

Traffic was pretty bad driving through Beverly Hills back to Culver City on a Saturday afternoon but my chauffeur had the day off, so what could I do?

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Belated birthday bash

union station

Looks like the original ticketing area is being renovated. In the station’s previous hey day each of those window openings would have lines of people purchasing tickets. Now tickets are purchased in a less glamorous location… or mostly online!!!

It’s good to have the computer up and running again. Still haven’t re-installed all my programs or properly recalibrated my monitor but I’m slowly working on it… and I have my fingers crossed!

On Saturday my friend B and I visited Union Station… my favorite building in all of Los Angeles. B and I met a couple of decades ago when we were neighbors. She stayed put. I moved. But only about 1.5 miles away, so we are still almost neighbors!

Union Station

Looking through the waiting area to the trains at the end.

Her birthday is in June, mine in May. For several years we have been talking about taking the Expo and Red Lines to Union Station and eating at Traxx Restaurant to celebrate our mutual birthdays. Although we meet for dinner at least once a month, we never seemed to be able to make it to Traxx.

Union Station

To make a longer story short, we couldn’t get a reservation at Traxx Restaurant for the day we wanted. So we decided to take the train to Union Station anyway and improvise. Turned out to be a better situation than getting a reservation. The bar opened at 11:30 (ish) and we were the first customers!

Union Station

B suggested a Bloody Mary which sounded good to me! Tasted delicious so we ordered a second round. Well, we were celebrating our birthdays! To balance out the alcohol we shared shrimp tacos and chicken quesadilla. Perfect.

We sat there for a couple of hours people watching and gazing at the beautiful architecture. This is just how I had imagined it.

union station

In the waiting room there is a piano that anybody is invited to play. This guy was obviously a professional as (fortunately) his playing was definitely melodious. I imagined he was a studio musician having his moment in the spotlight!

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Just looking around at the walls and ceiling from where we were sitting.

Los Angeles Plaza

It was hard to leave Union Station. Really I could have sat there all afternoon. But we needed to move on. We walked across the street to the Plaza area where people were dancing to a Latin beat.

Los Angeles Plaza

Then we watched as a group performed traditional Indian dances.

Methodist church

I’ve never been able to see inside the Plaza Methodist Church before. This was built in the 1920s. I learned that the Methodist church was the founding agent in Southern California for Goodwill Industries (where most of my unwanted “stuff” ends up).

We ambled through Olvera Street looking at the stalls and the stores. I’m always fascinated and intrigued by the Mexican goods available on this tourist street. No need to drive all the way to Tijuana!

Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles

We stepped across the street to Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles (Our Lady Queen of the Angels), the oldest existing church in LA, founded in 1781. The first Europeans, the Spanish, arrived in 1769. Everything changed!

Nuestra Senora

We couldn’t get into the main church. The door with the sign “Always Open” was locked. But I think the little chapel is much more interesting anyway.

Union Station

View of Union Station from La Plaza across the street

wilshire grand

The new Wilshire Grand which was “topped out” in March. It will replace the US Bank Building (Library Tower) as the tallest building West of Chicago. I’m sad about that but it had to happen one day.

I always appreciate the opportunity to show friends living in Los Angeles or visitors from faraway lands everything there is to see in this city. I have to say, it always amazes me how people who have lived here for decades, or were even born here, know so little about Los Angeles. But then it makes it so much more fun for me!

I’ve never trekked through the Amazon jungles or ridden a camel across the Saharan Desert, but I still consider myself to be an explorer. An urban explorer to be sure. But I certainly enjoy excavating every nook and cranny of my adopted city.

downtown los angeles

For those of you who know downtown, this is the newly re-opened The Bloc on 7th Street, across from the 7th Metro train hub, formerly the bricked-in enclave known as Macy’s Plaza

One interesting phenomena around Los Angeles these days is the redevelopment of the major shopping centers. At locations all over the city they are being transformed from closed-in fortresses to airy complexes open to the sky. What day did somebody wake up and say, hey, we have sunshine in LA, maybe customers could enjoy it while they are shopping!

Always worth peaking into Bottega Louie to salivate over the macaroons and other delightful pastries. No tasting now, just looking!

Our final destination in downtown this lovely afternoon was Clifton’s. As many times as I have been there since it’s re-opening, there is always one more soul who hasn’t visited yet. So I have to drag myself in there again.

Clifton's

We sat in the bar sipping an expensive glass of really bad Merlot. You don’t go there for the wine, evidently. But the ambience is definitely worth it as far as I am concerned. Another place I enjoy just sitting and people watching.

At this point B had a craving for apple pie à la mode. While I didn’t share that particular craving, we took the Expo Line back to Culver City and B drove her car over to the Marie Callender’s in West LA. As soon as I opened the menu my eyes were drawn to the tuna melt. The previous week with my other friend B (from England) I had a very disappointing tuna melt at what used to be my favorite restaurant on the Santa Monica Pier. I can no longer recommend it. But this tuna melt more than made up for it.

It was a happy ending to a beautiful day with a very good friend. What more can you ask for in life than that?

(Photos brought to you by my faithful point & shoot Canon G16 camera).

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Finding new places – the Endeavour

endeavour

My friend B was here from London for a few days. I met him in the mid 1980s when he was based in Los Angeles. Since then he’s visited many times so he knows the city pretty well. That was my challenge, to find something new and different to show him.

endeavour

Tiles on the underside of the shuttle

The space shuttle Endeavour turned out to be the perfect answer. Better yet, we took the Expo Line train which he had never ridden on. And the cherry on top was that just a couple of weeks ago, the shuttle fuel tank arrived at the California Science Center. (See my blog post here).

endeavour

Final… and 25th… flight of the Endeavour.

I’ve seen the Endeavour a million times but I never fail to be excited that first second I walk into the hangar. It’s impossible to comprehend this beat up old vehicle chased around the planet at over 3,000 miles an hour!

The first time I saw the Endeavour was back in 2012. You can see my post here.

bob and rmw

I’m really terrible at taking photos of people and I forgot to take a photo of my friend on this visit. I know I have better photos but I can’t find them right now. This was taken in Spain 2001. I look a lot older now, but he never ages. All I remember about this was that I had a ghastly hangover and B insisted if I drank beer I would feel much better. I did not…

Getting back to the present, after the Endeavour, we jumped back on the Expo Line and then the Purple Line to MacArthur Park to have lunch at Langer’s. Another first for B… whoopee! I have mentioned this restaurant several times in my blog, and if you’ve been following along, you know I love the kippers and scrambled eggs. You can see my photo of said dish on this post.

clifton's

Clifton’s bar area

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Line outside Clifton’s the first month it re-opened

Back to downtown on the Red Line and we headed to Clifton’s Cafeteria. Clifton’s was closed for many years while the new owner renovated it. I’ll have to write a post about Clifton’s one of these days as it is an icon in Los Angeles. We had a beer at the bar.

central library

1930s Central Library with 1990s Library Tower behind

 

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Really great rendering of the Central Library showing 1980s extension at right

Next stop was the Richard Riordan Central Library. My second favorite building in downtown Los Angeles (first: Los Angeles Union Station). You can see one of my posts about the library here.

downtown LA

At center is the newest and tallest (73 floors) building in downtown LA nearing completion.

We were experiencing a heat wave with record temperatures. So we just walked a few blocks and headed back to the train station.

We were meeting a mutual friend for dinner in Culver City. The next day we were riding to Santa Monica on the new extension of the Expo Line.

I felt really good that I was able to show B so many venues in downtown that he had not seen before!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel and The Pho Shop

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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel is a new art gallery that recently opened in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, close to Little Tokyo. Two friends and I rode the Expo Line from Culver City to the Red Line, then walked a mile from the Grand Park/Civic Center station. We met up with another friend who drove.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

The building was a former flour mill. The architects left some of the old building showing off its industrial roots. I am always excited to see an older building repurposed rather than torn down.

The current exhibit is Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the galleries. This is always disappointing to me. But if you click on this link you will see some of the artwork in the main gallery.

The pieces on the right hand wall (if you clicked on the aforementioned link) are by Lee Bontecou, an artist I very much admire. In 2003 I visited her exhibit at the Hammer Museum in Westwood with my friend TL. Neither of us had heard of her before but we were both in awe of the work we saw. I bought the catalog of the exhibit and still look at it from time to time.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

When I saw Bontecou’s artwork at this gallery it brought back poignant memories. My friend TL passed away last year. I felt her presence very strongly walking with me through the exhibit. I wanted to turn to her and ask her for her perspective on this display. We always enjoyed going to art shows together. She had very definite opinions which I appreciated!

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

The photo above is the freight elevator and the previous photo is of a stairway.

The exhibit itself, in several galleries throughout the complex, was very enjoyable. Darn it, I wish I could have taken photos… very annoying!

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

But the building is an artwork in itself. Just love this sliding door… well, I imagine it was a sliding door. Look at all the textures and patterns.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

And who knows what was going on here…

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

This is the courtyard. There are tables on both sides with succulents in planters.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

In the summer a restaurant is supposed to be opening.

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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

In another area next to the courtyard are some murals. The first one incorporates the iconic rose. You will find roses depicted throughout Los Angeles in hispanic art. I’ve never been able to discover a definitive meaning but I believe it symbolizes or has something to do with the Virgin Mary (Queen of the Angels, or la Reina de Los Angeles). Somebody enlighten me if I am wrong!

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Frontage of the building, a nice drought tolerant cactus garden.

It was way past lunch time and on the walk in we had passed a newish shopping center in Little Tokyo so we went to investigate.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

We walked past most of the Japanese shops but I will have to go back on my own to investigate.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

The well-stocked Japanese supermarket.

Little Tokyo

Got rice???????

The Pho Shop

We decided to eat lunch at The Pho Shop, a Vietnamese restaurant. I ordered the shrimp salad with sliced and grated vegetables and rice noodles. The jug at the top held a rice vinegar dressing. I ate every scrap on the plate. I want to go back and order this same lunch again.

On the way back to the train station we decided to walk through Grand Park. They were setting up for a concert or festival that night. Downtown LA is a happening place!

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 

 

 


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Venice Beach in June gloom

venice june gloom

Last summer I posted about walking around the Venice Canals on a grey, dismal day. That same day I took a few shots of Venice Beach too. The canals are a couple of blocks inland from the beach.

Abbot Kinney founded Venice of America in 1905. He visualized recreating Venice, Italy on the shores of Los Angeles. To make a much longer story short, he won a coin toss and chose the swamp lands south of Santa Monica. Like all such visionaries, people thought he was crazy.

The mural is by Rip Cronk who painted many murals around Venice in the late 70s. However, this one was created in 2004.

venice june gloom

There is nothing worse than being at Venice Beach, or any beach for that matter, when the sun refuses to come out. But June Gloom is the worst. It is dark and hazy and bleahhhhhhh. Don’t come to LA in June, is all I have to say! In recent years June Gloom has expanded to Grey (or Gray, depending on your inclination) May. So don’t come in May either…

I wonder what Abbot Kinney would think of today’s Venice Beach. It’s a great tourist trap. And on a clear, sunny day the wide beach is spectacular.

venice june gloom

venice june gloom

I lived right on Ocean Front Walk a few decades ago when it was fun for me. Now in my older age, it is not one of my favorite places. I prefer the Santa Monica Pier for my beach-going.

I lived right on Ocean Front Walk a few decades ago when it was fun for me. Now in my older age, it is not one of my favorite places. I prefer the Santa Monica Pier for my beach-going.

I lived right on Ocean Front Walk a few decades ago when it was fun for me. Now in my older age, it is not one of my favorite places. I prefer the Santa Monica Pier for my beach-going.

After visiting the canals earlier in the day I was wandering around looking for things to photograph. This is the most amazing fire hydrant I have ever seen. True grunge art.

After visiting the canals earlier in the day I was wandering around looking for things to photograph. This is the most amazing fire hydrant I have ever seen. True grunge art.

A person hole (formerly known as a manhole) cover.

 

venice june gloom

I’m always attracted to anything purple. I took several photos of these flowers and when I looked at them in Lightroom I was surprised to see all the light shining through the centers.

venice june gloom

Painted on the side of a food truck parked in the street.

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Self portrait. I’m standing in front of the palm tree. This globe is over the doorway of an apartment house.

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A colorful mural on Pacific Avenue.

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An unintentional abstract art painting. If I could have cut this off the building I’m sure I could have sold it for $10,000. Although I could also see it hanging in my living room.

I have thousands of other photos of Venice. I’m sure you can’t wait to see them! No worries…

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 

 


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LACMA: blink before it’s gone

LACMA

As I’ve mentioned before, my annual membership at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) enables me to stop by whenever I feel like it. I love wandering around the campus both inside the galleries and outside looking at the buildings and outdoor art.

LACMA

The museum opened at the Wilshire location in 1965. Behind Chris Burden’s lampposts you can see one of the original buildings.

LACMA

Like many buildings in Los Angeles that are deemed “out of date” the original buildings are in imminent danger of being demolished to make way for a more contemporary design.

LACMA

This part of the museum which now fronts Wilshire Boulevard, was added in the 1980s.

I’ve always enjoyed this glass block structure. I think of it as being some kind of Assyrian fortress. Some critics say it pushes people away rather than welcoming in them. It’s all a matter of perception. I feel like it’s safeguarding the treasures within so people can enjoy them once they are inside.

The three photos above form the walkway to the original museum entrance and box office.

The Calder sculpture fountain with reflections.

I’m the first to admit that the architecture of the museum is a mish mash of styles. But the buildings reflect the times in which they were built. Click on an image below to start slide show.

Even the Los Angeles Conservancy, which has at the top of their website banner “Preserving the historic places that make L.A. County unique” seems to be standing back while plans for demolishing the older buildings and replacing them with a shiny new one go ahead. I don’t understand.

If you are interested in seeing the design (commonly referred to as “the blob”) proposed to replace all this, click on the link here. Does that mean in another fifty years, when the powers that be at the museum are tired of the architecture from the 2020s, they will be tearing it down and building something more suited to 2070s tastes? At least by then I won’t be around to see it.

But if the current plan goes through, I probably will be around to see these existing buildings, sadly, bite the dust.

You can visit some of my other posts related to LACMA at:

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2015/06/07/it-pays-to-belong/

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/an-eclectic-day-at-the-museum/

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/los-angeles-county-museum-of-art-between-bcam-and-the-reznick/

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. No commercial usage without express permission. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!

 


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Downtown Renaissance – Walking with the Los Angeles Conservancy

los angeles downtown

After enjoying the Los Angeles Conservancy Art Deco Walking Tour a few weeks ago (see my post here), I invited another friend on a different tour, Downtown Renaissance.

From the Conservancy brochure: Once the heart of Los Angeles’ financial district, Spring Street and Main Street are today at the heart of an urban renaissance. The area’s magnificent banks, offices, and hotels were left all but deserted in the 1970s as the city center moved west. Since 2000, the conversion of many of these long-empty buildings for new uses has brought a new vitality to the area that continues to grow. 

The photo at the top is of the Classical Revival Farmers and Merchants Bank Building, 1905.

downtown Los Angeles

Detail of the arch with reflection of the San Fernando Building in the window.

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Tile mosaic floor on the lobby of Farmers and Merchants.

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Our group met outside the San Fernando Building. Originally built in 1907, the top two floors were added in 1911. Like many of the downtown buildings of this time period, this has been converted to loft apartments (with commercial spaces at street level).

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James Boon Lankershim was a real estate developer. His family owned 60,000 acres of the San Fernando Valley and Lankershim Boulevard was named after them.

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A superb hanging light fixture belonging to the San Fernando Building.

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These light fixtures are in the street. Although it was 10:00am, the power was on which made for a good photo. The second photo is the reflection of the street lamp in a window. Gotta love those reflections!

los angeles downtown

The purple glass made these vault lights in the floor of the lobby look magical.

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Barclay Hotel (originally Van Nuys Hotel), 1896. For Los Angeles this building is very, very, very old. After all, Los Angeles only officially became a city in 1850.

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The Barclay is the oldest hotel in continuous operation in the city.

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A photo of the old and the new with an LA City streetlamp. I am so happy a lot of the original street lights in the downtown area were not torn down and replaced with modern, but not so decorative, lights like the one pictured outside the Barclay Hotel three photos up.

los angeles downtown

Herman W. Hellman Building, 1903.

los angeles downtown

los angeles downtown

Light fixture and tile floor in the lobby of the Hellman. I hope I got this right. I am writing this post two weeks after the tour and a LOT has happened since then so I’m doing my best to piece it all together!

los angeles downtown

los angeles downtown

I don’t know the name of this building, I just liked the gorgeous detailing at the top. Of course I could only see it from street level with my 135mm lens but when I looked at the magnified photo in Lightroom I was even more blown away.

los angeles downtown

los angeles downtown

El Dorado Lofts in Gothic Revival style (originally Stowell Hotel), 1913. As of this writing the 1,700 sq ft (158 sq meters) penthouse is for sale at $2,100,000.

los angeles downtown

433 Spring building in ZigZag Moderne style (Originally Title Insurance and Trust), 1928. Known as the “Queen of Spring Street.”

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los angeles downtown

Details at street level.

los angeles downtown

I saw this window in passing. I was a big fan of the 80s-90s British TV comedy-drama “Lovejoy” with Ian McShane. For the two of you not familiar with this show, McShane played a loveable rascal who owned an antiques business. That was before Netflix so I had to be home at a certain time to catch the show on re-runs!

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los angeles downtown

Hotel Alexandria, 1906 and 1911. Once upon a time THE place to stay in LA until it deteriorated into long term, low income occupancy. It has now been converted to apartments. I’m always fascinated by the elaborately designed fire escapes of that period.

los angeles downtown

Not exactly The Last Bookstore but bookstores are becoming pretty scarce. 20,000 sq. ft. of new and used books.
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20,000 sq. ft.

Located in the Spring Arts Building, 1914.

los angeles downtownIf you saw my previous blog on the Art Deco walk, I took a photo of the cat sculpture on top of the elevator building at Pershing Square. I noticed another one on this walk but have not been able to find out any information on what this cat series is all about… a mystery!

los angeles downtown

Pacific Electric Building, 1905. Now used for residential use, this was built as the main depot for the Pacific Electric Railway in the Romanesque Revival style.

los angeles downtown

Display case in the lobby with photos showing the trains coming out of the building at street level. And models of the Pacific Electric cars. This is how people traveled around Los Angeles in more civilized days. The first time my parents and I came to LA in the early 60s some of these red cars were still running. When we returned from England a few years later they were all gone and replaced with freeways.

los angeles downtown

los angeles downtown

Views from the top floor.

Allowing these older, mostly abandoned office buildings to be converted to apartments and condominiums has changed the face of downtown Los Angeles. It is estimated that about 40,000 people now live in the area. You see people walking their dogs and pushing strollers. Supermarkets and drugstores and other amenities have opened to accommodate the needs of the residents. And the best part is that these beautiful buildings no longer stand empty and in disrepair.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!


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Colin Firth at the Pig ‘n Whistle

Pig 'n Whistle Colin FirthBefore our tour of Forever Hollywood Cemetery last Sunday (see my previous blog post here), my fellow tour guides met at the Pig ‘n Whistle for lunch. Located on Hollywood Boulevard near the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the restaurant has a quasi British Pub ambience. There is a Pub menu sporting items such as bangers and mash, fish ‘n chips and shepherd’s pie.

Pig 'n Whistle

But I decided to go for the Mahi Mahi covered in mushrooms on a bed of fresh spinach leaves. There was enough spinach for a week and as much as I love the stuff I could only eat half of it. I hated to waste it but I really didn’t fancy carrying a bag of spinach through the cemetery or on the bus home!

Pig 'n Whistle

Pig 'n Whistle

The Pig ‘n Whistle is now a chain restaurant but this is the original, located here since 1927 and is a Los Angeles Historic Landmark #37.

Pig 'n Whistle

Our hostess gave us a short talk on the history of the restaurant. She was standing in front of a confessional booth that is now used as a photo booth. I imagine a lot could go on in there that would require a confession!!! It’s Hollywood, you know…

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Pig 'n Whistle

The restaurant boasts a fabulous decorative ceiling. As plaster ceilings made to look like wood were very popular in the 1920s I assumed this was the case here. However, the website states the ceilings really are carved wood so that is very impressive indeed.

I had a terrible time with the lighting, as you can see. With bright light pouring in from outside, artificial light inside alternating with dark areas, the light meter on my camera was going crazy. I could have experimented but I was there for lunch, not to take magazine quality photos. So we will have to live with it.

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pig 'n whistle

As always, the light fixtures caught my attention. These would look so great in my living room.

Pig 'n Whistle

Stairs to the mezzanine which looks like it would be a great place for a private party… I’m just guessing.

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Pig 'n Whistle

A couple of shots of our merry group. A few people decided to skip the lunch and meet us at Hollywood Forever. But I have wanted to eat a meal at the Pig ‘n Whistle for a long, long time so I took the opportunity. I would love to go back when I can sit at the bar and order a good old British G & T  (gin ‘n tonic).

So by now I am sure you are asking, what the heck does Colin Firth have to do with all of this? 2011 was the Year of Colin Firth. Not only did he win an Oscar but also a Golden Globe for Best Actor in “The King’s Speech.” And he was laid to rest on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just outside the Pig ‘n Whistle… well, at least his star was laid in the sidewalk. This is a coveted spot as it has become the unofficial Brit location, home to the stars of other British luminaries such as Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell.

I’m trying to figure out how I can qualify for a star and come up with the necessary $30,000 for upkeep.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins. Please feel free to pass along this post via email or social media, but if you wish to use some of our images or text outside of the context of this blog, either give full credit to myself and link to One Good Life in Los Angeles, or contact us for proper usage. Thanks!