RMW: the blog

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


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A tour of the NoMad Hotel in DTLA

NoMad Hotel

Another interesting day in downtown Los Angeles. My friend KJ and I went on a private tour of the NoMad Hotel organized by Eleanor Schrader. This was particularly meaningful to me as when I was a docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy I would bring people to the building in its various incarnations.

(Just an anecdote, I remember many years ago when I was leading a tour, some movie company was shooting a film outside the building. They removed the tree that you see in the above photo. I was really mad. But as you can see, they did it carefully so they could replant it when the shoot was over, and today it is still healthy!)

NoMad Hotel

The 1920s were the glory days of downtown LA and the building known as Giannini Place, the home of the Bank of Italy, was no exception. The building morphed into the Bank of America, then attempts were made to renovate it for offices until it became derelict.

NoMad Hotel

So I am very happy this historic building has been totally renovated in the spirit of its original design to become a boutique hotel.

I popped downstairs to the restroom to discover that the vault had been converted to bathrooms!

NoMad Hotel

Click on an image to start a slide show of some photos of the hotel:

The interior of the hotel is gorgeous. But my favorite part is the roof bar and pool area with some great views of the city! Click on an image below:

 

NoMad Hotel

Above is the coffee shop decked out for the season.

freehand hotel

It was suggested that we should visit the sister hotel down the street for lunch, the Freehand Hotel in what was originally the 1920s Commercial Exchange Building. It’s so great to see these wonderful Beaux Artes buildings coming back to life as apartments and hotels after standing empty for decades.

 

The ambience of the Freehand is totally different from the NoMad. We both felt like we were in an Asian take on Yosemite! The wait staff emphasized that the chef was half Mexican, half Chinese which influenced the cuisine. We both chose the Tunisian sandwich which was a delicious take on a nicoise salad.

I love downtown Los Angeles.

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BG and RMW’s big birthday bash

pershing square building

Pershing Square Building in downtown LA with PERCH restaurant/bar on the roof.

My birthday is in May and my friend BG’s birthday is in June so we decided to have a birthday bash this past Saturday. The last time we did a birthday bash was two years ago which I documented at this link.

https://onegoodlife.wordpress.com/2016/07/08/belated-birthday-bash/

Left to right. US Bank Building, Deloitte Building (formerly Gas Building), new construction, California Plaza (in background), Title Guarantee Building, Pershing Square Building (peeking in at right side)

We’re in the middle of June Gloom (not to be confused with May Gray although very similar!). The good news is the sun usually comes out late morning/early afternoon.

downtown la

Not sure what building this is but I love the mural

We both live in Culver City so we took the Expo Line train to 7th Street Metro Center Station and walked a few blocks (we could have transferred to the Red Line and exited at Pershing Square but it wasn’t worth the effort for a one-minute ride).

downtown la

There’s construction going on all over LA these days… mixed use projects… too much traffic, too many people…

 

downtown la

Detail of the Pershing Square Building. The 1920s were the glory days of downtown… fortunately most of the beaux artes and art deco buildings still remain to live a new life today.

downtown la

We took the elevator to Perch on the 15th floor of the Pershing Square Building. We ordered our drinks. B liked the idea of the My Fair Lady with vodka. I ordered the gin Hemingway on the Beach. I don’t particularly like very sweet drinks and this fit the bill. We each had two cocktails (it was our birthday bash…).

downtown la

We both ordered the Huevos Rancheros. I happen to be an expert on this dish (!) and I have to say this was about the best I have ever laid eyes on and eaten! They came with Perch potatoes that melted in my mouth. I’m also a potato aficionado…

downtown la

I can only assume these were the original 1920s tile floors… exquisite.

downtown la

downtown la

If you love downtown LA as I do, you can’t go wrong with this view. As I was sucking up the huevos I was looking directly at the Title Guaranty Building. Originally built as an office building it is now re-used as residential lofts, as are many of the 1920s office buildings in downtown.

California Plaza in the center. Beneath it is the Subway Building. Yes, there was a subway in LA.

downtown la

Looking down on Pershing Square with the Biltmore Hotel at right middle.

It’s fabulous to see the revitalization of downtown which really began in the 1980s. Before that it had become a virtual dead zone. It’s weird to think that most of the people who now live downtown in converted lofts and apartments weren’t even on the planet when the area was pretty much desolate. But I remember!

la downtown

Detail of the Title Guaranty Building

la downtownWe were told that our table reservation could only be held for 15 minutes if we were late. We could see why as the place was packed for lunch on Saturday.

la downtown

We were entertained by Emma-Jane and her band. A lovely selection of songs.

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View of the restaurant interior and bar

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We visited the 16th floor which is a bar only. Looked very cosy. And the sun was coming out.

la downtown

US Bank Building, Biltmore Hotel,Deloitte Building, California Plaza

We could have stayed at Perch for the rest of the day as we felt so relaxed and comfortable. But it was time to move on.

la downtown
We were on our way to the Intercontinental Wilshire Grand. On the way we passed one of my favorite buildings, originally the Sanwa Bank Building, not sure what it is currently. It’s a beautiful 1990s homage to the art deco style of the 1920s.

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Street entrance to Wilshire Grand Hotel

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Entrance to Wilshire Grand

 

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Across the street, another of my favorite buildings, originally a Home Savings bank, the lobby is on the 6th floor to allow parking on the lower floors because the Red Line train station was built under the building where underground parking would have been. Maybe the new Wilshire Grand took a cue from Home Savings with their 70th floor lobby?

la downtownla downtownThe Wilshire Grand lobby offers fabulous views of downtown, an upscale bar and comfy seating.

la downtown

la downtownThis thingamajig is holding the building up!

la downtownThe first time I saw the view from these windows I had a bad vertigo attack. Now I’ve been up there a few times it doesn’t bother me. It’s all in the head.

la downtownView of Echo Park Lake, about 3 miles from downtown. This reminded me that I need to visit there before the Lotus flowers fade.

la downtown
We ordered drinks… some concoction with Roses Lime Juice. Very tasty but too sweet for me.

We ordered drinks  At 4:00pm the open air rooftop bar opened… we were on it! I felt like I was on a cruise ship. Hmm… it’s been a few years since I’ve been on a cruise… I think I’m ready to go again!

la downtown

The mast which makes this the fake tallest building in LA!

la downtown

B ordered another sweet drink but I went with a Gin Gibson to get that tart onion flavor. We shared an order of chicken wings for some much needed protein.

santa monica

It was a wonderful experience sitting on top of the world, but we wanted to go west to the Santa Monica Pier to finish up the day. Fortunately we were just a few footsteps away from the train station. So we jumped on the Expo Line and headed for the beach. The pier was jammed with people out for a summer evening.

la downtownWe were glad we weren’t driving and having to hunt for a parking space!

santa monicaAll the cars on Pacific Coast Highway were heading back into town.

santa monica

santa monica

Despite all the people I always love to see the ocean. There’s no way I could ever live far from it.

santa monica

santa monica

We walked back into downtown Santa Monica. santa monica

The Third Street Promenade was alive and well on a Saturday night. We were looking for ice cream but settled for milk shakes. I ordered a Kit Kat shake. The last time I had a milk shake was at a McDonald’s in Oregon in 2015. It was a vanilla shake and possibly the best thing I ever ate in my life! But this shake was even better. Maybe in three years I can have another shake!

We headed home to Culver City on the Expo Line, two very happy birthday girls…

 

 

 


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Looking down on Los Angeles

skyspace los angeles

In the very very distance at the left on the top of the mountain you may be able to see a white horizontal splodge. That is the Hollywood Sign. If you look a little to the right you will see another white speck which is the Griffith Observatory.

Almost 30 years ago Library Tower opened as the tallest building in Los Angeles and West of Chicago at 73 stories and 1018 feet (approx 310 m) high. As a Los Angeles Conservancy docent at the time I had the privilege of leading tours around the 72nd story. It was late afternoon. There had been a huge storm the day before. The skies were full of wonderful cloud formations and the view went on forever… from the glittering ocean to the mountains and beyond to the desert. It’s a scene I will always hold in my head.

skyspace los angeles

Wilshire Boulevard at center heading northwest. It jogs to the left around Koreatown to turn west and then runs through Beverly Hills, heads southwest at Westwood Village and then all the way out to the beach at Santa Monica.

It’s now the US Bank Tower but it’s always been an office building closed to the public. New owners took over recently, built some observation decks and installed a glass slide between the 70th and 69th floors and called it OUE Skyspace which is open to the public for the price of a ticket. Above are two views from the observation decks. Below are three photos of the slide.

I was able to get 50% off coupons for up to 16 people and we had 13 in our group so that worked out well. None of us wanted to go on the slide… this time… but there’s always a next time!

I wrote a blog post back in December including a trip to the top of the Wilshire Grand, (you can visit it here) which is claiming to be the tallest building in Los Angeles. In fact, it is a few feet shorter but a mast attached to the top allows it to be called the tallest building. So it’s the fake tallest building in LA. The US Bank Tower is still in reality the tallest. Yes, it bugs me!

The best part is that you can look down on the fake tallest building from the real tallest building observation deck. The fake tallest building is, of course, the one with the mast sticking up above its roofline.

skyspace los angelesUnfortunately, this was a pretty smoggy/hazy day with limited visibility. Otherwise we would have seen the glittering ocean 15 miles away. I just checked Google maps and at 5:20pm (current time) on a Monday afternoon it would take one hour and 20 minutes to drive those 15 miles! Good luck!

skyspace los angeles

This shell-like image is taken by standing on a glass plate at the top of an old elevator shaft on the 54th floor looking down to the ground floor.

skyspace los angeles

So many stories (no pun intended) in these buildings both happy and sad.

Cylinders in the center comprise the 1974 Bonaventure… still one of my favorite hotels in downtown.

Of course, I have to leave you with a photo of the building itself!

us bank tower

One of my favorite views of the US Bank Tower, originally named the Library Tower, next to the Central Library building. These two buildings by themselves tell the story of architecture in Los Angeles.

The real tallest building in LA!

I’ve probably said it before but I will keep saying it: I love exploring downtown LA (and all of LA) as there is so much to discover and learn. I’ve lived in LA all my adult life and I’m still finding new, delightful and surprising things!


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My day in DTLA

carole garland

I’m not ashamed to admit I love downtown Los Angeles. So when I heard that Carole Garland was showing her paintings of downtown at the TAG Gallery on Wilshire Blvd (near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) I had to go. I took the Culver CityBus line #1 to the Metro line #217.

TAG gallery

This was my first visit to TAG since the gallery moved from Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

I really like the space. It gives the artists a chance to spread out. There’s also a second level.

The photo above is all Carole’s DTLA show.

Carole Garland

Los Angeles Union Station

It was difficult for me to pick her three best paintings. I just had to be arbitrary or I would have ended up showing you all of them!

Carole Garland

Bridge spanning the LA River

BTW, all Carole’s images are shown with her permission.

carole garland

The heart of downtown with new Wilshire Grand building in foreground as it was being constructed.

After this I jumped on the Metro #720 bus thinking it would take me along Wilshire Blvd all the way downtown. Surprise, it was only going to Vermont. Fortunately, the bus turned the corner and dropped us all off at the Wilshire/Vermont Red and Purple Line Station.

angel's flight

Looking upwards to the station at the top of the hill

That actually worked out better as I was able to take the Purple Line all the way to Pershing Square for my next adventure. Angels Flight, the world’s shortest railway, had reopened recently (this was September 20, 2017) and I wanted a ride. I won’t go into the whole history here. It’s been pretty rocky. You’ll have to Google it.

The price is one whole dollar for the ride. As I have a TAP card it only cost me 50 cents each way.

angels flight

I’ve ridden this little railway a million times over the years. I never get tired of it.

One Bunker Hill

Having gotten my jollies on Angels Flight (up and down), it was time for coffee. I had read an article in the LA Times (I subscribe to the digital version) that a coffee bar had opened in the lobby of one of my favorite buildings, One Bunker Hill. Don’t have to ask me twice!

One Bunker Hill

My coffee and the view from where I was sitting.

One Bunker Hill

The building was originally called the Southern California Edison Building when it opened around 1930. It was on the very first architectural tour I took with the Los Angeles Conservancy in 1988 and when I saw the interior I decided I had to become an architectural docent. So I took the training and led LAC walking tours for sixteen years.

One Bunker Hill

I think my little Canon point & shoot camera doesn’t do too bad of a job, does it?

One Bunker Hill

I love the subdued light that comes in through the pastel-colored window panes.

One Bunker Hill

This is the most elegant coffee bar I have ever had the pleasure of spending my time in.

One Bunker HillThe very friendly and personable barista.

When I was doing the tours I seem to remember there were something like 30 different kinds of marble used in the building. This was just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929 which hit the West Coast around 1930 as the building was opening.

One Bunker Hill

Travertine, a porous rock formed in surface waters. If you ever go to Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone, you will be walking on it as it is forming. A fabulous experience.

cabbage patch

So now it was lunchtime. I had read a review about Cabbage Patch so I decided to try it out. Mmmmm. I ordered two sides, mashed potatoes and cole slaw. Both were heavenly.

downtown la

I was so happy, sitting at my window table watching the world walk by. What a lovely day. I was so grateful for my life.

pershing squareI walked back over to Pershing Square to discover it was farmers market day. We have these pop-up markets all over the LA area on different days. I go to the Culver City farmers market on Tuesday afternoons to buy all my veggies and fruit.

downtown la

Biltmore Hotel, Library Tower,  Gas Company, California Plaza

And it was time to go home. Downtown is an endless source of enjoyment for me. This was a super day.


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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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downtown-LA-070216-017-C-600px

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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Hauser Wirth & Schimmel and The Pho Shop

hauser-wirth-schimmel-042316-022-C-600px

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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Art Deco – walking with the Los Angeles Conservancy

art deco walk los Angeles

I’ve been a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy for well over 25 years. For 16 of those years I was an architectural walking tour docent, which I enjoyed immensely.

For the rest of September members can reserve spaces on any of the tours (through November) free of charge for themselves and a guest. I haven’t been on a regular LAC walking tour in many years. I led just about all the tours myself and it’s very difficult for me to walk along on another tour guide’s tour! I want to be up front leading the tour!

downtown los angeles

But I decided to take this opportunity to take a friend for free. My friend “S” was willing to accompany me on the Art Deco tour on Saturday. We met at the Culver City Station and took the Expo Line to downtown Los Angeles. It was a beautiful day, sunny but not too hot.

The starting point for the tour was Pershing Square. I’m hoping to write a separate post about this park another time as it is undergoing more changes.

The photo at the top of this post is looking back at the 1923 Millenium Biltmore Hotel with the Pacific Mutual Building to the left built in the same era. This is the first time I’ve noticed the cat over the escalator entrance. This may have something to do with the new children’s playgrounds recently installed in the square.

The second photo shows what used to be known as the Gas Company Tower on the right (buildings annoyingly change names when a major tenant moves in and claims naming rights). In the center is Library Tower (which will soon no longer lay claim to being the tallest building west of Chicago). In front, of course, another view of the Biltmore Hotel.

title guaranty building

So, this is the Art Deco tour! The 1930 Title Guaranty Building was designed by the father and son team of Donald and John Parkinson. They were prolific architects in LA during the 20s and 30s. Like many former office buildings in downtown, Title Guaranty has been converted to residential lofts.  In the background to the left is one of the California Plaza buildings.

During this time period there were two major architectural styles in downtown commercial buildings: art deco and beaux artes. The art deco style is easily recognized by its verticality and set backs.

Click an image below to start a slide show of some details of the building:

Thrifty

I don’t know about people from outside the LA area, but Thrifty Drug Stores were a mainstay of everyday life for many decades. Everybody loved Thrifty ice cream. I go as far back as single cones for a dime, or maybe it was quarter, I don’t quite remember. When the Thrifty stores became Rite Aid, Thrifty ice cream was so ingrained in the hearts of customers that they retained the brand name. You can still buy Thrifty ice cream cones, albeit no longer for a dime or a quarter! (This terrazzo logo remains at the corner of the Title Guaranty Building.)

In LA, the term “art deco” is used as an umbrella term to cover many related styles and versions. At least by me!

Southern California Edison Building

Probably my favorite art deco style building in all of downtown is the Southern California Edison Building or One Bunker Hill, or whatever company is in possession at the time being and bought the naming rights!

Completed around 1931, just as the depression era moved into Los Angeles and put the kabosh on any further expensive, luxury construction. This was the building that convinced me to sign up for the Los Angeles Conservancy docent training program in 1988. After seeing many other gorgeous 1920s/1930s buildings in both the art deco and beaux artes styles, this was icing on the cake.

Built for the Edison company, the architects were Allison and Allison (as a UCLA grad that is a familiar name to me) and it was the most high tech building at the time. No surprise, it was all electric.

Walking around with a group I have a hard time taking the photos I want to capture. I am better at being by myself and taking my time. But hopefully the following photos will give you some sense of why I love this building so much, inside and out. Click on an image to begin slide show:

Some notes on the lobby photos: there are about a billion different kinds of marble used. At one time we had a geologist docent who made an inventory of all the marbles but I no longer have that information at my finger tips. Maybe it’s short of a billion, but at least a LOT!

The windows are composed of multi-pastel-colored panes that imbue a soft, warm light into the space.

The painting by Hugo Ballin is entitled The Apotheosis of Power and depicts the discovery of electricity by Benjamin Franklin and William Gilbert. A hand comes down from the heavens bestowing electricity (power) on the people of Los Angeles. The hand of God or the Southern California Edison Company?

I could write many posts about this building… but we move on. Well, not quite…
downtown los angeles

The 1930s meets the 1990s. By now you recognize the building to the left as Library Tower (US Bank Building). The story of Library Tower is quintessential Los Angeles but I won’t go into the whole story here. Another day…

downtown los angeles

Okay, I could spend a week talking about what is going on in the above photo. The short story is Central Library (see previous blog post here) is in the center, which supplied the air rights to allow Library Tower (peeking in at right) to be built. To the left of the library is the new construction for The Wilshire Grand Center, replacing the old Wilshire Grand Hotel, which promises to overtake Library Tower as the tallest building. Boo hoo… I always liked pointing out Library Tower to visitors. I guess I’ll get over it.

The two black shoe box buildings in the background tell a terrible story. The Los Angeles Conservancy, which does its best to preserve and protect buildings of architectural note, was not around in the 60s when the black and gold Richfield Building, the MOST beautiful art deco building anywhere, was demolished to make way for what were originally known as the Arco Towers. Don’t you just love the towers’ exquisitely intricate design? When I was an LAC docent I had a hard time keeping my opinions to myself! I do hope you will take an extra second to click on the link to see what LA is now sorely missing.

The tour continued on but at this point my stupidity took over. I was trying to change a setting on my camera while walking, listening to the docent and doing my best not to trip and fall flat on my face. I’m still extra cautious after my concussion!

I apparently accidentally hit a button that made me believe my camera had crapped out on me. This was the power of suggestion at work as a few days before I had inadvertently left my camera outside overnight. In the morning it was soaking wet with dew and I was afraid I had damaged it. So instead of continuing to investigate why the camera was not working properly, I decided it was indeed damaged and I stopped taking photos on the tour.

Of course when I got home and thought everything through, I realized it was merely  a wrong setting in the quick menu. In any event, by this time in the morning the sun was very strong and causing a lot of glare on the buildings, so photography would have been limited anyway.

At some point in time I need to make the effort to walk around downtown earlier in the morning and finish up the art deco tour on my own.

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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Saturday adventure part three – looking backward to the future at the Bradbury Building

bradbury building

After lunch at the Grand Central Market, our next stop was the Bradbury Building. One of the oldest buildings still standing in downtown Los Angeles, it was completed in 1893.  bradbury building

While the exterior is purposely plain, the interior is nothing short of spectacular.

bradbury building

Lewis Bradbury made his fortune mining gold and wanted a monument to his name. He hired a draftsman working in the architectural office of Sumner Hunt named George Wyman. Wyman consulted a planchette (a board used in seances) and was told if he took the job he would be successful.

bradbury building

Wyman was influenced by the science fiction book Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy written in 1887 about a Utopian society in the year 2000 where commercial buildings would be halls of light from above.

bradbury building

A spring was discovered under the site so although this meant extra precautions to strengthen the foundations, the water was used to run hydraulic elevators.

bradbury building

The building has been the star of countless movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

bradbury buildingProbably the most famous, and certainly my favorite, was the 1982 movie Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford. Whenever I walk in the front door of the building the soundtrack music plays in my head!

bradbury building

The beautiful wrought iron work was created in France and displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair before being installed in the building.

bradbury building

In 1991 developer Ira Yellin and project architect Brenda Levin Associates undertook a $7 million restoration and seismic retrofitting.

bradbury building

bradbury building

bradbury building

Lewis Bradbury unfortunately passed away just months before his building opened. When he was alive he could look down from his home on Bunker Hill to keep an eye on the progress of the construction. I like to think he saw his completed building from a much higher viewpoint!

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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Downtown for the holidays

downtown christmas decorations

It was a rather gloomy, hazy day today but I got myself on the train to go downtown anyway. I like to go this time of year to wander around and look at the holiday decorations. Above is one of the Christmas trees at Grand Park with Los Angeles City Hall in the background. I did the best I could to bump up the blue sky but it just wasn’t there.

downtown christmas decorations

The shocking pink color scheme of the tree matches the color of the chairs and tables throughout the park.

downtown christmas decorationsThis is my favorite photo of the day. A selfie with City Hall behind me reflected in the pink ball.

downtown christmas decorations
I always like a cigarette that can tell a good joke!

downtown christmas decorationsTrees at the midpoint of the park adorned with gifts.

downtown christmas decorationsThe Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain at the north end of Grand Park with another Christmas tree.

Arthur J. Will Memorial FountainIt wouldn’t be Christmas without palm trees.

Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center hiding behind the tree. The Music Center is north of Grand Park, across Grand Avenue. The Music Center actually just celebrated its 50th birthday. I should do a post on that.

Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain

Another selfie!

Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain
Looking back at City Hall.

Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain

downtown christmas decorations

I was disappointed there was no tree at the Music Center this year but I guess Grand Park made up for it. However, the area was festively decorated.

Arthur J. Will Memorial FountainAnd a nice bow on the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

downtown christmas decorationsMoving south on Grand Avenue I saw these trees inside the lobby at California Plaza. They came out pretty well despite all the reflections on the glass.

downtown christmas decorations

California Plaza really came through in a big Christmassy way. There were some kiddies running around in great excitement at this display.

downtown christmas decorations

 
Note the train running around the base of the display. I love trains whether real or scale model.

downtown christmas decorations
I also love reflections.

los-angeles-downtown-122114-150-C-850px
A beautiful purply tree inside the Wells Fargo Center.

downtown christmas decorations
Purple happens to be my favorite color so if there’s anything better than a purple Christmas tree, it’s two purple Christmas trees!

Wells Fargo Plaza building
And so you don’t think I’m playing favorites with Wells Fargo, the Bank of America Plaza across the street sports these planters with beautiful red, white and gold begonias and poinsettias.

downtown christmas decorations
Red and white begonias seem to be very popular all over the city this year.
downtown christmas decorations
At this point I was about decorated out. But I was happy that I made the effort to capture a little holiday spirit.

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!