RMW: the blog

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


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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

la downtown

Street entrance to Wilshire Grand Hotel

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Entrance to Wilshire Grand

 

la downtown
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!

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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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Eating in the rain

 La Grande Orange Cafe

 

Some friends and I had planned to meet for lunch at La Grande Orange Cafe in Pasadena. Because of the flooding in my building I wasn’t sure if I could make it. Fortunately that was squared away in the morning and I was able to catch the Expo Line train to the Red Line and join some of the others at Union Station. From there we took the Gold Line to the Del Mar station where we met up with another friend.

I just love how we can all come from different areas in Greater Los Angeles and travel by train to our destination!

The cafe is part of the Del Mar station so we only had to walk a few footsteps in the rain once we debarked the train.

I asked G jokingly if we were going to ask for an outside table. The rain was really coming down at that point. The joke was on me. The restaurant was so crowded inside they seated us in the outdoor patio. I told the waitress the table had better be right under a heat lamp. It was. The waitress had to wipe the rain off our chairs before we could be seated!

La Grande Orange Cafe

Our table was sandwiched between the fireplace protected by a glass screen (photo above) and a heat lamp.  You can see one of the heat lamps in the photo at top.

The patio is under canopies but the precipitation managed to sneak through and every once in a while the rain spat on us… but in a very friendly way!

la grande orange cafe

My Bloody Mary and Huevos Rancheros more than made up for any bad weather. They were both excellent.

I am always happy when I decide to go out and do something as opposed to staying curled up on the sofa, which I easily could have done!

Back in Culver City the rain was coming down in Velociraptors and Tyrannosauruses as I left the train station. I thought about waiting for the bus but decided to take a chance on walking. I did a lot of puddle hopping but as the bus never passed me in the entire walk home I obviously made the right decision not to get soaked standing at the bus stop. Better to get soaked walking. And I did. Get soaked.

We have at least another day of rain. But by Wednesday the sun should be back and we’ll have a few dry days. I hope this isn’t the end of the wet stuff but it will be nice to have a chance to dry out.

Oh, and our flood… it was still a flood when I got home but the pump is doing a pretty good job… so we may get lucky and it won’t seep into the garages this time. Fingers crossed.

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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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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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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Train’s a-comin’ – all the way to the beach

expo line

When the Culver City station of the Expo Line light rail opened June 28, 2012 my late friend TL and I were passengers on the first day. You can see my post about that event here. Having grown up riding the trains in England, being able to ride the rails to downtown LA was a dream come true.

This past Friday, May 20, 2016, the second half of that dream also became a reality. The long-awaited stretch from Culver City to Santa Monica can now be traversed by train. And how could I ever guess I would be living within walking distance (one mile) of two train stations, Culver City and Palms!

langers kippers langers-kippers-102214-005-C-600px

I met my friend R at the 7th St. Metro Center, as far east as the Expo Line goes. He took the Blue Line which also ends at the Metro Center. Together we took the Purple Line to MacArthur Park and ate an early lunch at Langer’s Deli where I always order the kippers and scrambled eggs.

expo line

Expo Line arriving at the beach with the new “Santa Monica” header.

We were back at the 7th Metro station in time to take the second train to Santa Monica. I believe the first one left the station at 11:25 am and we were there about 11:35. It was so strange to see the train pull up with the Santa Monica header instead of Culver City… I am rather sad about that!

By the time the train arrived at Culver City the train was jammed to the gills and no possible way for any other passengers to board. I was so glad I met my friend in downtown LA instead of attempting to meet him at Culver City. Even though the train was packed, people still insisted on squeezing their way through the doors. It was insane!

expo line

expo line

Palms Station on the Expo Line. One of two stations within walking distance from my house.

I was afraid the overpasses would collapse with the weight or that the train would be too heavy to move. As it was, it did go rather slowly around the curves through West LA. The first new station after Culver City was Palms. I’ve been watching this station being constructed and it was cool to actually be stopping there.

expo line

When we arrived at the Downtown Santa Monica station passengers were cheering and clapping. I have to admit I was thrilled! It was history in the making as the last time a train arrived in Santa Monica from downtown LA was 63 years ago in 1953.

expo line

When the train doors opened it was like arriving on a new planet with everybody eager to explore.

expo line

People just kept coming and coming and coming off the train.

expo line

The train stops just a few blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. You can just see the entrance to the pier at the end of Colorado Blvd. in the center of the photo.

expo line

When it was time to go back, they had things a little better organized. They had lines set up just like at Disneyland and they were allowing only so many people on the train at a time.
expo line

This was certainly a day I will never forget!

expo line

Click here for post about my second ride to the beach on Sunday.

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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Walking with the Valley bikers

valley cicLAvia 2015

CicLAvia is a City of Los Angeles event where streets are closed to motorized vehicles allowing people to walk, bike and skate through the open streets that are usually clogged with traffic. CicLavia is a nonprofit organization formed to promote the awareness of riding bicycles and taking public transportation instead of driving around in cars.

The first Valley event (as in the San Fernando Valley) was held yesterday and I decided to join some friends who were planning to walk the route. valley ciclavia

I took the Expo Line to the Red Line to meet up with everybody at Universal Studios Station which is the penultimate stop on the Red Line. It was the perfect weather for walking or cycling as the temperature was in the low to mid 70s F (low to mid 20s C) and overcast. My kind of weather! The sun broke through early afternoon to brighten everything up but by then we were on the return leg so it worked out well.

CicLAvia Valley

Some nice bougainvillea along the way.

The City of Los Angeles is divided into two major land masses cut in two by the Santa Monica Mountains. South of the mountains is the LA Basin. North of the mountains lies the San Fernando Valley.

So the Red Line train travels under the mountains from the Hollywood and Highland Station to arrive at Universal Studios in North Hollywood.

CicLAvia Valley

Once I transferred to the Red Line it was obvious I was going in the right direction. The station platform was jammed with people and their bicycles all squeezing on to a train that was already jammed with people and their bicycles! As I had not eaten breakfast I decided to get off at Hollywood & Highland to grab a bagel. That set off a chain reaction of people having to move their bikes along the car to let me out!

valley cicLAvia

I don’t have any really stunning photos from yesterday. But it was cool to see so many bikes in place of cars on a major thoroughfare like Ventura Boulevard. Above is a photo of Chase Bank that was formerly a Home Savings. Millard Sheets is well known in Southern California as an artist and designer who designed a multitude of buildings for Home Savings. This is one of his many beautiful mosaics at the entrance.

valley cicLAvia

CicLAvia has been going since 2010, planned as an annual event but as the first one turned out to be so popular, in 2011 and 2012 there were two each year. In 2013 and 2014 there were three. And this year there will be four events.

The turnout for the Valley CicLAvia was estimated between 50,000 to 75,000 people. From what I understand, some of these events have attracted up to 100,000 participants. It would be fun to know how many Valley-ites actually took part as opposed to the number of people coming in from other areas. But not everybody wants to trek all the way out there!

valley cicLAvia

This was the turnaround point. We had walked about 3.5 miles by now. But don’t worry, we had stopped a couple of blocks earlier to refuel at Jerry’s Deli. I ordered a mushroom omelette and was ready for the walk back. Maybe you can tell from the photo that the sun was starting to peak through.

valley cicLAvia

We were entertained by this marching band. Many of the cyclists were giving them the thumbs up in appreciation as they rode by.

The route included Studio City, Universal City and North Hollywood. As we walked through Studio City I noticed the sidewalk was imbedded with plaques to commemorate the “B” movies made by Republic Pictures that had been located in that neighborhood, and also some TV shows filmed at the Studio City branch of CBS.

People coming from out of state always think of the LA district of “Hollywood” as being that magical place from where all movies and TV shows originate… but that could not be further from the truth as the studios and movie industry are spread out all over the Los Angeles area.

By the time we had turned around and reached our starting point we had walked seven miles. It was good to be back on the train and sitting down. I don’t have much reason to spend time in the Valley so it was nice to be out there walking around on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains! As LA is so vast one of the aims of CicLAvia is to get people out of their own neighborhoods to visit other parts of town.

I just found out that one of the 2015 CicLAvias will have its starting point in Culver City…. I am assuming at the Culver City Expo Line Station. The end point will be at the ocean in Venice. So I will be sure to take part in that one on August 9. Make your plans now and I’ll meet you at the station!

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