RMW: the blog

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


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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!

downtown-LA-070216-008-C-600px

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!