RMW: the blog

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


Deck the Halls of DTLA again – with views from the Wilshire Grand Hotel

christmas downtown los angeles

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Two days before Christmas I repeated the Downtown Los Angeles Christmas Tree & Decorations Tour. Click on this link for last week’s walk. This time there were five of us. I know there were other people who wanted to come but due to illnesses, injuries and other commitments, could not make it.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Don’t know what kind of tree this is but the red berries made it very festive. At California Plaza.

So I’m thinking maybe I should do this again in 2018! I’m also thinking about a Christmas Decorations walk through Beverly Hills. I did a photo walk a couple of years ago, see the post here.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Another view of the red berry tree

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

California Plaza includes two skyscrapers, both of which are shown in the above photo.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

My four companions on the walk at California Plaza

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Lobby of the US Bank Building with the Central Library in the background.

In February or March I’m hoping to put together a tour of the Central Library and then use the 50% off coupons I have to visit Skyspace, the open air observation deck at the top of the US Bank Building.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

A view of the Central Library with the new Wilshire Grand Hotel (with the mast) peeking up behind it.

The US Bank building (also known as Library Tower) was able to build to 72 floors by trading air space with the Central Library. So the library can never build higher than its present height.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Millenium Biltmore Hotel lobby

Yup, you saw the above tree in my previous post. But it’s so gorgeous it’s worth seeing again! Do you recognize that ceiling? It was used in The Poseidon Adventure.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations  

Hands-on dad assisting his daughter with the Penguin helper at Pershing Square

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

There’s construction going on everywhere these days. More people, more traffic.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Hotel Clark as seen from Pershing Square

The Hotel Clark was built sometime around 1912-ish. It was a transient hotel for many years and in pretty bad shape. It’s really good to see its new life as a boutique hotel with a rooftop restaurant/bar. I have to see if I can get up there at some point.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Tree on 70th floor of Wilshire Grand

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

View from the 70th floor of the new Wilshire Grand Hotel

If you read my previous blog post, the first time I made it to the 70th floor lobby of the Wilshire Grand Hotel I had a terrible case of vertigo that crippled me, so I couldn’t take any photos. This time I was still a little queazy but I was able to wrap my brain around the fact that I was up so high and it was okay. The above view looks out to the Santa Monica Mountains and towards Malibu.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

The main part of LA is known as the Los Angeles Basin. You can see how the name originated as we are surrounded by mountain ranges. On the other side of the mountains is The Valley… still a part of the City of Angels.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

And then there are the freeways. Pretty light traffic for a Saturday. Everybody has parked their cars at the shopping malls for Christmas shopping!

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

The ocean on the horizon… from Palos Verdes to Santa Monica. The ocean is about 15 miles (24 km) from the Wilshire Grand.

I know the color is awful on these photos. I’m still having problems with color calibration and Lightroom… and reflections through the windows didn’t help. A triple whammy.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

You might notice the heli-pad on the building next door. Until recently there was a requirement to have a helicopter landing place on every building in downtown for emergencies. Since that ruling has been lifted we are seeing some more architecturally interesting rooftops.

Downtown Los Angeles decorations

This last photo is a zoomed-in look at Echo Park Lake, approximately two miles (3.2 km) from the hotel. That white object sticking up in the center of the lake is the Olympic Fountain installed for the 1984 Olympics. You can see photos of the lake on my blog post here.

Be sure to see my post about the previous week’s walk-through of downtown decorations at Deck the Halls of DTLA.




Finding new places – the 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.


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).


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 bar area


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



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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Maguire Gardens at Richard Riordan Central Library – Part Three

los angeles central library

Entrance to Richard Riordan Central Library from Maguire Gardens

(See my previous posts first: One good kipper and a visit to the Central Library – Part One and Interior snapshots of Richard Riordan Central Library – Part Two)

Maguire Gardens, designed by Lawrence Halprin and completed in 1988, was inspired by Bertram Goodhue’s original ideas. Previously a parking lot, the gardens are now extended all the way out to meet Flower Street.

richard riordan central library

Looking from the library steps out to Flower Street. Look closely, you can see the reflection of the library and the Biltmore tower behind it in the building across the street.

Click on an image to start slideshow:

richard riordan central library

View from Maguire Gardens of 444 Building, Library Tower, Gas Company Tower

Building in the center is Library Tower, also known as US Bank, as of this writing the tallest building west of Chicago at 73 floors. The developers, Maguire Thomas, were able to buy the rights to build at this height when the Central Library sold its air rights in order raise money for the renovation and extension of the library building.

More views of the garden. Click on image to start the slideshow:

maguire gardens

World Peace bell dedicated in 2001 by then Mayor Richard Riordan

The inscription reads (in part):

The World Peace Bell is an internationally recognized symbol of world peace. The bell is cast from coins and medals donated by 103 countries and represents a common bond among the nations of the world.

bonaventure hotelView from Maguire Gardens of Westin Bonaventure Hotel. Built in the mid 1970s it is still the largest hotel in LA… but for how long? The glass elevators were quite the innovation when it was first built.

At some point in the future my camera and I will be wandering around the exterior of the library building to take some shots of all the wonderful details. Don’t know when that will happen but it’s on my long long long long list of things to do.

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!


Interior snapshots of Richard Riordan Central Library – Part Two

richard riordan central library

Richard Riordan Central Library rotunda

As I had met a friend for lunch and was downtown anyway, I decided to trot on over to the Richard Riordan Central Library to see the Union Station exhibit (see One good kipper and a visit to the Central Library – Part One).

los angeles central library

One of many magnificent ceilings

After the exhibit I wandered around the library taking a few random snapshots. As any photographer knows, for taking interior shots you really need a tripod, or at least a steady hand, neither of which I had brought with me. I just left the camera in Program mode and let it do its thing with available light, no flash.

los angeles central library

At top of the stairs, second floor

The original 1926 building was designed by Bertram Goodhue with an eclectic array of influences including Egyptian, Mediterranean, Spanish, Islamic, Byzantine and probably a few others.

los angeles central library

A sweet little tiled drinking fountain

The Central Library was renamed for former mayor Richard Riordan in 2001. It is the third largest library in the US in terms of books and periodicals.

los angeles central library

Above is the ceiling of the main rotunda adorned with amazing mosaic-like decorations and murals depicting the history of California.

Click a photo below for more images of the rotunda:


Lovely art deco light fixtures

When at the library you have to look up, down and sideways or you might miss something wonderful.


The new wing, including the massive eight-story atrium, was completed in 1993 and named in honor of former mayor Tom Bradley.

In 1986 two arson fires came close to destroying the library. Although the arsons were a terrible crime, in the end the fires provided the reason to renovate, improve and add on to the existing building.

Click on a photo below for slideshow of more images of the atrium:

los angeles central library

Beautifully decorated ceiling in children’s library. More images below of children’s area:

los angeles central library

Ceiling at main entrance

The painted ceiling at the main entrance will really keep you awake while you stand in line to check your books in or out!

los angeles central library

This is the original torch that stood atop the pyramid roof of the original building. This is now kept inside the library in order to preserve it while a replica has replaced it on the exterior.

And now for Part Three with photos of Maguire Gardens adjacent to the library that were completed in 1988.

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!


One good kipper and a visit to the Central Library – Part One

richard riordan central library

Atrium of Tom Bradley wing of Central Library completed in 1993

Last week I met a friend at the 7th Street Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles. We both arrived by train. This is the end of the line for the Culver City/Expo Line which I traveled on, and for the Long Beach/Blue Line which he traveled on. He was in the mood for deli food so he suggested eating at Langer’s, just one stop away on the Red Line train at MacArthur Park.

MacArthur Park, made famous by the song written by Jimmy Webb, is now a hispanic neighborhood so it may seem strange to find a Jewish deli in that milieu of Spanish-speaking people. According to my friend, twenty years ago the deli was in danger of closing, but thanks to the Red Line station opening literally yards away, and the ease of getting there from the downtown business district at lunchtime, it was revived.

My criteria for judging a deli is 1. do they serve kippers with scrambled eggs and onions? And 2. how fresh and plump are the kippers?

Langer’s Deli gets an A rating for serving kippers and a B+ for the kippers themselves. They were good but not plump enough to receive an A rating. However, a million times better than my last experience at the Roll ‘n Rye, generally a good deli, where the kippers were shriveled up to the size of a sardine and dry as leather. I would go to Langer’s again for the same dish.

My friend ordered the #19 – Pastrami with swiss cheese and cole slaw which apparently is their most famous dish. For a good photo of this plate click here. If you are a pastrami lover (which I am not) it might just entice you to jump on the train for lunch!

richard riordan central library

Scale model of Union Station at the Central Library

After our meal we trained back to downtown and said adieu. I decided to visit the Richard Riordan Central Library as I wanted to catch the exhibit commemorating the 75th birthday of Los Angeles Union Station. No Further West: The Story of Los Angeles Union Station  examines the architectural design and cultural politics of the historic station.

We are fortunate that both the 1926 library and the 1939 station were not gobbled up and destroyed by developers, a situation that so easily could have happened. Both are beautiful buildings in the downtown area that I enjoy visiting.

In the Union Station exhibit I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous pen/ink and pencil architectural drawings. In one of my many careers I labored as a lowly draftsperson “on the boards” before computer aided design came along. Although back in the day I was excited to be one of the first people transitioning to CAD, I still love to look at renderings and plans created the old fashioned way by hand.

As much as I appreciated the archival material, I was intrigued by the visions of the future. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro for short) purchased the Union Station complex in 2011, which makes so much sense as it is now the hub of transportation in the LA area. They asked six international design teams to use their imaginations in coming up with concepts for what the future could look like.

Some of the ideas are pretty far out but in my experience it’s always better to start out big and pull back rather than thinking small and then having to add on here and there. That is really what Los Angeles suffers from now… not a lot of planning for the future in considering the whole enchilada, more of a patchwork of individual neighborhoods now fighting to reconfigure itself as a unit.

Below, not part of the exhibit, is a YouTube video of Metro’s Union Station plans for the near future:

After viewing the Union Station exhibit I wandered around the library taking random snapshots. Interior shots of the library are posted here in Part Two.

All photos and content copyright roslyn m wilkins unless otherwise noted. 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!