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!

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.

la downtown

View of the restaurant interior and bar

la downtown

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.

la downtown

Street entrance to Wilshire Grand Hotel

la downtown

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!

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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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!