Expose Los Angeles, Part 1

by Jason on May 26, 2012

One of the things I was most excited to do upon returning home to Los Angeles after my first year in graduate school is to take a walk through the city. I was yearning to see the City of Angels since nearing the end of the semester, even changing my facebook profile’s cover page highlighting the sprawling metropolis of the west coast.

My love for LA is not subtle. I have already wrote about how beautiful Los Angeles is through my fascination with the movie (500) Days of Summer. Well, I am going to continue with my love for this city with my two-part expose as I walk through downtown Los Angeles with my camera and sketch pad, through Little Tokyo, Civic Center, and Bunker Hill areas.

I was looking forward to this walk the night before, thinking about places that I’ve read about but actually never been to, even though I’ve walked through downtown LA before. Maybe it’s different walking to a destination to walking as the destination act. Or maybe because after a year of being submerged in cities, I am taking a more careful look at it.

However, most likely, is that I find this city beautiful, and I wanted to take it in as is, on the ground, with a camera, or on paper. On Friday, May 25th – with overcast, hot, sunny, shifting weather, I became an urbanist to my own city.

Drove to Little Toyko, parked, and then walked the city.

City Hall was one of my first stops. It wasn’t originally on the agenda until I realized I’ve never been before. Drew this on the CalTrans steps. Now, both these buildings hold more significance to me now.

Seemless shift from public to private space, declared by this plaque on the ground. It was another tall bank building, and would probably tell me to move if I stood around too long.

Walking down Broadway away from City Hall. LA is full of well framed shots of the skyline with trees. This is Bunker Hill.

I love the murals in LA, somehow trying to beautify the parking lots throughout.

This is my first time to the Bradbury Building, which is a shame because is this such a gorgeous looking structure. It is definitely as large as how movies portray it to be, but the detailing is exquisite. The bare exposure of the architecture, the fine carvings in the wood and metal, the glowing light that peaks through the sky, all make the experience of being in this building stunning. I can almost ignore the Subway and the Sprint store that brace the entrance of the building.






A bit blurry – Bradbury steps.

Walked into Grand Central Market across from the Bradbury Building to grab some lunch. This is a historic open air market that is just as bustling as ever. Many choices of a variety of cuisine, as well as produce and specialty items for sale. Think of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, and then make it much grittier, more affordable, and less pretentious.

I had three tacos: chicharon (pork grinds), buche (cheek), and fish. They were all massive and extremely delicious. The chef also gave me barbacoa (slow-cooked cheek) as I was eating on the bar by the serving counter. You eat where you order, watch it get prepped, standing only.

If you enjoyed this and look forward to part two, click the Like button!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jarrett M May 26, 2012 at 4:23 am

Love Los Angeles… I was just there a few weeks ago! Compared to the Bay Area, it’s interesting to see all of the historic buildings in downtown. Block after block is graced by high rise early 20th Century detail and ornament. The murals that you photographed really direct your eye away from the parking lots.

While NorCal people alwways decry LA as a blanket of semi-arid suburban sprawl, I think it’s way more transit oriented and walkable than most places in the Bay Area. The county just needs to keep adding that high capacity rapid transit back on the main corridors in and it will once again be a great transit metropolis. Orange County? That’s another story.

Did you have a chance to ride the subway, gold line or new expo line?


Jason May 29, 2012 at 5:06 am

What were you doing in LA?

I agree with you on the perceived sprawl and transit capacity of LA. The city has its shortcomings, but they are doing some great things with their transportation, and downtown Los Angeles is rather walkable, though there are a lot of parking lots and garages in the area. It’s a shame since there are so many interesting places that may benefit more with affordable housing and such. However, that is also a speculation as perhaps the patrons who park there keep the area economically sustainable.

I went to undergrad in Orange County. It’s extremely hard to get around without a car there.

I have rode the subway in LA before, but not in the most recent trip. I live a 20 minute drive to the gold line, while less than 20 minutes to downtown Los Angeles. Sigh.


Jarrett M May 31, 2012 at 1:51 am

I was there for a few days before heading out to Arizona.

Yeah, there’s still all the surface lots, but I was reading that the on street spaces are going to be getting a demand responsive pricing program, similar to SF park. Also, the huge proposed NFL stadium near LA live is relatively parking light compared to similar venues in the area. Mitigation measures in the EIR were actually directed to improving the nearby Metro station and several sidewalks. The sum of transit improvements are insignificant next to the auto mitigations, but it’s a step away from traditional CEQA road widening autopilot. I’m not much for downtown stadiums and entertainment compounds, but it’s interesting to see developers in LA advocate for an urban NFL stadium concept while the Bay Area gets a suburban one surrounded by parking lots, freeways and golf links.

I’ve only been to Irvine, so I’m not sure what the more traditional railroad oriented cities like Santa Ana and Anaheim are like, but it seems like Irvine is the barrier that separates auto oriented from auto exclusive. Superblock grid and strip streets to curvilinear ribbons and megamalls.


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