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Take a Walk around Downtown L.A.

4 Jan 2007  LA Suburbanite needs a city fix
4.0 of 5 stars based on 2 votes

Yes, Los Angeles does have a downtown; and no, you don't need a car to see the sights -- ethnic neighborhoods and outstanding architecture. For lots of ideas see Robert Herman's book, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES: A WALKING GUIDE. Here are some highlights for a 1-day walking tour.

  • Category: Walking tour
  • 1. Union Station

    Take a Metrolink or Amtrak train from the "Burbs" to Union Station. Before departing, admire the art deco architecture. Walk outside and face the fountain in front of the adjacent Metropolitan Water District Building. Look down and see the line marking an early border of Chinatown. Return to the inside of Union Station and notice Traxx, a terrific restaurant where you may want to eat or have a drink at the end of your day before catching the return train.

  • 2. Little Tokyo

    After leaving Union Station, cross to the Plaza and turn left on either Los Angeles Street or Main Street and walk a few blocks to First Street and turn left. The sidewalk on the north side of the street contains vignettes of Japanese American history, including former store owners and residents. Take a walk through the Japanese Village Plaza; stop at one of the traditional Japanese bakeries.

  • 3. Toy District

    After walking through the Japanese Village Plaza, cross Second Street and continue on San Pedro Street to Third Street. Turn right and walk several blocks through the Toy District where you will see wholesale toy shops.

  • 4. Bradbury Building

    At the corner of Third and Broadway is the Bradbury Building, a structure that looks rather ordinary on the outside, but has a breathtaking interior. As you enter the door on Third Street, pass the life-size sculpture of Charlie Chaplin.

  • 5. Biddy Mason Park

    In the alley behind Broadway and adjacent to the Bradbury Building lies Biddy Mason Park, named for an early African American midwife and property owner, who walked across the U.S. to Los Angeles in the 19th century.

  • 6. Grand Central Market

    Cross Broadway at Third Street and turn left. At the corner is the Farmacia Million Dollar, a traditional Mexican drug store with lots of special potions. Take a peek inside before heading for lunch or a snack at Grand Central Market. For less than five dollars, you can have a hearty meal from a variety of Latin American or Asian cuisines. Buy your food and take it to the back of the markiet or the nearby patio where there are lots of tables.

  • 7. Pershing Square and the Biltmore Hotel

    After eating at Grand Central Market, proceed out the back to Hill Street and turn left. Walk 1 1/2 blocks to Fifth Street and turn right. Cross Fifth Street and you will come to Pershing Square. Meander through the square and cross Olive Street to the Biltmore Hotel, once the largest hotel west of Chicago. Enter the Biltmore on Olive Street and walk through the public areas to Fifth Street or Grand Avenue. If you didn't eat anything at Grand Central Market, you may want to stop here for tea.

  • 8. L.A. Public Library, aka Central Library

    After a major fire in 1986, the L.A. Public Library refurbished the main building and added the Tom Bradley wing -- an eight story addition, most of which is underground, with skylights to fill the space with sunshine. There are three spectacularly huge chandeliers in this wing, not to be missed.

  • 9. Bunker Hill Steps

    Cross Fifth Street and take the escalator or walk up the Bunker Hill Steps to Hope Street. Turn right on Fourth Street and make a left on Grand Avenue.

  • 10. MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)

    At the corner of Fourth Street and Grand Avenue is Watercourt, home to several spectacular fountains. Stroll around Watercourt and the California Plaza before proceeding to MOCA, which is near the corner of Third Street and Grand Avenue. Most of the exhibition rooms are underground, although the gift shop is above ground.

  • 11. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

    As you continue along Grand Avenue, you can't help but notice the Walt Disney Hall, a Frank Gehry designed performance space for the L.A. Philharmonic. Further up Grand Avenue are the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Ahmanson Theater. Cross Temple Street and turn right. Enter the Cathedral about 1/2 block down Temple. The interior of the cathedral, open to the public, contains exquisite tapestries designed by John Nava and woven in Belgium.

  • 12. Olvera Street (El Pueblo Historic Monument)

    Continue along Temple Street to Main Street and turn left. Walk across the 101 Freeway and pass Pico House. Enter the Plaza and head for a large plaque identifying the forty-four founders of the pueblo, los pobladores, who demonstrate that from the start, Los Angeles was a multi-ethnic community. On many afternoons and early evenings, musicians and dancers entertain visitors on the Plaza. If you have time before catching your train back home from Union Station (just across the street), walk through Olivera Street, a tourist haven, but fun nevertheless.