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EDITOR: Andrea Kirk
PERSHING SQUARE GUIDE - HISTORIC DOWNTOWN L.A.
By Eye Spy LA Editor
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|HISTORIC DOWNTOWN IS A GREAT PLACE TO WALK AROUND AND EXPLORE. Visit Grand Central Market, The Bradbury Building, historic movie palaces along Broadway, the Jewelry District, Gallery Row and the Old Bank District, the Biltmore Hotel, Central Library and the Bunker Hill Steps. Pershing Square borders the old and the new downtown. It is just a block or so down the hill from Bunker Hill and on the edge of Historic Downtown in the opposite direction. Pershing Square has seasonal programs including summer concerts and winter ice skating.|
The best way to get there is to take the Red Line Metro subway to the Pershing Square station. If you drive to Pershing Square, exit the 110 freeway at 6th St., there is parking beneath the square. Pershing Square offers ice skating, concerts and other holiday activities in the fall/winter and outdoor concerts and movies during the summer.
Walk toward Bunker Hill:
Exit the Metro station toward 5th St. and walk up 5th toward the Biltmore Hotel and the skyscrapers of modern downtown. Pershing Square is located across the street at Hill and 5th. On the other side of the square, at Olive and 5th is the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Go inside this historic landmark that opened in 1923 - it is worth the visit just to see the hand-painted ceilings and the Spanish Italian Renaissance style architecture. The walls off the main lobby are lined with photographs from early Academy Award ceremonies that were held there. Continue up 5th to the Central Library (on the left just before Flower.) The multi-storied library is a great place to visit or attend an event in the Mark Taper Auditorium. Adjacent to the library, relax in the cool shade of the McGuire Gardens. The Bunker Hill Steps are across the street (5th) from the library. Go up the steps (or use the escalator) to the top where it is a short walk to MOCA, Disney Concert Hall, the Music Center and Our Lady of Angeles along Grand Avenue. You'll see City Hall from the Music Center. You can get back on the subway at the Civic Center station at 1st and Hill (a block below Grand and close to the Music Center).
Walk to Grand Central Market and Bradbury Building:
If you exit the Pershing Square Metro station toward 4th St., walk to your right up Hill St. to go to the colorful Grand Central Market. Across the street you'll see Angels Flight (Yay! reopened as of March 15th 2010). Walk through the colorful neon signaged market and sample a taco from one of the stands inside (about $2.00 and one is plenty big for most appetites). There are many other food choices as well. On the other side of the market, on Broadway, walk across the street to the Bradbury building built in 1893. The plain brick exterior doesn't even hint at the ornate atrium, marble staircases and ironwork you'll find inside and that has been featured in numerous films. You can look around the ground floor only. Tours are available through the L.A. Conservancy - link below. Biddy Mason Park (331 S. Spring St) is located behind the Bradbury - exit into the park at the rear of the Bradbury. Biddy Mason walked to California as a slave behind her master's wagon in the mid 1800's. A few years later she was able to petition for her freedom - California was anti-slavery. She went on to own a house and other parcels of property, run an orphanage and found a church in what is now downtown L.A. The park is a cool oasis with trees, a water fountain, tables and chairs. A series of commemorative plaques tell her story.
Broadway movie palaces and Jewelry District:
Continue down Broadway (or if you are at Pershing Square walk down 5th St away from Bunker Hill and turn right down Broadway). You'll see many of the historic movie palaces, many of which still host movie premieres, special film events and the LA Conservancy's Last Seats performances each year during the spring. L.A. Conservancy offers guided tours that will take you inside some of them. On this walking tour you will only see the exterior; the tile work outside the theaters, the gilded ticket booths and neon signage. Broadway is now a heavily trafficked and colorful shopping district. The Jewelry District is also located in this area between Olive & Broadway and 5th and 8th streets. Grab refreshments in St. Vincent Court (entry is at 7th & Hill). Or for a full meal (retro style) eat at the historic Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway between 6th & 7th (currently closed for renovations)..
Gallery Row and the Old Bank District.
Walk back via Spring St. now designated as Gallery Row. Most of the galleries are located along the stretch between 4th and 9th streets. Although there are also galleries located on 4th, 5th and on Main street a block over. The area known as the Old Bank District where the old buildings are now artists lofts is located in this area at 4th and Main. New restaurants and bars are popping up all the time and the monthly Artwalk has become a huge attraction on the 2nd Thursday of each month.
Other information sources:
L.A. Conservancy - guided tours
Angels Flight Railway
Check out Eye Spy LA's Downtown L.A. Calendar for current events and other things to do.
Photos by Andrea Kirk
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