Downtown Los Angeles and its architectural gems

 

The millenium Biltmore Hotel brought a smile to my face as we entered the lobby, the interior of the gold and blue hued hall illuminated by the  chandelier hanging from the ceiling brings your attention to the  main galleria which were hand painted in 1922 by Italian artist Giovanni Smeraldi, known for his work in the Vatican and the White House.

The Biltmore is known for once being a home to the Oscars.  Eight Oscar ceremonies were held in the Biltmore Bowl during the Academy’s early years of 1931, 1935-39, and 1941-42. With pictures of the ceremony adorning the walls you can’t help but wonder who has stayed in your room. Having settled in,  it was time to set out and explore the streets of downtown LA.

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Ceiling of millenium Biltmore Hotel 

Downtown LA is not known for its hustle and bustle of other huge cities especially on weekends and after dark once all the business men have gone home but what’s lacking in people is definitely not lacking in culture, and it has that with a capital C. First we walked through the Jewelry district that  boasts the second largest Jewelry District in the world with over 5,000 wholesale and retail jewelry shops unfortunately this area is home to a large number of homeless people, further on is LA’s Broadway.

Broadway was LA’s entertainment hub until the 1920’s when it was eclipsed by Hollywood, back then the streets of downtown Los Angeles were awash in neon thanks to a confluence of movie theaters the world had never seen before. Dozens of theaters screened Hollywood’s latest fare, played host to star-studded premieres and were filled nightly with thousands of moviegoers. In those days, before World War II, downtown L.A. was the movie capital of the world.

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Stretching for six blocks  the district includes 12 movie theatres built between 1910 and 1931. By 1931, the district had the highest concentration of cinemas in the world, with seating capacity  for more than 15,000 patrons. The Million dollar theatre screened Ben Hur for six months in 1925, the Los Angeles theatre opened in 1931 for the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City lights. The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1926 and is still being used for American Idol and So you think you can dance.The Orpheum theatre is the only remaining theatre used to show movies, most of the other theatres are now churches.

Hungry, and needing a rest, we started walking towards LA Live, which city planners had hoped would put downtown LA onto the map as a must go destination. The area got its first jolt when the Staples center opened, home to the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Kings as well as a place for musicians to perform their concerts. The Ritz Carlton and the Marriott have also opened in the same hotel tower. Nokia theatre with 7100 seats which hosts award shows and other spectacles is here as well as the ESPN recording studios and ESPN Zone, a sports bar restaurant and the Grammy museum are also located here.

Finding a place to eat was easy as we chose the first place we saw RockNfish, a seafood, steak restaurant with its reddish, brick interior and pink sofa’s with matching pink napkins it offered a warm, intimate place to eat, the freshly seared mahi tuna came out perfectly with garlic mashed potato and coleslaw from the side orders, the beer battered fish and fries were also nice.

Time to explore some more this time we had quite a walk all the way back past our hotel to some architectural masterpieces ,the nearest one to our hotel was the Richard Riordan Central Library designed by Bertram Goodhue in 1922 in Quasi Egyptian style that was very popular at that time as some of the old theatres were also designed in this manner. With 6 million volumes it is one of the largest public library systems in the world.

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The undisputed centerpiece along Grand Avenue is the sparkling Walt Disney concert hall. It is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and has the capacity to seat 2,265 people. Lillian Disney made an initial gift in 1987 to build a performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney’s devotion to the arts and the city. The Frank Gehry designed building opened in 2003. The Concert hall is a curving stainless steel walled building that reflects  the sun in the day, meanwhile the auditorium feels like the insides of a finely crafted instrument.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall

The last place to see for today was  the Los Angeles City Hall  designed by John Parkinson, John C.Austin, and Albert C Martin,Sr and was completed in 1928. It has 32 floors and, at 454 feet (138 m) high, is the tallest base isolated structure in the world, that will allow the building to sustain minimal damage and remain functional after a magnitude 8.2 earthquake. The Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels is also worth checking out for its architecture but we are not at all religious so we did not venture there.

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Los Angeles city hall

As I l lay in bed I couldn’t help but think of  who had spent time in this room and what downtown LA would have been like in the early 20’s.

Have you been to downtown LA? Tell us what you thought of the downtown area

 

 

 

 

 

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