Overview : This tour covers some of the highlights of the new art and architecture that have transformed downtown Los Angeles since redevelopment... more »
Overview : This tour covers some of the highlights of the new art and architecture that have transformed downtown Los Angeles since redevelopment... more » officially began in 1959. Sites include the new Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, the Music Center, the iconic Disney Concert Hall, historic Bunker Hill and the Central Library. The tour ends at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, where you may want to relax with a cold beverage and take in the city's views in the lounge/bar at the top of the hotel. less «
Bring sturdy walking shoes and sunscreen. Because parking downtown is expensive arriving by public transit is recommended. The tour is... more » best done by walking, although the downtown DASH circulator buses are an option on weekdays. The A and B routes charge 50 cents per ride effective July 2011.
If arriving by the Metro Rail Red Line, start at the Civic Center Station at First and Hill streets and walk one block north to Temple Street, where you will find the Cathedral. The tour finishes at the Bonaventure Hotel. The local DASH A and B buses run frequently during business hours and connect Bunker Hill to the Civic Center Station. less «
Designed by the Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo and completed in 2002, the 11-story, austere contemporary structure is constructed of adobe-colored concrete. The cathedral is the third largest in the world.
Enter from Temple Street, up to the plaza level and through the monumental cast bronze doors. The doors and figure of Mary above were... More designed by local artist Robert Graham. The interior space is wonderfully illuminated by natural light filtered through 27,000 square feet of alabaster windows, the largest such expanse in the world. The tapestries lining the nave are by California artist John Nava.
Downstairs, the mausoleum contains refurbished stained glass from St. Vibiana's. Self-guided tour brochures are available for purchase, free walk-in tours daily at 1pm (check in 15 minutes before on Temple Street). Open daily, morning until 6pm.
A cafe on-site is reasonably priced and open until 4pm. Free cathedral entry, parking fee is $18 maximum
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 W. Temple Street
The iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is a 2003 addition to the Music Center, the major performing arts complex of Los Angeles County. Clad in stainless steel, the impetus was a gift of $50 million by Lillian Disney for a concert hall as a tribute to her husband, Walt Disney.
The Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los... More Angeles Philharmonic. In the community garden, Gehry's tribute, "A Rose for Lilly," reflects her love for flowers and Royal Delft (look for the stairs near the corner of First and Hope streets).
Walk-in tours available most days 10am-2pm; self-guided or docent led, are free for small parties and take about an hour. Note that the auditorium is not included due to rehearsal schedule. Check the website for tour information and performances. Friday evenings are often the best time for reduced-cost events.
On the opposite side of First Steet are the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (home of the Los Angeles Opera), the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theatre. Tours are also available. The original site was developed largely through the leadership of Dorothy Buffum Chandler. A biography of Chandler is available on the Music Center website.
Walt Disney Concert Hall and Music Center
135 N. Grand Avenue
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has three facilities, including this Post-Modern 1981 red sandstone building by celebrated Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The sculpture in the courtyard is "Airplane Parts" by Nancy Rubin. The flagship giftshop is well worth a visit even if contemporary art is not your thing. The museum rotates works from... More the permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibits.
MOCA Grand Avenue at California Plaza
250 South Grand Ave.
Free Thursday evenings
The same ticket gets you into the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo.
Tuesday and Wednesday closed
Saturday and Sunday 11am-6pm
MOCA is part of the $1 billion California Plaza complex, a Bunker Hill Redevelopment project. The 133-acre redevelopment project area was created in 1959, generally contained by First and Fifth streets, the freeway on the west and Hill Street on the east. The formerly prestigious residential district of Victorian-era housing was deemed to be ... More"blighted" and cleared under the authority of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in the 1960s, the typical approach to urban renewal at the time.
The Cal Plaza skyscrapers were designed by Canadian Arthur Erickson. Two California Plaza was completed in 1992 just as the downtown office market was collapsing; it was the last skyscraper built in that decade. On the Olive Street side of the project is a performance space and water court, location of free summer concerts sponsored by Grand Performances. A number of casual restaurants are located at the lower level of the complex. If you like sandwiches, Mendocino Farms regularly wins "best lunch" per the Downtown News voter survey.
After visiting Angels Flight, the restored funicular railway (described in detail below), return through Cal Plaza and cross Grand Avenue, continuing through the Wells Fargo Center. In the plazas around the buildings on Hope Street, between Fourth and Fifth, you will find a concentration of outdoor sculptures and the red Alexander Calder piece in front of the Bank of America Center.Less
NB: ANGELS FLIGHT IS CLOSED AGAIN, AT THIS TIME. Check Twitter for current updates At the back of the water court is the restored funicular railway Angels Flight, which runs 298 feet up Bunker Hill. First opened in 1901, Olivet and Sinai transported residents to the Victorian residences atop Bunker Hill for a fare of 1 cent. It was mothballed in... More 1969 during the redevelopment of Bunker Hill, restored to service in 1996, closed in 2001 due to a fatal accident and reopened in 2010.
The funicular connects the shiny towers of Bunker Hill/New Downtown to the Historic Core District.Less
If you want to ride Angels' Flight, a number of lunch options exist at the bottom of Bunker Hill in the Grand Central Market. Traditional Latin American choices are available inside the market.
Tip: Carry your food back up the hill to enjoy at the water court.
Known by several names, but usually called Library Tower by Angelenos, this postmodern granite-and-glass skyscraper is the tallest building in California at 1,018 feet and 73 stories. Designed by architecture firm I.M. Pei & Partners and opened in 1989, it was part of a $1 billion redevelopment project that included the Gas Company Tower and... More renovation of the adjacent Los Angeles Public Library.
Development rights for the library site were sold to the developers to fund restoration of the library following two devastating fires in 1986. It features prominently in movies such as "Independence Day." It was reportedly a target of a second wave of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. For this reason photography is sometimes discouraged in the vicinity of this location.
On the side of the the building, the Bunker Hill steps, L.A.'s version of the Spanish Steps, lead to the top of hill to view the Robert Graham sculpture "Source Figure."
US Bank Tower
633 W. Fifth
Enter on Fifth Street and proceed to the rotunda of the landmark 1926 Bertram Goodhue building. The rotunda is named for Lod Cook, former Arco chairman who spearheaded fundraising to save the damaged library collections after the 1980s arson fires.
Walk down the corridor to the east (left with your back to the US Bank Tower) and stop at the... More atrium balcony of the 1993 Tom Bradley Wing (named for the former Mayor). Note the 1-ton chandeliers created by Therman Statom. They represent the natural, man-made and spiritual worlds.
Return to the atrium and exit through the Flower Street doors to the Maguire Gardens, a public art component of the redevelopment plan. Robert F. Maguire III was the developer of the Library Tower and a major contributor to the arts.
A self-guiding brochure is available on the website with more information on the site's artwork and decorative features. Docent led tours are also offered. Closed Sundays.
A fine dining restaurant, Cafe Pinot, overlooks the Maguire Gardens and affords excellent views of the downtown skyline and garden.
Los Angeles Public Library
630 W. 5th St.
Diagonally across from the Maguire Gardens of the Central Library is architect John Portman's 1978 Bonaventure Hotel. Rather than enter through the pedestrian-unfriendly Flower Street frontage, take the escalator up via the Bunker Hill Steps. (On your left, detour for a view of the Fish and Flamingo fountains at 444 S. Flower.) Use the pedestrian ... Moreskybridge behind the Ketchum YMCA (where you'll see the Morgan Adams Jr. sculpture garden) to reach the Bonaventure Hotel.
The outdoor plaza contains six pieces that reflect the themes of health and fitness. A set of 10 elevated sidewalks or "pedways" are dedicated in honor of Calvin S. Hamilton, visionary city planning director from 1964 to 1985. His 1970s-era plan called for separation of pedestrian and vehicle traffic as a means to ease congestion. Although popular with downtown workers who use them for exercising and walking to less expensive parking lots on the downtown perimeter, they are now disdained by the new urbanists for "deactivating" the street level.
Our final stop is John Portman's futuristic Bonaventure Hotel, opened in 1978. A prominent icon visible from the Harbor Freeway, it is one of downtown's most photographed buildings. The glass elevators have views to the outside. In the movie "In the Line of Fire", John Malkovich famously falls to his death from an elevator while being chased by... More Clint Eastwood. Although the interior is a confusing maze, ride the elevators in the towers for views toward Hollywood and downtown, or finish your tour with an expensive cocktail at the rotating Bona Vista Lounge on the 35th floor (yellow elevator).Less