Los Angeles Off The Beaten Path Tips by Dabs Top 5 Page for this destination
Los Angeles Off The Beaten Path: 343 reviews and 593 photos
Los Angeles City Hall
Until the 1960s, the art deco City Hall built in 1928 was the tallest building in LA. In 1964, the ban against buildings being taller than City Hall was lifted and now there are quite a few buildings exceeding it in height. City Hall's observation deck is on the 27th floor and is free to visit, as I was one of five people that I saw up there during my visit, this doesn't seem to be an overly popular thing to do while in LA but if you have a clear day, it's worth going up for the view. On the way up you will have to walk through the 26th floor's Tom Bradley Room with pictures of LA's past mayors and then up a flight of stairs to the 27th floor which has access to the outdoor observation deck. Signs around the deck point out the sights, you can see Union Station, the Times Building, the Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Stop on the 3rd floor on the way up or down, the rotunda and architecture on this floor is beautiful. Frommers says that free docent-led tours are available at 10am to noon Monday through Thursday, call 213/978-1995 for tour information
The LA Conservancy has City Hall tours the first Saturday of the month at 11 am, advance reservations required.
Located at 200 N. Spring Street but the public entrance is on Main Street, stop by the security desk for a visitor pass.
You might be tempted to pass by this building if you were to judge it from the non descript exterior but if you venture inside you will be in for a treat-the naturally lighted atrium courtyard topped with a skylight, the intricate design work of the wrought iron staircases, the Victorian birdcage elevators that are still manually operated.
It was designed in 1893 by novice architect George Wyman who is said to have taken the job after communicating with his dead brother, via a Ouija board, who said "Take the Bradbury; it will make you famous." His inspiration was a science fiction book, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy.
The Bradbury Building was used to film parts of Blade Runner, Chinatown, (500) Days of Summer and The Artist in the scene where George and Peppy meet on the stairs and he is going down and she is going up, both physically and professionally.
It's located at 304 South Broadway and you can visit the first floor lobby between 9 and 5 every day although it sounded like with a little "donation" that the guards might take you up to the 5th floor. After visiting, if you want a bite to eat, hop across the street to the Grand Central Market.
I think of Frank Lloyd Wright as being a midwestern architect, he was born in Wisconsin and started his career in Chicago working for Adler & (Louis) Sullivan. After being fired from Adler & Sullivan, he opened his own office in Oak Park, Illinois and designed around 50 houses in that area, many of them in the Prairie style for which he would become famous. But he also was commissioned for work outside the midwest, a couple of his more famous works are Fallingwater in Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Ironically, Wright's use of large open interior spaces and lots of windows is more suited to warmer climates, one of the things I've always found odd about the Robie House in Chicago is that during the winter months, the living areas would be extremely cold and uncomfortable. The Hollyhock House was his first commission in Los Angeles, built between 1919-1923 for philanthropist Aline Barnsdall who donated it to the city of Los Angeles in 1927 to be used as a park and arts center. It does not appear on the lists of his most famous designs but if you find yourself driving through this section of Hollywood, it's worth a stop to take a look at the exterior of the house and for the panoramic view of Hollywood from Barnsdall Park which is located on the top of a hill.
There are public tours of the interior but I didn't have time, besides it looked like there was renovation going on in the interior. If you do go on the tour, be sure to look out for the use of the hollyhock in the design and furnishings, it was Aline Barnsdall's favorite flower.
4800 Hollywood Boulevard, near Vermont Avenue
Angels Flight Railway
The Angels Flight funicular was nicknamed "the shortest railway in the world" and unfortunately I think you need to add another adjective, non operational.
It opened on December 31, 1901, the two railcars, Olivet and Sinai (named for two mountains in the Bible), carried passengers between the fashionable residential neighborhood on Bunker Hill to the offices and shops below. The fare in 1901 was a penny, it rose to a nickel in 1914 where it stayed until the railway was dismantled and put into storage in 1969.
In 1996, the restoration of the funicular was completed , the fare being raised to a quarter. After a fatal accident in 2001, the funicular was shut down and remains out of operation as of October 2006.
Located at 351 S. Hill Street
The Kodak Theatre is not terribly remarkable from the outside, it's a modern building that opened in 2001, but if you are a huge theater buff and count the days down until the Oscars (apparently there are fewer and fewer people doing that every year), you'll at least want to catch a glimpse of the place where the celebs work the red carpet once a year.
During the year there are performances held here and you can go on a guided tour of the theatre, information is on the attached website as well as a discount coupon currently.
Oviatt penthouse bar
The highlight of the LA Conservancy's Art Deco tour was the visit to the penthouse of the Oviatt Building. Built in 1927 for James Oviatt, it was the first Art Deco building in Los Angeles, the ceiling of the lobby of the former haberdashery was covered in Lalique glass, I believe some of it is still original but much of it replaced.
The penthouse, which was for Oviatt’s private use, features more Lalique, beautiful wood flooring, an art deco bar area and a very unique toilet. Back in Oviatt's day, the rooftop garden had a swimming pool, tennis court, putting green, clocktower and a beach of sand imported from the Riviera. Alas that is all gone now but the penthouse and rooftop garden are still used for receptions.
Griffith Observatory (Oct 2008)
My Grandma said that in all the years she had lived in the Los Angeles area she had never been to Griffith Park so we hopped in the car and took a drive there. Being as I with with my Grandma who is in her late 90s, I didn't have an opportunity to do any hiking but it was a beautiful drive up to the top where the observatory is. On the way down, you get a beautiful view of the Observatory but unfortunately I was driving so I didn't get a shot.
The art deco Griffith Park Observatory recently reopened after several years of renovation but was closed the day we were there. Currently reservations are required so we probably wouldn't have gotten in anyway, you should check in advance if you want to go.
I'm not sure if on a regular day you can park up near the observatory as parking is limited at the top of the hill but if you can and are so inclined you can make the 3 mile round trip hike up to the top of Mt. Hollywood from here, it looked like a very steep climb. There's also a splendid view of the "Hollywood" sign, the best view I've seen yet.
Griffith Park is named after mining tycoon Col. Griffith J. Griffith who donated 3,000 acres to form the park in 1896, additional land purchases of another 1,000+ acres made it the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the US. Lots of movies and TV shows have been filmed in Griffith Park due to it's proximity to where many of them are filmed.
There's lots of other stuff we didn't check out, LA's oldest merry-go-round, the Greek Theatre, the Autry National Center and a section of the park called Ferndale as well as opportunities for picnics, jogging, biking, golfing and hiking. The Los Angeles Zoo is also close by.
Directions to the Park can be found here We got there from highway 134, taking the Victory Boulevard exit and just followed the well marked signs.
Phone: (323) 913-4688
Bunker Hill Steps
From the late 1800s until WWI, Bunker Hill was a wealthy subdivision filled with Victorian houses. After the war, the area became a slum and the wealthy fled to areas outside the city center. In the 1950s they started to redevelop Bunker Hill and leveled all the Victorian houses, the area eventually became filled with office buildings including the tallest building in LA, the US Bank Building, which is also the tallest building in the US west of Chicago.
The Bunker Hill steps connect Hope Street to Fifth Street (between Grand and Figueroa)joining the Bunker Hill District to the rest of downtown LA. For those not wanting to exert themselves by walking up or down the 103 stairs can take the escalator or the elevator. At the top of the steps, a nude female sculpture stands over a stream that cascades to the bottom, her open hands offering water to the city (Robert Graham, "Source Figure, 1992).
The Los Angeles Times Building, designed by Gordon Kaufman, opened in 1935. At the time it was the largest building in the western US designed and occupied solely as a daily newspaper publisher. The Times, now owned by the Chicago based Tribune Company, is Los Angeles' major newspaper.
I didn't get inside to see the Globe Lobby but if you should get a chance you'll find 10-foot-high murals painted in 1935 by Hugo Ballin, who also painted the Griffith Observatory rotunda and the mural in the Edison building. The lobby also has an historical exhibit from the first 100 years of The Times.
Located at 1st and Spring Streets in downtown Los Angeles
Pig 'n Whistle
The Pig 'n Whistle was Hollywood's first family restaurant that welcomed children, opened in 1927, and was the place to stop for a bite to eat after seeing a show at the nearby Egyptian theater. On either side of the name on the front of the building, you can see a dancing flute playing pig.
Located at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard
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