While it is well known that Downtown Los Angeles is famous for its historic architecture landmarks and cultural attractions, there is much more than that. There is a myriad of secrets, little known facts and stories that even most locals don’t know. Get more familiar with downtown LA with our 107 fun facts.
107 Facts about Downtown LA
Pershing Square – the “Central Park” in Downtown LA
- Initially named Plaza Abaja, at different times the place was also known as St. Vincent’s Park, Los Angeles Park, 6th Street Park and even Central Park like in New York City.
- Guess where you can find the oldest public artwork in DTLA? Right here. The Pershing Square park houses a memorial to California’s twenty victims of Spanish–American War, installed in 1900.
- In 1918, the place was renamed for senior US Army officer General John Pershing.
- It served as recruitment point in times of WWII.
- Park was totally demolished in 1952 because of a three-stored underground parking facility construction.
- Luckily for everyone, nearly 40 years later Pershing Square was redesigned and reopened in 1994.
- Pershing Square annually hosts an entertaining Event – International Pillow Fight Day dating back to 2010.
- In 2016, park started to host Oktoberfest celebration, filled with live music, German food and, of course, beer. Pershing Square looks absolutely gorgeous when the lights go down, so plan a night tour.
Grand Central Market – LA’s largest public market
- Let’s start with the obvious. The variety of food is really impressive. Grand Central Market is currently home to over 30 food vendors that will satisfy any flavor you seek.
- So it should come as no surprise that it was claimed as one of the country’s “Hot 10” restaurants by Bon Appétit in 2014.
- Covering an area of 30,000 square feet, Grand Central Market is LA’s largest public market.
- Actually, it’s the oldest one, too. In October 2017, Grand Central Market celebrated its centenary.
- Depending on the day this vibrant urban food market features game nights, live music, and movies being streamed.
- Timeless Homer Laughlin Building that houses the GCM was the first fireproofed, reinforced concrete construction in LA.
Angel’s Flight – a gem of Los Angeles
- This iconic funicular railway traces its beginnings to 1901 when Bunker Hill was the most voguish neighborhood in LA.
- It was established by Colonel J.W. Eddy, railway systems technician and Abraham Lincoln’s friend.
- This is going to sound unbelievable, but it is the most traveled railway on the planet.
- By the way, it’s the shortest one too.
- In 1960s, the famed railway was under threat of demolishing, in 1969, dismantled for about 30 years, than remodeled, relocated a half-block south of the original site and reopened in 1996.
- Since that time Angel’s Flight suffered few technical malfunctions and serious accident. It has been shuttered several times and finally reopened again in 2017.
- Angelenos actually know its two vintage rail cars by name: Sinai and Olivet.
- Angel’s Flight was filming location of some scenes from the Oscar- nominated musical “La La Land”.
Bradbury Building – architectural masterpiece in Downtown LA
- In 1893, a magnificent building was founded in the heart of Tinseltown.
- The construction was ordered by a gold-mining mogul Lewis L. Bradbury.
- History buffs will appreciate this place as Los Angeles’ oldest commercial edifice.
- You will probably recognize golden, light-filled courtyard of the Bradbury, which has been immortalized in countless movies.
- The building was laid out by a young and inexperienced George H. Wyman, a draftsman of a prominent architect Summer Hunt.
- As the legend goes, when Bradbury offered the project to Wyman, a reluctant draftsman was unsure how to proceed and decided to confer with his deceased brother using a planchette. “Take the Bradbury and you will be successful” – the spirit advised.
- And he wasn’t lying. Marvel at this iconic masterpiece and learn more fun facts on our Los Angeles Tours.
- It has been argued that Wyman was inspired for by utopian sci-fi novel “Looking Backward” by Edward Bellamy that gave Wyman a lot of ideas for design and style of the building.
- The final cost of the construction was $500 000, about three times higher than the original budget.
- Setting up the Bradbury Building encouraged Wyman to complete his education and become an architect.
Grand Park – LA’s green oasis and one of the venues for 2028 Olympic Games
- Grand Park is a unique 12-acre green oasis among the concrete jungle of the big bustling city of Los Angeles.
- “The Park for everyone” is widely known for free lunchtime yoga classes, food truck gatherings and summertime concerts.
- Every spring Grand Park turns into a bookworm’s paradise for an all-day Downtown LA’s Bookfest featuring poetry, handmade books and more.
- Don’t care much for word reading? Do not miss the annual public New Year’s Eve celebration which is held here since 2013. Enjoy every inch of the Park, including trees and City Hall, which are covered in festive shows and installations.
- Grand Park is expected to host marathons, race walks and road cycling during the 2028 Summer Olympics.
LA City Hall – iconic spot from La La Land
- Paris associates with Eifel Tower, New York with Empire State Building. And The City of Angels has its iconic City Hall, government building that houses the city mayor’s office.
- The City Hall is arguably the La La Land’s most famous monument and its image can be seen on all official City documents.
- The City Hall was projected by the trio of John Parkinson, Albert C. Martin, and John C. Austin, the LA’s outstanding architects in 1920s.
- LA City Hall’s concrete contains the sand from each of California’s 58 counties.
- The City Hall opened in 1928 during three days of civic celebrations involving a grand parade, a flag pageant, the US Army Aero Squadron flights, band concerts, all directed by a famous showman Sid Grauman.
- Until 1964, the City Hall was the tallest building in LA.
- Even today, it is still the world’s highest base-isolated structure.
OUE Skyspace – see all of Downtown Los Angeles in 5 seconds
- Space can boast of the state’s tallest open-air viewing platform.
- To save you time searching when searching for best sightseeing in LA: there are only two observation decks in LA that provide picture-perfect 360-degree views of skyline. Another one is on the 27th floor of LA City Hall.
- Probably you’ve heard that OUE Skyspace offers breathtaking exterior glass sliding 1,000 feet above the crowed LA streets. Who’s brave to try?
- The first Skyslide on the planet in 5 seconds will bring you down from the 70th to 69th floor of the renowned US Bank Tower.
- Scared? The Skyslide is 45 feet long, 4 feet wide and 1.25 inch thick and is completely safe. Let’s call it one of the safest challenges you’d ever try in life.
Ahmanson Theater – Classic Los Angeles
- 50-year old Ahmanson Theater remains one of the best theaters in Los Angeles.
- Named for fashion consultant, entrepreneur and philanthropist Caroline Leonetti Ahmanson, the auditorium was established as a result of donation of her husband, Howard F. Ahmanson, Sr.
- Opened in 1967, the theater has presented a broad range of dramas, musicals, comedies and classic revivals (think War Horse, American Idiot, and Monty Python’s Spamalot).
Walt Disney Hall – Must-See in LA
- The idea of the project originated in 1987, when widow of Walt Disney, Lillian made $50 million donation.
- Futuristic construction was created by Frank Gehry, “the most important architect of our age” according to Vanity Fair. For sure, you know his prominent Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Dancing House in Prague.
- When they were first established, the steel walls of the building reflected so much light that adjacent sidewalks hit temperatures of 140°F (60 C).
- The auditorium of Walt Disney Hall offers space for up to 2,265 people.
- The hall is also famous for its good acoustics despite the original interior, which had provoked worldwide debate. The hall features a massive concert organ that looks like a series of tubes bundled at different angles.
- Disney Hall also cooperates closely with pop, jazz, R&B and country musicians.
- In 2003, the world premiere of the Wachowski Brothers’ “the Matrix Revolutions” took place in the hall.
- The “best California chef” Joachim Splichal’s elite Patina restaurant is an epic ending to the performance. We hope you will greatly enjoy refined French-American cuisine.
- Fine dining isn’t to your taste? Grab your lunch and take a walk around a lush auditorium’s rooftop Blue Ribbon Garden.
Broad Museum – Must-Do in LA
- LA’s newest contemporary art museum was named for philanthropists Eli and Edith Broad, who invested $140 million to finance construction.
- Eli Broad, who got rich on homebuilding and insurance, also helped fund the LACMA and the MOCA Museums.
- Since opening in 2015, the Broad became the LA’s second richest museum with its $200 million inheritance (As you probably guessed, the first one is Getty Museum).
- The Broads’ collection began more than 45 years ago with van Gogh drawing and now museum enshrines over 2,000 pieces of postwar artwork.
MOCA Museum – Art in Downtown LA
- The MOCA is the only museum in Los Angeles dedicated exclusively to modern art.
- It is home to astonishing collection of almost 6,000 artifacts crafted after 1940.
- MOCA creation was furthered as the LA Mayor Tom Bradley, Councilman Joel Wachs and local philanthropist Marcia Simon Weisman met in 1979 at some political gathering.
- Museum was projected by Arata Isozaki, Japanese architect renowned also for its Kyoto Concert Hall and Sports Hall for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
- MOCA conducts LA Freewaves, biennal festival of independent video art and new media.
Public Library in Downtown Los Angeles
- The historic facility building was laid out by the major American architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue.
- Design of the edifice has influences of ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture.
- In the late 1960s, like many others LA prominent landmarks the public library was threatened with demolition.
- But every cloud has a silver lining. This long-standing process spurred the creation of the Los Angeles Conservancy in 1978.
- In 2001, Public Library was renamed in honor of the investment banker and former LA Mayor Richard Riordan.
- It is the third largest nation’s library in terms of extensive book collection.
- In 2015, the Library has been bestowed with the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
- The Library in Downtown Los Angeles is home to vast collection of over 3 million historic photographs.
- The library is surrounded by the famed Maguire Gardens. Robert Maguire, the real estate developer, helped restore the building after the devastating arson fires of 1986.
Biltmore Hotel – Historic site in LA
- Over 3,000 people attended the Biltmore Hotel‘s grand opening party on October 2, 1923.
- Flash back in time and immerse yourself in the opulence of timeless hotel which was described as “luxury heaped upon luxury” by the Los Angeles Times.
- Biltmore’s founders sought to have the best of the best, including bathrooms and radio hookups in every room. Remember, there was no Wi-fi in 1920s.
- It seems Italian genius Giovanni Smeraldi, who was responsible for the interior decorative artistry, loved the Biltmore so much he wanted to have his ashes interred in the music room’s fountain. And what do you know about loyalty?
- The Biltmore witnessed many remarkable benchmarks of Hollywood history. They say that the idea of foundation of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came out in 1927 at some event in the Biltmore’s Crystal Ballroom.
- And the sketch of the first Oscar statuette was made by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons on one of the hotel’s linen napkins.
- Biltmore Bowl has played host to 8 Oscar ceremonies.
- Six US presidents stayed at the Biltmore’s Presidential Suite. So did the infamous mobster Al Capone.
- It’s at the Biltmore hotel where Democratic Party put forward John F. Kennedy as a candidate for President during the DNC in 1960.
- The place served as headquarters for the International Olympic Committee during the 1984 Summer Olympics.
- The famous yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda died of heart attack here. Besides, during the WWII, the Biltmore housed servicemen passing through on their way to or from the Pacific front. Well, no wonder the hotel is full of ghost stories.
- By the 1970s the financial difficulties of the Biltmore came to the fore and it was in danger of being closed down.
- But luckily for everyone, in 1976, American modernist architect Gene Summers in cooperation with Phyllis Lambert bought the Biltmore for $5.4 Million – a steal of a deal taking into account it cost $10 million to establish in 1921.
- The Hotel was a backdrop for many movies, TV shows and music videos. Ocean’s 11, Blow, Fight Club, Spider-Man, The Italian Job, Beverly Hills 90210, Charlie’s Angels are just few of them.
Bunker Hill – trendy neighborhood in Downtown LA
- The growth of the area started in 1867 when a wealthy developer and later mayor of LA Prudent Beaudry purchased almost all the land.
- At the turn of the 19th and 20 century Bunker Hill with its luxury Victorian mansions became famous as a district for the elite of LA.
- Throughout the 1950s, neighborhood was a popular setting for film noir genre.
- In addition to the above-mentioned landmarks, Bunker Hill also comprises the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, mother church for the Archdiocese of LA.
Historic Core – L.A.’s Golden Era
- Historic Core was the center of Los Angeles before WWII.
- In the 1950s the area became the cultural core of Latino entertainment.
- With its ornate buildings, cutting-edge art galleries, theaters and cozy cafes and stylish restaurants, this eclectic neighborhood is where L.A.’s golden era meets modern times.
Civic Center – Heart of DTLA
- Civic Center is a great example of eye-catching Mid-Century Modern architecture of rapidly expanded metropolis after WWII.
- Neighborhood also boasts the largest concentration of government employees in the US outside of Washington, DC. Civic Center is a neighbor to Olvera Street and Little Tokyo, and we love both of them for their authenticity and uniqueness.
Jewelry District – dazzling and hectic LA
- LA’s dazzling, hectic, and overwhelming Jewelry District is the largest precious jewelry hub in the US.
- The first jewelry stores the Laykin Diamond Company and Harry Winston & Co, came to area in 1932.
- For nearly a hundred years the LA Jewelry District has been the heart of the fine jewelry industry.
- And of course it’s fun to walk around. Just imagine: 5,000 stores squeezed within 6 city blocks offering everything from loose diamonds, engagement rings, watches, gold and precious gemstones (okay, maybe this is mainly for girls).
- And definitely everyone would appreciate a juicy steak at Morton’s Steakhouse at 7th and Fig street. By the way, Morton’s Steakhouse celebrate its 40-year anniversary in 2018. Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez were spotted there the other day, so we assume it must be a good place if you’re trying to get back together with someone.
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