Sunday, October 09, 2011

Downtown L.A.

Photo Friends of LAPL not only supports development of Los Angeles Public Library’s photography collection, the group also periodically conducts events celebrating the more interesting items in that collection.  For instance, a couple months ago we attended a Photo Friends slide show of old pictures of Wilshire Blvd.  Yesterday they sponsored a lecture featuring crime photos from the long-defunct Herald Express, the Hearst publication that reveled in yellow journalism.  My favorite story was about Robert James, a 1930s serial killer who murdered his newlywed wife by sticking her foot into a box of rattlesnakes.  Criminals were certainly a lot more inventive in those days.

Downtown LAPL central library

Since we were already downtown, we decided to visit some of our favorite L.A. landmarks after the lecture.  The weather was perfect: warm and slightly breezy.  It had rained on Wednesday, so the city was surprisingly clean and sparkly.

Angels Flight funicular

We rode the outdoor escalator, across from the library, to the top of Hope St., and then walked over to California Plaza off of Grand Ave.  After taking a few snapshots of the famous Angels Flight funicular, which is apparently the shortest operational railway in the world, we decided to take a ride down the hill to Grand Central, the oldest and largest open-air market in Los Angeles.  My mother still remembers eating there in the 1950s after watching Spanish-language movies at the Million Dollar Theater next door.  There are lots of food options at Grand Central, but we always gravitate to Tomas’s taco stand, where $2.50 will get you a taco big enough to feed two people.  Yum!

Grand Central Market

We hadn’t seen the Bradbury Building in a while, so we wandered across Broadway and went inside.  The public is welcome to visit the lobby most days until 5PM.  Constructed in 1893, the distinctive Bradbury has appeared in many TV episodes and films, including (most famously) Blade Runner.  With its black cast-iron grillwork festooning stairways, railings and elevator shafts, the Bradbury Building (hands down) has the most beautiful interior of any edifice in L.A.

Inside the Bradbury Building

Aesthetically satiated, we rode Angels Flight up to Hope and walked back to the library, where our car was parked.  What a perfect day it had been.  That is, until we hit a traffic jam, heading south on Flower St.

“What’s with all these cars on a Saturday?” I grumped to Tim.  But then suddenly spotted film equipment.  “IT’S BATMAN!” we both yelled, noticing “Gotham City” markings on the prop vehicles parked to one side.  We'd forgotten that the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, had been shooting downtown for several weeks.

“Stop the car!  I want to take pictures,” I insisted as Tim pulled over.  

Crowds of mostly young people were clogging the sidewalks, while film crews set-up the next scene.  I was most amused by the long line of nearly 30 GPD (Gotham Police Dept.) cars parked next to the 7th St. mall.  Obviously there's going to be one helluva cop car chase scene in the new movie.

Gotham City SWAT

Gotham City police cars

Now it was indeed a most perfect L.A. day!


Oleg K. said...

I just read the graphic novel FREEWAY by Mark Kalesniko in which the main character and his date take a self-guided walking tour of downtown Los Angeles. They also stopped by the Bradbury building.

beckie said...

Thats awesome about the Dark Knight set. Steve loves those movies and promptly stated we should move to LA where all "the action" is. We're excited to see you this December!