Homeless Emergency? Stop Evictions!

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The Mayor and the City Council recently declared that LA is in the throes of a homeless emergency. While I’m glad that our elected officials have finally decided to acknowledge how serious the problem is, they still haven’t offered any concrete plan of action. The promise of a hundred million dollars in funding is worthless until we know where that money’s coming from and how it’s going to be spent.

But I’d like to offer a suggestion on how to combat homelessness, and the people at City Hall should be glad to hear that they won’t have to spend a penny to implement it. My proposal is simple. I can give it to you in two sentences.

Stop Ellis Act evictions.

Stop the destruction of affordable housing.

Now, you may be saying, that’s ridiculous. The City doesn’t have the authority to do either one of those things. The Ellis Act, a state law, gives landlords the right to evict tenants if they decide they don’t want to be landlords any more. And the City can’t prevent a property owner from demolishing rental units if the owner does so within the boundaries of the law.

But the City can stop giving landlords incentives to do these things.

As the housing market heats up again, the potential to reap huge profits has drawn a slew of developers to LA. Speculators swoop into neighborhoods offering wads of cash to landlords, but they don’t just want to buy existing buildings. They’re interested in maximizing their profits, which often means kicking tenants out of rent-controlled apartments and either converting the units to condos or knocking the building down and putting up something larger.

And here’s where the City comes in. For developers to accomplish their goals, they often need to get the City to grant variances. They might ask the Department of City Planning to reduce the required setbacks from the sidewalk or neighboring buildings. Or maybe to relax the height limit. In some cases they ask the DCP to change the way an area is zoned, which could allow them to turn an apartment building into a boutique hotel.

All of these entitlements granted by the City increase the value of the property because they increase the potential for profit. The more money there is to made, the greater the attraction for investors. The more money investors offer, the greater the temptation for landlords to evict their tenants and sell the building. During the last housing bubble, this trend peaked in 2005 when over 5,000 rental units were taken off the market. When the recession hit, property values plunged and evictions dropped. But as the market heats up again, we’re seeing this practice becoming popular once more. In 2013, landlords took 308 units off the market. That figure more than doubled in 2014, rising to 725. And as long as housing prices continue to rise, you can bet that evictions will rise as well. For more details, take a look at this article from the KPCC web site.

Ellis Act Evictions in LA on the Rise

While there’s usually some negotiation involved when developers seek variances from the Department of City Planning, they usually get most of what they want. And as long as the DCP continues to hand out entitlements like candy, developers will feel confident that they can make tons of money by converting existing buildings to condos, small-lot subdivisions or boutique hotels. This means more people will be evicted, and more affordable housing will be taken off the market.

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I’m not claiming that everybody who gets evicted ends up living on the street, but a significant number do. While I couldn’t fine any data on evictions leading to homelessness in Los Angeles, in New York the data shows that it’s a leading cause. Check out this article from CityLimits.

Evictions Are Top Driver of Homelessness

So if the City of LA is really serious aout tackling homelessness, our elected officials need to stop making it so attractive for landlords to evict their tenants. The Department of City Planning needs to start asking if the needs of wealthy developers outweigh the needs of renters on a limited income. Yes, we are dealing with a homeless emergency. The people at City Hall must start looking at the policies that have contributed to this situation, and think about the changes that need to be made.

Building shelters for people living on the streets is fine. But an even better approach would be to prevent people from losing their homes to begin with. As long as City Hall continues to put the needs of developers over the needs of its citizens, the homeless situation will only get worse.

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Criminalizing Homelessness

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Once again our elected officials have shown us how little they really care about improving the quality of life in LA. On Tuesday the City Council passed two ordinances to make it easier to get rid of homeless encampments. Gil Cedillo cast the only dissenting vote. All the others fell right in line.

I totally understand that there are serious health and safety issues with the homeless camps that have been springing up all over LA. I know we have to deal with this. But as usual, the City Council has chosen to attack the symptoms rather than try to address the cause.

The reason people are living in tents is because we have an appalling shortage of affordable housing. The Mayor and the City Council continue to back to developers that want to build pricy condos and high-end apartments, but they seem to have no interest in providing homes for anyone besides the rich. Their meager efforts to build affordable housing are pathetic. LA real estate is being sucked up by developers with deep pockets who only care about maximizing their profits. In the past few years they’ve created thousands of new units that go from $2,000 a month on up into the stratosphere. And these same developers have taken thousands of rent-controlled units off the market as they demolish or refurbish older buildings.

According to the LA Times, the City’s homeless population currently stands at 26,000, a 12% increase over the past two years. This problem is not going away. It’s getting worse. Councilmember Cedillo makes the point that the vast majority of the funds the City spends on homelessness go toward law enforcement. This is crazy. The police can’t solve this problem.

Now you may be asking, can anyone solve this problem? The answer is yes. Follow the link below to an article from the LA Times about how Utah is dealing with chronic homelessness. They’ve made huge progress, and the state is actually saving money by providing housing for people who’ve been living on the streets.

Utah Is Winning the War on Chronic Homelessness

Of course, LA is not Utah. And I don’t mean to imply that there is a simple solution. But we could do a hell of a lot more than we’re doing now. And we need to start by making a serious effort to provide affordable housing.

For more info on the ordinances passed by the City Council, here’s a link to the story in the Times.

Vote Makes It Easier to Clear Homeless Camps

Flags

Image from the booklet prepared for Trinket

Image from the booklet prepared for Trinket

Yesterday a friend and I went down to MOCA to check out Trinket, an exhibition by Chicago-based artist William Pope.L. The centerpiece is a giant American flag, which is being continually buffeted by the wind from four large fans. The space grows brighter and darker at intervals as rows of lights go through pre-programmed cycles. It’s a pretty interesting show that raises lots of complicated questions about this country. I can’t say I felt emotionally engaged, and this is a problem I have with a lot of conceptual art. But it was well worth the trip, and it was cool to see work by an artist who’s willing to really dig into this country’s psyche.

After hitting MOCA, my friend and I went next door to check out the Japanese American National Museum. We spent some time in the galleries that document the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. In a way, it was as though this show was the perfect follow up to the one we’d just seen. Both exhibitions make you think long and hard about this country, and some of the darker aspects of our history.

Then we decided to get some lunch. And this was the scene that caught my eye as we started walking down Central.

Man sleeping on Central Ave.

Man sleeping on Central Ave.

A man sleeping on the sidewalk, almost completely covered by an American flag blanket. An odd coincidence, given the shows we’d just seen, bringing up even more questions about where this country’s going.*

If you’re interested in taking a look at William Pope.L’s work, here’s the link for the show at MOCA.

Trinket

And if you haven’t seen the exhibition at the JANM, I urge you to make the trip down there. Even though the internment happened decades ago, the issues the show raises are absolutely relevant to what’s going on in this country now.

Japanese American National Museum

*
Later it occurred to me that the guy on the sidewalk might actually be a part of the show at MOCA. Even if that’s true, it’s a cool way to bring art out of the gallery and into the street.

Why Do We Have So Many Homeless?

A tent settlement in Downtown LA

A tent settlement in Downtown LA

By now it’s clear to anyone who’s paying attention that the homeless population in LA is growing. Not only is Skid Row more crowded than ever, but we’re seeing people living on the streets in communities all over the county. Burbank is a relatively affluent city, and forty years ago it was unusual to see a homeless person on the street. Now it’s a common sight.

So the article in today’s LA Times about the rise in the homeless population doesn’t come as a big surprise. The number of people living on the streets in LA County has risen 12% since the last count was taken two years ago. The Times article was prompted by a report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). According to the report, one of the key factors driving people out into the streets is the lack of affordable housing.

The cost of housing in this city is too damn high. A recent study from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs found that LA is the most unaffordable rental market in the country. While the cost of housing in New York and San Francisco is sky-high, incomes are also significantly higher. Rental units may be cheaper in LA, but the average income is so much lower that it eats up a larger share of the tenant’s paycheck.

And here’s an interesting comment from Paul Ong, one of the authors of the UCLA study.

“During periods of increasing inequality, the burden has grown even more severe,” Ong said. “Vacancy rates have risen only slightly — even dipping at times when the housing burden has increased. And renters are paying more for the same quality housing, suggesting that neither market forces nor changing housing quality fully explain the increasing rents.”

So if market forces aren’t driving prices higher, what is? Could it be greed? Developers are falling all over themselves in the scramble to build high-end housing in this city. But there’s almost no interest in building affordable housing. In fact, we’ve lost thousands of affordable units in recent years. And because the interests of our Mayor and our City Council are so closely aligned with interests of the developers (campaign cash may be a factor), they’ve made no serious attempt to reverse the trend. The fact that the number of homeless has risen by 12% shows that the City’s meager efforts to create affordable housing are not nearly enough.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the Times article, a link is below. I’m also including the report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. And if you aren’t totally depressed after reading the first two, there’s a link to a press release that summarizes the findings of the UCLA study.

Homelessness up 12%

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority

LA Most Unaffordable Rental Market in the Nation

So if you read all this stuff, and feel like you’d like to do something about it, this final link will take you to the Skid Row Housing Trust. These are good people doing good work. They deserve your support.

Skid Row Housing Trust

Midnight at Wilshire and Fairfax

W&F 1 Scaf

Last week I went to one of the screenings in UCLA’s preservation festival. I think I left around eleven, and then caught the bus on Wilshire. I got off at Fairfax, where I have to transfer. It took a while for the next bus to show up, so I took some photos while I was waiting. It seemed like there was a lot of stuff going on….

Night time is when the MTA crews show up to work on the Purple Line extension. You don’t see them during the day. Just metal plates lying all over the street. But at night these guys set up their barriers and their lights and go to work.

MTA crews work on the Purple Line at night.

MTA crews work on the Purple Line at night.

Just across the street, the old May Co. building is surrounded by scaffolding. It seems that the Academy is finally starting the process of transforming this dinosaur of a department store into a new museum devoted to film. I have no idea when it’ll be completed, but I’m glad to see that work has begun.

Scaffolding set up on the west side of the May Co. building.

Scaffolding set up on the west side of the May Co. building.

I was standing there on Fairfax snapping photos, when a few runners went speeding past. At first I thought it was just some people who lived in the neighborhood out for some exercise. But then another group ran by, and then another, and then it was a steady stream of people racing down Fairfax. My guess is that a couple hundred people went by, but it could have been more.

Runners stampeding down Fairfax toward Wilshire.

Runners stampeding down Fairfax toward Wilshire.

More runners heading down Fairfax.

More runners heading down Fairfax.

As usual, there was a homeless guy camped out in one of the recessed areas along the side of the May Co. building.

A homeless man taking shelter for the night.

A homeless man taking shelter for the night.

And of course there’s Johnie’s, blazing away in the darkness. The banks of lights that surround the building are slowly going out, but those that are left let you know that this classic coffee shop has not gone away. The place has been closed for years, but the flashing lights seem to be insisting that it’s still open for business. That it’s still alive.

Johnie's refuses to die.

Johnie’s refuses to die.

Putting Lives Back Together

SRHT Main All

LA is suffering from an affordable housing crisis, but there is some good news to celebrate. Thanks to the efforts of the Skid Row Housing Trust (SRHT), formerly homeless people are getting a roof over their heads and a place in the community. The SRHT is using innovative approaches to creating housing in the Downtown area.

Homelessness is a complex problem. It’s not just a matter of giving someone a place to live, because people living on the streets are often struggling with a variety of issues. In the first place, finding a job, which can be tough if you don’t have skills that are currently in demand. Depression, mental illness and substance abuse are also common problems, and these are not solved simply by giving someone the keys to an apartment.

But having a place to live is the first step. And the SRHT offers assistance to people grappling with other issues by creating permanent supportive housing. This means that the residents living in these communities have access to counseling, job training, health care and other services in order to get their life back on track.

The SRHT has been working on two new projects in Downtown. First, let’s take a look at the Star Apartments….

SRHT Star Frnt

The Star Apartments are located near the corner of Sixth and Wall. The project was designed by Michael Maltzan Architecture, and they used an interesting approach. The site was occupied by a one-story building, which they wanted to expand to create more units. The solution they hit on was stacking pre-fab cubes on top of the original structure, which in addition to being fast and economical, resulted in a striking piece of design.

SRHT Star Sky 1

You can read more on Maltzan’s web site.

Star Apartments

Next, check out the New Pershing Apartments at Fifth and Main. This project actually combines two structures, the Pershing Hotel and the Roma Hotel, built in 1889 and 1905, respectively. The new design, by Killefer Flammang Architects, preserves original elements of the exterior. In addition to the residential units, the New Pershing will also offer a courtyard, two recreation decks and planters for gardening.

First let’s look at a couple of shots taken while the project was under construction, back in October of 2014. The first was taken from the corner of Fifth and Main.

SRHT Main Const 1

This next photo was taken on Main, directly across from the building.

SRHT Main Const 2

Now let’s look at the finished project.

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And another shot from Fifth and Main.

SRHT Main Full

Here’s the article that the Downtown News ran on the New Pershing earlier this month.

A Victorian Victory

You can find more information about the SRHT’s activities by visiting their web page. And if you want to support their efforts, I’m sure a donation would be welcome.

Skid Row Housing Trust

Legalize Sleep

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Demonstrators on the steps at Pershing Square.

There were a number of actions planned for this weekend to coincide with Martin Luther King’s birthday. I had heard that Black Lives Matter was holding a vigil downtown, and so I hopped on the Red Line and got off at Civic Center. But it turned out the vigil was over, and so I was standing there on First Street wondering what to do next.  Fortunately, I ended up running into a group of people who were demonstrating to protect the rights of the homeless. They were marching through downtown on their way to Pershing Square. I met up with them when they made a stop on Fifth Street.

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The group stops to hear a speaker on Fifth Street.

One of the major points the speakers made is that our government is trying to control and restrict the use of public space. This affects the homeless in that they aren’t allowed to sleep in parks or on sidewalks, but really it affects all of us. Public space is an essential part of civic life. Our elected officials are putting more and more restrictions on the way public space is used, often for the benefit of business interests. The whole idea of public space is that it’s for everyone, not just those that our elected officials deem worthy.

The reason that homeless people end up sleeping in parks is they have nowhere else to go. The Mayor and the City Council are bending over backwards to help developers build luxury residential towers, while affordable housing gets harder and harder to find. Affordable units are being demolished or converted to condos so that property owners can make an even bigger profit. This will only increase the number of people living on the streets.

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Protesters walking through Pershing Square.

So you’ve been kicked out of your apartment because the landlord hit you with a huge rent increase. You can’t sleep on the sidewalk. You can’t sleep on bus benches. And you can’t sleep in the parks. Where do you go? Our elected officials don’t seem to care. They’re too busy granting variances for the developers who’ve been giving them campaign cash.

The affordable housing crisis in LA is getting worse. We need to address it. Instead of racing to build high-end residential skyscrapers, we need to be creating housing for all the people of Los Angeles. Everybody deserves a safe place to sleep.

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My favorite slogan from the demonstration.

We Can Do Better Than This

Dntn SR Cart
Toward the end of July there was a meeting at the Union Rescue Mission regarding the Safer Cities Initiative. I’d like to stop here for a minute and ask you to think about that phrase.

The Safer Cities Inititiative.

Of course, if you take the words at face value, who wouldn’t support it? We all want safer cities. So if our Mayor and City Council tell us they’re taking action to reduce the crime and the grime in Downtown, how could anyone argue against them. But, as is so often the case, the phrase was created to be blandly reassuring. It’s meant to make people feel good, even if a lot of the people most directly affected don’t feel good about it at all.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the homeless problem in Downtown LA. It’s a messy, complicated situation. But what follows is a brief summary of how we got to this point, at least as I understand it….

Back in the seventies it was decided that the best way to deal with the homeless in LA would be to corral them all into one area, away from the financial district and the city government buildings. Local leaders had ambitious plans for the central city, and it doesn’t look good to have a guy who hasn’t bathed for a week sleeping on the street next to your shiny new skyscraper. So with the homeless now out of sight, they were also out of mind, and everybody thought the problem was solved.

Then in the eighties LA’s manufacturing base suddenly disappeared, and the illegal drug trade started ramping up. All of a sudden there was a whole new wave of people flooding Skid Row, and instead of docile winos you had guys strung out on crack and PCP. The fact that AIDS and hepatitis were also on the rise made the situation even more dire. But most of us didn’t worry too much about it. A lot of people living in the Valley couldn’t understand why anybody would even consider going to Downtown. The same applied to many west side residents. Successive city government regimes kept pouring money into the financial district, and kept hoping the homeless would just go away. The vast majority of Angelenos paid no attention at all.

Then, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, things started to change. Slowly the perception of Downtown started to shift. Younger Angelenos began to see the benefits of living in a place where art and music and bars and restaurants were all within walking distance. And the city government managed to lure a growing number of businesses to the area. Something like a renaissance was taking shape, and gradually Downtown became the cool place to be.

That was the upside. Unfortunately, in the middle of this renaissance, there were still all these homeless people hanging around. The business owners and some of the newer Downtown residents were freaking out, sometimes with good reason, over the problems created by having a huge number of people, some drug users, some mentally ill, living on the streets.

And this is where the Safer Cities Initiative comes in. Back in 2007, Mayor Villaraigosa and Chief Bratton decided to adopt a zero tolerance approach to crime in Skid Row. Even small offenses resulted in an arrest, with the possibility of time in jail. On top of that, the LAPD was charged with conducting regular sweeps of the area to clear away anything that was blocking the sidewalks, i.e. shopping carts, tents, boxes, etc.. Among other problems with this approach, they ended up trashing property belonging to homeless individuals, including personal documents and prescription medication. A suit was filed to stop the sweeps, and a judge agreed with the plaintiff, putting an end to the practice. For a while.

This put the city back at square one. How to deal with the impacts caused by thousands of people who have nowhere to go except the streets of Skid Row? At this point, the LA County Department of Health stepped in. They conducted an investigation and produced a harrowing report that documented the many health problems in the area, like rats, used hypodermic needles and human waste. This gave the city the justification they needed to start in with the sweeps again.

Which brings us up to the present, and back to the meeting at the Union Rescue Mission….

Dntn URM Crowd

While they’re still calling it the Safer Cities Initiative, officials have tweaked the program in the hope of making it more effective. Now the LAPD will issue citations for minor violations instead of arresting people. The sweeps will resume, as part of the Operation Healthy Streets program, but now case workers and mental health professionals will accompany the cleaning crews. The word is that the homeless will be offered free medical exams and TB tests, and an effort will be made to get people into detox or enroll in a health care program under the Affordable Care Act.

This sounds good on paper. The city officials who were on the panel at the meeting tried to keep it positive, though a woman from Jose Huizar’s office downplayed the modifications to the street cleaning program. She emphasized the fact that this was something the City was trying out, and that it wasn’t intended to be a solution to the homeless problem.

Dntn URM Panel

It’s not a solution. While this approach is better than what the City was doing before, it’s basically a band-aid, and the situation on Skid Row is not getting better. It’s getting worse. In recent years the State of California has been forced to release thousands of inmates from its prisons. It’s a real challenge for someone with a criminal record to find steady work, which also makes it hard to find a permanent place to stay. So a lot of those people who were pushed out of the prisons ended up on Skid Row. The non-profits who serve the homeless, like Union Rescue Mission, have been struggling for years. Now they’re completely overwhelmed.

The City needs to make a serious effort to provide permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Yes, this would cost money, and we’re still operating on a tight budget, but we could get the ball rolling. In New York, Mayor de Blasio has made a commitment to create permanent supportive housing, and we could do the same here. As expensive as this approach is, it’s still way cheaper than throwing people in jail for minor violations. We are currently spending a fortune on prison beds for non-violent offenders who would be better served by relatively inexpensive programs providing rehab and mental health care. And building permanent supportive housing would make Downtown a cleaner, safer place, creating an environment where business could thrive.

Phrases like Safer Cities Initiative and Operation Healthy Streets sound nice, but handing out tickets and clearing the streets every other month will not solve the problem. We need to stop being reactive and start being proactive. If you feel, like I do, that we could be doing more, then give your City Council rep a call and let them know.

Dntn SR Guy Looking

A Walk Around Downtown

As many people have pointed out, LA is different than most major cities. New York, Chicago, and San Francisco all have suburbs surrounding them, but people still go downtown for work, shopping, entertainment. Years ago that was also true of LA. When I was a kid my dad worked downtown, and we went there regularly for one reason or another. But over time the suburbs kept spreading farther outward, and many of them gradually became self-contained communities. There are a lot of people who live in LA who have never been downtown. What’s more, they don’t ever want to go there.

I love downtown LA. I go there often. Last month I made a couple trips downtown with a camera. What follows is a record of my ramble through the city center. So if you’re too busy or too tired or too scared to make the trip yourself, this will give you a taste of what you’re missing.

I started by taking the subway to Union Station. The photo above shows the main entrance. I was hoping to include a link with photos of the interior, but I couldn’t find a single site that did it justice. You can, however, just search for images of Union Station. There are many of them on the net. Trust me, it’s worth taking a look.

Olvera Y

Right across from Union Station is Olvera Street. Sure, it’s a tourist trap, but it’s the coolest tourist trap I know of. You may have to fight your way through the crowd, but there are some restaurants that are worth the trouble. And it’s part of the historic core of LA. Among other things, you’ll find the Avila Adobe, the oldest building in the city.

Plaza Y

Right next door to Olvera Street is the plaza that sits at the center of El Pueblo de Los Angeles, a state historic park. The plaza is surrounded by a number buildings that date back to the nineteenth century, when this was the center of activity in the city.

Chinatown 1 YIt won’t surprise you to learn that Chinatown got its name because it was home to a large Chinese community. These days, though, the name may be misleading since the area seems to be mostly drawing immigrants from Vietnam and Thailand. Now the largest Chinese communities are located in the San Gabriel Valley. Walking along Broadway, I have to say my impression was that the area is past its prime, but I see that some interesting events are taking place there in the next few months. Maybe I just caught Chinatown on a slow day.

Musician YThis is an image of a woman playing traditional Chinese music. I passed another street musician, an older man, singing songs that sounded like they must have come from the old country. Sadly, these people are part of a dwindling minority. My impression is that even in China traditional music is quickly being forgotten as people rush to embrace pop, rap and techno. It’s frightening how Western pop culture buries everything it can’t market. When this older generation dies off, will there be anyone left to sing the old songs?

Tents

A tent settlement on Spring Street. Homelessness continues to be a problem all over LA.

LT First

Little Tokyo is one of my favorite places to go, partly for the food, but I also just like the vibe. This is a row of shops and restaurants along First Street. And just around the corner….

LT Plaza 2

….is the Japanese American National Museum. The building on the left is the historic older building which I believe houses the museum’s offices. The newer building on the right is the exhibition space, and I have seen some very cool shows there.

St V Sign 2

As I was walking down Second, I looked up and saw St. Vibiana. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the city, and we’re lucky it’s still standing. During the nineties, the Archdiocese made a deal with the City of LA to tear the cathedral down. The process was stopped by preservationists, who managed to get a court order which halted the demolition. Today it serves as a performing arts center and event venue.

StairsI was walking down Broadway and passed this doorway and it caught my eye. The stairs lead up to an organization called SHARE! which provides services for people dealing with a variety of issues. I looked up their web site and found this.

SHARE! empowers people to change their own lives and provides them a loving, safe, non-judgmental place where they can find community, information and support.

Walking through some parts of downtown there is definitely a sense of desperation. While gentrification is rapidly turning some neighborhoods into upscale enclaves, just around the corner you’ll find people living in total despair. I guess happening across this stairway I felt like I’d found an unexpected message of hope.

Bradbury 1I fell in love with the Bradbury Building years ago, and I try to visit it whenever I can. It has been standing at the corner of Third and Broadway since the end of the nineteenth century. The interior is gorgeous, but unfortunately these days only people who have business with one of the tenants can go above the first floor.

The Bradbury Building was designed by George Wyman, and the story of how he got the job is pretty unusual. To learn more about how it was created, and to get a glimpse of the inside, click here.

Broadway used to be the original theatre district in LA. In the photo below, the Bradbury Building is on the left, and on the right hand side you can see the Million Dollar Theater, which is where Sid Grauman set up shop when he first came to LA back in nineteen eighteen.

Broadway
Grauman didn’t stay on Broadway long. In a couple of years he moved to Hollywood, where he first built the Egyptian and then the Chinese.

LA Theatre 3Farther down Broadway you’ll find the Los Angeles Theatre. This spectacularly gaudy movie palace was designed by S. Charles Lee, who designed many other theatres during his career. The first film to play there was City Lights. I’ve been inside only once, years ago, and I have to say it was pretty amazing. The lobby alone was worth the price of admission.

Unfortunately, it’s only open for special screenings these days, but if you get the chance I urge you to check it out. The Los Angeles Conservancy sponsors a series every summer called The Last Remaining Seats, during which they show films at some of the old movie palaces. The bad news is that this year’s screening of All About Eve at the Los Angeles Theatre is sold out. But you can check out photos of the interior on the theatre’s web site. Use the menu on the left to see images of the lobby, auditorium, etc..

Restaurant
This was taken at the corner of Sixth and Main. Upscale restaurants seem to be proliferating rapidly downtown.

People Street
Meanwhile there are still plenty of people who can’t even afford a cup of coffee. These folks don’t even have tents.

MC 1
The Music Center is another mid-century classic by Welton Becket and Associates. It’s comprised of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Mark Taper Forum, and was completed in nineteen sixty seven. Becket believed in “total design”, meaning that he encouraged his clients to have the firm create not only the structure, but also furniture, carpeting, signage, dishes and flatware. Originally the Music Center did have an amazing unity of design, but in recent years there have been a number of additions to the plaza, and I feel like they’ve messed the place up. Still, the individual buildings are stunning. In nineteen ninety four, Ellerbe Becket Architects supervised some alterations to the Ahmanson, and the end result actually works pretty well.

Library 1
And this is where I ended up, as it was getting close to seven pm. The western entrance to the LA Public Library. I took this photo, then got back on the subway and went home.