Today I took a trek to downtown Los Angeles to have lunch with one of my sons and I fell in love with the city all over again. Though I worked downtown some years ago, it was not as skyscraper-ish and gentrified as the downtown area is now.
The whole Bunker Hill and downtown business areas have been redeveloped and from the 28th floor of the building I was in you could see the Music Center, Disney Hall, the Biltmore, Sheraton and Westin Bonaventure Hotels, to name but a few. Far down below the city’s first ever downtown Farmer’s Market was being held—right in front of the magnificent old Richard Riordan Public Library.
We grabbed a sandwich at a street level café and then wandered the Farmer’s Market—and for the first time I felt that excitement I feel when I visit New York City.
A favorite building of mine is what I knew first as the Library Tower and then the First Interstate Bank building which was new when I was working downtown. It is now called the U.S. Bank Building, Los Angeles’s tallest building.
It is 73 stories high, which is 1017 feet or 310 meters and construction began in 1988 and finished in 1990. I was once on one of the top floors for a meeting and I could swear I felt a slight sway. This would have to be a thrill in an earthquake. I went into the lobby to photograph the magnificent Our Lady of Los Angeles Mural and managed to get one shot in before a guard told me cameras were not allowed, but he didn’t make me erase the picture of Our Lady either.
Now traffic, parking and security are yet another matter. Even at 11:30 a.m. the traffic was 20 mph for about 10 miles. The parking structure for the building I visited was one of those downward spirals where you think you may have hit China before you find a parking place. Though validated, my 1 1/2 hour stay cost $35 to park. Security in all the large buildings now is really tight—with keycards issued for the elevator—and only for the floor you are going to with permission. A different world only 18 miles away. Frugal Fran, if I go downtown to play anytime soon, will probably take the train. It starts in north Redondo beach actually and drops you right in the heart of the business district. The Dash can take you anywhere you need to go within minutes and there is so much I haven’t seen for a long time. I had a wonderful visit with my son and I felt so energized—like I do when I go to New York. I’ve got so damned much energy, I’ve just moved around a bunch more furniture as my grandson and his dad move his furniture into his "new" room.