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Walking in LA


I had been quite firm in my “I hate LA” sentiments until I skittered down for a short overnight. LAX, the international airport, remains my least favorite airport on the planet (with Chicago’s O’Hare being a close second) but once I disembarked the Flyaway bus (7 dollars to downtown, and fast!) at Union Station, my thoughts on LA… shifted. I was immediately smitten with the gorgeous train station, the platforms labeled in an unknown but elegant typeface, the engines idling on the tracks. The station itself is lofty and elegant with marble floors and big armchairs and deco cafe fronts.

And then, the streets of downtown LA. A survey of American architecture from the grand decorated facades of 1920s highrises to blocky reinforced concrete modernism to Frank Gehry’s shiny pile of curved metal sails. It took me 90 minutes to walk just over a mile because I was utterly diverted by public art, by Mexican wedding chapels, by little pocket parks. I ducked into the public market intending to grab something to go and ended up spending half an hour looking a chilies and eating pupusas from the Salvadorean takeout counter and chatting with other folks who’d stopped in to get lunch, too.

I found myself genuinely sorry to be heading back home. While the air can not compete with the fresh smell of Seattle and the traffic — oh, the freeways, they are criminal — reminded me of why I was eager to flee Southern California, I regretted that I had not decided to stay another day, two, even, to spend time at the old Puebla, to visit the museums, and to just walk around downtown gawking at everything there was to look at. Everywhere I put my eyes there was a photograph and it was a great surprise. And a great pleasure.

I’d love help identifying these two giraffes — they’re on 5th near Broadway. Calder Greenwood?

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8 Responses to “Walking in LA”

  1. Love LA, hate LAX.

    In order, my least favorite airports in the world are:

    CDG
    ORD
    LAX
    JFK

    I get shivers of annoyance up my spine just thinking of any of these hellholes!

  2. I’m positively kvelling to hear that you enjoyed exploring my city! Conversely, I enjoyed seeing YOU.

  3. Jackie D says:

    I grew up next to LAX (literally — I can see my parents’ house from the runway whenever my plane lands) so I kind of have a love/hate relationship with it. On the one hand, it is a monster; on the other, when I land there it means I’m home. I think you spent a perfect amount of time in the city for now because it’s possible that if you stayed any longer, LA might have done something to make you hate it. It’s sneaky.

  4. Sounds like you spent some quality time in L.A.’s central “suburb”: Grand Central Market, Bradbury Bldg. + environs. As an L.A. native (now an expat living in Holland), I see the city itself as a soul-less collection of suburbs; if you dig deeper, some of the suburbs ARE nice, but getting between them is horrendous!

  5. I really like downtown LA. I’m going to LA next month to scout for a potential move there. I didn’t know about the flyaway bus – thanks so much, that will make my commute much easier!

  6. Barb says:

    I’m glad you found pleasure in my neck of the woods. I live just north of downtown in the “up-and-coming” neighborhood Glassell Park. When I bought into the area 8 years ago i didn’t realize how fortunate I was to be conveniently planted in the middle of some of LA’s best nieghborhoods. Downtown is a 15 minute drive, or easy bike ride for me. I love to discover all that it has to offer. Thanks for the endorsement.

  7. I used to hate on LA before too. I am from San Francisco so that norcal hate LA thing goes on in the bay area a lot. I do like the coast around LA and I like the Downtown.

  8. currybadger says:

    I still hate LA, however the train-station makes it better. They say LA doesn’t have good public transport but I beg to differ.

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