October 22, 2012

31 Trips in Cali, Day 16: Downtown L.A.

The town where I was raised, the town where my people grew and lived and died for almost a century, is barely ten miles from downtown Los Angeles. Still, I can't say I'm terribly familiar with downtown.  It remains for me a glamorous, glittery and urban destination.  Its skyline is easily visible on a clear day from ten miles away, but clear blue days were rare in the smoggy '70s, and even more rare was a chance to be high up enough to see that distant skyline, since our town was comprised of small pastel stucco houses and stubbornly single-story businesses.

So when we had the chance to have a quick grown-up getaway for my birthday a few years back, I chose downtown L.A. as the place I wanted to explore. (Also, it's close to family, who were watching the kids for the night.) We'd recently watched 500 Days of Summer, so I was idly trying to find the Bradley building in our walk, but we never quite made it there. (It turns out we were really close the whole time.)

We started off at Union Station:
We poked around the outskirts of Olvera Street, which is right across the street. Then we walked a bit to find, at the Husband's request, the Triforium:

This space-age looking sculpture was built in the mid-'70s and I admittedly didn't even know it existed. But my space-age lovin' husband knew all about it.  The Triforium was supposed to shoot lasers into the sky and play musical notes based on the movements of people walking by. I have no idea if it does any of those things now, but a quick Google image search shows some pretty cool shots of the thing lit up at night.  I imagine that in person it looks & sounds like the last half-hour of "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind."

We passed the iconic City Hall building:
and then wasted a lovely hour or so exploring the big and beautiful Central Library:
We walked around more and then wrapped up our day as the sun was getting low over Pershing Square and the seasonal ice-skating rink. (This was exactly a week before Christmas.)
In this shot, you can see both the old Biltmore Hotel in the foreground, and the tall, round Library U.S. Bank Tower building rising behind. (Note the red & green lights ringing its very top.)
I might've given the impression up top that I don't have any personal history at all with downtown L.A. That's hardly true; I've had my share of adventures and shopping trips and other explorations here.  Still, I grew up in what was essentially a small town, and have never been to New York City. So the bustle, sights, and culture of L.A. remain this woman's version of The Big City.

We have another overnight getaway coming up in a few weeks (fingers crossed). Maybe it's time to spend some more time playing tourist in L.A. and seeing what we can find this time around. 
Thanks for coming along! Come back for Day 17 of my 31 Trips in California series. (How I got 5 days behind schedule is a mystery -- this daily blogging business is hard!) For our next trip, we'll head to a castle on the coast.

Don't miss a single trip: Head over to Day 1 for all the links, or Like me on Facebook. 

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