Vol. 24, No. 3/Spring 2002
The Librarian's Guide to L.A.
Looking for things to do in between SLA sessions? Los Angeles Times
librarians Jacci Cenacveira, Julia Franco and Peter Johnson
give us some insider tips on what to do and see while in L.A.
Getting Around Dowtown
The published guides to Los Angeles, the SLA Hospitality Guide and the Conference Tours will help you identify L.A.s highlights. But the following places come recommended by a native Angelino and several "downtowners."
Weekdays, the DASH buses are an excellent way to get around the downtown core. Each boarding costs 25 cents, and transfers are available from one route to another. Just ask the driver. Be aware that service stops around 6 p.m., and keep an eye on which line you want many lines service the same stops! (www.ladottransit.com/dash/routes/downtown/downtown.html)
City Hall occupies the block between Spring and Main and 1st and Temple (on the A DASH route). Recently refurbished and retrofitted, it looks beautiful, and you can tour it on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If youre in a group of 10 or more, call for reservations (213) 978-1995.
The Bradbury Building at 304 South Broadway will be recognizable from myriad movies and television shows. On the ground floor is the exhibit space of the Architecture and Design Museum. (Closest DASH route is D, get off at 3rd St.) Out back are tables and umbrellas if you brought food from Central Market across Broadway. Funky, fragrant and bustling, you can find food here from several cultures, plus fresh meat and produce, herbs, ice cream and flowers.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument (www.ci.la.ca.us/ELP/) at Main and Los Angeles streets (BDASH) has 27 historic buildings, four of which are now museums. Most are open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. with tours Tuesday-Saturday each hour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call (213) 628-2381 for a free tour.
The Japanese American National Museum at 369 East First Street (A DASH) is open Tuesdays through Sundays. Admission is $6 for adults. The museum is dedicated to sharing the experience of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Lovely building, fascinating exhibits, and a wonderful shop. The original museum is housed in the first Buddhist temple built in Los Angeles. There is a new Pavilion that houses exhibits and the museum shop. Call (213) 625-0414 for more information.
The Museum of Neon Art (A DASH) has well known and obscure works that define the artistic possibilities of neon. 501 West Olympic Boulevard. (213) 489-9918. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
For more downtown sites of interest, check out the University of Southern California's Geography Department web site, which offers a "Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour." (www.usc.edu/dept/geography/losangeles/lawalk/)
-- Julia Franco
Sure, we practically invented pretentious food -- Wolfgang Puck pizza, or the "non-fat double decaffeinated latte," for instance. But at the heart of every city are those spots with a little history, a lot of charm and an abundance of good food. And some of L.A.'s best is right downtown.
Windows Restaurant (D DASH) sits on the 32nd floor of the Transamerica Center downtown, giving a spectacular wraparound view of the city below. Its clubby atmosphere goes well with its fare of good steak and a mind-boggling list of over 50 martinis. Main courses, $9 to $33. Transamerica Center, 1150 South Olive Street. (213) 746-1554.
Nestled on the edge of Chinatown is the self-proclaimed "home of the French dip sandwich." Philippe the Original (B DASH) offers French dip sandwiches made from beef, lamb, pork (all roasted in-house), ham, tuna or heart-healthy turkey. This modest shop with its communal tables has been drawing crowds since 1908 and is a landmark among L.A. restaurants. French-dipped sandwiches, $3.95 to $4.25. 1001 North Alameda Street. (213) 628-3781.
The one item that will draw you back to Senor Fish (A DASH) is its selection of fresh and flavorful fish. Then again, it might be the ceviche tostada. Or the fish tacos. Maybe the garlic drenched shrimp. Whatever your choice, this comfortable restaurant is proof that good seafood need not cost a fortune. Dinner for two, food only, $6 to $30. 422 East 1st Street. (213) 625-0566.
Sitting in the middle of the magnificent downtown Union train station, Traxx (B DASH) is a stylish and charming restaurant offering California cuisine. The food is great and the historic setting will take you back to a simpler time. Dinner for two, food only, $24 to $66. 800 North Alameda Street. (213) 625-1999.
No downtown is complete without a 24-hour spot. The Pantry (A and F DASH) is a venerable institution that knows the basics are worth keeping. Dinner means good old-fashioned fare ranging from Swiss steak to franks and beans and breakfast still means pancakes and eggs. And a good cup of coffee can always be found. Main dishes, $5.30 to $16.35; breakfasts, $3.30 to $5.80. 877 South Figueroa Street, downtown L.A. (213) 972-9279.
-- Jacci Cenacveira
Want to see some places outside the downtown core? Hollywood, Long Beach and Old Town Pasadena offer a variety of points of interest and are not difficult to get to from downtown. To get to Pasadena you will need a car, but for Long Beach and Hollywood you will not.
To get to Pasadena, take the 110 freeway north from downtown until it becomes the Arroyo Parkway. Continue on Arroyo until you get to Green or Colorado, and then start looking for parking. There are several parking garages and numerous lots in the area. Some merchants validate, but you should be prepared to spend $5 to $7 for parking. Once you park, Old Town (www.citycent.com/CCC/oldpas/oldpas.htm) features a variety or shops and restaurants, including Cheesecake Factory, Buca di Beppo, ribs, sushi, and Italian (Il Fornaio, Louisas). A favorite of mine is La Fornaretta (Sicilian) on Raymond just below Colorado. The food is excellent, but the restaurant is very small, and the area is very crowded on weekends, so reservations are advised. 39 South Raymond Avenue. (626) 585-9088.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (www.huntington.org) are located in nearby San Marino. Take the 110 north from downtown until it ends at Glen Arm. Continue to California and turn right. Take California to Allen and turn right. Allen will lead you directly onto the grounds of the Huntington. Admission, $10 for adults, is free on the first Thursday of the month.
You can get to downtown Long Beach (www.ci.long-beach.ca.us) via the Blue Line train, which you board at the 7th Street Metro or the Staples Center station in downtown Los Angeles. The line terminates in the heart of downtown Long Beach, which has cool ocean breezes and features many shops and restaurants. Just a short walk down Ocean Boulevard is the Civic Center complex where there are several theaters (check local listings for whats playing) and the Long Beach Aquarium. Moored nearby is the Queen Mary, where you can have a tour of the ship and dine in elegance.
Hollywood is a short, fast ride on the Red Line subway (www.westworld.com/~elson/larail/red.html), which you can board at the 7th Street Metro Station. (Be sure to take the train for North Hollywood another train diverts at the Vermont Street station and goes two more stops down Wilshire Boulevard. If you board the wrong train downtown, just get off at Vermont and transfer.) Take the subway to the Hollywood and Highland station, where, upon exiting, you will find yourself in the heart of Tinseltown and right next to the new Kodak Theater, the new home of the Academy Awards. Restaurants, movie theaters and curio shops line Hollywood Boulevard, which features the Walk of Fame, Graumans Chinese Theater, the Max Factor museum, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Musso & Franks steakhouse, and the delightfully restored El Capitan movie theater. A little further east, at the Hollywood and Vine station, is the Pantages Theater, where Disneys stage version of "The Lion King" continues to delight audiences.
For the slightly more adventurous, if you have an extra day, a trip to San Diego (www.digitalcity.com/sandiego/) is not out of the question. Amtrak has numerous trains daily from downtown L.A.s Union Station. You arrive in San Diego three hours later just blocks from Little Italy, where an urban renaissance featuring new housing and superb restaurants - is under way. The San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park are easily accessible by cab.
-- Peter Johnson
You can contact Jacci, Julia and Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.