reasonable weekend jaunt, most interesting shows
Damaged but determined: Downtown is still the heart of the City of Angels.. As the business hub of the country's second largest city, Downtown LA and its iconic skyscrapers are more than just a towering amalgamation of glass and steel--they are a symbol of what was, what is, and what still might be. Much like Hollywood is now, back in the mid-20th century Downtown LA was home to the the city's biggest movers and shakers. Beautifully ornate banks and corporate headquarters lined the streets alongside bustling department stores, fine dining spots and cultural attractions. Eventually, the area suffered several decades of disrepair and desertion, becoming a virtual ghost town once the 9-to-5ers went back to their suburban homes. Today, the area is experiencing a resurgence, with many historic buildings being converted into lofts, and new shops, galleries and restaurants opening up every month. Some of the places luring folks back into the city: The Music Center, MOCA, the visually stunning Walt Disney Concert Hall, Staples Center, Cathedral of our Lady of the Angels and the multi-use entertainment complex L.A. Live.
Coming back to life. Over the last 10-15 years, community groups, business groups and private companies have been bent toward revitalizing downtown Los Angeles. I have to say they are doing a very good job. From the artist lofts and the other alternative living spaces to the new restaurants popping up all over, Downtown is actually habitable. Even for people who live in the "Valleys", Downtown is a reasonable weekend jaunt. You can shop the different wholesale districts for flowers, clothes, jewelry, furniture, fabric, etc. You can visit the MOCA viewing the best of international contemporary artists -- anything from sculpture, mixed media pieces, animation, and even installations. In fact, one of the most interesting shows I've seen was at the MOCA where live people were part of the artists installation. It was the first time I'd ever seen an installation and it was fascinating. These days, Downtown is becoming an event destination. Of course there has always been the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, but now with the new Nokia Theater near the Staples Center and the Disney Concert Hall, people are flocking to downtown for entertainment.