It’s hard to believe Downtown Los Angeles was once more desolate than desired. Old buildings being granted new uses sparked a new interest in the area and a boom in residents and businesses followed. Today it’s home to LA’s major sports facilities, monumental architecture, museums, and some of the best restaurants this city has to offer.
MODERN HOMES & REAL ESTATE
The Adaptive Reuse Ordinance played a major role in breathing new life into the neighborhood. It allowed many of the often abandoned buildings and warehouses of the area to be converted into livable spaces.
Within no time, loft living became en vogue.
There are nine districts in Downtown. They include the Arts District, Bunker Hill, City West, Fashion District, Financial District, Historic Core, Lincoln Heights, Little Tokyo, and South Park.
TOY FACTORY LOFTS
Located in the Arts District the Toy Factory Lofts was originally built in 1923 for the Star Truck & Warehouse Company. This building now houses 119 live-work lofts. It also offers the convenience of the retail spaces on the ground floor that include a restaurant, a gourmet grocery, and wine shop.
Located in the historic core the Eastern Columbia building is an art deco masterpiece listed as a Historic and Cultural Monument.
Keeping the turquoise terra-cotta and gold-leaf details of the exterior a 2006 renovation converted this space into 147 residential units. Each floor plan ranges from less than a 1,000 square feet with an open floor plan to luxury style penthouses measuring over 3,300 square feet.
FLOWER STREET LOFTS
The Flower Street Lofts are located in the heart of South Park.
Formerly used as a UPS distribution hub the 2003 conversion turned this space into 91 lofts offering high ceilings, mezzanines, walls of glass, and concrete floors.
Downtown is considered highly diverse for the city and county of Los Angeles. 36.7% of the neighborhood is populated by Latinos followed by 22.3% Black/African American. Asians make up 21.3% of the area. Whites make up 16.2%. 3.5% of the population in the area falls under “other.”
LOCAL GRUB & THINGS TO DO
With neighborhoods like El Pueblo, Little Toyko, Chinatown, and Bunker Hill, Downtown is a cultural hub providing an endless list of things to do. Here are a few of the local faves.
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
This curvy stainless steel architectural landmark was designed by architect Frank Gehry. Home to the LA Philharmonica it is said to be one of the most “acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world providing both visual and aural intimacy for an unparalleled musical experience.”
The Broad is a contemporary art museum established by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. In a 120,000 square foot building designed by world-renowned architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler.
According to the website “The museum is home to the 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide.”
I’m dying to experience Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. It is said to be a captivating visual moment of “a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display.”
From Bansky to their permanent collection, MOCA displays contemporary art in all media forms. Founded by only artist the museum focuses on art created after 1940 and houses an impressive collection of 7,000 objects. Today MOCA takes up three facilities across LA: MOCA Grand Avenue, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and MOCA Pacific Design Center.
CALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER
This admission free venue was labeled by Forbes.com as the most popular museum destination in Southern California. While the museum offers interesting exhibits, an on site science center school, an Amgen Center for Science Learning, along with a teacher professional development program one of the coolest features is the IMAX theatre. The seven story IMAX screen brings to life “worlds as small as an atom and as vast as the universe.”
A sandwich for dinner? It sounded a little odd to me too but I promise you’ll be missing out if you don’t dive into a Baco. According to their website, “Bäco Mercat is the home of the “bäco,” the signature flatbread sandwich that was developed by chef Josef Centeno. The original bäco was the crispy pork belly and beef carnitas with caraway pepper. Since then, the bäco bread has taken center stage and works as a vessel for all things delicious: pork, beef, poultry, seafood and vegetables.” It’s downright delicious.
Bestia serves the best in rustic Italian fare. Housed in an industrial space dishes range from house-made charcuterie, handmade pastas, and pizza made in an Acunto oven.
ON THE MAP
The zip codes of Downtown LA include 90012, 90013, 90014, 90015, 90016, 90017, 90021, and 90071. It lies to the West of the Los Angeles River. On the north it boarders the Hollywood Freeway and Echo Park. To the south is the Santa Monica Freeway and South Central Los Angeles. To the West is Korea Town. Some experts say that it goes past these boundaries to include Exposition Park, University Park, the Central City West neighborhood and the entire University of Southern California campus.