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Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, USA


When you look above you, in downtown LA, you see the most gorgeous skyscrapers set against a backdrop of blue sky! But when you look around you, you see some sketchy people that make you feel a little unsure of your safety. Like all inner city areas, the buildings make the streets dark and there's a chilly wind. The streets are surprisingly clean though.
The area around the Central Library is a nice area to explore because even though there are a bunch of homeless people, there's some beautiful architecture and landscaping. If you enter from Flower Street, you will be treated to an inspiring combination of gardens, architecture, and skyline. The way the stairs lead up to the building is a masterpiece in and of itself. Couples have weddings here. Fountains and raised pools with interesting animal sculptures form the center, surrounded by stairs. Steps adorned in vibrant copper and brass with letters from different languages and mathematical symbols add a touch of mystery, as do the Egyptian carvings on the beautiful 1920s library building, which is topped with a tiled mosaic pyramid. The skyline above forms the top of this delicious vertical panorama, gifted with the tallest skyscraper in Los Angeles, the U.S. Bank Tower, which is topped with a crown. The crown is lit at night (green and red at Christmas, red on Valentine's day, purple and gold during Lakers events, and blue and white during Dodgers events). Go inside the library and check out the colorful painted ceiling in the main lobby, statues, chandeliers, and murals.
On the 5th Street side of the Central Library there are metal gates with quotes inscribed in pretty font. Walk inside the Millenium Biltmore on 5th Street to see the stunning hand-painted fresco on the ceiling, the marble fountains and impressive columns.
Walk north 1 1/2 blocks on Grand Avenue. On the left is the Wells Fargo building with its many giant colorful sculptures by various artists. Continue north to 221 S. Grand Ave and check out The Broad, with its trippy exterior, windows that look into the storage vault full of artworks owned by the Broad family, and its cylindrical glass elevators. Continue one more block north and behold the massive Disney Concert Hall with its waves of steel.
A good place to eat if you have kids is the plaza called "7th and Fig" on the corner of 7th Street and Figueroa. There's a California Pizza Kitchen and other casual eateries, plus some room to run.
Walk east on 7th Street to Clifton's Cafeteria to check out three levels of interesting atmosphere, a real blast from the past.

Photo Gallery

The vertical landscape in downtown LA.

Leafy entryway.

Cool buildings in the LA skyline: the Gas Company Tower, the Biltmore Hotel, the Central Library pyramid.

Central Library's tiled mosaic pyramid with Egyptian elements.

A businessman makes his way through Maguire Gardens, next door to the Central Library.

The U.S. Bank Tower with its distinctive glass crown.

Fountain in Maguire Gardens.

Reading beside the sculpture pool in front of the Central Library.

Amazing steps in black copper plate with words from different languages cut out in white, in front of the Central Library.

There's some strange sculptures in the pools outside Central Library.

Cafe Pinot keeps the otherwise down-and-out area around the Central Library a bit more upscale.

Cafe Pinot seems like a nice place to relax if you've got some bucks to burn.

Unusual fountain at the pools in front of the Central Library.

LA's Spanish Steps on 5th Street near Grand Ave.

Ornamental metal fence with inspirational transcription along 5th Street beside the Central Library.

The Biltmore Hotel.

A varied skyline.

Ugly alley to gorgeous building.

Historic building next to HSBC building.

Small mall called "7th and Fig" on the corner of Figueroa and 7th, with various chain restaurants.


This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

From Highway 101 South, take Highway 110 South and immediately take the 6th Street exit. Once on 6th Street, if you drive five blocks you will come to Pershing Square which has the cheapest parking lot. Turn left on Olive St to access the lot. Cost is $10-15.
Clifton's Cafeteria, 648 S. Broadway, LA, call (213) 627-1673.
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