FINALLY -DOWNTOWN LA

Sep 9, 2015by tracey Comments

I know I am very late to the Downtown LA is happening Party.  Admitting you finally discovered Downtown LA is like saying, ” Have you heard of this cool site called Netflix?”  Though truth is I have known for some time that the downtown LA scene was very lively, young, and considered the most fun, trendy neighborhood in the city.

However, I ignored it for several reasons. One is whenever I’m out there I’m usually working and dragging to downtown LA from West Hollywood is a real schlepp,   it’s actually not. Though that is what I had convinced myself. But the truth is I had a sense of failure in regards to downtown LA. You see long before it was the place to be for all those in search of the place to be, it was a real disaster. There were the office buildings and the courthouse. There was always Little Tokyo and the Jewelry Market, but that was kind of it. Otherwise there were vagrants, tons of crime and a very skid row vibe. It was during the peak of the that downtrodden era when my mother and I inherited a warehouse in downtown LA. I know. I know.  It was one of those warehouses that are now being turned into state of the art lofts, art galleries and fusion restaurants. But at the time we got it it was full of Spreckles Sugar products as they had rented it from our family for decades.  Tiny history, my grandfather was very smart: he saw the boom coming – back in the thirties. Well, OK, he was smart, but downtown was sort of boomy then. Though not where he bought the land and built a big state of the art warehouse. State of the art for 1933. And it was a swell investment on his part and paid a nice sum each month.  By the time the building  passed on to my mom and myself, it was no longer state of the art. It was state of total disrepair.  Spreckles was in the process of moving to Gardena, an area with less crime and 1991 flourishes.  And we were left with a warehouse of troubles. It had to be painted almost weekly because of the graffiti. It needed a very expensive roof. It required earthquake retrofitting. It needed new air conditioning and if I remember correctly forklifts and newer automatic garages.  Do the math. We sold it. Had we known that in twenty-five years someone might have paid us millions to turn it into a Mexican – Sicilian Fusion restaurant with a revolving bar and upstairs installation art gallery, would we have put the money in and held on? I doubt it. But when I go down there that is where my mind goes. I had one of these. I can’t even type what we sold it for, plus it’s tacky to talk about money.

But  I could not take hearing about the redone Grand Central Market, The Arts District and the hipster Ace Hotel any longer. So last week Glenn, Lucy and I took a day and did Downtown LA.

I’m glad we did. It was great fun.  And yes, I kind of wish we still had our warehouse.

 

What you do is this, head downtown and park in the pay lot next door to The Ace on Broadway and 9th. It’s 10 bucks for the day and worth it.  A guy watches your car. Go do a tour of The Ace. If it’s evening have a drink on the roof. If daytime, have coffee in the lobby. Don’t eat there, there are more interesting places.

 

downtown
Downtown LA from the roof of The Ace Hotel.
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This is the lobby of The Ace Hotel.
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The bar of The Ace Hotel
roof
Around the pool at The Ace Hotel. Who could have predicted this in 1991? Maybe my grandfather.

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treat
Stop in The Ace for a Stumptown Coffee and a treat. We shared this yummy thing.
Head out of The Ace and up Broadway towards 4th Street.
Head out of The Ace and up Broadway towards 4th Street. This is the front door of The Ace. See it says ACE.
This taco place is next door to the parking lot you should park in. I wanted to try one. Glenn said later. There was no later. Next time.
This taco place is next door to the parking lot you should park in. I wanted to try one. Glenn said later. There was no later. Next time.
Straight ahead. It does not look like most cities. It is LA.
Straight ahead. It does not look like most cities. Valet. That is your guy. But you park it yourself and take the keys.
We passed this building.
We passed this building.
Buildings like this have been restored.
Buildings like this have been restored.
Theatre still line the streets. Some are stores, some theatres.
Theatres still line the streets. Some are stores, some still theatres.
A lot of the old still remains. Like endless stores with these.
A lot of the old  remains. Like endless stores with these fancy dresses.
The new.
The new vibe.
Theatre turned house of worship.
Theatre turned house of worship.
Cliftons Cafeteria which has been in the news a lot lately. It is supposed to open soon. it does not look like it's in any danger of doing so. I have heard about Clifton's since I was a little girl.
Clifton’s Cafeteria which has been in the news a lot lately. It is supposed to open soon. it does not look like it’s in any danger of doing so. I have heard about Clifton’s since I was a little girl.
We were headed for The Central Market. 20 years ago when I used to go it was all fruits and vegetables and products from Mexico. It was like taking a trip across the border. Now it's a giant foodie haven.
We were headed for The Grand Central Market. 20 years ago when I used to go it was all fruits and vegetables and products from Mexico. It was like taking a trip across the border. Now it’s a giant foodie haven.
Eggslut says it all. Mind you the longest line was here.
Eggslut says it all. Mind you the longest line was here.
The way it used to be.
The way it used to be.
When the green juice arrives you know it's gentrified to the max.
When the green juice arrives you know it’s gentrified to the max.
Those of us from Santa Barbara appreciate this.
Those of us from Santa Barbara appreciate this.
Not sure what he is looking for.
Not sure what he is looking for.
He walked right by this. But it was packed too. The whole place was.
He walked right by this. But it was packed too. The whole place was.
Back outside I wanted to go to The Arts District for lunch. So we headed down Broadway to Fourth Street. You make a left and go to Main.
Back outside I wanted to go to The Arts District for lunch. So we headed down Broadway to Fourth Street. You make a left and go to Main.
I'm not discussing it.
I’m not discussing it.
This is the Arts District. Or part of it.
This is the Arts District. Or part of it.
One of the best in the neighborhood, or so they say.
One of the best in the neighborhood, or so they say. Baco Mercat. It was very good.
They are famous for these sandwiches. Glenn had this. It had pork, beef, salad, amazing.
They are famous for these sandwiches. Glenn had this. It had pork, beef, salad, amazing. It’s called a Baco.
I had this. It's called a salad!
I had this. It’s called a salad!
On the way to the car we went into the most spectacular book store.
On the way to the car we went into the most spectacular book store.
It's huge. Insanely big. Old books. New books. A floor that's a labyrinth of books.
It’s huge. Insanely big. Old books. New books. A floor that’s a labyrinth of books.

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The war book section.
The war book section.
The book tunnel.
The book tunnel.
Room after room after room like this.
Room after room after room like this. We were there for an hour and a half.
On the way to the car Glenn decided she was cute.
I guess he found what he was looking for.

 

 

ACE HOTEL

GRAND CENTRAL MARKET

BACO MERCAT

THE LAST BOOKSTORE

ARTS DISTRICT LA

CLIFTON’S CAFETERIA

 

great article on Clifton’s from LA Magazine this month.