La La Land – Beverly Hill and Downtown

Another movie that shaped my impressions of LA was Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Pretty woman walking down the street….

Downtown LA

Downtown LA aka DTLA to the locals was avoided for its homeless and drug addicts after dark. Despite gentrification efforts and rejuvenation of the Bunker Hills district, it was still not safe to walk around at night according to my local friends. So I have to take a walk only in the morning.

Sculpture on California Plaza

Take the Angel’s Flight from Grand Central Market and you come to the top of Bunker Hill. A short walk from California Plaza is the Civic District in DTLA. This junction along Grand Avenue and West 2nd Street is home to The Broad, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Walt Disney Concert Hall and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

The Broad

The Broad

The Broad is a contemporary art museum on Grand Avenue in DTLA. I wasn’t able to visit this museum as there was a really popular exhibition going on and I couldn’t get tickets.

It employs a structural slab with up-turned beams – a riff on the prominent local freeway structure typology – creating the depth needed to support the plaza planting.

Imbuing the new space with an immediate presence and scale 100-year old Barouni olive trees that were transplanted from a defunct orchard in the Shasta cascade region into an offset grid. Diagonally across is The Grand designed by visionary architect, Frank Gehry. Gehry designed apartments are now collector items all around the world.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the famous L.A. Philharmonic, the de facto orchestra for the Hollywood, opened in October 2003.

Designed by architect Frank Gehry (the same guy that designed The Grand directly opposite), Walt Disney Concert Hall is an internationally recognised architectural landmark and one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world.

From the stainless steel curves of its striking exterior to the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main auditorium, the 3.6-acre complex embodies the unique energy and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is one of the halls in the Los Angeles Music Center, which is one of the largest performing arts centres in the United States. The Music Center’s other halls include the Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre (both of which are just behind the Pavilion), and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Since the LA Philharmonic and LA Master Chorale have moved to the newly constructed and adjacent Disney Hall which , the Pavilion is home of the Los Angeles Opera.

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills is a city in Los Angeles County. Home to many Hollywood stars, it features the upscale shopping street of Rodeo Drive. Originally a Mexican ranch where lima beans were grown, Beverly Hills was incorporated in 1914 by a group of investors who had failed to find oil, but found water instead and eventually decided to develop it into a town.

Spadena House, aka The Witch’s House

The Witch’s House, also known as the Spadena House, appears to be plucked straight out of a fairytale. The house was built in 1921 for a silent film movie studio, Willat Studios in Culver City, to serve as its offices and dressing rooms. When the studio closed, the Spadena family moved the home to its current location in Beverly Hills, where it has been since 1934. Thanks to the pointy, lopsided roof, tiny windows and stucco with a distressed paint technique, the home has been described as the quintessential Hansel and Gretel house.

The O’Neill House

The O’Neill House makes you feel like you’ve stepped into Alice’s Wonderland. The home’s facade was inspired by the surreal designs of famous architect, Antoni Gaudi. This house is just steps from the Golden Triangle. Be sure to walk or drive down the alley that runs along the house’s left side as the swirling exterior can be seen even better from the back.

Beverly Gardens Park

Beverly Gardens Park is a 1.9-mile linear park that spans from Wilshire Boulevard to North Doheny Drive along Santa Monica Boulevard. The expansive park has fountains and rose gardens, plus an illuminated Beverly Hills sign. The sign is 40 feet long, illuminated and has a water feature along with a variety of flora that showcases the landscape surrounding the garden area.

In the park is a sculpture called “Peace and Love by Ringo Starr, yes it’s the Beatles Ringo Starr. Ringo, a Beverly Hills resident, had a casting made of his hand flashing the peace sign fashioned to stand the approximate height of a human being. You can also walk behind to take a phot of the famous palm tree lined streets of Beverly Hills.

Beverly Hills City Hall and Civic Center

Beverly Hills City Hall has gracefully presided over the city’s civic life since 1932. Architect William Gage created the Spanish Renaissance building in typical government style of that era. The low classical base, which symbolizes government, is dominated by an eight-story tower, which represents commerce. But the beauty of the building, with its tiled dome and gilded cupola, soon transcended the typical government building and has become a beloved local landmark. 

Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hills Hotel was established in May 1912, before the city itself was incorporated. Since 1996, it has been run as part of the Dorchester Collection owned by the Sultan of Brunei. The song “Hotel California” by the American rock band the Eagles is slightly based on the folklore behind the hotel. The cover of the band’s album of the same name features a photo of the hotel itself.

Homes of the Stars

Many come to Hollywood to admire the glitz and glamour of stardom, and the rewards that came with that. And Beverly Hills was the epitome of that fam- if you have a house in Beverly Hills, it showed that you have made it. I joined a tour that brought us around the homes of the stars. Notice that there’s no pavement outside the houses? This is because the entire Beverly Hills is a private development, so the house owners are not required to provide any pedestrian pavements; talking about privacy!

An Uber driver commented this, “How would you know if those houses were homes of the stars? The tour guides would say anything to make you believe so.” And as we drove away from the glitz of Beverly Hills, we came along Sunset Boulevard that is famous for another set of stars, and very often for the wrong reason.

Hollywood is also full of pubs and nightclubs owned by stars. Like the Viper Room was partly owned by Johnny “the alleged wife abuser” Depp. It gained notoriety when River Phoenix O.D.ed in the club. It was also the last place where Michael Hutchence of The Doors performed live before he committed suicide. Opened in 1956, the Whisky a Go Go was one of the places that popularized go-go dancing and throughout its long history played hosts to many famous musicians before and after they became famous.


The impression of LA during this three-day stay was quite conflicting. I knew it was sprawling place, that everything was really spread out. But I didn’t know that it was so wide apart to get between places that you really need a car. And that explains why the traffic jams on the freeways are so frequent.

Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory

And it reinforced my impression that this is a rather cold and unfriendly city. While everything was efficient during my stay, there was no warmth or spontaneity that I would get in DC or even NYC. I would be coming back for sure, as a transit passenger.

Visited Sep 2022

2 comments on “La La Land – Beverly Hill and Downtown

  1. Pingback: La La Land – Tinseltown – live2makan

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