Heart of Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour
This walking tour makes a short loop around Pershing Park and includes some of the mos historically significant and iconic buildings in downtown Los Angeles.
Built in 1930, the Title Guarantee and Trust Company Building is an Art Deco style high rise building situated on Pershing Square. Designed by The Parkinsons, who were prolific architects and were responsible for many L.A. points of interest, including City Hall and Bullocks Wilshire, it was built on the site of the California Club building. Its original use was as an office building but it was later converted into loft apartments. In 1984, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally known as The Subway Terminal Building, Metro 417, is an Italian Renaissance Revival building designed by architects Schultze and Weaver. It was built in 1925 as the terminal for the Hollywood Subway branch of the Pacific Electric Railway Interurban rail line. After a $60 million redevelopment, today it is a luxury apartment building with 417 loft-style apartments.
The building was originally known as the Southern California Edison Company Building and was owned and occupied by a utility company. It was one of the first all-electrically heated and cooled buildings constructed in the western United States. Standing fourteen-stories high, the steel-framed building follows a classically inspired Art Deco design. The lower three stories are of solid limestone, while the upper stories and central tower are faced with buff-colored terra cotta. On the façade, the spandrels contain a cubic Art Deco pattern, repeated in the central tower, lobby floor and elevator ceilings. The exterior greenhouse-like structures were added in the 1980s and the street-level shopping corridor in 1993.
Completed in 1989, after construction began in 1987, the U.S. Bank Tower stands at a monumental 1,018-feet (310.3 m), making it the second tallest building in the city and the third tallest in the state behind Wilshire Grand Center and Salesforce Tower. It is also the fifteenth tallest in the United States and the 92nd tallest building in the world. It stands 73 stories above ground level and has two parking levels below ground. It was designed by Henry N. Cobb of the architectural firm Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and cost about $350 million to build.
The historic Central Library Goodhue building was constructed in 1926 and is a Downtown Los Angeles landmark. The Central Library complex is the third largest public library in the United States in terms of the volume of books and periodicals. The new wing of Central Library, completed in 1993, was named in honor of former mayor Tom Bradley. The complex was subsequently renamed in 2001 for former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, as the Richard Riordan Central Library. There are more than six million volumes of books in the Los Angeles Public Library system, serving the largest population of any publicly funded library system in the United States.
The Bunker Hill Steps were designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and completed in 1990. This huge concrete staircase provides a pedestrian route from Bunker Hill to the Los Angeles Central Library. The stairway is divided in two by a simulated mountain stream of rock-like concrete formations with water originating in a round fountain in at the top and ending in a small basin at the bottom. Robert Graham's 1992 sculpture of a woman offering the bounty of water stands in the middle of the fountain. Flowering trees and other vegetation lines the stairway's edges, which artwork and a wall of sculptured grottoes and fountains. As a monumental landscape feature linking two spheres together, the Bunker Hill Steps have proven to be a successful and visually striking path for people to move between old and new Los Angeles.
Established in 1888, the California Club is a members-only private social club and is the second-oldest club of its kind in Southern California. This building, designed by Robert D. Farquhar, was erected in 1930. Membership to this prestigious club is by invitation only and new members must be invited by at least six existing members of the Club, and pass series of interviews by the Club's Membership Committee. The membership is somewhat elite and mainly consists of leaders in business, industry, government, and professions. The club was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
The PacMutual, despite its name, is actually made up of three interconnected structures that were built consecutively over two decades. The first to be constructed was in 1908. It was a six-story Beaux Arts building clad in white terra cotta with four-story Corinthian columnns. In 1921, a twelve-story Beaux Arts building was added. It was much larger than the 1908 building and featured a grand lobby with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and sweeping staircases in Italian Tavernelle marble. The third structure was finished in 1926 and is a two-story parking garage with offices and meeting rooms on the top floor. Today, the PacMutual Building houses a range of tenants such as attorneys and architects as well as the fashion firm Nasty Gal and Los Angeles Conservancy.
Completed in 1928, this building acted as the headquarters of one of the most prestigious and expensive haberdasheries of the time, Alexander & Oviatt. The building housed their shop, which is now Cicada restaurant, rentable office space, and a penthouse suite for owner James Oviatt to live in. The building was designed in the Italian Romanesque style after Oviatt attended the 1925 Paris Exposition and was inspired by the architecture there. When the building was completed, the sheltered lobby forecourt contained over thirty tons of glass by designer Rene Lalique, and a few original panels remain to this day. The ten-room penthouse was originally decorated by the Parisian design firm of Saddler et fils and featured burled mahogany furniture and cabinets, parquet wood floors in geometric patterns, carved woodwork, imported fabrics and Lalique glass throughout. Oviatt enjoyed strong ties to people and groups that preached antisemitic and racist ideologies; the building eventually housed the Christian Defense League, which publicly promoted antisemitism and "America First" philosophies. Oviatt handed out materials to customers that promoted antisemitic beliefs, as well.
On February 2, 1930 it was announced that the soon-to-be constructed Sun Realty Building would continue the trend of local architecture by designing an exterior of colored terra cotta. In this case, the fluted terra cotta provided a beautiful blue-green finish, rising continuously for fourteen stories to the roofline before tapering to a crown of bronze at the top. It was designed by architect Claud Beelman, who is responsible for designing many buildings throughout the city including the Garfield Building, the Ninth and Broadway Building, and the Eastern Columbia Building. At the time of its construction, the lobby was outfitted with a marble floor and decorative plaster ceiling. The building was redesigned in the 1970s, but a few original fittings remain such as the original Art Deco elevator doors. The building is now known as the Los Angeles Jewelry Center.
The Los Angeles Theatre is a 2,000 seat movie palace that was constructed in late 1930 and early 1931. The Theatre was commissioned by H.L. Gumbiner, an independent film exhibitor from Chicago, who also built the Tower Theatre nearby. The building itself was designed by S. Charles Lee and Samuel Tilden Norton and features a French Baroque interior. The interior bleeds opulence with its grand central staircase and gold brocade drapes said to have been modeled after the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.
Constructed in 1909, the Walter P. Story Building was designed in the Beaux Arts style by Major General of the California National Guard Walter Perry Story on a lot purchased by his father in 1895. His father was a successful cattle rancher from Montana and was the first person to drive cattle along the Bozeman Trail from Texas to Montana. The first three stories and the basement of the building were initially designed for retail, and the upscale clothier Mullen and Bluett occupied the space from 1910 through the 1960s. Walter P. Story and his wife lived in the penthouse. Today, the building is home to offices and businesses.
Constructed in 1929 and opened in 1931, the Los Angeles Stock Exchange Building also called the Pacific Stock Exchange Building, is located in the city's Financial District. The eleven-story building was designed by Samuel Lunden in the Moderne style. From its opening until 1986, the building acted as the headquarters for the Los Angeles Stock Exchange before becoming the location of two nightclubs. The building became an LA landmark in 1979 and its façade is protected by the Los Angeles Conservancy.
Opened in 1924, the Broadway Arcade, also known as the Spring Street Arcade, incorporates three historic buildings that once formed one of the premiere shopping areas of the country. The Broadway Arcade incorporated the existing structures and businesses of Mercantile Place, constructed at on land that once held one of the community's first schools. The Arcade was designed by architects Kenneth McDonald and Maurice Couchot with the intent of maintaining the Mercantile alley’s storefronts and ambiance. The glass-roofed skylight dome was fashioned after the grand 19th-century shopping arcades of Paris and London.
Designed by architect John B. Parkinson of the firm of Parkinson & Bergstrom and constructed by developers Albert C. Bilicke and Robert A. Rowan, the Hotel Alexandria opened on February 12, 1906. The 8-story luxury hotel stands on the southwest corner of Spring and 5th Streets and was so popular that Parkinson & Bergstrom designed a twelve-story addition, which was built behind the original building in 1911.