Three hours out of Los Angeles off Highway 111 lies an unassuming 9×5 mile grid of a town called Bombay Beach. Driving by, one might assume this is like any one of hundreds of coastal towns surrounding any number of bodies of water. What lies down that turn onto Avenue A is much more nuanced than a simple beach spot.
Were it not for an accident, Bombay Beach may have never existed at all. In 1905, a man-made canal overflowed, causing a flood that created the largest lake in the California Area–the Salton Sea. It didn’t take long for entrepreneurs to see the economic potential. Fish were introduced to the sea, resorts began to open, and by the 1950s the area had become a huge tourist attraction.
Amidst the flamboyant white mansions and palladian columns, Beverly Hills has a legitimate witch’s house called “The Spadena House.” The house was built by Harry Oliver, an Oscar-nominated art director, in 1921 to serve as the offices and dressing rooms for a film studio in Culver City. It appeared in several silent films in the ’20s and ’30s until it was moved to the corner of Carmelita and Walden in 1924.
Sunken City is located just South of Point Fermin Park in San Pedro, Los Angeles. A type of urban atlantis, Sunken City is a hidden cement cemetery for suburban seaside life that literally sank. The entire area has been fenced off since 1987 but the wrought iron fence seems to only prevent cars from coming in. This roughly six acre piece of land was once an oceanside neighborhood is now equally a geologist and graffiti artist dream park.
The Last Bookstore. Thankfully this is not a true statement, but the provocative name and lettering on the sign are enough to make anyone wandering around Downtown Los Angeles curious. This might be one of the largest bookstores you’ll ever see, inconspicuously tucked away in a former bank on Spring street.
The store’s name is a play on words. The owners are well aware that the book selling industry is in a sort of crisis, but this never fazed them. The store’s first incarnation was a downtown loft in 2005, and when their online-only shop started to take off, they decided to find a brick and mortar space. They opened a shop on 4th and Main in 2009, but as the only store that bought used books, they quickly filled out their shelves. When that lease was up they moved into the current 10,000 square foot location. (more…)
Although the thought of walking the streets of Downtown Los Angeles may seem foreign to most Angelenos, the expanding metro rail is making it easier for residents to get around the city. In the past ten years Downtown Los Angeles has seen substantial changes to its urban fabric leading to increased pedestrian activity and surprising economic investment.
Recent proposals for the historic downtown district include over a dozen mixed-use towers ranging from twenty to seventy-five stories. The hope is that these new high-rise projects will increase density, promote walkability and introduce a mixture of commercial and residential activity into the once depleted downtown. The thirteen downtown projects account for over half of the twenty-seven new high-rise buildings being proposed throughout the city. Downtown Los Angeles is leading the way in the recent boom of economic activity due, in large part, to the presence of the five converging metro lines that service the area. (more…)