Los Angeles is a vast, sprawling city, and neighborhoods on the coast, like Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Malibu, have historically gotten much more attention than Downtown. Yet there’s a remarkable amount of history and many architectural styles represented in Downtown LA, including some Beaux-Arts and Art Deco gems. We joined the LA Conservancy for a walking tour of Historic Downtown and learned about some of LA’s most important architectural sites.
Though Pershing Square (originally called Plaza Abaja) has always been the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, the downtown area was not always a safe or desirable part of the city. Plaza Abaja was a Spanish land grant from 1781–one of two that remain in city hands. It underwent several transformations, including a redesign in the 1880s, when the railroad created a building boom in LA, another one in 1910-11, when there was a real estate boom. A parking garage was added under the park in 1951. In the ’70s and ’80s, Pershing Square fell into disuse and became a seedy area, but was redesigned once again in 1993.