A Walk in LA


Los Angeles isn’t really known as a walking city.  Sure, you CAN walk there but this is the land of Freeways and Uber so why would you?  Well, lots of reasons actually and that’s exactly what the Kongo’s did last evening.  Meeting some fellow Morocco survivor friends from Santa Monica, Kongo and his bride were in downtown LA to do a walking tour of City Hall.

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Since traffic in this city is always a question mark, Kongo planned for contingencies and left home well ahead of the scheduled meeting time. Without SigAlerts or some other disaster, it was going to take the monkey about an hour to travel the 40 miles to get downtown. So he left THREE HOURS early just to be on the safe side of safe. If it all worked out since there were some other sights on Mrs. Kongo’s “doing LA” list she wanted to see, there was time for that. In the end, the drive only took an hour and a half.

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The Kongo’s have been watching Bosch on Amazon Prime.  Based on author Michael Connolly’s gritty detective series, Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch is a no-nonsense, modern-day gumshoe who solves murders in and around downtown LA while dealing with ex-wives, daughters, and a cast of characters that leaves local viewers nodding their heads as in “yeah, that’s right.”  In Season 4 a key character gets whacked in an Angel Flight car and Bosch is on the case. (Connolly also wrote a book titled Angel Flight)  Angel Flight is a funicular railway in the Bunker Hill section of downtown LA.  It’s been operating off-and-on since 1901 and reopened in 2017 after being closed for several years. Anyway, Mrs. Kongo had a yen to fly this little attraction.

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Mrs. Kongo’s first Angel Flight
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Harry Bosch Investigates Dead Bodies on Angel Flight. (Indiewire)

Across the street from Angel Flight is LA’s Grand Central Market and another spot where Bosch hangs out.  In the Bosch series there are all these little aside conversations about the secret menus of In-N-Out Burger or quirky places to eat in town. One of them is Eggslut, which sparked a series-conversation about how to coddle your eggs.  Anyway, Eggslut is kind of a thing. Mrs. Kongo was excited to see it.

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Eggslut in the Central Market

Then there was the Toyota car commercial. You can’t swing a dead cat in downtown LA without smacking into a movie set and Kongo’s walkabout in center city was no exception.  There were about three movies being filmed at the same time so parking was a challenge, security people were everywhere, and there were plenty of young women in black shirts with walkie-talkies and notebooks scurrying around through several city blocks. And in the middle of it was a Toyota car commercial for a C-HR. In case you were wondering, the car doesn’t actually touch the ground. It was set up on this trailer rig with the model inside smiling and looking cool but all the work was being done by the guy in the rig stuck on the front bumper of the car. Pushing the car along downtown streets was a truck with the crew, all monitoring various screens of images being filmed inside the car. The whole thing moved along at about 5 MPH with a police escort.

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From there it was off to City Hall, the iconic downtown landmark that was the highest building in LA until the 1960s.  This being Los Angeles, the building is a mix of a lot of different styles. Roman, art-deco, modern, and classical with a ziggurat on top. Oh, and it was destroyed by Martians in 1953 but rebuilt just as good as before.

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LA City Hall under attack by Martians under the H.G. Wells-inspired movie filmed in 1953.  No matter that in the H.G. Wells story the Martians actually attacked London. This is LA and Hollywood knows what’s what.   (Photo from L.A. Times)

The walking tour was hosted by the Los Angeles Conservancy, an organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings throughout Los Angeles.

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City Hall was erected in 1928. Before that there were several other buildings that housed the city administration but in the 1920s Los Angeles was the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States and it needed something more substantial and the project became the expression of the FUTURE for civic leaders. Major seismic upgrades were conducted in 1998 after the Northridge earthquake and now city hall can withstand an 8.2 magnitude shaker. I guess you would want to be in a City Council meeting when “the big one” comes.

While the outside is imposing and impressive, it’s the inside attention to detail that really makes you fall in love with this building.

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Ceilings are decorated with detailed mosaics that pay homage to California’s heritage, wealth, and cultural diversity.  In fact, the Los Angeles City Flag embraces the city’s diverse origins:  The Lower right griffin and castle symbolizes Spain, the lower left is the Mexico eagle, the upper right is the California Republic, and the upper left the United States.

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City Flag of Los Angeles

Marble flooring, wood paneled hallways and doors, elaborate elevators, staircases, and balustrades abound inside the 26-story structure.

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City Council Chamers

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All that’s nice but for Kongo the highlight was a visit to the observation tower at the top of City Hall.  The views of the city on a humid, late afternoon were spectacular.

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Disney Center from the Observation Deck

Besides the Martian invasion, plenty of movies have been filmed here.  Sargent Joe (Just the Facts, Ma’am) Friday roamed the halls in Dragnet, Superman flew here, and countless courtroom scenes were filmed in this hallway on the 3rd floor.

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All in all it was a great tour and the monkey learned a lot about Los Angeles.  Afterward we all headed over to Chinatown’s Phillipe The Original for French Dip sandwiches where they have been serving up French Dip sandwiches for 110 years.  According to the restaurant, “Philippe’s was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the “French Dipped Sandwich.” One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. And so was born the “French Dipped Sandwich,” so-called either because of Mathieu’s French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on or because the officer’s name was French. The answer is lost to history.”  Plenty of movies scenes were set her too. Like Kongo said, “you can’t swing a dead cat …”

Travel safe.  Have fun!

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5 Comments

  1. Betty Roth Hellstrom

    Sounds like a great way to spend a late afternoon and evening. Sorry I was not able to join. Leaving tomorrow morning for a quick weekend in New York to surprise them. Their child is turning 1 years old and wanted to share in the memories.

    Big hugs, Sis

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great photos and historic detail! I would never have guessed there would be a funicular in LA. Thanks for making a city visit look like fun. That city hall is amazing.

    Like

  3. paulgshap

    As always, beautiful pictures Kongo, and a nice narration of our evening. Wish we could have joined you for the earlier portion

    Like

    1. Thanks, Paul. Until next time …

      Like

  4. Nice view (and unusual) of the Disney Centre – such a beautiful building. Nice post and I loved walking in LA Downtown when we visited in 2011…(Suzanne)

    Like

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