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Category Archives: A Los Angeles Primer

Notebook on Cities and Culture S4E46: Mar Incognita with Geoff Nicholson

Colin Marshall sits down in the Hollywood Hills with Geoff Nicholson, author of such nonfiction books as The Lost Art of Walking and its more recent follow-up Walking in Ruins as well as novels like Bleeding London, Gravity’s Volkswagen, and the new The City Under the Skin. They discuss which cities contributed to his concept of “the city”; the […]

A Los Angeles Primer: LAX

As soon as you leave baggage claim, the apologies begin. “We are in the process of building a world-class airport for Los Angeles,” one announcement offers by way of explanation for the discomforts, delays, or other hassles you’ll soon endure. The increasing frequency with which I use Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, has inured […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Skid Row

I grew up thinking of the “inner city” as a byword for criminality, disrepair, inconvenience, and destitution. Only later did I realize that, outside the United States and much of the United Kingdom, the term and its international equivalents never picked up those off-putting associations. To most of the rest of the world, whose capitals’ […]

A Los Angeles Primer: The Bonaventure Hotel and Macy’s Plaza

My day downtown began at the 7th Street Metro Center. Many do, but when I got aboveground, I did something I’d never done before: I crossed 7th and entered Macy’s Plaza, the brick-encased shopping fortress at the foot of Charles Luckman’s 33-story MCI Center. Despite having passed it countless times, I’d never given it much notice, other […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Melrose Avenue

Architecture and design observer Frances Anderton mentioned loving not just Lincoln Boulevard but Melrose Avenue, two streets that would, at first, seem to have little in common: Lincoln, the oft-derided, “unplanned” linear heap of clashing commercial enterprises; Melrose, the world-renowned destination and longtime bastion of “alternative” shopping culture. And Melrose’s six miles seem almost manageable by comparison […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Union Station

Who could cross the country by rail today without dreaming of a distant, more glamorous, wholly lost, and perhaps even partially imaginary era of American train travel? Who, indeed, could set foot in Los Angeles’ Union Station without doing the same? The building itself, built in 1939, is a palm-surrounded hybrid of Dutch Colonial Revival, […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Lincoln Boulevard

Deep into my exploration of Los Angeles, I took my first trip to London, a city whose built environment one assumes contrasts in the starkest, least flattering way against that of the city I came from. A classic London architectural tour would take you past all the city’s least Los Angelinian aspects: Edwardian buildings lining […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Highland Park

People disagree about what most meaningfully indicates whether a Los Angeles neighborhood has turned “cool.” A seemingly disproportionate number of respected musical acts having emerged from it makes for one early sign. A sudden abundance of galleries and drinking spots there provides further, more solid evidence, amid which a few parking spots may stay open […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Hollywood

Though you can no longer go to a Japanese department store on the Miracle Mile, you can go to one in Hollywood. Half a century after Seibu took leave of Los Angeles, Muji arrived, representing the current shopping generation as thoroughly as its predecessor represented its own. Seibu, which in its native country harks far back, […]

A Los Angeles Primer: Atwater Village

On the northwest side of Glendale Boulevard, Kaldi Coffee, which boasts a signature brew from beans “roasted locally in Atwater Village,” hosts a long-sitting procession of the unconventionally employed, customers in sometimes dire need of both caffeine to power their brains and electricity to power their laptops. (Indeed, it once provided all the material for a […]