Monday, November 08, 2010

Strolling on Downtown's 7th Street with the L.A. Conservancy

I grabbed Blogger Baby 2.0, stuffed him in a Baby Bjorn and headed down Sunday to downtown's 7th Street, where the L.A. Conservancy held another one of its popular self-guided tours.

"Strolling on 7th Street: Downtown's Historic Thoroughfare" featured visits through what was once a bustling commercial district (and is once again being revitalized). As the Conservancy notes, because downtown's newer commercial center was built on Bunker Hill, the virtually deserted 7th Street corridor was thankfully spared demolition. "More than 75 percent of the buildings on 7th between Figueroa and Los Angeles Streets were built before 1929, creating an invaluable architectural trove, historic record and filming location," the Conservancy says.

Some highlights from Sunday's tour:

7th Street

Ceiling from the Hellman Commercial Trust and Savings Bank (1925) -- now apartments and a popular filming location.

Check writing station at the Hellman

Old bank vault inside the Hellman

St. Vincent's Court, dating back to the 1860s (when the site was St. Vincent's College, now Loyola Marymount). Then became the center of Bullock's. The alley was remodeled in 1956.

Pantages Theater (1920) -- now Jewelry Theater Center (look at the diamond placed inside what used to be the "Warner Bros" crest!)

Fake waterfall in the Roosevelt Building atrium

Fine Arts Building (1926)

Inside the Fine Arts Building

Detail inside the Fine Arts Building

Looking down on the old J.W. Robinson Co. building (1915/remodeled 1934)

Broadway Plaza (Macy's Plaza) (1973) -- the Modern Committee sponsored a visit to the top, a former revolving restaurant (now unused) named "Angel's Flight," featuring 360-degree views of downtown.

View looking north, from Broadway Plaza's 26th floor

Roof of the Roosevelt, as seen from the top of Broadway Plaza

Brock and Co. Bldg (1922) -- now Seven Grand bar

Heywood Bros. & Wakefield Co. (1899)/Hulse, Bradford & Co. (1901) -- now Dearden's.
Can you believe Dearden's, located at the corner of 7th and Main, just celebrated its 100th birthday? The department store's strategic decision in the 1960s to target the growing Latino audience probably wound up being its saving grace years later. Also: Turns out Dearden's was actually founded in 1909. A PR exec changed it to 1910 at one point -- and the company didn't want to mess with that, so Dearden's is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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