Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XX!!



Interactive map - click and zoom! Click here to view the map separately!


Ahhh, Spring is finally in the air. A time for more daylight, colorful native floral blooms, Dodgers baseball and...CicLAvia! The first Cicla of 2017 brings us back to a virtual re-run of the August 2015 "Culver City Meets Venice" route from The Heart of Screenland (which will be celebrating its 100th birthday this September) to Abbot Kinney's canal city via Mar Vista - although there's a minor modification - the addition of two streets and an alleyway forming a pedestrian zone in Mar Vista between Centinela and Grand View avenues.

This is the 20th iteration of CicLAvia, and The Militant still has yet to miss a single one. So for those of you 20-timers who will be on the streets this Sunday, The Militant will celebrate by pouring a Dos Equis at an unspecified bar or restaurant along the route. If you happen to spot him (not very likely, but who knows?) Then drinks are on The Militant!

You should know the drill by now, Share this link on your Facebooks and Twitters, visit the sights yourselves -- and if you do, Tweet with the hashtag, #EpicCicLAviaTour to stroke The Militant's ego and make him feel like his several days of staying up late at night to research and write all this was worth his while. And most of all, Stay Militant and Enjoy CicLAvia this Sunday! See you or not see you on the streets!

1. Culver City Metro Expo Line Station/Site of Culver Junction
2012
Venice and National boulevards, Culver City

You may or may not have arrived at CicLAvia via the Metro Expo Line, which is the modern reincarnation of the Pacific Electric Santa Monica Air Line. Not only can you experience Los Angeles' transportation present, but you're also in the clear presence of its past -- this area was also the site of Culver Junction, where not one, not two, but three Pacific Electric Red Car lines converged, going to Santa Monica, Venice and Redondo Beach. TIP: Make sure you buy a Day Pass or that your TAP card is well-loaded before CicLAvia, so you don't have to queue at the ticket machines! The Militant says "You're Welcome."

2. Ince Boulevard/The Culver Studios
1918
Ince Blvd & Washington Ave, Culver City

As you make your first turn going westbound on the CicLAvia route, take note of the street name: Ince.

If you know your Culver City history, the town was a planned community built by landowner Harry H. Culver, a Spanish-American war veteran who worked for SFV pioneer Isaac N. Van Nuys and purchased a large section of the old Rancho La Ballona. In 1913 he established the town and filmmaker Thomas Ince moved his operation here from Pacific Palisades (via his Triangle Studios down the street -- more on this later...) and bought this section of land from Culver himself to establish the Ince Studio, which featured a large mansion fashioned after George Washington's Mt. Vernon residence, that remains in full view today. Ince's studio was sold to Cecil B. DeMille after his mysterious death and had changed hands and names over the years, finally adopting its current name of The Culver Studios in 1970. Legendary Hollywood films were shot this studio, including Gone With The WindKing KongE.T. and The Matrix.

3. Pacific Electric Ivy Substation
1907
Venice and Culver boulevards, Palms

Downtown  Culver City is already rich in retail and artistic activity, and has a bevy of well-known eateries, like the popular Father's Office. The Militant can cover that in its own post (and kinda already did before). But welcoming people to Downtown Culver City along Venice Blvd (though technically located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Palms), a block from the Culver City station is an appropriate link to the past - the Ivy Substation. The single-story Mission Revival-style structure served as a powerhouse for the Pacific Electric Railway from 1907 to 1953, when the Expo Line's predecessor, the Santa Monica Air Line, ceased operation. Today, it's a 99-seat venue for The Actor's Gang theatre company, renovated in the early 1990s. How interesting that a building originally built for transportation infrastructure was repurposed into a building for the arts, which in turn attract people using the new transportation infrastructure.

4. Culver Hotel
1924
9400 Culver Blvd, Culver City

This 6-story triangular building, originally named Hotel Hunt, opened in 1924 as Culver City's first skyscraper (it was the tallest building between Downtown Los Angeles and Venice)  and housed Harry Culver's personal office on the second floor. Numerous Hollywood stars have stayed here, such as Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and Ronald Reagan, and most notably the little people actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz during its filming down the street. Actor John Wayne was one of the later owners, and it was fully restored in the 1990s.

5. The Washington Building
1927
9718 W. Washington Blvd, Culver City

Culver City's other 1920s-era triangular building is just down the street from The Culver Hotel. Built by Charles E. Lindblade, a business associate of Harry Culver who also bears a city street name of his own, this Beaux Arts-style building was designed by Arthur D. Scholz and Orville L. Clark. As it is today, the building housed numerous retail and office businesses over the years, including the Culver City post office, the MGM Studios Fan Club and Lindblade's real estate company.

6. Kirk Douglas Theatre/Culver Theatre
1946
9820 W Washington Blvd, Culver City

Built in 1946 as The Culver Theatre, a 1,100-seat Streamline Moderne cinema designed by Karl G. Moeller that screened 20th Century Fox films as part of the Fox West Coast Theatres chain.
It was later operated by the National General and Mann Pictures chains, and finally as an independent theatre. It was split into three screens circa 1970s, and closed in 1989. In 1994, it suffered damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and underwent a major $8 million renovation later in the '90s, re-opening in 2004 as The Kirk Douglas Theatre (with Spartacus himself as a the major contributor in the renovation), operated by Center Theatre Group. It currently features two stages, one seating about 300 and a smaller stage seating around 100.


7. Sony Pictures Studios/MGM Studios
1915
10202 West Washington Boulevard, Culver City

One can't mention Culver City without mentioning its massive movie lot, originally Thomas Ince's (remember him?) Triangle Studios operation until he moved to the Culver Studios property and sold this site to D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett.  In 1918, the studio was sold to Samuel Goldwyn, which became Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1924 (following the merger of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Studios and Louis B. Mayer Productions). It became the Columbia Pictures studios in 1989 and Sony Pictures Studios from 1992 to the present.

On this lot was filmed a countless list of Hollywood productions, most notably The Wizard of Oz in 1939 (you will be riding next to the actual Land of Oz, think about that...), and currently, TV shows like Jeopardy! and Wheel Of Fortune.

8. La Ballona Elementary School
1865
10915 W Washington Blvd, Culver City

This local school is literally some old school Culver City right heah! Established in 1865, it's one of the oldest schools in Los Angeles County still in operation. Back in the day, it had an enrollment of 158 pupils between the ages of 5-15, being taught by one teacher, a Miss Craft who made $50 a month, and the school year lasted seven months, since it revolved around the agricultural calendar of the surrounding area.
When it was established, it was in an unincorporated area that eventually became Palms, which was annexed to the City of Los Angeles in 1914. When Culver City was founded the year before, it had no schools within its boundaries, so another school was built in the area in 1916. Eventually La Ballona was annexed into Culver City in 1920.


9. King Fahad Mosque
1995
10980 Washington Boulevard, Culver City

This Islamic house of worship was built in 1995 as a gift from Saudi Prince Abdulaziz bin Fahad to serve the growing community of Muslims in the Westside, named after the king of Saudi Arabia at the time. Its facade features hand made marble tiles from Turkey, and a 72 foot-high minaret topped with a gold leaf crescent.


10. Tellefson Park/Rollerdrome Site
1976/1928
1105 W. Washington Pl, Culver City

There's a designated activity hub here at this 1.5-acre Culver City park, which was dedicated in 1976 as part of the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations. It was named after former Culver City councilman and city attorney Mike Tellefson, who served the city for 31 years. In 2013, the body of a suicide victim was discovered in the park.

But longtime Culver Citizens remember this site as a legendary roller skating rink called The Rollerdrome,  a wooden structure which opened in 1928 and had a characteristic rounded roof. Roller skating events were centered around the rink's organ, which was played by a live organist, and provided memorable evenings for local families and youths. It was torn down in 1970, which was a shame, since roller skating enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the '70s.

11. Tito's Tacos
1959
11222 Washington Pl, Culver City

Many Angelenos already know of this longtime Westside (American) taco joint known as Tito's Tacos, which as we all know, was founded in 1959 by a businessman who may or may not be an actual Mexican guy named Tito. Everyone has their opinion on Tito's, but three things are indisputable truths: 1) It's a Culver City Institution; 2) It's not authentic Mexican food and 3) People come here for the nostalgia anyway.

During the last "Culver City Meets Venice" CicLAvia in August 2015, a minor controversy erupted when the restaurant's owner threatened to sue Culver City government for potential lost revenue due to the CicLAvia route, and everyone, including The Militant got all in on that, but ultimately, cooler heads prevailed, and after an intervention by the CicLAvia organization, Tito's Tacos warmed up to the route, and likely did a 180 once crowds queued up along their sidewalk service windows. Titogate 2015 was now history. The moral of the story? Never fear CicLAvia, and a little communication and understanding goes a long way.

12. The Oval District/Palm Place
1912
Area within Washington Place, McLaughlin Ave, Venice Blvd & Inglewood Blvd, Mar Vista

You might not see much from the street level, but this neighborhood just north of the CicLAvia route, a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone known as "The Oval District" is one of the first automobile-oriented property tract developments in Southern California.

When seen from a map or an aerial view. the streets of this 200-unit housing development of predominantly 1- and 2-story homes resembles an hourglass shape with an oval road in the center (which caught The Militant's eye and caused him to investigate the history of the place).

The 137-acre neighborhood was developed in 1912 by a Lillian Charnock Price (there is a "Charnock Road" two blocks north of Venice, BTW) who hired renowned landscape architect and urban planner Wilber David Cook, Jr. (who worked for legendary late 19th/early20th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design an "Aristocratic Suburb" marketed as “Palm Place."

The large-sized lots were unique, and park-like in their large setback from the street and the palm tree-lined parkways, but only a small number of homes were built. Price sold the development to Robert Sheman, who was the stepson of Moses Sherman, the developer of the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway, which built the original rail line on nearby Venice Boulevard. What was originally intended to be the first car-oriented development was going to be a transit-oriented development!

But those didn't sell either. The lots were still too large and pricey. So Sherman sold it to a financier group that marketed it as "Marshall Manor" in 1920 and interest began to pick up. But it wasn't until after World War II, when suburbanization was in vogue and Los Angeles' Westside development boom commenced, that the rest of the lots got built.

13. The Mar Vista Pedestrian "Canals"
2017
CicLAvia route between Centinela and Grand View avenues

The end of the CicLAvia route might be more associated with canals, but this newly-added section of the course features a pedestrian-friendly (a.k.a. Dismount City, folks!) zone of activities in the Mar Vista area. The zone includes the Mar Vista Farmers' Market, a couple cafes, a yoga studio and a pet store that features a pet adoption event (on National Puppy Day Weekend, no less).

14. Mar Vista Hill (a.k.a. The 'Mar Vista' in Mar Vista)
1924
Centinela Ave & Rose Ave, Mar Vista

Everyone know that "Mar Vista" is EspaƱol for "sea view." But riding along Centinela or Venice during CicLAvia, you can't even see the sea. Where is it?

Well, The Militant will tell you where to see the "Mar Vista" in Mar Vista. He implores you to take a short detour from the CicLAvia route and continue north along Centinela Avenue, switch your gears (or pedal harder, you fixie heads), and go up the hill (Mar Vista Hill) until you reach Rose Avenue. Then turn right and go  up the hill to the open space that contains the baseball field and community garden. Look to the west, stand on top of the telephone poles laying on the ground in front of the small parking lot, and you can have a semi-unobstructed (damn you, DWP power lines!) view of Santa Monica Bay from the Palos Verdes peninsula to the Santa Monica Mountains.

Mar Vista Hill is a 203-foot-above-sea-level promontory that was once a garbage dump, and was later the site of the Venice Reservoir in 1940 (smart, huh). The reservoir was decommissioned in the 1960s and replaced with the baseball fields you see today.

So come on up to Mar Vista Hill, where you can see the sea, to see all that you can see!

Go visit Mar Vista Hill and tweet a pic of the ocean with the hashtag #EpicCicLAviaTour!


15. State Route CA 187
1964
Venice Boulevard between Lincoln Blvd and the 10 Freeway

You may or may not know that Venice Boulevard, in addition to being a two-time CicLAvia route, was also a Pacific Electric Red Car line, but did you know it's also a designated California State Highway?

In 1964, CalTrans designated State Route 187 starting at the Pacific Ocean. In 1994, it was shortened to the 5.4 miles from Lincoln Boulevard to the 10 Freeway.

The number "187" also happens to be a reference to the California Penal Code designation for murder, which is most likely why a young, '90s-era, pre-commercialized Snoop Dogg is standing by the sign in this photo.

16. Mario's Brothers Market
12904 Venice Blvd, Mar Vista

No deep history behind this neighborhood Mexican corner market on Venice and Beethoven, but the name caught The Militant's eye. He's seen some of you CicLAvians ride in CicLAvia in Mario/Nintendo cosplay, so this would be a perfect photo/selfie opportunity.

While you're here, support the business and buy something inside. Maybe it really is owned by a Mario. Or a Luigi. Ask where The Princess is. If they're successful enough, they might move to a larger location and rename themselves "Super Mario's Brothers."

Tweet a pic of yourself (or your group) in front of Mario's Brothers with the hashtag "#EpicCicLAviaTour"!


17. Venice High School
1920
13000 Venice Blvd, Venice

Venice's namesake secondary school was one of three on-location sites for Rydell High in the 1978 motion picture Greaseand was the school scene in the Britney Spears video for her debut hit, "...Baby One More Time." The main Moderne-style school buildings, built in 1935-37  were designed by local architects John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley, who also designed the Griffith Observatory.
The campus is also famous for its statue of legendary Hollywood actress and famous alumna Myrna Loy at the front of the school. Other famous alumni include Beau Bridges, Crispin Glover, the late Ivory Queen of Soul, Teena Marie and In-N-Out Burger founder Harry Snyder. Go Gondoliers!

18. Old Venice Civic Center
1911
681-685 Venice Blvd, Venice

Venice, originally founded as part of Santa Monica, seceded from that city in 1911 and for the next 15 years, functioned as an incorporated city. In 1926, due to political mismanagement and crumbling infrastructure, it was annexed into the City of Los Angeles. Its vestigial remnants of its civic government still remain, though. The old Venice City Hall still stands at 685 Venice Blvd (pictured), now the venue for Beyond Baroque Theatre. Next door on 681 Venice Blvd is the old Venice Police Station, now the home of the Social Public Arts Resource Center (SPARC), the community arts nonprofit that spearheaded the modern urban mural movement. It's interesting to note that both of these government buildings were adaptively re-used for arts purposes. The Militant is looking at the old LAPD Parker Center in DTLA and wonders if it could make some sort of badass performing arts venue...

19. Electric Avenue
1905
Electric Ave and Venice Blvd, Venice

No, '80s singer Eddy Grant didn't rock down to this street to take it higher (VROOOM!) But this street was so-named because it was one of the old Pacific Electric Red Car rights-of-way, which included Pacific Avenue (of course) and Venice Blvd. The railway, of course, was built to serve (and sell property in and around) Abbot Kinney's Venice of America development. Rock on to Electric Avenue towards Brooks Avenue and look to your left for actual remnants of Pacific Electric tracks at Millwood Avenue, Westminster Avenue and Broadway. If that kind of stuff excites you, be on the look out for The Militant's upcoming Pacific Electric Archaeology Map (view the preview edition map here, including Venice sites). And then we take it higher (Oh yeah)!

20. Abbot Kinney Blvd
1992
Abbot Kinney Blvd between Washington Blvd and Main Street

New arrivals to Los Angeles are likely oblivious to the fact that Venice's upscale arts and boutique corridor is technically one of its newest streets. Until 1992, that stretch was confusingly known as West Washington Blvd, which, along with Washington Street and Washington Way, was a source of disorientation among motorists. A small group of business owners lobbied to re-name the stretch after the community's founder. Ignorance of local history was so bad back then, that then-City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who grew up in the Westside, asked aloud at a Los Angeles City Council committee meeting, "Who is Abbot Kinney?" (Really, Zev?!?!) Thankfully, due to a street name change, and other things, we're a lot better at our Los Angeles history.

21. Venice Of America Centennial Park
2005
Venice & Abbot Kinney boulevards

This park, which neighbors the Venice-Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library and built for Venice's centennial year of 2005,  was made on the very same median that carried the Pacific Electric Railway tracks, and in honor of that, the design on the park's paving resembles that of railroad tracks. The Militant went there in a famous bike ride to Venice Beach in 2008 and encountered a bunch of ducks walking in this park.

22. Venice Traffic Circle and the Lost Canals
1929
Grand and Windward avenues, Venice

Traffic circles, or "roundabouts" as they're known in Britain, are not a common sight in the US, much less Los Angeles, though a dozen or so are known to exist here (more in a future post). So what up with this one? This part of Venice was part of Abbot Kinney's original "Venice of America," replete with its own canals. But unlike their Italian counterpart, these canals were not physically connected to the ocean, and the water had gone stagnant and kinda gross. By the 1920s, the Venice city infrastructure was falling apart (which meant little resources or political will to maintain the canals), and the automobile had started to conquer the streets of the Southland. So they were filled in circa 1929. The CicLAvia course on Grand Avenue was once the Grand Canal, and the traffic circle was formerly the location of a large saltwater swimming lagoon. The surviving canals, located south of Venice Blvd, were built by a different developer a couple years after Kinney's canals opened.

23. Windward Hotel/Pacific Electric Station
1905
Windward and Pacific avenues, Venice

The Windward Hotel, now a traveler's hostel, is not only the oldest hotel building in Venice, but its eastern ground floor entrance also functioned as Venice's Pacific Electric station. For the first half of the 20th Century, Venice was a popular western destination for the Red Cars, and the preferred way to go. North of Windward Way, there was no Pacific Avenue, but a dedicated "Trolleyway" for the Red Cars. When passengers disembarked at the Venice station before 1929, they were treated to an awe-inspiring view of the large lagoon (now the traffic circle) and canals just across the street, welcoming them to Venice of America. Now, for CicLAvia, when you arrive here, use your imagination and pretend to be transported back to a time when you didn't need cars to get around. On this day, it won't be that hard.

24. Pacific Electric Grand Canal Bridge
1905
Grand Canal at Venice Blvd, Venice



Ride just a few blocks down Pacific Avenue to Venice Boulevard to see Venice's characteristic namesake -- it's system of canals, built in 1905 by the aforementioned Mr. Kinney. The ornate concrete bridge spanning two side of the Los Angeles City parking lot near the Grand Canal is the original bridge that carried the Pacific Electric Venice Short Line tracks until 1950.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

El Centennial Party That's Segundo To None*


 The northernmost city in the South Bay celebrated its 100th Birthday on Wednesday, exactly a century to the day the city that was named after an oil refinery was officially incorporated. Though a town settlement had existed just east of the coastal dunes on the former Rancho Sausal Redondo since 1912, the town was not formally incorporated as a city until January 18, 1917.

El Segundo...knows how to party...
Throughout its century-old history, El Segundo owes its claim to fame to Standard Oil, the aerospace industry, it's love-hate relationship with LAX, and a certain '90s hip-hop tune. The city is also the corporate home of such institutions as Mattel Toys, DirecTV and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The city luckily dodged the potential rain on this overcast day with a Birthday Bash at El Segundo Public Library Park, along the town's Main Street, just across from the city's eponymous High School (the on-location site for the '80s movie War Games and alma mater of baseball hall of famer George Brett), The family-oriented celebration had live entertainment in the park's gazebo, carnival games, a petting zoo, some really tall dude on stilts, a historic photo exhibition sponsored by the Friends of El Segundo Public Library, a centennial photobooth and the city's fire department had trucks on display. There was free food as well, though unfortunately it wasn't enchiladas and fruit punch, but there was free bottled water, kettlecorn and birthday cake. The city also sold El Segundo Centennial merchandise from a booth.

Photo time!
Historic pics!The Militant loves this kind of stuff!
When the party ended at 5 p.m., The Militant visited the El Segundo Public Library next door to check it out and also found a historical display of veterans' and other mementos:

El Segundo history on display at the library.
Thanks to a tip from Twitter user @fuccitim, it was on to the official unofficial after party just a half mile down the street to The Tavern on Main, where the 15 year-old local hang had food and drink specials for just 100 cents to celebrate the city's birthday.
100-cent specials at The Tavern on Main!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EL SEGUNDO!
The Militant spent $5 on his food and booze, which included two sliders, a gringo beef taco, a beer and his favorite - the historically-inspired "Standard Oil Birthday Shot" consisting of vodka, blue curacao and cranberry juice. Salud!

The city will also throw a Centennial Ball formal at the Automobile Driving Museum on Saturday. Tickets are reportedly sold out already (but if they're not serving any of those Standard Oil shots, then it's not worth it anyway...).

Though The Militant was just a clandestine interloper from the city on the other side of Imperial Highway, he had a great time on the city's centennial birthday, especially since he was more familiar with the coastal and business park periphery of the city than the quaint Main Street section of town.  He also learned a few things from the event: That the town's old Pacific Electric station was demolished in 1970 (booo!) and that Mattel Toys runs a factory store that's open to the public.

But best of all, The Militant was happy that he finally found what he was looking for!




*You're next this September, Culver City. You gonna top this?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles Is...Defined By Its Street Signs


The streets of Los Angeles are not just mere infrastructure, but they create geographical identities, local cultures, microcultures and sub-cultures, and become the live stage of the urban theatre of daily life in The City of Angels. And the most significant identifier of those streets are the City's street signs.

Since The Militant is celebrating his 10th anniversary online this year (#StayMili10), he'd like to revisit one of his most legendary, epic posts.

On March 24, 2011, The Militant wrote a post on the history of street sign styles in Los Angeles.  It gave Angelenos the ability to distinguish between Blue Blades and Black Blades, Shotguns and Trapezoids.

It got such a reaction that it became the second-most read post ever on This Here Blog, and it also prompted a sequel later that month, going back farther into the history of Los Angeles street signs.
 
In fall of last year (meaning 2016, we can say that already), Filmmaker and Mar Vista resident Ian Rutherford completed a clever short film, $500 and four months in the making, called "LA.Is" that describes, though images of Los Angeles (and some neighboring city) street signs and set to a spoken-word poem (voiced by Tania Hunt) some of what Los Angeles represents.

Observe, and enjoy:



"The idea sort of came about just by driving around L.A.," Rutherford explained to The Militant via email, on the origins of his short film. "I'm a location scout and I kept seeing signs that were fun and unusual. Future street was the one that sort of convinced me to pursue the short. Also, I knew about Rutherford street several years ago and that was always in the back of my mind pushing me to do something."

Rutherford filmed the signs starting in June, 2016 and spent his weekends filming them, guided by a working Google map.

He also wrote the poem himself.

"Some verses came to me beforehand (sunset/sunrise). Some verses were written in the car (detour/chase/marathon). It was a slow writing process until I found the cadence in my head. Once I had that, it wrote itself...Every verse references something I love about L.A., even though it may seem abstract to others (future/vintage/future i was thinking about architecture, like Googie and Mid-Century). The only topic I didn't cover in verse is food. Never found the right way to express myself there."

Great work, Ian! The Militant was smiling under his camouflage bandana mask. No pictures of course, but take him at his word. Militant Approved! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017: A Militant Preview

Whatup and Happy Militant New Year! Congratulations on surviving 2016 -- you've made it! We have a year ahead of us that may or may not be the greatest or worst year ever (of course he says that every year)!

Here's a calendar of upcoming events and milestones in Los Angeles to look out for in the year ahead. Of course, in between them will be the new and the unexpected, which will seal them in their own places in history.

JANUARY
16 - Kingdom Day Parade
Los Angeles' 32nd annual celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday gets underway on the 16th along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Crenshaw and Western, and then south on Crenshaw to Vernon (it's broadcast live on KABC Channel 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). It should be interesting as the parade will end in a construction area, as Crenshaw Boulevard is currently undergoing the building of the upcoming Metro Crenshaw/LAX Rail Project.

18 - El Segundo's 100th Anniversary
The legendary South Bay city just below LAX, named after an oil refinery and the mythical place where countless A Tribe Called Quest fans have left their proverbial wallets, is turning 100 years old. Incorporated on January 18, 1917, the city will hold a Birthday Bash at El Segundo Library Park on Wednesday the 18th from 3-5 p.m. The city will also throw a Centennial Ball formal at the Automobile Driving Museum on Saturday, January 21st. Gotta get, got gotta get it.

28 - Dodgers 2017 Fan Fest, Dodger Stadium
Yes, we miss Dodger baseball. Yes, we miss Vin Scully. Yes, we came pretty damn close to our first World Series visit since '88. Yes, there's some [sighs] unfinished business from last season. But the core of last year's team is pretty much intact heading into '17, and hey, this free event at the Stadium will give us all an excuse to wear our Dodger Blue for the day.
 
29 - 2017 NHL All-Star Game, Staples Center
Staples Center again hosts the NHL's All-Star Game (perhaps the most inconsistent and confusing in format in all of professional sports), this time with the league celebrating its 100th anniversary. 

FEBRUARY
4 - 118th Golden Dragon Parade, Chinatown
The streets of Los Angeles' Chinatown will be alive with drums, firecrackers, lion dances and those confetti bazookas everyone loves to fire off as the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration takes place in Los Angeles for the 118th year. This year will be The Year of The Rooster (hopefully Huy Fong Foods will be a sponsor as its legendary Sriracha sauce was born on the streets of Los Angeles Chinatown), or, taking into account who's going to be in charge of this country in a few weeks, The Year of The Cock.

MARCH
5 - 626 Golden Streets
The San Gabriel Valley was all set to have a mega ciclovia event of their own on June 26 of last year (6/26, get it?), but the smoky side-effects of the San Gabriel Complex wildfire unfortunately put BikeSGV's plans on the back-burner (pun intended). Fortunately, it was re-scheduled for the much safer (and much cooler) 3/5/17, when fire danger is extremely low. This route will connect the SGV communities of  South Pasadena, San Marino, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, and will be accessible via Metro Gold Line, of course.

8 - Wilshire Grand Center Grand Opening
At 1,100 feet at its tallest point, it may or may not be the tallest building in Los Angeles, or the West Coast, but it looks pretty damn awesome so far. Once the site of the World's Largest Concrete Pour, this building will open its doors as DTLA's newest hotel and be a shining new jewel in the city's skyline.

19 - XXXII Los Angeles Marathon
Running 26.2 miles from Elysian Park to Santa Monica, the Marathon this year is moved a month later to a less-rainy mid-March date, just before the Spring Equinox.

26 - CicLAvia - Culver City Meets Venice
The (count 'em) 20th CicLAvia will take us back to Culver City and Venice on a redux of the August, 2015 route. Only this time around, the folks at Tito's Tacos will not have a shit-fit at the idea of Washington Place being closed for the day and will enjoy the throngs of crunchy taco-munching cyclists queuing up on the sidewalk.


TBA - Los Angeles State Historic Park Re-Opening
Don't call it a comeback. Okay, call it a comeback, but it's been here for years. The former Southern Pacific freight train yard known as The Cornfield (due to corn sprouting out from seeds spilled from hopper cars), after much public wrangling, became Los Angeles State Historic Park in 2001, but was closed in 2014 for renovations and improvements. The park, which will re-open in Spring of this year, is guaranteed to knock you out. 

APRIL
3 - Dodgers Opening Day, Dodger Stadium
It's tiiiiime for Dodger baseballllll, at long last. Welcome to the post-Scully era. Don't worry, we will brave this together. At least we know our Boys in Blue will be Playoff Material once again this season (here we go again!). This year the season opens with the very sad (and Kemp-less) San Diego Padres in town.

22-23 - Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC
Los Angeles' favorite annual literary event is back in April as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books returns to the University of Southern California campus for the sixth time (and the first time Westsiders can travel to the bookfest via the Metro Expo Line).

29 - Los Angeles Riots 25th Anniversary 
April 29, 1992 is more than just a Sublime song. This year, in a world without some of its major players (Rodney King and Darryl Gates are now gone), and in an era where the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the Trump Administration inevitably clash, whereby the mass media will again talk about race relations as a black-white binary yet again, whereby nothing has really changed. But The Militant digresses.

JUNE
2-4 - Lummis Day Festival, Highland Park 
The 12th annual Lummis Day gets underway during the first weekend of June, celebrating the history of the Northeast Los Angeles area. This is the one time of the year where all the new hipsters in the neighborhood will learn who exactly Charles Fletcher Lummis is and pretend to care.

11 - CicLAvia - Glendale to Atwater
Ready for an all-new CicLAvia route? The second big Cicla this year will take you between Atwater Village and the city of Glendale. This must mean one thing - there will be an all-new Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour guide post to research and write! WOOT!

25 - Militant Angeleno's 10th Anniversary! 
Ten years ago, a bored, frustrated and freakishly anonymous native Angeleno (with a penchant for referring to himself in the third person) took matters into his own hands and created what may or may not have been a cultural phenomenon with the debut of the Militant Angeleno blog! The city has or has not been the same ever since. But one thing is for certain -- his true identity has managed to remain a secret all this time! Celebrate with The Militant online and what may or may not be The Militant's first public appearance ever! Stay Tuned and #StayMili10!

JULY
8 - 9 - Lotus Festival, Echo Park
Having attended these since he was a Lil'Mil, this is one of The Militant's favorite annual city festivals, taking place in the middle of the year, during the Summer, next to a lake with a wonderful view of the Downtown skyline. This year's 37th Lotus Festival will feature the culture of Bangladesh. With the issues of budget, lake renovation and the dearth of lotus plants now behind us, we can all focus on trying to get the fireworks show back on the festival's Saturday night. The festival is just not the same without it!

SEPTEMBER
1 - 24 - Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona
The best fair in all of Los Angeles County (well, okay, it's only county fair...) gets underway on September 1st. An annual tradition since 1922 (with the exception of the World War II years), it's time once again to load up an all that fried food.

4 - Los Angeles' 236th Birthday
Our beloved city turns 236 years old!

17 - Judgment Day for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic Bid
The International Olympic Committee convenes on this date in Lima, Peru to decide the host city of the Games of the XXXIIIrd Olympiad, which will take place in 2024. Will Los Angeles or Paris get to host the summer games for a third time? Or will the IOC give it to first-timer Budapest? Stay tuned...There will be a public rally that day for Los Angeles 2024 supporters (of which there are many) to celebrate or not celebrate. The Militant, of course, may or may not be there.

20 - Culver City's 100th Birthday
The city that gave the world the Helms Bakery, the Spruce Goose, Drew Barrymore, MLB Hall of Famer Gary Carter, Tito's Tacos and The Wizard of Oz turns a century this year, having been incorporated on September 20, 1917.  Whatever or whenever's planned, at least we can all ride the Expo Line to the big party.

OCTOBER
26 - Metrolink's 25th Anniversary
Believe it or not, this year, we will have regional commuter rail for a quarter century. Opened October 26, 1992, the system grew from three modest lines into the 'burbs into a seven-line, 534-mile network. Expect some 25th anniversary events, or at the very least some 25th anniversary logo sticker slapped on the commuter coaches.

27 - Grand Central Market's 100th Anniversary
Opened to the public on October 27, 1917, the granddaddy of Los Angeles food courts has been embedded into the historical and cultural fabric of our region. Hopefully the folks who run the market won't be too busy kicking out its longtime tenants to celebrate an entire century of feeding generations of hungry Angelenos.

TBA - CicLAvia - Heart of L.A.
It's October, which means its time for the classic "Heart of L.A." route, emanating from Downtown into Westlake and the Eastside. Celebrate CicLAvia's 7th birthday on the streets where it (mostly) all began.

DECEMBER
All Month - Holiday Light Displays
"Tis the season - again! In addition to the Los Angeles Zoo's annual holiday light display, there are a number of neighborhoods around town that put up ginormous Christmas light displays on their houses and yards. Take your pick from Christmas Tree Lane (Santa Rosa Avenue) and the Balian Mansion in AltadenaChristmas Tree Lane (Daisy Avenue) in Long Beach, Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills, another Candy Cane Lane (Acacia Avenue) in El Segundo and Sleepy Hollow (Calle Mayor) in Torrance. Before you know it, we'll be doing this all over again, this time, looking ahead to 2018...

30 - The Forum's 50th Anniversary
Envisioned by Los Angeles Kings' daddy and former Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke as the regions premier indoor sports venue. the once-and-always Fabulous Forum has witnessed NBA championships, Olympics and countless concerts and events. On December 30th, The Forum celebrates half a century of its fabulousness.
 

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XVIII!


Interactive map! Click here for larger version!


Welcome to CicLAvia XVIII, the third CicLAvia in 2016! Our Epic CicLAvia Tour returns to iconic Wilshire Boulevard for the first time since April, 2014, but this time it's a little, uh. Not As Epic - in size at least. But it's for good reason -- Metro is diggin' on Wilshire again for the new extension of the Metro Purple Line subway, which will take a while.  Now why the fine folks at CicLAvia didn't do a re-route up Western for a block and run a parallel route west on 6th Street, ending at Fairfax is beyond The Militant's control, but hey. that only means it's Cut-And-Paste time for this edition of the Epic CicLAvia Tour post, which he decided to slap together and do a quickie update for continuity's sake. Enjoy CicLAvia on Sunday. You may or may not see The Militant on the streets!

1. One Wilshire Building/Wilshire Bookend Palm Trees
1966
624 S. Grand Ave, Downtown

Built during the first wave of modern skyscrapers following the repeal of Los Angeles' building height limit laws, this building, designed by architectural rockstars Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (who also went on to craft Chicago's Sears Tower, among many others) stood for most of its life as the address of legal and financial institutions. After a renovation in 1992, this building is now the location of CoreSite, a major data colocation center, which carries the primary Internet connections for Los Angeles (without this building, you can't read this!)

Take note of the row of palm trees, planted here in the 1970s: They are meant to evoke the end of Wilshire Boulevard, as on the opposite end, at Santa Monica's Ocean Avenue, 16 miles from here, you will also find a row of palm trees.


2. Wilshire Grand Center
2017
Wilshire and Figueroa (SW corner), Downtown

On this site is currently rising the new Wilshire Grand Center, Los Angeles' (and the West's -- suck on it, Transbay Tower SF!) tallest building at 73 stories and 1,100 feet (kinda sorta, there's a spire, you see...). It will also be Los Angeles' only modern skyscraper without a flat roof and will house Wilshire Grand Hotel 2.0 and a bunch of shops and condos.

The building will also have a "sky lobby" up at the top and will be the first skyscraper anywhere to sport a mohawk, which is being built at this moment!

The current construction site was the location of "The Big Pour" - which lasted from February 15 -16, 2014, where 21,200 cubic yards (81 million pounds) of concrete were continuously poured - earning it a Guinness World Record for that feat.

Before the skyscaper, the site was home of the Wilshire Grand Hotel, formerly (in reverse chronological order) the Omni Hotel, Los Angeles Hilton, Statler Hilton and Statler Hotel.


3. L.A. Prime Matter Sculpture
1991
Wilshire and Figueroa (NW corner), Downtown

Wilshire is full of awesome-looking public art. Here's one relatively-recent sculpture right at the northwest corner of Wilshire and Figueroa. Designed by the late Venice-based artist Eric Orr, who had a penchant for utilizing elemental themes in his art, L.A. Prime Matter features twin 32-foot bronze columns that feature water sliding down its faces, and during random moments, FIRE emanates from the middle channels of the columns! The effect is total bad-ass, and its bad-assnes is magnified at night.

The sculpture, though, has been out of service since Fall of last year, where it has been undergoing a restoration project, which will be completed later this year. Once finished, the flames will go off every hour on the hour. Now that is bad-ass.

4. Site of George Shatto Residence/Good Samaritan Hospital
1891
Wilshire Blvd and Lucas Ave, Downtown

Before it was named Wilshire Boulevard, it was once called Orange Street, and on the corner of Orange and Lucas was a Queen Anne-style mansion belonging to George Shatto, a real estate developer who first developed Catalina Island and the city of Avalon. If you read the Epic CicLAvia Tour 4.0 post, his name is brought up as one of the famous Angelenos buried (in a rather ornate pyramid) at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery.

But check this out! Take a look at the picture above, and pay close attention to the masonry wall going uphill that fronts Lucas Avenue. Now, on CicLAvia Sunday, look at the exact same spot, on the northwest corner of the intersection. The house is gone, but the original wall still remains!

Good Samaritan Hospital, which was founded in 1885 and moved to the current site in 1911, is also the birthplace of many native Angelenos, including mayor Eric Garcetti.

5. Los Angeles Teachers (a.k.a. 'Stand And Deliver') Mural
1997
Wilshire and Alvarado, Westlake

Art imitates life imitating art imitating life in this mural by popular SalvadoreƱo American muralist Hector Ponce depicting actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed Garfield High School math teacher Jaime Escalante in the 1988 movie Stand and Deliverstanding next to the real-life Escalante, and delivering a mural that's part-Hollywood, part-Los Angeles, part-Latino pride, part Eastside pride and if the Internet were as accessible back in 1988 as it is today, would make one epic photo meme. And it's painted behind the 1926 Westlake Theatre, which is slated for renovation into a community-baed performance arts venue sometime soon. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Stand and Deliver by having the ganas to stop by.

6. Gen. Harrison Gray Otis Statue
1920
Wilshire Blvd and Park View Ave, MacArthur Park

Gen. Otis is perhaps the most visible statue at the park, which predates MacArthur's WWII service. This general served in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars, and also fought as a Union soldier in the Civil War. But in Los Angeles, he is most known for being the founder, owner and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. So why is he here? His Wilshire Blvd mansion, called The Bivouac, was located across the street, was later donated to Los Angeles County and became the original campus of Otis Art Institute. It's thought that his statue is pointing to the site of the Elks Lodge, but he's probably just pointing to his old house. 


7. Bryson Apartment Building
1913
2701 Wilshire Blvd, MacArthur Park

This 10-story Beaux Arts apartment building, built 100 years ago, was the 20th century precursor to today's fancy modern 21-century high-rise residential developments. Built by developer Hugh W. Bryson, it was built in a part of Los Angeles that was known at the time as "the west side" (let's not open that can of worms right now, okay?). It was one of Los Angeles' most luxurious apartment buildings, and had a large neon sign at the roof (characteristic of these kinds of developments back then). Several Raymond Chandler books reference The Bryson. The 110,000 square-foot building is also part of the National Register of Historic Places and a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

8. Lafayette Park
1899
Wilshire Blvd and LaFayette Park Place, LaFayette Park

Clara Shatto, the widow of George Shatto (remember him?) donated 35 acres of her land to the City of Los Angeles in 1899, which was once oil wells and tar pits. Her late husband wanted it turned into a city park, and so it became Sunset Park, which existed for 19 years before the locals wanted it renamed to honor the 18th-century Frenchman who was a hero in both the American and French revolutions. Gotta give LaFayette park some props for living so long in the shadow of its more famous neighbor, MacArthur (Westlake) Park.


9. Bullocks Wilshire/Southwestern Law School
1929
3050 Wilshire Blvd

Perhaps one of the most iconic examples of Art-Deco architecture in Los Angeles, this former Bullocks Department Store was designed with a tower to resemble a New York-style skyscraper in then-unabashedly low-rise Los Angeles. It was the epitome of shopping in style in its heyday, with its own rear parking lot and other auto-centric amenities. It ultimately fell victim to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and was closed down the next year. In 1994, the nearby Southwestern School of Law bought the building and incorporated it into its campus, restoring much of the Roaring 1920s Art Deco aesthetics.

10. Shatto Place
c. 1880s
Wilshire Blvd and Shatto Pl, Koreatown

Gee, we can't get seem to get away from that George Shatto guy, can we? George and Clara owned a plot of land here on this street, which was once home to some of the most beautiful mansions in Los Angeles at the time. Although Clara sold the land in 1904, George stipulated that all properties on the street maintain the character of the exquisite homes there, which was challenged several times until the late 1920s, when the homes started to be demolished in favor of more modern commercial development.

11. "The Vermont" Highrise Apartment Development
2014
Wilshire Blvd and Vermont Ave., Koreatown

This 30- and 25- story highrise mixed-use apartment development is called "The Vermont" by J.H. Snyder Co. which opened in 2014. It's Metro-accessible, and it has a friggin' Pizza Rev, but who the hell can afford the rents for this place?

12. Consulate Row
Various locations along Wilshire Blvd between Vermont and Crenshaw

Some 62 countries have consular offices in the Los Angeles area and 41 of them have addresses on Wilshire Boulevard. Proximity to various foreign financial institutions on Wilshire, as well as nearby Hancock Park, where many consul-generals have traditionally resided, are the main reasons for such a high concentration of consulates on this stretch of Wilshire. The consulate offices for Bangladesh, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, South Korea, Nicaragua, Peru, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Taiwan are all located on Wilshire between Vermont and Crenshaw. Many of them display their national flags in front of their respective office buildings. How many can you spot during CicLAvia?

13. Gaylord Apartments
1924
3355 Wilshire Blvd

Though the building's prominent neon sign has been source of many a snicker by immature junior high school kids, this building represents some serious history. It was named after Wilshire Boulevard's namesake, Henry Gaylord Wilshire, who was known as a wealthy real estate developer and outspoken socialist (Does that make sense?), who donated a 35-acre strip of barley fields to the City of Los Angeles on the condition that it would be free from railroads or trucking. The building itself is a 13-story Italian Renaissance-style apartment building that actor John Barrymore (a.k.a. Drew's grandpa) and then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon once called home.

14. Brown Derby Site
1926
3427 and 3377 Wilshire Blvd

The now-defunct "The Brown Derby" local chain of restaurants were synonymous with Hollywood glitz and glamour. The Wilshire Boulevard location was the first of four (the others were in Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Los Feliz). In close proximity to The Ambassador Hotel and its Cocoanut Grove swing/jazz club, this was the original hipster joint back in the day, only back then the hipsters were actually cool and looked good. In 1937 the building was moved across the street and closed in 1975. In 1980, a shopping center was built on the site and the iconic dome structure was incorporated into the shopping center that exists today. It's situated on the third floor, above The Boiling Crab seafood restaurant. It's something to ponder on while you wait 90 minutes for your table.

Note that the pictures for #13 and #14 connect vertically - that's the Gaylord Apartments behind the Brown Derby!

15. Robert F. Kennedy Inspiration Park/Ambassador Hotel Site
2010
Wilshire Blvd between Catalina Street and Mariposa Avenue

The Militant wrote a post in 2010 about this unique public space dedicated to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated just yards away at the Ambassador Hotel, which was demolished in 2005 and where the LAUSD's sprawling and costly  RFK Community Schools campus now stands. There's Kennedy quotes on public art installations and benches for you to chill on. There's also speakers playing recordings of some of the jazz music that was performed at the hotel's famed Cocoanut Grove swing and jazz club.

On April 18-19, the school campus will host the first-ever K-Town Night Market with food, vendors and live entertainment.


16. Wiltern Theatre/Pellissier Building
1931
Wilshire Blvd and Western Avenue (duh...), Koreatown

The 12-story structure, designed by Stiles O. Clements, is Los Angeles' emerald-green temple to all that is Art Deco. Originally operating as the "Warner Theatre" (Specifically the Western Avenue location of Warner Bros. chain of movie theaters; The Warner Theatre in San Pedro is another example), The Wiltern (named so since 1935) has seen many cycles of decay and rebirth, most recently in the 1980s, when preservationists renovated the theatre to a performing arts venue. The contemporary Wiltern Theatre has been operating since 1985.


STOP! That's it folks. The route ends here. It goes no further. Maybe you can spend your extra time on this route walking up and down the street and playing some Pokemon GO (The Militant has heard there's a Scyther nest at Lafayette Park).