Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour 9.0!!!!!!!!!

Interactive Map! Click on green points to view hotspots, or click on entire map for larger view.

Wow, its it really CicLAvia time again? It was just three and a half months since the last one, and The Militant can still remember that like it was yesterday. Now it's 2015 and we're in for -- count em -- four CicLAvia events this year: The Valley (March 22); Pasadena (May 31); Culver City/Venice (August 9) and the classic Heart of Los Angeles route (TBD October).

For The Militant, this not only means fun for an entire Sunday, but a lot of Militant Research and hard work preparing another one of his Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour guide posts. With three all-new tour guides to research and compose this year, he's got his work cut out for him,

This time around, we get to explore the 818 for the very first time in car-free mode, going along the Lankershim and Ventura boulevard corridors, with the Metro Red Line Universal City/Studio City (ugh, redundant and slashy) station's park-and-ride lot as a junction point and an activity hub.

Now, The Militant did not grow up in the Valley per se, but he did have countless experiences in the SFV, and when it came to composing this guide, he just sat down, looked at a map, and pointed out some places that either meant something historically or personally. Eventually, he came up with 20 of them. It only took one on-site route visit to confirm things, and without any further a due, The Militant Angeleno presents you his Militant guide to the XIIth CicLAvia, or the 9th unique routing. ENJOY!

(As consistent with previous Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour maps, this routing starts from the east and works its way westward).


1. Historic Lankershim Depot
1893
5351 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood

Metro Orange Line riders might wonder exactly what is this mysterious wooden building shrouded behind a fence and banners. Alas, it's one of the oldest surviving buildings in the San Fernando Valley. Built in 1893 as the Toluca Depot by the Southern Pacific Railroad along what was then the railway line from San Francisco to Los Angeles, it fielded both passengers and freight -- namely San Fernando Valley produce, such as peaches and oranges -- for a number of years. In 1911, the building was moved 50 feet to make room for the new Pacific Electric Railway, and the station served both the Southern Pacific and Pacific Electric until the last Red Car ran in 1952. Six years later, the Southern Pacific passenger trains stopped using the tracks and the station was repurposed as a lumber company's loading dock for freight cars. The line was abandoned in 1993, but soon after the new Los Angeles county Metropolitan Transportation Authority (a.k.a. MTA, now Metro), purchased the property as part of a construction staging area for the North Hollywood subway station. When the station opened in 2000, the transit agency announced a commitment to eventually restore the station, already a Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monument. Last October, Metro completed a $3.6 million renovation of the building, and even repainted it with the original colors the Southern Pacific built it with. The exact use of the station has yet to be decided, but it may or may not become a multi-use cafe, community space and Metro Customer Service Center.

2. Firefighter Thomas G. Taylor Monument
2001
5300 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood

In the early morning hours of January 28, 1981, a fire broke out at what was then Cugee's Coffee Shop. While members of Los Angeles Fire Department Truck No. 60 were cutting a hole in the roof of the building, it collapsed, killing Apparatus Operator Thomas G. Taylor, a seven-year veteran of the LAFD.

The fire was later discovered to be an arson fire, planned by the restaurant's owners to collect insurance, and paid Van Nuys barber Mario Catanio $2,500 to burn their restaurant down. The owners were each given 10-year prison sentences but Catanio was sentenced to 25 years to life. He was denied parole in 2012.

When the current building was erected in 2001, a bronze memorial plaque for Taylor was placed on the corner of the building where Lankershim intersects with Weddington St. It was covered by The Militant in a blog post on North Hollywood in 2010.


3. Weddington House 
1891
11025 Weddington St, North Hollywood

This dilapidated clapboard bungalow, considered "The Mother House of North Hollywood," on Weddington Street, nearly a block east of the CicLAvia route, has a long and storied history.

In 1889, a farmer from Storm Lake, Iowa named Wilson Weddington visited his sister, who lived in the San Fernando Valley, and fell in love with the place. So much, that he not only moved his own family here, but he dismantled his house and had it shipped by train to what was then known as Toluca.

Weddington, considered one of the founders of North Hollywood, had the house re-assembled in 1891 adjacent to a barley field. It was renovated in 1904, and later moved to make room for the El Portal Theatre. The building was moved three times down the same street, eventually resting in its current location, where it has been standing since 1924.

The building, a Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monument, is in a state of limbo. There are plans to eventually restore it, but the question is where. There have been offers to move it to Highland Park's Heritage Square, but many North Hollywood residents, including one of Weddington's descendants, want to see it remain in the neighborhood.

4. El Portal Theatre
1926
11206 Weddington St, North Hollywood

Before there was a "NoHo Arts District," there was the El Portal

Opened October 5, 1926 as a 1.346-seat Vaudeville venue and silent movie cinema run by Fox West Coast Theatres, and later, as part of the National General and Mann cinema companies, featured those moving pictures that talk. The theatre and its iconic (well, for NoHo folks, at least) Art Deco facade was designed by architect Lewis A. Smith, who also fashioned the Vista Theatre in East Hollywood and Highland Park's Highland Theatre. It screened films until closing in the 1980s. In 1994, it was a victim of the Northridge Earthquake and was rehabbed in the late 1990s, re-opening in 2000 as part of a re-development renaissance along Lankershim created with the opening of the Metro Red Line station, which in turn sparked the neighborhood's re-branding as the "No-Ho Arts District." What comes around, goes around.

Today it operates as three theaters featuring mostly independent plays, dance productions and musicals, and it was also the recipient of the carpeting from its organ donor, the late Schubert Theatre in Century City.


5. Amelia Earhart Statue
1971
Magnolia Blvd & Tujunga Ave, North Hollywood

The twentieth-century female aviation pioneer and feminist icon had several ties to the North Hollywood (and adjacent) area: In 1935 Earheart moved to a house in nearby Toluca Lake -- her last residence (or at least, her last known residence...). A number of the planes she flew in her famed flights were designed and built by Lockheed in nearby Burbank. 

In 1971, a steel and fiberglass statue, sculpted by Ernest Shelton, was placed on this corner of Magnolia and Tujunga at the edge of North Hollywood Recreation Center. Just a few yards north on Tujunga, the Los Angeles Public Library's North Hollywood Regional Branch was renamed the "North Hollywood Amelia M Earhart Regional Branch Library" in 1981. In 2002, the statue was temporarily removed for renovation, and it returned in 2003, this time rebuilt in bronze.


6. NoHo Gateway
2009
Lankershim Blvd & Huston St

Love it or hate it, it's there, and it welcomes all to the NoHo Arts District. A project of the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, the quirky, $800,000 NoHo Gateway was built in July 2009 and designed by artist Peter Shire, known for his equally-quirky-but-not-nearly-as-controversial art sculptures in the landscaped (former Pacific Electric) median of Santa Monica Boulevard in WeHo. This was also covered by The Militant in his 2010 blog post on NoHo

What does the Militant think of it? Well it's, um, you know...but people will get used to it eventually (a Facebook page called "Tear Down the NoHo Gateway" has not had any activity for the past three years, so maybe it's a sign that people are warming up to this thing...). Such is art.

7. Pacific Electric Right of Way
1911 (abandoned 1952)
Vineland Ave between the 101 Freeway and Chandler Blvd

The CicLAvia route cuts through the bewildering six-way intersection of Lankershim Blvd, Vineland Ave and Camarillo St. But look down through Vineland -- see that landscaped median? If you know your Los Angeles history, you know what that means. Like Leimert Blvd from the last CicLAvia, this, too, is an abandoned streetcar right-of-way. Vineland Avenue carried Pacific Electric Red Cars between the SFV and Downtown Los Angeles. From the other side of the hill, the Red Cars cut through the Cahuenga Pass (now the 101 freeway) and turned north on Vineland, where they once went all the way to San Fernando, Canoga Park or Van Nuys, all except the Van Nuys line closed down in 1938, with the final line closing in 1952. Just south of Chandler Blvd, the line through Vineland curved west (the diagonal wall at the Big Lots store on Vineland and Chandler is a vestigial remnant of this line) to join Chandler, where trains passed through the historic Lankershim Depot.

8. Pacific Electric Substation
1911
Vineland Ave & Riverside Drive

This white building which bears the signage, "The Howard Colonial" is also a vestigial remnant of the Pacific Electric's San Fernando Valley line through Vineland Ave. It served as one of the PE's electric power substations (Number 30 to be exact) that supplied power to the overhead lines that gave juice to the Red Cars that ran past it.

9. St. Charles Borromeo Church
1937 (old building)/ 1959 (current building)
10800 Moorpark St, North Hollywood

This Spanish Colonial-style church designed by Alhambra-based architect J. Earl Trudeau, who also designed Roman Catholic parishes in Culver City, South Los Angeles and Alhambra, has attracted famous parishioners such as actor Bob Hope -- who lived in nearby Toluca Lake and had his funeral here in 2003 (the corner of Lankershim and Moorpark was designated by the City as "Bob and Dolores Hope Square"). Directly west of the main church is the parish hall, which was built in 1937 and previously served as the original church structure. The architecture of the old church was based on the parish's namesake, the 1771 Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo in Carmel.

10. Los Angeles River Access
c. 1940s
near Lankershim Blvd & the Los Angeles River

Have you ever seen service trucks drive on the Los Angeles River? How did they do that? Did they really drive all the way from Downtown? Well, no. from this bridge over the River, you can spot access ramps on both the north and south sides of the river; the one on the north side is accessible via a gated lot at the end of Agua Vista Street. Of course, anyone caught doing a RiverLAvia on Sunday , or any day, would be fined $1000.

On that note, how many of you are willing to bail out The Militant? (YOLO...)

11. New NBC Studios
2014
Lankershim Blvd and Muddy Waters Drive, Universal City

Though NBC and Burbank have become inseparable, their corporate relationship with Universal (and Later Comcast) has moved them west, and onto the Universal backlot. In February 2014, TV station KNBC 4 , KVEA Telemundo 52 and the NBC News West Coast Bureau moved into a new state-of-the-art digital facility along the Los Angeles River. The old NBC studios in Burbank is now an independent rental studio facility called The Burbank Studios. This is also a big year for its Universal parent/partner; Universal City celebrated its 100th birthday this past Sunday. Give Fritz Coleman a bi ol' shout-out if you see him this Sunday.


12. Campo de Cahuenga
1847
3919 Lankershim Blvd, Studio City

Yes, this adobe abode was the location where Lt. Col John C. Fremont and General Andres Pico signed the Treaty of Cahuenga in 1847, formally ending the frequent skirmishes between the U.S. and Mexico, and eventually paving the way for California to become an independent nation, and eventually a U.S. state. It all began here, people. Those northern Cali folks beta recognize! You'll have to go inside to experience more of the history, and if you want more, go to the Metro Red Line platform at the Universal City/Studio City station next door and read the art that adorns the station. Also, the actual table where the treaty was signed is on display at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park as part of their Becoming Los Angeles exhibit, which The Militant wrote about in 2013.


13. "The Oasis" Native Plant Garden
2009
Ventura Blvd between Eureka and Arch drives, Studio City

This pleasant California native plant garden was a streetscape and pocket park project by the Studio City Beautification Association done in 2009. Located literally where the Santa Monica Mountains meet Ventura Boulevard, it gives pedestrians a chance to connect with the natural indigenous habitat of the mountain range. With a dirt "hiking" path subbing for the sidewalk here, one can see California Golden Poppies, Matilija Poppies, Purple Sage, California Lilac and purple Verbenas. And since we've experienced an early Spring this year, many of them are already in bloom.

14. Brady Bunch House
1959
11222 Dilling St, Studio City

Here's the story
Of a house named Brady
It's just a few blocks from the CicLAvia route
Go up Tujunga, turn right on Dilling
And see what it's all about...

No doubt you've seen this house numerous times on TV Land or in local syndication or (if you're old enough) on primetime on ABC from 1969 to 1974. It was selected by "The Brady Bunch" creator Sherwood Schwartz in 1969 to represent "California living," "a place that an architect would live in" and "not too affluent, but not too blue-collar either."

But though the television show had that famous iconic staircase, the real house on 11222 Dilling Street is only a single-story, split-level abode. The show's crew placed a fake window under the facade's A-frame during location shooting to depict a second level.

Here's an interesting tidbit about the Brady Bunch house: You already know about the history of the Weddington House. But did you know there's a direct connection between the two famous Valley houses? The Brady Bunch house was designed and built by Luther B. Carson (who, like Mike Brady was an architect) in 1959 on a then-empty lot after the construction of the Ventura Freeway forced them to move from their previous home nearby. He was already deceased by the time the house was selected by Schwartz for the TV show. His widow, Louise Weddington Carson (who died in 1994) was Wilson Weddington's great-granddaughter.

15. VETura Boulevard
Ventura Blvd between Colfax and Radford avenues

Did you know that this two-block stretch of Ventura Boulevard has the highest concentration of veterinary hospitals/clinics in the entire City of Los Angeles? Well, neither did The Militant until he recently surveyed the CicLAvia route. In this section of Ventura between Colfax and Radford avenues alone, there are five veterinary facilities: Parker Pet Hosptial, Veterinary Medical Center, Animal Emergency Centre, Studio City Animal Hospital and Tully & LaBounty Pet Clinic.

The Militant used to take his beloved K-9 unit (may his or her soul rest in peace) to one of those hospitals. Like Sunset Blvd's Guitar Row or Wilshire Blvd's Hair District, it's one of the many unofficial specialty retail districts of Los Angeles that makes this city so unique. And because there's so many pet health care facilities on this block, The Militant has thusly given this part of the street the moniker, "VETura Boulevard" (come to think of it, a famous cinematic pet detective had the name "Ace Ventura." Coincidence?).

16. Mack Senett Studio Site/CBS Studio Center
1928
4024 Radford Ave, Studio City

Do you know why Studio City is called "Studio City?" Because it's close to Universal Studios, right?
BZZZZT! WRONG! (That's Universal City...) It's because of this place.

Back in the '90s (er, the 1890s, that is), this area was called Laurelwood. With farming wrapping up by the end of the 19th century, it became a hotspot for real estate at the turn of the 20th. Mack Sennett, who already built Los Angeles' first movie studio in what is now Echo Park in 1912, decided to build a second, 20-acre studio on the banks of the Los Angeles River in this location in 1928. He sold the studio due to bankruptcy in 1933 to Mascot Pictures, changing hands over the decades to Monogram Pictures and Republic Pictures until the latter's demise in 1958. Then CBS started leasing, and later purchased the facility, and in the early 1960s it became the location where the network's own produced series were filmed. The classic TV shows "Gilligan's Island," "Gunsmoke," "My Three Sons" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" were all filmed on that lot. In fact, the large parking garage on the right before Radford meets the Los Angeles River was the site of the Gilligan's Island lagoon. Today, the studio is also the home of local television stations KCBS 2 and KCAL 9.

17. Los Angeles River Greenway Park
2004
Los Angeles River between Whitsett and Radford avenues

Yeah, so the Los Angeles River in the Valley isn't as scenic and green as what you see down by Griffith Park and Frogtown (except for this section, which is a few more miles upstream). But at least this picturesque greenbelt and walking path, which opened in 2004, is still much more pleasant and scenic than the other Los Angeles River crossing by Lankershim. If CicLAvia gets too crowded, you might want to use this route as an alternate. If you can't get enough of the river, you can re-join the greenbelt west of Coldwater Canyon, where a similar path runs west to Fulton Avenue. In the near future, a linkage path will connect the two linear river parks between Coldwater Canyon and Whitsett.

18. LAFD Fire Station 78
1943/2008
4041 Whitsett Ave, Studio City

Gentrification and hipsterization might be causing more segregation in our communities, but there was a time in our City' history when segregation in certain City institutions was the law.

Remember the story of the African American Firefighter Museum on Central Avenue from previous CicLAvias? Well, here's the sequel to the story.

For much of LAFD's history, only two fire stations, No. 14 and No. 30 (now the museum), were the only fire stations that allowed African American firefighters. a series of events in the 1950s raised issues of racial integration in the LAFD and in 1955, two black firefighters and six white firefighters (who supported integration) were re-assigned to replace the all-white staff at this fire station on Whitsett Avenue, and it became the very first racially integrated fire station in the LAFD. It was not without controversy, of course -- many community members protested and used the new firefighters' unfamiliarity with the local streets and topography (they came from other parts of the city) as one reason for opposing the re-assignment. Eventually, in September 1956, all Los Angeles Fire Department stations were racially integrated.

Although, this was not the original building of LAFD Fire Station No. 78; this was a new facility that was built in 2008. But you can still visit the original location along the CicLAvia route (adjacent to the Sportsmen's Lodge), which was on 4230 Coldwater Canyon Ave, just north of the 76 gas station.

19. Original Jerry’s Famous Deli
1978
12655 Ventura Blvd, Studio City

This was the very location where Jerry Seidman and business partner Isaac Starkman started their deli-food empire of celebrity clientele, 700-item menus and very mediocre, overpriced food. It's been said that an already-famous Andy Kaufman worked here as a busboy in the late '70s. In 2001, a fire damaged the restaurant, which was closed until it reopened to its currently-remodeled format in 2003. But if you want the Militant's advice, if you're hungry for a pastrami sandwich or cheese blintzes during CicLAvia, skip the long waits at this overrated joint and head a few blocks east to Art's Delicatessen on 12224 Ventura instead.

20. Sportsmen’s Lodge
1885
12825 Ventura Blvd, Studio City

Originally built as a place where Valley residents and visitors can experience the rapidly-vanishing rural lifestyle of the San Fernando Valley of the 19th Century, in the 20th century it became popular for its stocked fishing ponds, and a celebrity hang due to its proximity to the aforementioned studios on Radford Avenue, In recent history, its events center has become a venue for countless Angeleno wedding receptions, bar/bat mitzvahs, proms, quinceañeras, and other events. The Militant even had one of his high school reunions here.

As you may or may not have heard earlier this week, this place will soon be undergoing some changes. Gone will be the beloved events center and scenic grounds, to be replaced by some outdoor retail mall type thingie. The hotel will stay though. The Militant doesn't know what to think of all this (as if The Valley really needs another Crate and Barrel), but in the meantime, come check out this unique Valley institution while it lasts.

So there it is, take it. Happy CicLAvia this Sunday, and if you see The Militant on the streets, raise your fist for him!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

26.2 Points Of Light

If you squint, you can see some of the illumination columns from the Los Angeles Marathon lights (Taken from atop the La Cienega Metro Expo Line station parking garage).

So yeah, The Militant is a sucker for epic things in Los Angeles: Epic sunsets, epic space shuttle parades, epic CicLAvia tours, you know the deal. Naturally, when he found out earlier in the week that Asics America would be sponsoring a special by-the-mile illumination of the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon route on Friday night to celebrate its 30th Anniversary, he was down like James Brown for this, and even almost forgave Fr*nk McC**rt for running the Marathon (...almost).

We haven't seen anything quite like this. Not even for New Year's Eve, not even for the '84 Olympics. So this was pretty epic indeed.

The Militant instinctively knew that the usual vantage points -- Griffith Observatory, Runyon Canyon, the Getty Center, etc. would be crowded as hell, not to mention the usual parking snafus you'd expect from such a gathering. So being near the Crenshaw area at the time, he made a dash to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook...where a Culver City police car was blocking the entrance.

Okay then. Plan B. Head to the Metro Expo Line's La Cienega park & ride station, and view the lights from the roof of the parking garage. So here goes:


Okay, that was subtle. It didn't quite look like this:


But we sure fell for it, huh? Actually, the rendering looks like each block was being illuminated, rather than each mile, and the actual time the lights went on was an hour or so after dusk.

But if he looked real hard, he could make out the lights, shooting up straight into the partly-cloudy nighttime summer winter sky. It just didn't turn out so well on his Militant Spyphone.

He wanted to see these lights up close so he headed east on the 10 towards Downtown, and made his way though Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. The next light column was at Sunset and Silver Lake Boulevard, easily visible along the road ahead:


It wasn't a single Klieg light, but a quartet of Syncrolite SXL 7,000-watt Xenon skylight fixtures at each mile marker, plus the start and end of the Marathon route.

The Militant headed west along Sunset and then Hollywood Boulevard, but was shocked to find the nearest light turned off. He asked the attendant what was up, and he told The Militant, "They're doing something..."

Oookay.

But a few patient minutes later, four blue-white columns of light beamed up from atop the rented Enterprise flatbed truck, several thousand feet into the sky, where spots of light dotted the sky like an impromptu constellation above the City of Angels. The lights were so bright from the ground that dust and flying insects were automatically illuminated directly above the truck. The Militant was solo tempted to make shadow puppets.

It was incidental macro-sized public art (eat your heart out, Christo). Though it wasn't as impressive as the rendering -- admittedly more light into an already light-polluted environment isn't really going to be that outstanding -- it held a beauty on its own. You can trace the Marathon route in the sky, somewhat. From a distance, you can see what a mile looks like. For those who were attracted to the lights, it was a moment of community, of a shared experience, of beauty.


It might be cool to do this again. Maybe with brighter LEDs. Maybe with a more sustainable means of power than 27 diesel power generators. Maybe Metro can do this on the night of July 14 with light columns emanating from all 80 Metro Rail stations to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our modern rail transit system (no, maybe they should do this).

[Hey yo, Militant, not bad for your first blog post in three months...that didn't hurt, did it? Now let's try this again sometime soon, okay?]

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour 8.0!!!!!!!!


Interactive Map! Click on green points to view hotspots, or click on entire map for larger view.

Well well well, it's CicLAvia time again. Just when we thought we'd have to wait until Spring...BOOM! Here comes another one. Which is all right with The Militant.

Now, originally, The Militant was going to stop doing these tour guides because like only 20 people really read them. Yeah, they really, really like them, but if only 20 people will benefit from it, he might as well just send them a CC:'ed email.

But The Militant didn't want to leave South Los Angeles behind. There's a history to this place too, a very rich one, and by skipping this, many CicLAvians would be oblivious to it. Alas, he did this for the good of the community.

So for the 20 of you who really dig this, enjoy. The Militant will now get some sleep now after working on this all night.



Central Avenue Corridor


1. Tacos El Gavilan/Site of 1st McDonalds in Los Angeles
1957
1900 S. Central Ave, South Los Angeles

What is currently a taco stand at the southeast corner of Central and Washington was once the first McDonalds in the city of Los Angeles (and the 11th McDs in the entire chain) which opened in 1957. As you may or may not know, McDonalds originated in San Bernardino in 1940 by the McDonald brothers, and was later taken over by Illinois businessman Ray Kroc, who turned the unique Southern California hamburger chain into the gargantuan unhealthy corporate chain we know today. The trademark side arches were present on this building (and a single arch present on the corner sign) up until the early 2000s. But hey, tacos are more healthy for you than McDonalds junk, so eat up.

2. Lincoln Theater
1926
2300 S. Central Ave, South Los Angeles

From 1927 to the 1950s, this Moorish Revival theatre, designed by John Paxton Perrine featured the finest live entertainment by black performers, to a predominantly black audience (though notable white folks like Charlie Chaplin dug it as well). It was even nicknamed the "West Coast Apollo" during its heyday, which featured the likes of Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and Billie Holliday gracing its stage. In 1962 the building was purchased by the First Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ and remains a house of worship today, this time as the the Iglesia de Cristo Ministries Juda. The Lincoln Theater building was designated as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 2003 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

3. Second Baptist Church
1926
2412 Griffith Avenue, South Los Angeles

Built around the same time as the Lincoln Theater is this building that has always been a church. But it's one building that's rich in African American history. It was the host venue for the NAACP's national conventions in 1928 (the first-ever on the West Coast), 1942 and 1949. In 1962, Malcolm X spoke at a meeting held at the church. And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr himself spoke here in 1964 and 1968 -- the latter appearance, just two weeks before he was martyred in Memphis. Tennessee. To top it all off, this Lombardy Romanesque Revival building was designed by none other than famed African American architect Paul R. Williams, who designed many buildings around Los Angeles, most notably this one. This building is also designated as a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (1978) and was likewise added to the National Register of Historic Places (2009).

4. 3 Worlds Cafe
2013
3310 S. Central Ave, South Los Angeles

This social enterprise, created by the collaborative efforts of Los Angeles foodie magnate Roy Choi, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, Jefferson High School and Dole Foods, trains local youth to make and serve healthy foods while learning job skills. The name refers to the Latino, Asian and African American cultures of the youth in the community. According to many folks, the food is pretty damn good, so don't sleep.

NAVIGATIONAL NOTE:
• If heading west on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, skip to #9.


5. Masjid Bilal Islamic Center/Site of Elks Lodge
1929
4016 S. Central Ave, South Los Angeles

This mainstay of the local Muslim community since 1973 also has a deep history in the local black community. The building was originally built in 1929 as the home of the local Elks club. But it was no ordinary Elks Club (who discriminated against black membership). It was run by the Improved and Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, an African American-run organization founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898 that functioned as a fraternal order for people of color. Though obviously not directly affiliated with the white Elks club, it is run with the otherwise identical customs and traditions, and with nearly half a million members worldwide, is the largest black fraternal organization in the world.

6. Ralph J. Bunche House
1919
1221 E. 40th Place, South Los Angeles

The Central Avenue corridor was home to Los Angeles' black community, primarily due to the racial covenants that restricted them from owning homes elsewhere in the city. But great things can come from places of injustice. Ralph J. Bunche was a teenager arriving with his family from Detroit, by way of Ohio and New Mexico, who attended nearby Jefferson High School and went to UCLA, graduating as the valedictorian at both schools. He went on to Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D in Political Science (the first African American to receive a doctorate in PoliSci from a U.S. university), and later was one of the founders of the United Nations. In 1950, due to his diplomatic work in the negotiations that ended the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he won the Nobel Peace Prize -- the first nonwhite person to ever win the esteemed award. And he once lived right here, just two blocks east of the CicLAvia route.


7. Black Panther Headquarters
1969
41st & Central, South Los Angeles

The corner of 41st Street and Central Avenue wasn't just the Los Angeles headquarters of the Black Panther Party (that's some real Militants right there), but in a time where the names Mike Brown and Eric Garner have been fresh on the minds of people, it was the site of a significant event in the tumultuous history of relations between the black community and the Los Angeles Police Department. On December 8, 1969 -- 45 years before the day after CicLAvia -- police officers arrested a number of people on that corner for loitering, which eventually escalated into a four-hour armed confrontation. The LAPD used a previously untested paramilitary unit during the raid, which was called the Special Weapons And Tactics unit, or SWAT. Four LAPD officers and four Black Panther members were seriously injured during the shootout, but miraculously no one died. The building that housed the headquarters was demolished in 1970.

8. Dunbar Hotel/Club Alabam
1928
4225 S. Central Avenue

Built in 1928 (then known as the Hotel Somerville, the only hotel in Los Angeles at the time to welcome black people) as the primary accommodations venue for the 1928 NAACP national convention at the nearby Second Baptist Church, The Dunbar is one of the few remaining physical symbols of the Central Avenue of yesteryear, the hotspot of all that is jazz and blues. In the perspective of Los Angeles music history, Central Avenue in the 1920s-1950s was the Sunset Strip of the 1960s-1980s. And perhaps even more. A nightclub opened at the hotel just a few years after its opening, and legends such as Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Lena Horne and Billie Holliday. Next door was the Club Alabam, another one of the most popular jazz venues on Central Avenue. Known for its classy image and celebrity clientele (both black and white), legends such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis graced the stage. Today, the Dunbar Hotel building serves as an affordable housing complex for seniors.

Martin Luther King Jr. Corridor

9. Site of Wrigley Field
1925  (demolished 1969)

Avalon Blvd & 42nd Place

Just a few blocks south of the CicLAvia route is Gilbert W. Lindsay Park, named after Los Angeles' first African American city councilman. But years ago, this was the place where home runs, strikeouts and 7th Inning Stretches took place in the City of Angels. And yes it was a city of Angels, as the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League made the 22.000-capacity Wrigley Field (named after the chewing gum magnate, who had several stakes in Southern California, including Catalina Island) its home. And as any truly militant Angeleno knows, the ivy-and-brick Chi-town tourist trap, though 11 years older, was originally called Weeghman Park and wasn't dubbed Wrigley Field until 1927, which made Los Angeles' Wrigley Field the first Wrigley Field ever. The stadium also was popular with TV and movie shoots, such as Damn Yankees and The Twilight Zone. In 1961, it literally went Major League as the American League expansion team Los Angeles Angels of Los Angeles played its home games there before moving to Dodger Sta, er, Chavez Ravine for the next four seasons, and then finally moving down the 5 to Anaheim. Yes, there's a baseball field in the park, but it's not the same location as the original diamond.

10. Historic Southern Pacific Palm Tree
 Re-planted 1914
3939 S. Figueroa St, Exposition Park

Back in the late 1800s-early 1900s, the Southern Pacific Railroad operate out of a train station called the Arcade Station, on 5th and Alameda streets. A lone palm tree stood outside the station and functioned as a landmark for arriving passengers coming in from San Francisco or points east. In 1914 (dude, a hundred years ago) the Arcade Station was demolished (no, it wasn't consumed by a fire) to make way for a more modern station, called Central Station, and the palm tree had to go. So sentimental was the palm tree, instead of being cut down, it was moved to Exposition Park, where it has stood ever since. Like its neighbor the Space Shuttle Endeavour, it was a popular icon back in its day, and it's probably safe to assume that its transport through town was an event in itself. A little-known historic market at the base of the tree tells the whole story. So if you want to see a palm tree that was planted there 100 years ago, there you go.

11. Los Angeles Swimming Stadium
1932
Bill Robertson Drive & Park Lane, Exposition Park

The Coliseum's little brother, the Los Angeles Swimming Stadium was the 10,000-seat venue for the 1932 Olympic swimming, diving and water polo competitions, as well as the aquatic portions of the pentathlon event. Olympians such as Buster Crabbe swam in its waters. After the games, it became a public pool, and in the '50s, USC's swim team used it as their training and competing venue. After over a half century of wear, and damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, the swim stadium was renovated in 2002 and operates today as the LA84 Foundation/John C. Argue Swim Stadium. Marco...Polo!

12. Community Services Unlimited Urban Garden
2003
Bill Robertson Lane and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Exposition Park

Did you know there's an urban garden along the CicLAvia route? Local nonprofit Community Services Unlimited (an organization that, interestingly enough, originated from the Black Panther Party's community outreach programs in the 1970s) grows their own organic fruits and vegetables in this Exposition Park urban garden that they sell and distribute in this predominantly food desert area to help local residents gain access to fresh, healthy produce. They sell this produce at a stand outside the LA84/John C. Argue Swim Stadium next door on Thursday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m.

13. Celes King III Bail Bonds
1949
1530 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Vermont Square

Why is a Bail Bonds joint listed in the Militant's CicLAvia tour? WTF? Well, before 1983, this street was known as Santa Barbara Avenue. Celes King III was the person who lobbied to change the name of the street to Martin Luther King Jr (no relation) Blvd. A real estate broker, bail bondman, outspoken Republican, former Tuskeegee Airman, failed City Council candidate, co-founder of the Brotherhood Crusade and founder of the Kingdom Day Parade, he successfully lobbied the L.A. City Council in 1983 to re-name Santa Barbara Ave. after the slain civil rights leader -- albeit not without controversy. Some of his critics accused him of doing it to irritate then-Mayor Tom Bradley, one of his political enemies, and others have criticized CK3 of conflict of interest (his residence (he lived in the apartment upstairs) and his bail bonds business were located on Santa Barbara Ave after all) and even ego trippin' (the short-hand street signs say "King Bl"-- the same as his own last name). Whether this was a self-aggrandizing stunt or a genuine tribute to an American hero, we will never know: Celes King III died in 2003. But here's one interesting CicLAvia route fact: His father, Celes King, Jr was the owner of Central Avenue's Dunbar Hotel back in its heyday.

14. Worldwide Tacos
 [Year Unknown]
2419 Martin Luther King Blvd, Leimert Park

The Militant loves tacos, as you may or may know. But along the CicLAvia route is perhaps one of the most unusual taco joints around. Worldwide Tacos makes over 150 types of tacos, in chicken, beef, lamb, chicken, duck, turkey, pastrami, shrimp, fish and vegetarian varieties, all freshly-made and cooked to order. Prices range from $2.50 to $8.50 each. But that's not the catch. The catch is that the wait time ranges from 15 minutes to two hours. The Militant has not tried Worldwide Tacos (nor has he waited for one), but his operatives who have (and endured the long wait, though you can just leave them your cellphone number and they'll call you when they're ready) say they're pretty bomb-diggity. Hmmm...

15. Yellow Car Right Of Way
1902
Leimert Blvd between Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and Vernon Avenue

See that nice, wide, landscaped median to theleft of you through Leimert Park? Could you ever guess what it used to be? Yup, it was the right-of-way for the Yellow Car trolleys of the Los Angeles Railway, part of  The 5 Line, which ran from Eagle Rock (ya rly) to Hawthorne. Actually The CicLAvia route from the 110 Freeway to Vernon Avenue was part of the 5 Line, and because of that Leimert Park was originally planned as a transit-oriented community (it was also originally planned as a whites-only community, but so much for that, eh?) Incidentally, part of this historic Yellow Car Line, along Florence Avenue, will soon be re-used for rail transit as part of Metro's under-construction Crenshaw Line.

16. Leimert Theatre/Vision Theatre
1932
3341 W. 43rd Pl, Leimert Park

This Stiles O. Clements (who also architect'd the El Capitan and The Wiltern)-designed art deco movie theatre was designed  to serve the planned, Euro-inspired Leimert Park community as a stylish home of cinema. It was to be run by a venture co-owned by Howard Hughes, of all people. But the movie theatre business during the Great Depression wasn't that hot, so they soon sold it to the Westland Theatres chain, and later the movie house was owned by Fox West Coast theatres, who screened the last film there, 1968's Bonnie and Clyde. In 1977, the building was re-named "The Watchtower" and became a Jehova's Witness church. Actress Marla Gibd of "227" fame purchased the theatre in 1990 for African American arts events, but the after-efffects of the Los Angeles Riots were too strong. Finally, the City of Los Angeles bought it for arts usage, renamed it the Vision Theatre and...well, it's not quite done yet, but almost. Maybe. Cross your fingers. Neato trivia: The building's foundation was designed for a 13-story tower addition that was never built. Impress others with that fact as you pass by.

17. The World Stage
1989
4344 Degnan Blvd, Leimert Park

How interesting that things come full circle sometimes. Back towards the starting end of the route was a street that was made famous by its jazz music heritage. Now the route ends by a place that is preserving that heritage six miles across town. Founded by jazz drummer, the late Billy Higgins and poet Kamau Daaooud, there is no booze or food served here, just the arts. strictly the arts. And mostly music. Shortly after opening, the World Stage helped to inspire other jazz venues nearby, such as 5th Street Dick's Coffeehouse. Sure Degnan wasn't as jumpin' as Central back in the day, but at least the jazz was alive. Can you dig? Here's hoping you'll hear some great jazz here on Sunday.

Enjoy CicLAvia again and STAY MILITANT!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour 7.0!!!!!!!

Interactive Map! Click on green points to view hotspots, or click on entire map for larger view.

Yes, friends, it's CicLAvia time again. And you know what that means -- time for The Militant to dedicate hours upon hours upon hours of his previous Militant schedule to research and write an extensive guide to places you may or may not want to check out along the CicLAvia route.

Last time around, in April, we had an identical route to a previous tour, and The Militant got a break from composing a new guide (although he did add a handful of fake locales to punk y'allz for April Fools Day). 

This time, no tomfoolery, just some great history and a few recommended places to eat. This tour goes to Echo Park for the first time, and also delves deeper into The Eastside. As in The Real Eastside. The local media has blown up recently on potential gentrification brought on by CicLAvia, but The Militant's advice to the true Eastsiders: Stay proud and stay involved, and you'll have nothing to worry about. The Militant walked down East Cesar E. Chavez avenue in Boyle Heights earlier this week for his Militant research and found out there's way too much sabor on the streets that can ever truly be erased. Sure, there might be some pockets of hipsterage here and there, but the overall character of the neighborhood is too strong to destroy. But as you can see, the neighborhood has changed over the years, and this tour is meant to recognize the Eastside's past, particularly its Chicano, Jewish and Japanese heritage.

This time around, The Militant offers 40 (count 'em) FORTY places of interest! A new record! As usual, we start out from the east and work our way west. That's how our city was built and so The Militant is sticking to it.  If you start from Echo Park, you can work your way backwards from #27. An if you pay attention, you'll notice that the easternmost and westernmost points have a little something in common (besides a pretty lake in the middle of a park)...

So there it is folks, take it:

1. Belvedere Community Regional Park
1950s
Civic Center Drive, East Los Angeles

CicLAvia begins here in East Los Angeles' civic center, which is a slight misnomer since East Los is not an incorporated city, but the "civic center" consists of several county administrative offices serving East Los. Adjacent is a beautiful park area with a picturesque lake that many call "East Los Angeles Civic Center Park," though it's actually the southern part of Belvedere Park, which is mostly located north of the 60 Freeway. Do enjoy the park, but always remember: DO NOT FEED OR MOLEST THE DUCKS!  The park was actually whole at one time, but was divided into two in the early 1960s when the Pomona Freeway was built. Freeways dividing parks. Remember that when you get to the opposite end...

2. Eugene Obregon American Legion Post 804
1954
6415 Cesar E. Chavez Ave, East Los Angeles

Few things are so quintessentially small-town American as the Legion Hall, and East Los has one of its own...making it a quintessential American small town. American Legion Halls function as venues for community events, and also meeting places for American Legion Post organizations, made up of veterans groups. Post 804 was named after PFC Eugene A. Obregon, a local Mexican American soldier who served in the Korean War and was killed in combat in Seoul, Korea at the age of 19 while saving the life of a fellow Marine. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, and the Los Angeles native's name figures big around the Eastside and elsewhere in Southern California. A nearby park in East Los was named after him, as was an elementary school in Pico Rivera, a monument in Downtown's Pershing Square, a freeway interchange (The East Los Angeles interchange was named after him), and even a ship. 

3. Raspados Zacatecas
1990s
422 N. Ford Blvd, East Los Angeles

You have been warned: The weather forecast for Sunday in East Los is 94 degrees. Fortunately, you're never far from a place that sells raspados. And fortunately, less than a block from the CicLAvia route is one of the best raspados joints in town, Raspados Zacatecas (or Zacatecas Raspados, however you read the signage). This place was praised by The Militant back in 2007 as the reigning raspados representative of his Ethnic Iced Desert Quest series (which, BTW also includes a stop in Little Tokyo for you CicLAvians). The Militant will undoubtedly stop by here on Sunday, and if you choose to as well, you may or may not run into him there. And if you're able to recognize him there...free raspados on The Militant!

4. Anthony Quinn Library
Dedicated 1982
3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave, East Los Angeles

Part of the Los Angeles County Public Library system (remember, it's East Los east of Indiana), the former Belvedere Branch  of the County's Public Library was renamed after the Oscar-winning actor, who starred in films like Zorba the Greek, Lawrence of Arabia and Viva Zapata! Quinn, born in Chihuahua, Mexico to an Irish/Mexican father and Aztec Mexican mother, both of whom fought in the Mexican Revolution with Pancho Villa, spent his childhood in Texas, East Los and Echo Park. The library was built on the site of his childhood home. Not only does the library bear the actor's name, but it is also home of some 2,000 mementos and artifacts donated by the late actor in 1987, making part of it a virtual museum for Anthony Quinn fans. Next year will mark the centennial of Quinn's birth, so look out for some special events there.

5. Mexican American Veterans Memorials
1947
Intersection of Cesar E Chavez Ave, Lorena St and Brooklyn Pl, Boyle Heights

There's something about war memorial monuments that just add something to a city. Right here on the Los Angeles - East Los Angeles border at the "Cinco Puntos" (Five Points) corner are a pair of memorial monuments dedicated to Mexican Americans who gave their lives serving this country. The memorial on the south side of the street was vandalized in the Fall of 2012 when thieves removed and stole some of the plaques, presumably for scrap metal value. But in May 2013, California Assembly Speaker John Perez replaced the missing plaques. These memorials are quite the poignant scenes each May and November during Memorial and Veterans days, respectively.

6. Evergreen Cemetery
1877
204 N. Evergreen Ave, Boyle Heights

Over 300,000 Angelenos are laid to rest in this 67-acre cemetery -- one of Los Angeles' oldest. The interred are a microcosm of the city itself: people of all  races are buried here, as are the rich and influential (including former Los Angeles mayors and people named Van Nuys, Lankershim and Hollenbeck) to the impoverished. The cemetery also includes recently-reinterred remains of 19th-century Chinese immigrants that were discovered while construction crews dug the Metro Gold Line tunnels nearby. Due to the current drought and lack of upkeep, the cemetery hasn't lived up to its name lately, but taking a stroll through the grounds here can offer a unique history lesson.

7. East Side Avenue
Between Evergreen Ave. and Fresno St., Boyle Heights

This street doesn’t run to Echo Park, Silver Lake or Los Feliz. Just sayin’.

8. Manuel’s El Tepeyac Cafe
1955
812 N. Evergreen Ave, Boyle Heights

This institution founded by the late, great Manuel Rojas and certified shrine to the burrito absolutely needs no introduction, other than to remind you that it's but a short 3-minute ride from the CicLAvia route. Hollenbeck, anyone?


9. Candelas Guitars
1948
2724 Cesar E. Chavez Ave, Boyle Heights

Run by three generations of the Delgado Family, this handmade guitar shop has made instruments for musicians such as Andres Segovia, Jose Feliciano, Los Lobos, Charo and Ozomatli. This was the little Eastside handmade guitar shop featured on a 1995 episode of Visiting…with Huell Howser. So if you play classical, flamenco or mariachi guitar, you already know this place is amazing.

10.  Little Tokyo East
1920s
1st Street, centered near Mott Street, Boyle Heights

The historically multicultural Boyle Heights was also home to a large Japanese American community prior to World War II, during which they were taken away to live in faraway internment camps for the duration of the war. After the war,  with their old neighborhoods changed, most of them moved elsewhere. But some returned to Boyle Heights and today by riding just a couple blocks south on Mott Street, you can still see remaining traces of the community, along East 1st Street between Soto and Evergreen, including Rissho Korei-kai Buddhist Church, Tenrikyo Church, Konko Church of Los Angeles, Tenri Judo Dojo, Nanka Printing, Haru Florist, Tenno Sushi and Otomisan Restaurant.

11. Original Site of Canter’s Deli
1931-1973
2323 Cesar E. Chavez Ave (Brooklyn Ave), Boyle Heights 

You may or may not be familiar with the local institution on Fairfax Avenue, which boasts “Since 1931.” That’s not entirely true. In 1931 brothers Ben, Max and Harry Canter opened their first delicatessen here on what was then Brooklyn Avenue near Soto Street. Following the post-war migration of Los Angeles’ Jewish community to the Westside, Ben Canter opened a new location on Fairfax Avenue, and in 1953 it moved down the street to the present location. The original Boyle Heights Canter’s closed in 1973.

12. Breed Street Shul
1923
247 N. Breed St., Boyle Heights

This Orthodox Jewish synagogue, formally known as Congregation Talmud Torah and originally established in 1915, was the heart of what was once the largest Jewish neighborhood in the Western U.S. The current structure was built in 1923 to accommodate a growing congregation, In 1948, the Israeli flag was raised in Los Angeles for the first time here. Having been vacant and fallen to vandalism and disrepair since the 1980s, it is slowly undergoing a restoration process. It remains one of the most well-known landmarks of Boyle Heights' Jewish community, which left the neighborhood after the late 1940s.

13. Original Site of Mount Sinai Clinic
1941-1955
207 N. Breed St, Boyle Heights

This building on the corner of Breed Street and Michigan Avenue was originally the Mount Sinai Breed Street Outpatient Clinic, meant to serve the neighborhood’s large Jewish population.  In 1955 the clinic moved to a location near Beverly Hills, and in 1961 it merged with Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in East Hollywood to become Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Today, the building is the offices for L.A. Family Housing.

14. Hollenbeck Youth Center
1976
2015 E. First St., Boyle Heights

Established as a partnership between local businesses and the LAPD to provide activities and opportunities for local youth as a response to local riots and student protests in the early ‘70s, this youth center has benefitted many kids from The Barrio, notably a local boy named Oscar de la Hoya, who first trained at the center’s boxing gym as a youth before winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 1992. 

15. Eastside Luv
2006 (Built 1940)
1835 E. 1st St, Boyle Heights

One of The Militant's favorite hangouts in the Eastside, this bar, started by a bunch of friends who grew up in nearby City Terrace, took over the former Metropolitan bar eight years ago and updated it to a more contemporary Eastside-style flavor. Don't call it gentrification, call it gentrification. Earlier this year, the bar was purchased by (New York native and Puertoriqueño...hmm) actor Esai Morales, though it's still currently run by the original owners.

16. Mariachi Plaza
1889
1st St and Boyle Ave, Boyle Heights

This is the new town square for Boyle Heights, anchored by the historic 1889 Boyle Hotel on the historic Cummings Block, where Mariachi musicians have been hanging out to get picked up for since the 1930s. The Kiosko, or bandstand, that sits in the plaza is actually not that historic. It was given as a gift from the Mexican state of Jalisco, who literally shipped it over in 1998 where it was assembled in place. But it only gets used once a year for the Santa Cecilia Festival around every November 21.
The plaza is also home of the Metro Gold Line station of the same name, which opened in 2009. The unique lending library Libros Schmibros relocated here in 2011. This place could warrant a Militant blog post in itself -- no, an entire week of posts! Don't miss the Farmers Market events there every Friday and Sunday!

17. Simon Gless Farmhouse
1887
131 S. Boyle Ave., Boyle Heights

Back in the totally radical '80s...That's the 1880s, Boyle Heights was an open, rural area and French Basque immigrant Simon Francois Gless built a Queen Anne style house on his sheepherding farm at this location. Today, the house is a City Historic Cultural Monument and is a home that's rented out to -- Mariachi musicians! Just a few blocks west of here is Gless Street, and you might have heard of Simon's great-granddaughter -- actress Sharon Gless, who starred in the series Cagney and Lacey, which aired a century after her arrière-grand-père first settled in Boyle Heights.

18. Neighborhood Music School
1947 (Built 1890s)
358 S. Boyle Ave, Boyle Heights

The Neighborhood Music School is exactly what it is. But it's also a Boyle Heights institution. Originally founded 100 years ago when it was located on Mozart Street (orchestral rimshot), the school moved to this Victorian home in 1947 where it still offers music lessons to local youth and the public can drop by on weekends to attend free recital concerts.

19. Keiro Retirement Home/Jewish Home For The Aging
1974/1916
325 S. Boyle Ave, Boyle Heights

With Boyle Heights being a historically Jewish and Japanese community, how's this for an ultimate Boyle Heights institution? This property was originally built in 1916 as the Jewish Home for the Aging (now operating in Reseda), and in 1974, the Keiro Senior Health Care organization, basically their Japanese American counterpart. With the Hollenbeck Palms retirement home just down the street (and site of the John Edward Hollenbeck Estate, remember?) Boyle is a popular corridor for Senior Livin.'

20. Metro Division 20 Subway Car Yard & Site of Old Santa Fe LaGrande Station
1992 / 1893
320 S. Santa Fe Ave (visible from the 4th Street Viaduct), Arts District

Take a break from riding/walking/skateboarding/pogo-sticking/etc. and take a glance off the north side of the bridge from the west bank of the River. This facility is where the 104 Italian-built subway cars of the Metro Red and Purple line cars are stored, repaired, serviced and cleaned. This was also the temporary storage and repair site of the Angels Flight railway cars after the fateful 2001 accident. The Militant actually visited this facility back in May 1992.

The subway cars are also serviced on the site of the old Santa Fe Railway La Grande Station (hence the name of the street) that was on Santa Fe and 2nd. Built in 1893, it was precisely where midwestern transplants arrived in Los Angeles after paying their $1 train ticket from Chicago. In 1933, the landmark dome was damaged by the Long Beach Earthquake and subsequently removed. In 1939, it was rendered obsolete by the opening of the new Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal a few blocks north.

21. Site of Southern Pacific Arcade Station
1888-1914
4th and Alameda streets, Downtown Los Angeles

Before there was a Union Station, there were various rail passenger terminals in Los Angeles, many of them just a short distance from the Los Angeles River. On what currently stands as a large shopping mall, this was the original site of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s Arcade Station which served passengers up until 100 years ago. A popular landmark of this station was a young palm tree, which was moved a century ago to Exposition Park where it stands today, much taller, in front of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Unfortunately for indie rock fans, the Arcade Station was not devastated by a Fire, but was dismantled and replaced by a new station, the Central Station, located one block south.

22. Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Space Shuttle Memorial
1990
Astronaut Ellison S Onizuka and San Pedro streets, Little Tokyo

Nestled in Little Tokyo’s Weller Court shopping center, just behind Shinkichi Tajiri’s Friendship Knot sculpture, is a seemingly random model of a launch-position space shuttle and its booster rockets. But upon closer inspection it’s a memorial to Ellison S. Onizuka, the  Hawaii-born NASA astronaut who in 1985 became the first Japanese American in space. Later that year, he was the Grand Marshal of Little Tokyo’s Nisei Week Parade. But on January 28, 1986, Onizuka and six other astronauts were on that fateful final mission of the space shuttle Challenger, which exploded following its launch. The local Japanese American community created a memorial organization in Onizuka’s name that awards science scholarships to Japanese American youth, and in 1990, this 1/10th-size scale model of the shuttle, built by Isao Hirai of Hawthorne, was dedicated as a memorial monument to the astronaut. 

23. Federal Courthouse Site
2016
145 S. Broadway, Downtown

That big-ass hole in the ground by 1st and Broadway has been here for, like, forever. But it was once the site of the Junipero Serra State Office Building, which was damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and abandoned and demolished in 1998. Right now,  it’s the construction site for a 10-story, 400-foot-tall U.S. Federal Courthouse building (don't we already have a few of those?), designed by Skidmore Owings and Merrill, which will open in 2016.

NAVIGATIONAL NOTE: 
• If heading north to Chinatown, skip to #34.
If heading south to the Theatre District, skip to #28.



24. Vista Hermosa Natural Park
2008
100 N. Toluca Street, Echo Park

The Militant loves to poke fun at the failures of the Los Angeles Unified School District, but once in a while, those failures turn out to be wonderful things. Take for instance the Belmont Learning Center, at one time the LAUSD’s costliest boondoggle, which was stalled and scaled back due to environmental concerns (there used to be oil wells around here). The school district gave up a portion of its land to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, who in turn built a really beautiful oasis of California native plants and a killer view of the DTLA skyline. The Militant covered its opening back in 2008. It’s more than worth visiting during CicLAvia, or at any other time.

1953
1345 W. 1st St, Echo Park

Los Angeles native Bob Baker, who has been working puppets since the age of eight, and has built an impressive resume doing puppetry for various television and movie projects, founded this theater with Alton Wood in 1961, purchasing this single-story building, formerly a scenery workshop for the Academy Awards. Since then, he has been running America's longest-operating puppet theater company, even to this day at the age of 90. Going to this theater is one of those things every Angeleno must do before they die (or move away -- same thing). In 2009, the building became a legit Historic-Cultural Monument of the City of Los Angeles.

26. Pacific Electric Tunnel
1925
Toluca Street south of 2nd Street, Downtown

For 30 years, Los Angeles' first subway tunnel allowed the Pacific Electric's Red Cars to bypass the traffic of Downtown's surface streets and sped up the travel times to places like Burbank, Santa Monica or the San Fernando Valley before it was abandoned in 1955. Soon after, the area surrounding the tunnel portal and adjacent electric power substation became blighted and a haven for the homeless and graffiti artists, while the tunnel itself became part garbage dump, part urban spelunking adventure (The Militant has been in the tunnel before). In 2007, a large apartment building designed for upscale, gentrifying types was built on the site of the Red Car yard, thus blocking the tunnel and dashing any hopes of it being revived as part of our modern rail system (it's been holding up well structurally for nearly 60 years without any maintenance whatsoever). But if you look at the back of the property, you can see the boarded-up tunnel with an artistic homage to its former purpose (and do browse the apartment building's lobby for some PE photos and diagrams).

27. Echo Park Recreation Center
1948
Glendale Boulevard at Temple Street

You might pass this tennis court and nearby swimming pool every day and wonder, "Who the hell would put a tennis court/swimming pool right next to a freeway?" Well, no one put them next to a freeway, but they put the freeway next to them. Before 1948, Echo Park wasn't just a pretty little lake with lotus flowers and paddle boats, but it was a park park, with recreation facilities and everything. It stretched as south as Temple Street. But it stood in the path of the almighty Cahuenga Parkway (now the Hollywood Freeway, or "The 101"), which cut the park in two. Hmm. That sounds familiar...

Remember Belvedere Community Regional Park on the opposite end of the CicLAvia route? [MIND BLOWN]

• South Spur to Broadway Theatre District:

28. Bradbury Building
1893
304 S. Broadway, Downtown

A building that's famously meh on the outside, but OMG from the inside, this building has been featured in movies from Chinatown to Blade Runner to 500 Days of Summer. Designed by Sumner Hunt and modified by George Wyman, this 5-story structure was designed to look like the 21st century from 19th century eyes. Despite the ahead-of-its-time design, this building has nothing to do with sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, but was named after developer and 1800s rich dude Lewis Bradbury.

29. Biddy Mason Park
1991
331 S. Spring St (entrance on Broadway), Downtown

Born as a slave in Georgia, Bridget "Biddy" Mason was a renaissance woman of her time. Having followed Mormon settlers west, she gained her freedom when California became a slavery-free Union state. As a nurse, she founded the first child care center in Los Angeles and later became a lucrative property owner and philanthropist, having founded the First AME Church, now a major institution in Los Angeles' African American community. She died in 1891 and was buried at ...Evergreen Cemetery (which you might have also seen earlier...see how things all tie together?). A century after her passing, this mini-park in DTLA, on the site of her house, was built and dedicated.

30. Broadway-Spring Arcade Building
1924
541 S. Spring St (entrance on Broadway), Downtown

This unique building is actually three, opened in 1924 on the site of Mercantile Place, a 40-foot street cut between 4th and 5th streets connecting Broadway and Spring. Mercantile Place was a popular shopping and gathering locale in the early 1900s. Having fallen into decay by the 1970s, it was recently renovated and is now famous for, of all things, vendors selling rock band t-shirts. It also becomes an artistic venue during the DTLA ArtWalk.

31. The Tower Theater
1927
802 S. Broadway, Downtown

This Baroque Revival building designed by S. Charles Lee was Los Angeles' very first movie theatre to show talking films, and the first to be air conditioned. It also starred in movies itself, having been location shoots for The Last Action Hero, Fight Club (one does not talk about Fight Club) and Transformers: The Movie. Like them form-shifting robots, This building is "More Than Meets The Eye," as the real beauty of the theatre is not seen from Broadway, but from 8th Street, which features terra cotta sculptures on its north side. And it's got a clock tower, too!

32. The Orpheum Theatre
1926
842 S. Broadway, Downtown

Before there was Hollywood Boulevard, people went Downtown to watch movies, specifically Broadway, and as you can see, though not all of them are still functioning theaters, the marquees still bear their aesthetic legacies as movie houses. Initially designed by G. Albert Lansburgh as a live Vaudeville venue (complete with still-intact Wurlitzer pipe organ) which hosted performances from 1927 to 1950, it also functioned as a popular movie theatre. It was renovated in 1989, the first of the old theaters to be restored, and still functions today, this time as a concert venue. The Beaux Arts marquee is perhaps the biggest and brightest currently in all of Broadway.

33. Eastern Columbia Building
1930
849 S. Broadway, Downtown

One of Los Angeles' shining examples of Art Deco architecture, this 13-story turquoise
structure was built to house the headquarters of the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company, both clothing and furniture retailers. The neon "EASTERN" and iconic clock tower are one of the most recognizable elements of this Claude Beelman-designed building, but from the street level, do check out the terra cotta motifs on the lower levels. This building went condo in 2006.

• North Spur to Chinatown:

34. Site of 1910 Los Angeles Times Bombing
1910
Northeast corner of Broadway and 1st Street, Downtown

This longtime empty lot, previously identified in this CicLAvia tour as the foundation of a state office building condemned after the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake has some additional history. It was recently dissevered to be the location of the 1910 bombing of the (then) Los Angeles Times building, which happened 104 years ago this week. The dynamite bombing was discovered to have been the work of Ortie McManigal and brothers John and James McNamara, all affiliated with the Iron Workers Union,  in what was meant to protest the newspaper's staunchly anti-union practices. 21 people died when the 16 sticks of dynamite exploded just outside the building at 1:07 a.m. on October 1, 1910, the explosion was exacerbated by natural gas lines which blew up a large section of the building. The Times since built a new building in its place, and later relocated across 1st Street to its current location. Today, the lot is being readied for an expansion of Grand Park.

35. Hall Of Justice
1926
Temple Street and Broadway, Downtown

No, you won't find Superman or any of the Super Friends here.  But this building, the oldest surviving government building in the Los Angeles Civic Center, was built in the mid-1920s as the original Los Angeles County Courthouse and Central Jail (which once housed the likes of Busy Siegel, Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson), as well as the headquarters for the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney and the County Coroner. This Beaux Arts-style building was designed by Allied Architects Association, an all-star team of local architects put together to design publicly-funded buildings. The building is currently undergoing a major renovation project to modernize the facilities and repair damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. It is slated to re-open as a LEED Gold Certified building (gotta be sustainable, y'all) in 2015, and the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices will return.

36. Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial
1957
451 N. Hill St, Downtown

Way, way, waaaaay back before we had tall building and freeways, Downtown Los Angeles (well Los Angeles, period back then) had a bunch of hills, Bunker Hill being the most famed one. There was also Fort Hill, the site of a Mexican-American War encampment. On July 4, 1847 the facility was called Fort Moore (and the hill Fort Moore Hill), after Captain Benjamin D. Moore of the U.S. 1st Dragoons regiment, who was killed six months earlier in a battle near San Diego. The 1st Dragoons and the Mormon Batallion established the new fort and raised the U.S. flag during the first-ever observed Independence Day in Los Angeles. This event was immortalized in a bas-relief stone monument made in the 1950s. Speaking of forts, the very street you're riding (or walking, or skating, or scootering, or stand-up-paddling, or pogo-sticking) was once called "Fort Street," which inevitably led to directional problems some six blocks south of here. The monument also includes a fountain, which was shut off in 1977...due to the drought at the time.

So where's the actual hill, you ask? It was bulldozed away in the late 1940s to make room for the 101 Freeway (is this a recurring theme for this CicLAvia or what?!)

37. Chinatown Gateway Monument
2001
Broadway and Cesar E. Chavez. Avenue, Chinatown

Designed to be the symbolic entrance to Los Angeles' Chinatown District, The Chinatown Gateway Monument, a.k.a. the Twin Dragon Towers Gateway, depicts two dragons grabbing at a central pearl, which symbolizes luck, prosperity, and longevity. The 25-foot-tall structure was put up in 2001 and occasionally emanates steam coming from the dragons' mouths. Unlike Anglo dragons, the creatures in Chinese folklore are the good guys, meant to scare away evil spirits.

38.  Buu Dien
c. 1990s
642 N. Broadway (Facing New High St, south of Ord), Chinatown

If you're ever in some TV trivia contest on your way to being a millionaire and the host asks you, "What is the Militant Angeleno's favorite Vietnamese banh mi place west of the Los Angeles River?" you won't need to call a lifeline, because the answer is Buu Dien. When the Militant has only $4 in his pocket and wants to get a meal in Downtown, this is his go-to joint. A literal hole in the wall in every regard, this place serves bomb-ass (do people still use that phrase) Viet sammiches for less than $3 a pop. And the bread is awesome. And nice and warm. Plus they also serve up spring rolls, desserts, pastries, Vietnamese coffee and pho (never had it here yet, but The Militant's favorite pho WOTLAR is Pho 79 just up the street). People complain about parking in his micro-mini mall, but this is CicLAvia!

39. Capitol Milling Co.
1883
1231 N. Spring St, Chinatown

One of the last visible vestiges of Los Angeles' agricultural industry, this family-owned flour mill operated from 1831 to 1997, before moving its operation to a much larger facility in Colton. The facility that still stands today was built in 1883. The mill supplied flour to clients such as Ralphs, Foix French Bakery and La Brea Bakery. In 1999, the family-owned operation was purchased by industry giant Con-Agra Co.


The historic building, built even before the railroads arrived in Los Angeles, still has a horse-tethering ring, back to the days when grain was hauled by horse carriage from farms in the San Fernando Valley.


40. Old (New?) Chinatown Central Plaza
1937
Gin Ling Way between Broadway and Hill, Chintown

The new northern terminus of CicLAvia is no stranger to public events; it was made for them. In the Summer it hosted three very popular Chinatown Summer Nights events. But don't let the "Old Chinatown" neon sign fool you -- This is actually Los Angeles' new Chinatown, which dates back to the 1930s. The real Old Chinatown was several blocks south, where a thriving community of Cantonese-speaking immigrants

lived near the river, north of Aliso Street. Of course, they were kicked out in the early '30s to make room for Union Station. So they moved a few blocks north, in the former Little Italy, and they've been there ever since. Well, not really, since some of them moved east to the San Gabriel Valley and were supplemented with Mandarin-speaking immigrants from Taiwan and Mainland China. But you get the idea.

Happy CicLAvia, Los Angeles! Enjoy, GO DODGERS and STAY MILITANT!