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!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A 'Big F'In Day' In Los Angeles!


This may or may not be the actual Stanley Cup.
Mondays are usually full of suck, but not today! For it was only on the opposite end of this past weekend that our Los Angeles Kings beat the New York Rangers to win the 2014 Stanley Cup - not only their second franchise title, but their second in the past three years. Thus, it was time for another parade. Much like last time around, it went down Figueroa Street from 5th to Chick Hearn Court and culminated in a large indoor ceremony open to some extremely lucky Kings fans who had tickets to the event.

Click to watch the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship Parade in its entirety!

The parade itself was very brief, less than 5 minutes long, but it was a perfect day in the city -- happy people celebrating and congregating on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles, most of whom took transit here (Kings fans, since their team started playing at Staples Center in 1999, have always been great at taking transit to their games, unlike their Lakers counterparts, who still insist on filling parking lots and not representing nearly as much as the Silver & Black ones on the subway). After it was over, it was time for Kings fans and Downtown workers alike to have lunch in DTLA, it was a great day for the DTLA economy as well. Best of all, no one caused any trouble, both today and on Friday night.

It looks like the Lakers' younger brother has taken the crown (no pun intended) as Los Angeles' newest sports dynasty. With a young team and a coach who actually knows how to win titles (we're looking at you, any coach who's last name isn't Sutter), we can expect a few more of these in the near future.

Savor it, Kings fans, because it's a big f'in day.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cypress Park's Underground Art Scene

Welcome to the Cypress Village Tunnel!
Los Angeles' subway tunnels have become known for their public art -- but there's another kind of tunnel in town that's known for its artistic installations as well.

The City of Los Angeles has some 100 pedestrian tunnels, which were initially built in the 1920s near elementary schools, as a way for schoolchildren to safely cross the street and avoid the dangers of automobiles and streetcars (sort of like the 20th century version of Safe Routes To School). Since the 1960s, though, these tunnels have become magnets for crime, tagging, public urination, garbage dumping, drug deals, and any other thing parents wouldn't want their kids to get near, so many of them got locked up for good, only to become oversized trash pits and general urban blight. Some were filled in and removed altogether.

In the Northeast Los Angeles community of Cypress Park, local Yancey Quinones, owner of nearby Antigua Coffee House on the corner,  worked with then-councilman Ed Reyes and the City's Public Works department to convert one of these abandoned pedestrian underpasses, located on the corner of north Figueroa and Loreto streets, into a public art gallery, known as the Cypress Village Tunnel Art Walk. The tunnel is the focus of monthly Art Walk events, which take place on the 2nd Saturday of each month.

A block party on Saturday to celebrate the tunnel's 1st birthday as an art space.
This past Saturday, Loreto Street was closed down for a mini-street fair to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the opening of the tunnel. There was music, poetry, an arts and crafts fair, and an overall Eastside-centric good time.

The Militant also got to go into the tunnel for the first time, and was fascinated by not just the temporary art on exhibit by local artists, but by the permanent art painted on its walls (the western end even has an homage to the Los Angeles River culvert cats!). The cubbyholes where the light fixtures go into are also part of the exhibit, used to not only hold lighting, but other art pieces.

But the most impressive thing about the tunnel is (aside from the noticeable absence of urine or any other offending odors) the comforting quiet, despite the cars, trucks and buses speeding along Figueroa Street just a few feet above you. That, and being with others who are not just enjoying the art but the odd serenity of the tunnel space. Something certainly never felt in such a utilitarian structure before.

The tunnel has also inspired other pedestrian tunnels in the city to be converted into art spaces, such as one in El Sereno. Man, the Eastside has got it goin' on!

Volunteers continue to decorate the tunnel
If you want to experience the Cypress Village Tunnel yourself, check out the next art walk event on Saturday, June 14 (the second Saturday of the month), from 6 to 10 p.m. The tunnel floods during rainstorms, so art walk events are usually cancelled in the event of rain (We're in a drought right now, so we wouldn't have to worry about that for a while, heh...).

The Militant just loves these kinds of transformative projects, done by the community and for the community. Does your neighborhood have a tunnel that can serve this kind of purpose?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

75 Years Of Union Station


Today was the 75th birthday of Los Angeles Union Station, and Metro, the station's current owner, threw a massive celebration there in the form of an early National Train Day event.

Like previous NTD events, there were entertainment stages, the classic Fred Harvey Restaurant space was opened up, a model train layout was on display, and people got to climb inside real ones.  This time around, we were given a glimpse of the station's future, in the form of wayfinding signs, interactive touchscreen displays, a photographic exhibit, and overall cleaning up and renovation of the station's original fixtures.

Known as "The Last Of The Great Train Stations" built in the United States, Union Station was not only the culmination of points west, but the great national rail travel era, which would soon give way to the airplane in the decades to come. The station was originally built in 1939 as a shared facility for the three major western railroads that served it: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, the Southern Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad, as before then, each railroad had their own station in the vicinity (all surrounding the Los Angeles River, incidentally).

Today, the station is no longer shared by three private railroads, but by three public transportation agencies: Metro, Metrolink and Amtrak, and after the "dark ages" of the 1970s and 1980s, the station experienced a revival in the early '90s when Metrolink and the Metro Red Line began serving the station.

Here's some pics from Saturday's 75th anniversary celebration:

Chuggington, the cheap substitute for Thomas. But iz cool.
This swing band played in the Harvey House restaurant space and brought it, 1939 style!
People dressed up in '30s-'40s cosplay. And they looked sharp. 
Can we please bring this look back?
If hipsters wore this instead, they would be hated less.
A big oversized iPad installed in the terminal now gives information about Union Station. 
People waited in long lines to walk through the classic old-school passenger cars!
And here's an old-school MTA bus! Wonder if it accepts TAP cards...
THE MILITANT WANTS TO RIDE THIS TRAIN RIGHT NOW.
A Look Back At The 50th Anniversary

But this wasn't the first anniversary party for the classic Mission Revival/Streamline Moderne railroad terminal. Twenty-five years ago, the station, then owned by a company called Catellus, threw a golden anniversary bash on the weekend of May 6-7, 1989 to celebrate 50 years of service.

And The Militant was there!

Well, technically, it was the Mili-Teen, the younger version of The Militant, who hadn't quite earned his camo yet, but his interest, curiosity and pride for his hometown were nonetheless burgeoning even back then.

It was a similar event as today, but unlike today, the tracks weren't as active as are now. Back in the '80s, you'd have a handful of Amtrak trains roll in and out, and that was it for the day. On the positive side, and maybe because of the lack of activity on the platform tracks, it enabled the three railroads associated with Union Station's history to put some classic and modern trains on display.

The Santa Fe, the Southern Pacific and the Union Pacific all brought in some old-school steam streamliner diesel engines for public display, and some of them were set up where people can even walk inside! The steam locomotives were especially impressive, their whistles blew as loud as ships, probably echoing all over Downtown Los Angeles at the time.

One train display, though, changed The Mili-Teen's life. He had already known about the Metro Rail subway already being dug below the station, which has been under construction since 1986. But he knew its opening would be, like, eons away, sometime in the next decade.

But at the front of Union Station, he saw a 15-foot-long mockup of what looked like a rail vehicle. It was white with black trim, and blue stripes. It said "Los Angeles" on the front, but it looked nothing like the Metro Rail subway cars he'd seen in renderings.

He approached the information table and was pleasantly surprised to discover this was another rail line being built in town, that it would go to Long Beach, and best of all, it would open within next year!

It blew The Mili-Teen's mind.

The pamphlet called it "The Los Angeles-Long Beach Rail Transit Project." He saw the future. The world hadn't yet experienced the power of the phenomenon known as "Hammer Time," (though the MC wasn't totally unknown at the time). He knew people would be riding this thing before the subway opened. He then set himself on a quest to learn more about it...and the rest is history.

For The Mili-Teen, the 50th anniversary celebration of Union Station was a life-changing moment. He was able to experience both the past and the future on that day.

The Militant is proud to share some pictures from The Militant Archives:

This may or may not be a picture of the Mili-Teen!
There were some old school streamliner locomotives on display!
Even better - there were some old-school steam locomotives on display too!
Don't call it a "choo-choo," the whistles sounded like steamships!
A glimpse of the future: The Mili-Teen had his first encounter with the Metro Blue Line at this event!
Here's film footage of Union Station's 50th anniversary in 1989 filmed by K. Rutherford:



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Last Little Wherehouse In Torrance

The last Wherehouse,- ever, is closing down on April 25.
The Militant, in his younger days as Lil'Mil and The Mili-Teen, loved to go to the record store to buy records and tapes, and later CDs, from his favorite unspecified artists. Even as a Lil'Mil, he'd try to get his parents to stop by the local Wherehouse on the way back to the Family Compound while driving through town. This became more common as soon as Ma and Pa Militant would go there more frequently to rent movies on Beta and VHS videotape.

The Wherehouse started out in 1972 and was a small regional chain around the West, along with other stores like Music Plus, Musicland (later Sam Goody), Licorice Pizza, and the revered Tower Records. The Militant knows all of this historical stuff totally dates him, but hey, what can you do.

The last surviving Wherehouse store is on 17542 Hawthorne Blvd in Torrance, at the corner of Artesia Blvd, and it is closing its doors for good on Friday, April 25.

So that must mean...CLOSING SALE!

Stuff was cheap but horribly disorganized. But if you're down for the hunt, go for it!
Yes, there's a sale, everything must go. New CDs are 50% off, used are from 60-90% off, also half off of DVDs.

The Militant was there this past Saturday for Record Store Day, and what better way to bid adios to a local institution than to get a bunch of stuff for cheap.

Well, it wasn't as easy as that. The CD racks were generally disorganized, with genre, much less alphabetical order, adhered to. And it was kind of slim pickins. It was a little frustrating to see CDs The Militant already owned there in the racks. Worst of all, the store was blasting a Ke$ha album, which made staying inside the store an extremely arduous experience. Still, he made off with three unspecified CDs, the total cost of which cost less than a new one bought elsewhere. Score!

If you have the time, and not much money, head on down there to Torrance to help clean out the store. It's the best way to bid farewell not only to an old institution, but an era.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Dogers Has A Mascot Now?


There's lots of new things at Doger Stadium this season, but one of them just sort of randomly appeared during the recent series with the hated Giants. Apparently the Dogers may or may not have a mascot. The team describes it as a "Unique Performance Character (UPC)." Okaaaay then.

The Uunique Performance Character apparently resembles a happy little fellow with a big smile, has a heart lodged in his mouth, and styles his hair with Viagra. But it most likely depicts one of those giant bobble heads outside of Reserve Level. Like The Militant, no one really knows its name, but at least The Militant can go under the nom de guerre, "The Militant Angeleno."

Since the Dogers have not named this Unique Performance Character, The Militant will call him, "Bob L. Hedd."

Speaking of mascots, y'allz remember this guy from the 2013 postseason (feels so long ago...) that the stadium security staff just couldn't, um, bear?


But who needs a UPC or a Bob L. Hedd when we have The Militant's unofficial official Doger mascot, Doger Doge?