Tuesday, September 4, 2018



The Militant Angeleno has attended all 26 CicLAvias since the event began in October, 2010. And since April, 2011, The Militant has published his Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour guides, detailing historic and unique points of interest in the various communities along each CicLAvia route.

This time will be different*. The Militant, together with Ted Rogers from the bicycling advocacy blog Biking in LA are collaborating to bring you The Militant's Epic CicLAvia Tour - LIVE! A guided 8-mile bicycle tour (skateboards, scooters and rollerblades welcome too, though if you're on foot, you'd better know how to run fast!) through Grand Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, Western Avenue, Melrose Avenue and Vine Street from Downtown Los Angeles to Hollywood.

This will be an historic event as The Militant Angeleno will make his first formal public appearance! (Whoa, WUUUUUUUT?!?! NO WAY!) Way! He will be co-guiding the tour along with Ted Rogers.  

We will be meeting at 12 noon near the Grand Hub (near Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown.

To register for the tour and get full tour information and details on exact meeting location, RSVP at militantangeleno [at] gmail [dot] com by Friday, September 28.

The Militant and Ted look forward to meeting you on September 30!

*The Militant will still be publishing his Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XXVII guide in advance of this CicLAvia, but it will be a simplified version of the complete tour, which you'll get by joining us on September 30!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

It's Coming...

You're gonna have to wait until Tuesday for this. But The Militant promises it's going to be pretty big (Such a tease, he knows...).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

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

Interactive map! Click and drag to navigate. Larger map here!

Love reruns? This Sunday's 26th CicLAvia would fill the bill, as it's a reprise of the March 6, 2016 route, which The Militant covered here. That one went through the communities of Panorama City, Arleta and Pacoima (which, if you're a longtime reader of This Here Blog, is Tongva for "Place of Running Water").

Like the last CicLAvia located in BFE-afjacent eastern San Gabriel Valley, this route is also not accessible by any of the Metro Rail lines (tsk tsk tsk...shame...), but at least Earth Day's Heart of The Foothills route was well-accessible by Metrolink. For this route, there are two Metrolink stations several miles away, but none are directly along or adjacent to this CicLAvia route. So, if you drive here, The Militant won't trip (because that's what he did, too...). However, Metro wants to eventually make the entire CicLAvia route part of a 9.2-mile light rail line serving Eastern SFV.

This 3,8-mile route is rather short and is limited to one street -- Van Nuys Boulevard between Roscoe Boulevard and San Fernando Road. So while there are only six points of interest on this CicLAvia route proper, The Militant has included 15 more within a quick bike detour away from the boulevard.

Anyways, for the sake of continuity, The Militant presents a slightly-updated redux of his previous Epic CicLAvia Tour of this route!


1. The Plant/Site of GM Van Nuys Assembly
7876 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys

No, despite the name, this is not a nursery or pot dispensary. This ginormous, sprawling car-oriented shopping center on the east side of Van Nuys Boulevard where one can catch a movie, buy some hardware or satisfy their "IN-N-OUT URGE" originally began its life as a large General Motors automotive plant (hence the name), pumping out Chevrolet trucks, other Chevy auto models, Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs for nearly half a century, built mostly by residents who lived nearby, before closing down in 1992 to satisfy AQMD requirements. The plant was torn down six years later and Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude resurrected the site into the ginormous shopping center in 2003. GM still operates a testing facility east of the stores.

2. Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center
13651 Willard St, Panorama City

Another major employer that made Panorama City is Kaiser Permanente's Panorama City Medical Center. Though it opened in 1962, it was envisioned as far back as 1948 when industrialist Henry Kaiser developed his residential neighborhood (more on this later), and a large plot of land by Roscoe and Woodman was set aside for the construction of a hospital.

3. Wat Thai Los Angeles Temple
8225 Coldwater Canyon Ave, North Hollywood

This Teravada Buddhist temple is the spiritual and cultural center of Los Angeles' Thai American community. It is also home to a massive outdoor Thai food bazaar that was popular in the last decade (The Militant posted about it in the early days of This Here Blog, you know, when he used to blog several times a week) before being so successful. it was shut down (by neighbors who complained about parking issues). Now that those issues have been ironed out (and that you don't have to park a car anyway), ride on down here, because the weekend food bazaar made a comeback in 2016, and you can now enjoy it as part of your CicLAvia experience this Sunday!

4. Site of Van Nuys Drive-In/Vista Middle School
15040 Roscoe Blvd, Van Nuys

In the post-war area, not only did the Panorama City community flourish with homes, shopping and industry, but what more appropriate way to take your shiny new Chevy made down the street to watch a drive-in movie? In the SFV, the Drive-In was king, but every king's reign comes to an end. The Van Nuys Drive-In was the last drive-in theater in The Valley, eventually sporting three screens (in 1983) with a capacity for nearly 900 cars. The drive-in closed for good in 1992 and was demolished in 1998. The property was purchased by the LAUSD, which built Vista Middle School on the site in the early 2000s.

5. Panorama Mall
8401 Van Nuys Blvd, Panorama City

When it comes to shopping centers in the San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood's Valley Plaza might have been the pioneer, the Topanga Plaza might be the first enclosed mall (1964) and the Sherman Oaks Galleria might get credit for being ground zero of 1980s "Valley Girl" culture, but Panorama Mall deserves its own induction in the 818 Mall of Fame. It was part of Kaiser and Burns' plan for Pano to surround their hood with commerce and industry, as a place, unlike the regional shopping center behemoths of the time, where residents can simply walk to not have to drive very far to. Upon its opening as "Panorama City Shopping Center," it sported The Valley's flagship Broadway department store. It also housed Orbach's, Robinson's, and Montgomery Ward. In the mid-1960s, the shopping center focused on the indoor mall format. Having endured the decades, Panorama Mall was given a long-overdue internal remodeling a few years ago and now sports over 50 stores.

6. Chase on Chase
2009 (Built 1965)
8450 Van Nuys Blvd (corner Chase St - get it?), Panorama City

You would think that this location would be the product of some clever marketing. But corporations don't think that way. Rather, it was a matter of happenstance. Originally established as a Home Savings of America in 1965, it went under the guise of Washington Mutual in 1998 until WaMu was eaten up by J. P. Morgan Chase Bank a decade later. As fate would have it, this Chase Bank is on the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and none other than Chase Street. You can't make this stuff up, folks. Now all that's missing is Chase Utley leading a high-speed chase that ended up here, The Militant would asplode.

7. Plaza del Valle
8610 Van Nuys Blvd, Panorama City

Plaza del Valle (Plaza of the Valley), originally built in the 1970s as a strip mall is an outdoor shopping court, nestled behind the nondescript storefronts on the east side of Van Nuys Blvd between Chase and Parthenia streets (and the perfect counterpoint to the mostly-indoor Panorama Mall down the block), was heavily influenced by Downtown's Olvera Street. The old strip mall was re-imagined and re-built in 2000 by its non-Latino developers to serve Pano's growing Latino community. The complex features retail shops and stalls, eateries, fountains and an entertainment stage.

8. Pacific Electric San Fernando Valley Right of Way
Van Nuys Blvd at Parthenia St, Panorama City

Now that The Militant made his epic Pacific Electric Archaeology Map and detailed where every passenger Red Car line went in Southern California, you all should know by now that Van Nuys Boulevard used to be a PE right of way (and if you didn't, then THE MILITANT IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU!) So you wouldn't be surprised at all that the westward sweeping curve on Parthenia Street is where the line, which reached this part of The Valley in 1913, diverges from Van Nuys Blvd and continues westward, then northward again to San Fernando.  Due to the rising costs of maintaining and operating the line (and not because of some silly Roger Rabbit Judge Doom conspiracy), it was partially shut down in 1938 (years before the supposed conspiracy happened, BTW...but no matter how many facts get shown in your face, you still continue to believe it, right? RIGHT?) up to Sherman Way, and the entire SFV line was closed in 1952 (y'allz should have that memorized by now...).

9. Kaiser Homes
Area bordered by Van Nuys Blvd, Osborne St, Woodman Ave & Roscoe Blvd, Panorama City

Whatup, homes? There's a bunch of them here east of Van Nuys Blvd here in Pano. When World War II was winding down in 1945, real estate developer Fritz B. Burns and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser purchased 400 acres of former dairy farms and alfalfa fiels for $1 million to build their own planned residential community consisting of affordable, pre-fab, single-story homes on winding streets to break up the SFV grid monotony. They built it, and they came.A General Motors factory set up shop down the street, space was reserved for a future hospital, and nearby breweries and aerospace companies also generated employment centers. A large shopping center was built, and Mr. Burns (no, not that one) brought his own personal reindeer to the Panorama Mall to delight shoppers each holiday season (and also found it an opportunity to market some houses to them). Of course, back then in the era of discriminatory housing covenants, you had to be white (and purely white, to be exact) to own these homes, a practice that was in place until the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968. Today, the majority of residents who live in the former Kaiser Homes development are non-white and primarily of immigrant background -- predominantly Latino, as well as Filipino and Thai, providing the proverbial middle finger of justice extended to the legacy Burns and Kaiser.

10. Marty McFly House
1985 (Built c. 1950s)
9303 Roslyndale Avenue, Arleta

Just a couple years after Marty McFly traveled into the future, it couldn't be more appropo to take a short detour from the CicLAvia route southeast down Canterbury Ave, left on Kagel Canyon and right on Roslyndale to see the very house which portrayed the McFly family residence in the "Back to the Future" movie saga.  NOTE: This is a private residence, please do not bother the current occupants, and please refrain from shouting, "HELLO, MC FLY?!" outside.

11. Back to the Future "Lyon Estates" Location
Sandusky Ave at Kagel Canyon Street, Arleta

And if you haven't felt enough of The Power of Love yet, head back onto Kagel Canyon, turn right and stop at the intersection of Sandusky Avenue to see the very street where Marty McFly skateboarded down in the first "Back to the Future" film. It don't take money, don't take fame, don't need no credit card to ride this train (well, unless you're talking about a TAP card...).

12. Pacoima Mural Mile

Van Nuys Blvd between Arleta Ave and Bradley St

Spurred by a local need to increase community pride and aesthetics, several local artists painted murals along the Van Nuys Blvd corridor in Pacoima and thus was born Pacoima Mural Mile. Famous native Ritchie Valens (more on him later) is a popular subject on these walls, as well as cultural icons from Frida Kahlo to La Virgen de Guadalupe to Danny Trejo. Think of this as an Epic CicLAvia tour within an Epic CicLAvia Tour! View the Pacoima Mural Mile map here: http://www.muralmile.org/#!/zoom/csgz/coq6

13. Ritchie Valens House
13428 Remington St, Pacoima

This was the house that '50s rock star and Pacoima native Ritchie Valens purchased for his mother, Concepcion Reyes, in 1958 from the proceeds of his newfound "La Bamba" fame, and was also his final residence until The Day The Music Died on February 3, 1959. NOTE: This is a private residence, please do not bother the current occupants, and please refrain from shouting, "RITCHIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" outside. 

14. Ritchie Valens Park
10731 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Pacoima

The former Paxton Park, re-dedicated in 1994 to Pacoima's most famous native in order to spur community pride, Ritchie Valens Park isn't just a patch of grass with a famous person's name on the sign, it features a skate park, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, a swimming pool and a children's playground with historical and interpretive displays highlighting the life of the local Mexican American rocker, whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 17 on a Wisconsin plane crash. Weeeeeeeeeeeeell come on, let's go, let's go, go, everybody...to this nice little detour not too far away from the main CicLAvia route.  

15. Metroink Antelope Valley Line/CA High Speed Rail Corridor
Van Nuys Blvd at San Fernando Rd, Pacoima

This is the very first time a CicLAvia route will cross an active mainline railroad track, so please do not ignore the warning lights, bells and gates! These tracks were originally built in 1876 by the Southern Pacific Railroad to connect Los Angeles to Saugus, where continuing lines on to Ventura and the Antelope Valley were built. In the early 1990s, it was taken over by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, otherwise known as Metrolink, for a commuter rail line from Union Station to Santa Clarita, which opened in October 1992. But on January 17, 1994, the earth shook violently and the 5/14 freeway interchange collapsed. To facilitate commuters coming in from the Antelope Valley during the post-Northridge Earthquake period, the line was extended to Lancaster (which wasn't planned to be built until 2004 at the earliest under normal circumstances) thanks to FEMA funds and was opened IN ONE WEEK. In the near (or distant) future, running parallel to the existing railroad tracks will be the proposed California High Speed Rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles (...which may or may not get built).

16. Tresierras Supermarket
13156 Van Nuys Blvd, Pacoima

Established in San Fernando in 1944 to serve the growing Mexican American community in the area by Francisco and Pilar Tresierras while two of their sons served in World War II, and operating from this very location for 60 straight years, Tresierras Supermarket is a full-service
Latino supermarket featuring produce, dry goods, a carniceria and an in-house tortilleria. It's one of the long-time anchors of Pacoima's Latino community, serving local residents for generations. And we're quite sure that Ritchie Valens himself shopped here back in the day.

17. San Fernando Gardens
10995 Lehigh Ave, Pacoima

This public housing project next to the northern terminus of the CicLAvia route features 448 apartments built in the World War II era by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. It was built to house workers from the Lockheed aircraft factory in Burbank (though it's pretty far from Burbank -- no freeway and no PE line back n the day) and was unique in that it was racially integrated, and comprised the largest African American community in the San Fernando Valley at the time.

18. Ritchie Valens' Childhood Home
c. 1940s
13058 Filmore St, Pacoima

Though Ritchie Valens' birthplace is unknown, this was the very house where he spent most of his childhood in (after living briefly with an uncle in Santa Monica as a kid). At the age of 9, he taught himself how to play guitar at this very house and took it to Pacoima Jr. High School where he performed for his classmates and joined a local band, The Silhouettes as their singer, until he was discovered by record label owner Bob Keane, and the rest was history.

19. Discovery Cube Los Angeles
2014 (Built 2007)
11800 Foothill Blvd, Lake View Terrace

The de-facto successor to the nbow-defunct Childrens Museum of Los Angeles, which operated out of the Civic Center for most of its 20-year existence, this building was originally built in 2007 to house an expanded version of the museum. but after the nonprofit went bankrupt in 2009, this building sat as a white elephant on the corner of Foothill and Osborne for seven years, until the City entered a partnership with Santa Ana's Discovery Science Center and operated the intended Children's Museum site as "Discovery Cube Los Angeles" in 2014. But despite the museum's corner location, it's a horribly pedestrian-unfriendly experience just getting to the dang place, where one has to enter through the Hansen Dam Recreation Area's main entrance on Osborne Street, and drive some distance before entering the Discovery Cube parking lot. Whatup with that?

20. Site of Rodney King Beating

Foothill Blvd, east of Osborne St, Lake View Terrace

Just behind the Discovery Cube building on Foothill) was where African American motorist Rodney King was beaten in March 1991 by four mostly-white LAPD officers after a brief freeway chase (they didn't televise those things back then). But they did televise the grainy VHS handicam video (no smartphones back then, kids) that was shot by local resident George Holliday, who lived in the apartments on the north side of Foothill. The beating, after airing on KTLA a few days later, sparked outrage in the city's African American community and called to attention the issue and history of police brutality. The acquittal of the four cops over a year later triggered the largest riots in Los Angeles' history.  
21. Hansen Dam
11770 Foothill Blvd, Lake View Terrace

Built in response to the Great Los Angeles Flood of 1938 that caused catastrophic flooding near the Los Angeles River in The Valley, the City tapped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a 2 mile-long, 97 foot-high flood control dam on the site of Homer and Marie Hansen's horse ranch (apparently you get naming rights in exchange for eminent domain). It's designed to contain and control runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains, entering the dam area from Bug Tujunga Canyon, where water ultimately enters the Los Angeles River via the Tujunga Wash (and millions of gallons of water just get wasted in the ocean...). But the area, which also sports a large park and recreation area, can also be a part of Los Angeles' water future as the area sits on a large aquifer. The LADWP has long-term plans to clean up the SFV aquifer in the future to allow more harvesting of local groundwater (which currently comprises 10-15 percent of our city's water source), and open the possibility of stored or recycled water.

Oh yeah, if you made it this far, DO NOT PASS UP THE OPPORTUNITY to ride your bike on the dam itself (there's a dedicated bike path)!

Happy CicLAvia and STAY MILITANT!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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

To see larger map view, click here.

Here we go, folks, CicLAvia season has officially begun! There are uh...[an unspecified number of] CicLAvia open streets events in this here year of 2018. The first one of the year takes us allllllll the way to the farthest eastern reaches of Los Angeles County, like almost even San Bernardino County here, for the "Heart of the Foothills" route.

Okay, The Militant is going to step on his soapbox here for a second: WHY IS THERE A CICLAVIA ALL THE WAY OUT IN FAR, FAR, FAR, FAR EASTERN SGV?!?! CicLAvia is supposed to take place within the City of Los Angeles or in neighboring cities (Pasadena - you cool). It's also sponsored by Metro, who's ponying up a lot of dough to put on an even that's NOT EVEN IN ITS SERVICE AREA. Also, the SGV has their own regionally-branded event, 626 Golden Streets. SO WHY IS THIS A CICLAVIA?!?! Especially when the City of San Fernando, which is 1) A neighboring city to the City of Los Angeles; 2) Well within Metro's service area (shout-outs to Metro Local Line 94) BUT THEY HAD A NON-CICLAVIA-BRANDED OPEN STREETS EVENT IN MARCH.

What next, CicLAvia Las Vegas Strip Meets Downtown Vegas?

Pardon The Militant, it's just that he NEVER misses a CicLAvia, and this time he has to either  take a one-hour Metrolink ride or drive all the way out to the route early Sunday morning (or even spend the night in a nearby hotel...). It seems as though this whole event was a total oversight, or there's some sort of shady activity going on, or...who knows what. The Militant has voiced this on Twitter and the normally-responsive CicLAvia account has been tight-lipped about staging a CicLAvia out there in BFE-adjacent. C'mon CicLAvia organizers...don't forget what the 4th and 5th letters of your name stand for.

Alright, take a deeeeep breath, Militant.


Okay, rant is over. The reality is that there's a CicLAvia, and The Militant has to travel a long-ass distance to get to it. FINE.

So here's your stinkin' Epic CicLAvia Tour...for the 25th time.

It's 6.7 miles from Claremont to San Dimas, via Pomona and La Verne (not Shirley). Lots of history yadda yadda yadda. Lots of old train stations, former railroad hotels and institutions of higher learning. That's basically it.

1. Marston Quadrangle
College Ave & 4th St, Claremont

This open green space at the heart of Pomona College's campus not only marks the original site of the college (which started out here in 1887 in a former railroad hotel building), but in 1923 the Quad became the central commons area for the expanded campus, fashioned after the one at the University of Virginia (founded by some dude named Thomas Jefferson). The Quad was envisioned by the college's first president as a "college in a garden" borrowing aesthetic elements of East Coast Ivy League schools, but set in the Mediterranean climate setting of Southern California. The Quad was named after George White Marston, a San Diego-based philanthropist who was the first president of Pomona College's Board of Trustees. The Quad continues to be used as a public open space for recreation and formal events.

2. Claremont Depot & Pacific Electric Right of Way
1st Street & College Ave, Claremont
Claremont might be known as a college town, but it started out as a railroad town. In 1887, it was founded by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway who built a wooden Gothic train depot on this site and named it "Claremont," because they felt like it. Forty years later, the station was replaced by a Spanish Colonial Revival building designed by company architect William H. Mohr (who also designed the station's older sister and familiar sight to Gold Line riders, the 1916 Monrovia Depot, as well as the 1918 San Bernardino Depot). Trains that originated in places as far as Chicago stopped at this station until 1967 when the station closed for business. The city of Claremont, recognizing its historic importance (it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982), purchased the building in 1989, and in 1993, it saw new life again as a train station, this time serving Metrolink commuters between Los Angeles and San Bernardino. A packing house a few doors to the west also served Santa Fe freight trains, shipping local citrus fruit to points east.
This location not only served Santa Fe trains, but Pacific Electric Red Cars as well. First Street, where the CicLAvia route runs, once had the Pacific Electric Right of Way running in its median. The photo above, taken by Jack Finn, shows the intersection of 1st St and College Ave (looking east) exactly 70 years ago!  The building on the right was the Pacific Electric's own train depot, which was unfortunately demolished in the 1960s. In addition to having train stations past and present, this location will also have a future rail stop in the form of a Metro light rail station as part of Phase 2 of the Metro Foothill Extension, opening by 2026.

3. Adobe de Palomares
491 Arrow Hwy, Pomona

If you know your local history, you'll know that before the 1850s, Southern California was part of Mexico and the land was divided into large areas known as ranchos, granted by Alta California's governor to various aristocrats and prominent military figures, to use for cattle grazing, farming and homesteading. Ygnacio Palomares was one of these dudes, who in 1837, was co-granted Rancho San Jose (today all four of today's CicLAvia cities, as well as Azusa, Covina, Diamond Bar, Glendora and Walnut). Señor Palomares built his first adobe a few miles south in Pomona,  and in 1854 built a new single-story, 13-room, 20-acre hizzouse right here in north Pomona. It was a popular overnight stopover point between San Bernardino and Los Angeles (remember, no freeways or even paved streets back then). It was abandoned in the 1880s and restored in the 1930s, later purchased by the city of Pomona. In 1940, the adobe became a museum, and the city even allowed Palomares descendants to live in the adobe as caretakers. The last family member lived there until 1958. It is considered one of the most complete extant examples of Mexican rancho-era Southern California adobes. Check it out!

4. Pomona Depot
Garey Ave & Santa Fe St, Pomona

Adjacent to today's Pomona North Metrolink station is the original Santa Fe Railway depot serving Pomona. Built in 1941, it is much newer than (and not as architecturally ornate as) its sister stations down the line, but it served legendary Santa Fe trains like the El Capitan from Chicago to Los Angeles via Pasadena until 1967. It served Amtrak trains until 1996 when the Northridge Earthquake damaged several bridges enough to re-route the line through Orange County. In 1992 the modern-day Metrolink station opened several yards west, and this building was converted into a Metrolink operations center.

5. Metro Gold Line La Verne Station
E. St & Arrow Hwy, La Verne
There's nothing here yet, but the empty space on the northeast corner of E St. and Arrow Hwy will become the La Verne station for Metro's Phase 2 Foothill Extension light rail line. Not only will it serve the nearby University of La Verne campus, but it is pretty dang close to the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, just over a mile southeast of the station. When the line opens by 2026, expect shuttle buses to take riders to the Pomona Fairplex every September. 

6. Church of the Brethren
2425 E St, La Verne

This church has played a huge role in the ity of La Verne. Originally known as "Lordsburg" after real estate developer Isaac Lord, who got the Santa Fe Railway to build a station on his property, the region attracted tourists and later transplants from the midwest due to a fare war between the railroads and the rapid popularity of Southern California due to its weather and agriculture. In 1889, a man named M.M. Eschelman, a member of the Church of the Bretheren (a German-based Christian denomination with a pacifist theology akin to that of the Quakers and Menonites), was responsible for establishing a Brethren-affiliated college that would eventually be known as University of La Verne. The current church building was designed by architect Robert H. Orr and built in 1929.

7. University of La Verne
1950 3rd St, La Verne

Church of the Brethren member M.M. Eschelman arrived in town (then known as Lordsburg) in 1889. He sought to establish a church-affiliated college, after starting one such school in Kansas. He convinced town founder Isaac Lord to sell his unsuccessful railroad hotel to Eschelman, and Lordsburg Academy was established in 1891. The town's population grew, with many residents being church members. After Mr. Lord died in 1917, the town was re-named La Verne, a French phrase meaning "Spring-like" or "growing green." It was coined by local ranchers who described the foothills as such. With that, Lordsburg Academy became La Verne College, and University of La Verne in 1977. The university is now officially non-sectarian, but maintains traditional and organizational ties to its founding church.

8. Kuns Park/Kuns House
1600 Bonita Ave/2449 Magnolia Ave, La Verne

This 2.5 acre green space is the oldest park in La Verne. Built as part of the original Lordsburg tract, it was once part of an 18-acre ranch owned by Henry L. Kuns, the son of David Kuns, one of the four founders of Lordsburg Academy (now University of La Verne). In 1911, the younger Kuns, then the mayor of Lordsburg, had his  7-bedroom Edwardian Tudor/Craftsman  Bungalow house built on the property. Kuns himself planted the carob tree at the northeast corner of the park. He died in 1930 and his heirs refused to pay the property tax, so the park was bought by the city in 1938 at an auction for $200. The green space later became an official city park. The house was passed on from family members to other owners, and went on the market in 2012 following the death of its owner at the time. The University of La Verne eventually purchased the house to function as the university president's residence, bringing the house's connection to the academic institution full circle.

9. San Dimas Circle K
301 E. Bonita Ave, San Dimas

(DISCLAIMER: This was not the actual Circle K store depicted in the 1989 motion picture, "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." That one was filmed in Tempe, AZ. [BOGUS!])

Despite the above disclaimer, if you choose to get a CicLAvia selfie/group selfie here, you may or may not encounter a couple of excellent local dudes there who have encountered a bodacious time travel experience. You also may or may not encounter a dude named Rufus who is known to appear in the parking lot in a telephone booth (If you're under 30, you'll have to Google that). Also, do not be alarmed if you see yourself come out of that telephone booth, explaining you you that they're you and have come from the future. After all, The Militant has heard that strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

And if not, there's always the hot dogs.

10. Jedediah Strong Smith Statue
245 E. Bonita Ave, San Dimas

In front of San Dimas City Hall stands a bronze statue of some dude taking a knee, although it doesn't look he's engaged in prayer or protest. It's actually a public art monument created by sculptor Victor Issa in 1992 entitled, "A Welcome Sight." The dude is a man named Jedediah Strong Smith, a 19th-century explorer who was the first person to lead a party of Americans by land into California (then part of Mexico) in 1826. His group left Great Salt Lake in August of that year, crossed the deserts, and according to his journal, reached the crest of the San Gabriel Mountains by November and looked down at the valley below. His pose and the sculpture's title were meant to reflect his expression as he looked down into what would be known as The 626. His connection to San Dimas was that his party camped in an area filled with mud springs on November 26, 1826 en route to Mission San Gabriel. San Dimas' former name was La Cienega Mud Springs.  If the dude's name sounds familiar, he is the inspiration behind the folkloric character Jebediah Springfield on "The Simpsons." Interestingly, Jebediah Springfield's town square statue also depicts him also standing on one knee. Wait a minute...Mud Springs...Springfi...OMG NO WAY!

11. Metro Gold Line San Dimas Station
San Dimas Ave & Railway St, San Dimas

The Phase 2 of the Metro Gold Line's Foothill Extension, which broke ground in December 2017, will stop at this location just south of downtown San Dimas by 2026, en route to its eventual terminus in Montclair. Of course, by then the line will no longer be called the Gold Line, but the Blue Line (or the A Line), which, thanks to the Regional Connector, will merge the current light rail lines to Long Beach and Azusa into one long-ass one.

12. The Walker House
121 N. San Dimas Ave, San Dimas

Known as the most historically significant building in San Dimas, this Queen Anne structure, designed by the Newsom Brothers, was originally built in 1887 to be a local railroad hotel (the second building built in town) until Kentucky transplants James and Sue Walker purchased it for their family residence in 1889. Multiple generations of the family lived in the house until the 1970s. In 1972, it made the National Register of Historic Places, functioned as a restaurant at one time, and in 2000 it was purchased by the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Dimas, who performed a major restoration on the house completed in 2009. Today it is home to the San Dimas Historical Society, the San Dimas Festival of Arts and the Lucabella restaurant.

13. Pacific Railroad Museum/San Dimas Santa Fe Depot
210 W. Bonita Ave, San Dimas

By now, you've pretty much got the hang of it: The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fay Railway built a railroad from Chicago to Los Angeles and en route ran the tracks through here in 1887 and pretty much established most of the cities we see today. The existing historic train station was built in 1934 to replace the original wooden depot. The last train served it in 1967 and was re-purposed as the offices of the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce and later a senior center. In 1994, the nonprofit Pacific Railroad Society purchased the depot and made it into a railroad museum, which also has a stretch of the original track that Santa Fe laid here in 1887. The Militant visited the museum (and Downtown San Dimas) in 2009.

Happy CicLAvia on Sunday! As always, see you or not see you on the streets!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

In The Valley of Nostalgia: The Valley Relics Museum

Neon and on and on at the Valley Relics Museum.
The San Fernando Valley might be known for being the archetypal Southern California suburb, for a notable early 1980s teenage female linguistic dialect, and yes, uh, pr0n, but if you love and appreciate your local history as much as The Militant does, you'll know that it's a place that has changed over time, from agricultural farmland to suburban wonderland, to the modern quasi-urban districts that are currently springing up on both ends of the 818 along the 101. Now, The Militant doesn't get over to the other side of the hill that much, but when it does, it actually matters.

This past weekend, one of his operatives totally wanted to go to the Valley Relics Museum, a relatively new (opened 2013) exhibition of SFV nostalgia, most of which is the personal collection of Burbank native and North Hollywood resident Tommy Gelinas, who started exhibiting his collection over a decade ago in his NoHo art studio. Gelinas has also been responsible to salvaging and maintaining several iconic signs and artifacts from across the Valley (and a little beyond) after their original public purpose was shut down forever.

After a quick Saturday morning trip up the 101 to the 170 to the 5 to the 118,  we arrived at a quiet industrial park nestled between Topanga Canyon Blvd and the Metro Orange Line (yes, this place is totally transit-accessible), and through the doors is some 4300 square feet of space jam-packed with SFV and general Southern California nostalgia. Where to start?

The Valley Relics Museum's Busch Gardens collection! The Militant loved this aerial view which shows the old theme park's exact location near Roscoe and Woodley. The park was replaced by an expanded Budweiser plant, and only the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks near Woodley remains.
 The first room has some photos and memorabilia of various SFV institutions, from the aerospace industry (Lockheed and Rocketdyne called the Valley home) to ground-based transportation such as the Pacific Electric and the RTD. An adjoining room has behind-glass knicknack displays featuring such sights as the old Busch Gardens theme park in Van Nuys and some 1984 Olympic memorabilia (including not only an Olympic torch, but an accompanying manual book).
The Western memorabilia room, including several Nudie's Rodeo Tailors store artifacts, curated by Julie Ann Ream.
Another room is packed with movie and TV Western memorabilia (including remnants of the iconic North Hollywood Western apparel store Nudie's Rodeo Tailors), curated by Julie Ann Ream, whose grandfather, Taylor "Cactus Mack" McPeters was an actor in several Hollywood Westerns, who worked alongside such icons as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and John Wayne.  Preserving the artifacts of her grandfather, her other Western actor relatives and their peers has become her personal passion, and on most days Ream is on hand to talk about her collection and her Western family members' stories.

The main exhibit room contains antique iconic store restaurant signage and a collection of classic BMX bikes (an SFV invention)!
The rest of the museum is the main exhibit room, which encompasses over 2/3rds of the total space. Front and center is Gelinas' collection of classic '70s-era bicycle motocross (BMX) bikes, which originated in The Valley. The characteristic rigid frame was invented by Gary Littlejohn in North Hollywood and the open suburban spaces of the SFV allowed for large BMX dirt tracks to be built. Futhermore, BMX manufacturers like Mongoose, Redline, Champion and Robinson were all based here in The Valley.

Some relics from The Palomino, including a ticket stub from a 1979 Elvis Costello concert there!
The room also contains a large collection of now-gone store and restaurant signage, several of which are neon like the original sign from North Hollywood's Palomino nightclub (which featured now-legendary country and rock music acts from 1949 to 1995) and more conventional signage, such as the original Googie-style Henry's Tacos sign from Studio City.

A 1958 newsstand ad insert for the old Los Angeles Mirror (the old afternoon paper that eventually merged with the Los Angeles Times), touting the SFV as, "L.A.'s Happiest Half-Million" (that population has since grown by over 3 1/2 times).
The room also contains many signs familiar to those from, yet not unique to the Valley per se, such as a Pioneer Chicken revolving sign saved from the Olympic Blvd. location, '70s and '80s-era Jack In The Box (the chain originated in San Diego) signage, which also includes the old-school drive-thru clown speaker (even earlier than the type that was blown up in the infamous 1980 commercial) as well as the incandescent Tiffany Theatre sign rescued from its now-demolished West Hollywood location.

A few iconic Valley trios also make their presence here: Statues of Alvin, Simon and Theodore of The Chipmunks fame (born in Van Nuys), and Yakko, Wakko and Dot from The WB's Animaniacs (who, of course, lived in the studio's water tower in Burbank).

Exit Through The Gift Shop: Do buy some of Valley Relics Museum's t-shirts of classic now-gone Southern California businesses. Because you will look so awesome rocking that Pup'N Taco shirt!
Not only can you see some Valley relics, but you can wear them as well. The mini gift shop by the entrance sells shirts of now-gone So Cal institutions like Pup'N Taco, Malibu Grand Prix, Fedco, Zody's, Muntz TV, Saugus Speedway and legendary rock stations KMET and KNAC, among others. The sales of the shirts support the museum, so be generous!
The collection does not explore the comprehensive history of The Valley; aside from an 1865 letter penned by Issac N. Van Nuys himself, much of the Valley Relics at this museum cater to the collective memories of Baby Boomers and Generation-Xers spanning the second half of the 20th century. So there are hardly any relics from the SFV's agricultural era. But still, Gelinas and the rest of the folks that run the museum must be given massive props for preserving the relatively recent history of The Valley. The staff have mentioned that some patrons have brought parents or grandparents who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease into the museum, and the sight of familiar memories from the exhibits instantly woke up something inside of them.

Yes, History can be that powerful, folks.

Both fortunately and unfortunately, the place isn't that big. Fortunately, you can enjoy the place in under two hours, and unfortunately, you can only enjoy the place in under two hours. But apparently there's more collection that they don't have the space for. The museum is planning to move into larger digs sometime in 2018, with one potential location being an old airplane hangar at Van Nuys Airport, but the museum has also explored even a Santa Clarita Valley location (Blasphemy!).

The Valley Relics Museum is transit-accessible! It's just two blocks south of the Metro Orange Line and Metrolink Chatsworth Station (something that didn't really exist during the RTD era...
Yes, this MA blog post is probably some four years late,  and some of you might have already been here already, but a museum open only 50 or so times a year, coupled with a busy Militant schedule can cause that. But better late than never. And hey, The Militant is actually blogging about something other than an Epic CicLAvia Tour. That in itself is something to celebrate! Woo-hoo!

But if you haven't been here before, and especially if you're an SFV native or grew up in the 818, make sure to pay a visit to the museum this Saturday (those t-shirts make great presents, BTW), or at least add it to your New Year's Resolution list for 2018, before they move into their new location. And then visit them again when they have more stuff to display!   

Valley Relics Museum, 21630 Marilla St, Chatsworth. Open Saturdays only, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free admission (but do kick them at least a few bucks to keep their nonprofit operation open). Accessible via (M) Orange Line and Metrolink (Chatsworth Station) - bike or walk two blocks south along the Orange Line bike path.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

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

Click here for larger map!

The year closes with CicLAvia XXIV, the fifth of five Los Angeles open streets events in 2017! Our Epic CicLAvia Tour returns to iconic Wilshire Boulevard for the first time since August, 2015, this time with an extra half-mile added at the east end of the four-mile route, incorporating a small section of previous "Heart of L.A." CicLAvia iterations. So this Epic CicLAvia Tour guide is basically a re-run of the 2015 route, with a few extras added on for your enjoyment. Enjoy CicLAvia on Sunday. You may or may not see The Militant on the streets!

1. Spring Street Park
428 S. Spring St, Downtown

A former parking lot turned into urban park in June 2013 to satiate the open-space and recreational needs of the new DTLA residential population, this plot of land, in its short history, has already accumulated a list of challenges with regards to its management, upkeep and (ab)use, from un-leashed dogs to people misusing the facilities. Nevertheless, the space does perform its role as a green oasis within the built city core.

2. Broadway-Spring Arcade Building
541 S. Spring St, Downtown

This unique building is actually three, opened in 1924 on the site of Mercantile Place, a 40-foot street cut between 5th and 6th 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. And The Militant probably doesn't need to mention that this building is home to the DTLA Guisado's.

3. Site of Original Ralphs Supermarket
6th and Spring streets, Downtown

Before the Hotel Hayward building was built in 1905, George A. Ralphs (see, that's why there's no apostrophe) and his brother Walter B. started the Ralphs Bros. Grocers on the southwest corner of 6th and Spring. Their company still continues to this day, and in 2007, the company that started in DTLA returned to the area after some 50 years.

4. St. Vincent Court
St. Vincent Ct and 7th Street, Downtown

You'd hardly knew it was there, but this alley nestled between Broadway and Hill (blink and you'll miss it!), with its decorative brick pavement and European decor, seemingly belongs to another world. Originally the site of a Catholic college that was the predecessor of today's Loyola Marymount University, today it's a unique food court featuring Armenian and Middle Eastern eateries. The Militant calls it, "Littler Armenia." Check out this Militant Angeleno post on St. Vincent Court from 2008 for more info.

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

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

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

6. Wilshire Grand Center
900 Wilshire Blvd, Downtown

On this site rises the new Wilshire Grand Center, Los Angeles' (and the West's -- suck on it, Transbay Tower SF!) tallest building at 73 stories and 1,100 feet (kinda sorta, there's a spire, you see...). Opened on June 23, it is the city's only modern skyscraper without a flat roof, the only Los Angeles building since Hollywood's Capitol Records tower in 1956 to feature a spire, the first skyscraper anywhere to sport a mohawk, and it also has its own irreverent Twitter account. ;)

Owned by Korean Air (hence the red and blue taeguk LED logo), the tower houses the 900-room Hotel Intercontinental with its 70th-floor Sky Lobby and the unique Spire 73 skybar, with wonderful views of the south and west (the sunset vista from here is not to be missed).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Bryson Apartment Building
2701 Wilshire Blvd, MacArthur Park

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

12. Lafayette Park
Wilshire Blvd and LaFayette Park Place, LaFayette Park

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

13. Bullocks Wilshire/Southwestern Law School
3050 Wilshire Blvd

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17. Gaylord Apartments
3355 Wilshire Blvd

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

18. Brown Derby Site
3427 and 3377 Wilshire Blvd

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

Note that the pictures for #17 and #18 connect vertically - that's the Gaylord Apartments behind the Brown Derby!

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

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

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

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

21. MaDang Courtyard
621 S. Western Ave, Koreatown

The heart of K-town is essentially the revived district once known as Wilshire Center,  a mid-rise commercial district which emerged in the mid-1960s, filling in the commercial real estate gap between Downtown and Miracle Mile. By the late 1980s, the district had fallen into disarray, with many businesses closing down or moving out, culminating around the time of the 1992 Riots (the iconic Bullocks Wilshire closed down in 1993). With the old guard having moved out, it allowed opportunities for the then-scattered Korean business community, fueled by an abundant supply of investment money from South Korea, to move into the vacant retail and office spaces and expand Koreatown into the large district that exists today. Enter MaDang Courtyard, which opened in 2010. This dense, triple-story urban mall represents not only the modern Koreatown, but a more of a visual semblance of Seoul, as opposed to the re-purposed commercial spaces of the old Wilshire Center. Anchored by the CGV Cinemas multiplex, which screens current Hollywood features, Korean films and Korean-subtitled versions of mainstream blockbusters, you can't get more K-town than that (for a non-food establishment). But speaking of food establishment, there's also a Hansol Noodle location here, a Paris Baguette (despite the francophone name, it's a South Korean bakery cafe chain), a Lemon Tree kids' play cafe and Japanese imports Daiso (picture a Nippon version of the 99 Cents Only store) and pastry chain Beard Papa's. It's like a trip across the Pacific (minus the jet-lag).

Happy CicLAvia! See you or not see you on the streets on Sunday!