Tuesday, May 12, 2009

WTF Week: The Militant Walks From Union Station To Elysian Park (2.1 mi)

Now that the Militant has (self-) declared this week WTF (Walk This Far) week, it's time to, well, walk the walk! The result was a 2.1 mile route from Union Station to Elysian Park (link opens map route), which yielded some nice urban surprises.

After doing some unspecified business in the vicinity of Union Station, instead of just hopping on the train back to the compound, he decided to take a nice long walk over the hills. So the Militant crossed Alameda, then crossed Cesar E. Chavez to land in Chinatown proper, where he walked parts of Spring and New High streets to end up on North Broadway, where he partook in the simple, pedestrian-oriented urbanism of fruits being sold on the sidewalk outside the storefronts, and people making their way back and forth Chinatown's main thoroughfare on a Spring afternoon.

The Militant made a left onto College Street, where he contacted an operative who loved nearby on his Militant Phone. There was no response, but the Militant decided to forge on anyway. This time it was west on College St, up the hill and over the 110 Freeway, where he spotted an FDR-era plaque (pictured left) marking its construction, before the 110, before the 11, and even before the Arroyo Parkway, when the road below was simply "Figueroa Street." Never before, having driven over this bridge so many times in his life, did it dawn on him that it was the product of The New Deal.

Continuing up, marching against the forces of gravity, causing a couple beads of sweat to form, the Militant arrived at Stadium Way, where, if he chose to walk due north, he could reach the Chinatown gate of Dodger stadium and catch a game. Good thing they're on the road right now (Actually, uh, not a good thing...). Continuing even farther up College, he leaves Chinatown and is now in the neighborhood of Victor Heights (a.k.a. "The Forgotten Edge"). This time the Militant spots Chinese Lion statues outside an apartment building, and a hummingbird (pictured right) rapidly flapping about, pollinating the flowers of a tree.

Well that was nice. There were a flock of small birds flying nearby, and their chirps soothed the Militant's soul so relatively far above the din of the city. Where College ends at Beaudry, he turned around to see a Killer Downtown View (pictured left). Looks even more awesome at night!

The Militant headed south on Beaudry and around Holy Hill Community Church (a.k.a. the former site of the Metropolitan Water District headquarters, before they moved to Union Station - interesting connection to the Militant's foot journey) and on to Sunset. The Militant, figuring the most interesting thing he saw was the damn hummingbird, was ready to board the (M) Local bus back to the compound.

But while crossing Everett Street, out of the corner of his eye, he sees -- a patch of green. Hmmm. Interrressstingk. Could it be - a park? Maybe a vestigal portion of Elysian Park? Nay, this was a totally different park. The Militant braved the steep 20% grade up the hill, this time dripping in hot, sexy Militant sweat. And there it was, heralded in the familiar wooden City Rec & Parks sign: Everett Park (pictured right).

In all of his lifetime existence, there was a place right here smack dab in Central Los Angeles, in the shadows of the Downtown skyline that he's never seen before! The Militant had driven by millions of times, rode by on a bus thousands of times, and biked by hundreds of times, yet it took one simple walk for him to discover this little urban gem.

The park is a simple teardrop-shaped plot of grass, surrounded by a collection of apartments and craftsman-style homes that also gets a Killer Downtown View. The park, also at the steep grade, isn't great for any sort of sports that involve a ball (unless you like to play against the forces of gravity). There was a local couple playing with their dogs in the park, but even the dogs weren't too cool with catching thrown tennis balls.

Still, little Everett Park, though dwarfed by its much bigger brother Elysian nearby, was a nice little urban oasis for the Militant to chillax in and let the cooler evening breezes soothe him (one complaint, there were absolutely no benches, the only place to sit was the low stone wall in front of the wooden sign...). Where the growl of cars and buses on Sunset Blvd below were muffled by the sound of wind, chirping birds and rustling leaves. This may not be the actual Top of The World, but it almost damn feels like it.

For anyone sold on possibly living here, the Militant counted not one, not two, but four "for rent" signs in this here neighborhood. Come'n get it, kids. And let them know the Militant sent ya (And for you True Blue Dodger fans, you can actually walk to the stadium from here).

Another example of the wonder, beauty and sheer awexomeness of the Los Angeles that you can only see if you just ride a bike take a walk.


slowrider said...

That park rules!
I've been going there since the late 80's.....we call it 'Teardrop Park'......it's the closest hill/view vantage point to downtown......this place is the best....
You can go there on the hottest day of the year, and there will be a nice cool breeze to soothe you....
One of the houses across the street from the rear of the park is the one from 'Training Day'- where the money was buried in the guys floor and the crooked cops end up killing him and faking a shootout.

philpalm said...

Yes Elysian park is close enough to allow some of the insects and wild birds to visit the area.

Victor Heights was the area for the filming of the remake of "Our Gang". It is not part of Chinatown but there are a lot of Chinese there...