Downtown Los Angeles
|Downtown Los Angeles|
|— District of Los Angeles —|
|Griffith Observatory, October 2006|
|Nickname(s): Downtown L.A., DTLA|
|Subdistricts of downtown|
Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, California, as well as a low-income and diverse residential neighborhood of more than thirty thousand people. During the day an influx of workers swells the population to more than two hundred thousand.
A heritage of the city's founding in 1789, Downtown today is composed of different areas ranging from a fashion district to a skid row, and it is the hub of the city's Metro rapid transit system. Banks, department stores and movie palaces at one time drew residents and visitors into the area, but the district declined economically and suffered a downturn of decades until its recent renascence: Old buildings are being modified for new uses, and skyscrapers have been built. Downtown is known for its government buildings, parks, theaters and other public places.
Downtown Los Angeles is flanked by Echo Park to the north and northwest, Chinatown to the northeast, Boyle Heights to the east, Vernon to the south, Historic South Central and University Park to the southwest and Pico-Union and Westlake to the west. 
Downtown is bounded on the northeast by Cesar Chavez Avenue, on the east by the Los Angeles River, on the south by the Los Angeles city line with Vernon, on the southwest by East Washington Boulevard and on the west by the 110 Freeway or Beaudry Avenue, including the entire Four Level Interchange with Highway 101.
Within the neighborhood are included these smaller areas: 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2013)|
Early years 
The earliest known settlements in the area of what is now Downtown Los Angeles was by the Tongva, a Native American people. Later European settlement arrived after Father Juan Crespí, a Spanish missionary charged with exploring sites for Catholic missions in California, noted in 1769 that the region had "all the requisites for a large settlement." On September 4, 1781, the city was founded by a group of settlers who trekked north from present-day Mexico.
Land speculation increased in the 1880s, which saw the population of the city explode from 11,000 in 1880 to nearly 100,000 by 1896.
Downtown's golden age 
By 1920, the city's private and municipal rail lines were among the most far-flung and most comprehensive in the world in mileage, rivaling that of New York City, as shown (and parodied) in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. By that year, a steady influx of residents and aggressive land developers had transformed the city into a large metropolitan area, with downtown at its center. Rail lines connected four counties with over 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of track.
During the early part of the 20th century, banking institutions clustered around South Spring Street, forming the Spring Street Financial District. Sometimes referred to as the "Wall Street of the West," the district held corporate headquarters for financial institutions including Bank of America, Farmers and Merchants Bank, the Crocker National Bank, California Bank & Trust, and International Savings & Exchange Bank. The Los Angeles Stock Exchange was also located on the corridor from 1929 until 1986 before moving into a new building across the Harbor (110) Freeway.
Commercial growth brought with it hotel construction—during this time period several grand hotels, the Alexandria (1906), the Rosslyn (1911), and the Biltmore (1923), were erected—and also the need for venues to entertain the growing population of Los Angeles. Broadway became the nightlife, shopping and entertainment district of the city, with over a dozen theater and movie palaces built before 1932.
Department stores also opened flagship stores downtown, including The Broadway, Hamburger & Sons, May Company, JW Robinson's and Bullock's, serving a wealthy residential population in the Bunker Hill neighborhood. Numerous specialty stores also flourished including those in the jewelry business which gave rise to the Downtown Jewelry District. Among these early jewelers included the Laykin Diamond Company (later becoming Laykin et Cie ) and Harry Winston & Co. both of which found their beginnings in the Alexandria Hotel at 5th and Spring Streets.
The Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (Union Station) opened in May, 1939, unifying passenger service among various local, regional and long-distance passenger trains. It was built on a grand scale and would be one of the "last of the Great Railway Stations" built in the United States.
Decline and redevelopment 
Following World War II, suburbanization, the development of the Los Angeles freeway network and, subsequently, increased automobile ownership, led to decreased investment downtown. Many corporate headquarters slowly dispersed to new suburbs or fell to mergers and acquisitions. The once-wealthy Bunker Hill neighborhood became a haven for low-income renters, its stately Victorian mansions turned into flophouses. From about 1930 to the 1960s, numerous very old and historic buildings in the Plaza area were demolished to make way for street-level parking lots, the high demand for parking making this more profitable than any other option that might have allowed preservation. The drastic reduction in the number of residents in the area further reduced the viability of streetfront businesses that would be able to attract pedestrians. For most Angelenos, downtown became a drive-in-drive-out destination as they would come into the area for a particular objective, and then leave immediately once their business was completed.
In an effort to combat blight and lure businesses back downtown, the Community Redevelopment Agency of the city of Los Angeles undertook the Bunker Hill Redevelopment Project in 1955, a massive clearance project that leveled homes and cleared land for future commercial skyscraper development. This period saw the clearing and upzoning of the entire neighborhood as well as the shuttering of the Angels Flight funicular railway in 1969. Angels Flight resumed operation in 1996 for a period of five years, shutting down once again after a fatal accident in 2001. On March 15, 2010, the railway once again opened for passenger service following extensive upgrades to brake and safety systems.
With Class A office space becoming available on Bunker Hill, many of downtown's remaining financial corporations moved to the newer buildings, leaving the former Spring Street Financial District devoid of tenants above ground floor. Following the corporate headquarters' moving six blocks west, the large department stores on Broadway shuttered, culminating in the 1980s.
However, the Broadway theaters saw much use as Spanish-language movie houses during this time, beginning with the conversion of the Million Dollar Theater in the 1950s to a Spanish-language theater.
Recent years 
Because of the downtown office market's migration west to Bunker Hill and the Financial District, many historic office buildings were left intact, simply used for storage or remaining empty during recent decades. In 1999, the Los Angeles City Council passed an adaptive reuse ordinance, making it easier for developers to convert outmoded, vacant office and commercial buildings into renovated lofts and luxury apartment and condo complexes.
As of early 2009, 14,561 residential units have been created under the adaptive reuse ordinance, leading to an increase in the residential population. With 28,878 residents in 2006 and 39,537 in 2008, a 36.9% increase, Downtown Los Angeles is seeing new life and investment.
- Staples Center, which opened in 1999, has contributed immensely to the revitalization plans, adding 250 events and nearly 4 million visitors per year to the neighborhood. Since the opening of the Staples Center, the adjacent L.A. Live complex was completed, which includes the Nokia Theatre and the Grammy Museum.
- Los Angeles County Metro Rail, a rail transit network centered on downtown, facilitates access to downtown, especially from the congested west side.
- Real estate developers and investors planned a $1.8 billion revitalization project along Grand Avenue, which included the development of Grand Park, a large city park.
- On August 7, 2007, the Los Angeles City Council approved sweeping changes in zoning and development rules for the downtown area. Strongly advocated by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the changes allow larger and denser developments downtown; developers who reserve 15% of their units for low-income residents are now exempt from some open-space requirements and can make their buildings 35% larger than current zoning codes allow.
The Southern California Association of Governments has estimated that workers commuting from outside bring the daytime population up to 207,440 people. At night, it is a different story: The 2000 U.S. census found that just 27,849 residents lived in the 5.84 square miles of Downtown—an average of 4,770 people per square mile, among the lowest population densities in the city. The population increased to 34,811 by 2008, according to city estimates. The median age for residents was 39, considered old for the city and the county. 
Downtown Los Angeles is almost evenly balanced among the four major racial and ethnic groups – Asian Americans (23%), African Americans (22%), Latinos (25%) and non-Hispanic Whites (26%), according to an analysis of 2010 census data.
A study of the 2000 census showed that Downtown was the second-most diverse neighborhood in Los Angeles, its diversity index being 0.743, outrated only by Mid-Wilshire. The ethnic breakdown in 2000 was: Latinos, 36.7%; blacks, 22,3%; Asians, 21.3%; whites, 16.2%, and others, 3.5%. Mexico (44.7%) and Korea (17%) were the most common places of birth for the 41.9% of the residents who were born abroad, a figure that was considered about the same ratio for foreign-born as in the city as a whole.
The median household income in 2008 dollars was $15,003, considered low for both the city and the county. The percentage of households earning $20,000 or less was high, compared to the county at large. The average household size of 1.6 people was relatively low. Renters occupied 93.4% of the housing units, and home- or apartment owners the rest.
In 2000 there were 2,400 military veterans living Downtown, or 9.7% of the population, considered a high rate for the city but average for the county overall.
Public transportation 
Local and regional service 
Downtown Los Angeles is the center of the region's growing rail transit system, with six commuter lines operated by Metrolink, and two subway lines, three light rail lines and local and regional bus service operated by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
Major subway and light rail stations downtown include Los Angeles Union Station, Civic Center Station, Pershing Square Station, 7th Street/Metro Center Station, Pico/Chick Hearn Station, and Little Tokyo/Arts District Station.
- The first leg of the modern Los Angeles metro rail system, the Metro Blue Line light rail, debuted in 1990, followed by the Metro Red Line subway in 1993 the Metro Gold Line light rail in 2003, the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension in 2009, and the Metro Expo Line Westside Extension in 2012.
- In late 2009, the Metro Silver Line bus rapid transit project opened, replacing two unconnected bus rapid transit lines with through service at street level through downtown.
- Metro operates an extensive bus network, including Metro Local, Metro Express commuter lines, and Metro Rapid buses with signal priority and limited stops.
- Los Angeles Department of Transportation operates seven local DASH shuttle lines downtown on weekdays: Lines A, B, C, D, E and F. Weekend service is operated on lines DD (Downtown Discovery), E and F.
Service to Los Angeles International Airport 
- Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) operates a direct shuttle every 30-60 minutes between Union Station and Los Angeles International Airport.
Transit expansion 
- The first phase of the Metro Expo Line is now complete. The project connects 7th Street/Metro Center Station downtown with Culver City via the former Pacific Electric Railway Santa Monica Air Line right-of-way. A second phase, now under construction, will extend the line to Santa Monica by 2015. The Expo Line shares tracks with the Metro Blue Line north of Washington Boulevard, and will share both the Pico Station and 7th Street/Metro Center Station.
- Los Angeles Union Station is set to be a major stop on the future California High-Speed Rail project, which is expected to begin construction in 2012. The project would connect Northern and Southern California via the San Joaquin Valley, with service averaging 220 miles per hour (350 km/h).
- Work is under way to bring streetcar-style trolley service to downtown Los Angeles via Broadway, connecting the L.A. Live development with the Grand Avenue cultural corridor and Bunker Hill. The project is currently projected to be operating by 2014.
Parks and open space 
Downtown Los Angeles is home to several public parks, plazas, gardens and other open space:
- Biddy Mason Park
- Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels meditation garden and olive garden (park)
- Grand Park
- La Placita Olvera
- Maguire Gardens
- Pershing Square
- Los Angeles City Hall South Lawn
- Los Angeles Police Department's Police Administration Building South Lawn
- Los Angeles State Historic Park
- Los Angeles Union Station gardens
- Vista Hermosa Natural Park
- Walt Disney Concert Hall Community Park
- The Water Court at California Plaza, an outdoor performance and dining space with water features, fountains, shaded seating areas and an amphitheater.
- Japanese Garden and plaza at the Little Tokyo Cultural and Community Center Plaza
- Japanese Garden at the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Gardens
- Garden at Bank of America Plaza
Several future park proposals for downtown make use of public-private partnerships between developers and the city of Los Angeles, including a public park at the proposed Nikkei Center development in Little Tokyo; a 1-acre (4,000 m2) park at the Medallion development in the Historic Core; and a pocket park at the Wilshire Grand Hotel replacement project, currently in the planning phase.
Despite its relative decentralization and comparatively new high-rises (until 1958, the city did not permit any structures taller than the 27-story City Hall building ), Los Angeles has one of the largest skylines in the United States, and its development has continued in recent years.
The skyline has seen rapid growth due to improvements in seismic design standards, which has made certain building types highly earthquake-resistant. Many of the new skyscrapers contain a housing or hotel component.
Some current and upcoming examples of skyscraper construction include:
- 1340 Figueroa, a 43-story residential tower designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, would replace a surface parking lot. The project has received plan approvals from the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.
- 705 Ninth Street, a 35-story residential tower, was completed in 2009, though the project remains mired in bankruptcy.
- 717 Olympic a 26-story residential tower, was completed in mid-2008.
- Concerto, a 28-story residential tower, was completed in early 2009. A second phase that would add another residential tower is on hold pending project financing.
- The Grand Avenue Project, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is a multi-phase project on four parcels and will include a 48-story iconic hotel tower at the corner of First Street and Grand Avenue and a civic park. The project has been delayed due to funding issues but is now back on track and progressing.
- L.A. Central, a two-tower residential and hotel project designed by RTKL Associates in the South Park neighborhood of downtown, currently in the pre-construction phase.
- L.A. Live, a multi-phased dining, entertainment and hotel development that includes a Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotel hybrid as well as Ritz-Carlton-branded condominiums, was completed in February, 2010.
- Metropolis, a mixed-use three-tower project (38, 47, and 52 stories) at Francisco and Ninth streets, is currently in the planning phase.
- South, a three-tower complex called Elleven, Luma, and Evo, spans the block from 11th Street and Grand Avenue to 12th Street and Grand Avenue, and was completed in phases ending in early 2009.
- The Wilshire Grand Tower redevelopment, a 900-room hotel and office project, is currently beginning construction, and is poised to be the tallest tower west of the Mississippi River at 1,100 ft.
Building height limits: 1904-1957 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2009)|
The first height limit ordinance in Los Angeles was enacted following the completion of the 13-story Continental Building, located at the southeast corner of 4th and Spring streets. The purpose of the height limit was to limit the density of the city. There was great hostility to skyscrapers in many cities in these years, mainly due to the congestion they could bring to the streets, and height limit ordinances were a common way of dealing with the problem. In 1911, the city passed an updated height limit ordinance, establishing a specific limit of 150 feet (46 m). Exceptions were granted for decorative towers such as those later built on the Eastern Columbia Building and United Artists Theatre, as well as the now-demolished Richfield Tower.
Though it is commonly believed that the height limits were imposed due to the risk of earthquakes, such limits were actually enacted to allow California's natural sunlight to penetrate to sidewalk level, avoiding the "urban canyon" effects of New York and Chicago. It is notable that the first limit was imposed in 1904, two years before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and that even after that seismic event it was believed that Southern California was not subject to such violent temblors, despite evidence to the contrary.
The 1911 ordinance was repealed in 1957. The first private building to exceed the old limit was the 18-story California Bank Building, located at the southeast corner of 6th and Spring streets.
Government and infrastructure 
The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch is located in downtown Los Angeles.
Downtown residents aged 25 and older holding a four-year degree amounted to 17.9% of the population in 2000, about average in the city and the county, but there was a high percentage of residents with less than a high school diploma.
These are the elementary or secondary schools within the neighborhood's boundaries:
- Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, LAUSD high school, 450 North Grand Avenue
- Downtown Business High School, LAUSD alternative, 1081 West Temple Street
- California Academy for Liberal Studies Early College High School, LAUSD charter, 700 Wilshire Boulevard
- Alliance Dr. Olga Mohan High School, LAUSD charter, 644 West 17th Street
- Abram Friedman Occupational School, LAUSD adult education, 1646 South Olive Street
- Metropolitan Continuation School, LAUSD, 727 South Wilson Street
- Para Los Ninos Middle School, LAUSD charter, 1617 East Seventh Street
- Jardin de la Infancia, LAUSD charter elementary, 307 East Seventh Street
- Saint Malachy Catholic Elementary School, private, 1200 East 81st Street
- Tri-C Community Day School, LAUSD, 716 East 14th Street
- City of Angels, LAUSD alternative school, 1449 South San Pedro Street (formerly Central High School}
- San Pedro Street Elementary School, LAUSD, 1635 South San Pedro Street
- Saint Turibius Elementary School, private, 1524 Essex Street
Emergency services 
The California Catholic Health Medical Center is located on the south area of downtown.
Fire services 
The Los Angeles Fire Department operates the following fire stations in downtown Los Angeles:
- Station 3 (Civic Center/Bunker Hill)
- Station 4 (Little Tokyo/Chinatown/Union Station/Olvera Street)
- Station 9 (Central City/Skid Row)
- Station 10 (Convention Center area)
Police services 
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See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Downtown Los Angeles|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Los Angeles/Downtown|
- Central City Association of Los Angeles
- Downtown Los Angeles community site
- Blogdowntown community site
- Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour
- Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, a California public benefit company
- Downtown Los Angeles neighborhood guide
-  Comments about living in Downtown Los Angeles
-  Downtown Los Angeles crime map and statistics