Downtown Los Angeles

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Downtown Los Angeles
District and neighborhood of Los Angeles
Downtown Los Angeles as seen from the air in 2007
Downtown Los Angeles as seen from the air in 2007
Flag of Downtown Los Angeles
Flag
Official seal of Downtown Los Angeles
Seal
Nickname(s): Downtown LA, DTLA
Freeway map of the Los Angeles area showing Downtown LA
Freeway map of the Los Angeles area showing Downtown LA
Downtown map as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
Downtown map as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
Coordinates: 34°03′25″N 118°14′17″W / 34.057°N 118.238°W / 34.057; -118.238
Subdistricts of downtown

Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, California, as well as a diverse residential neighborhood of some 50,000 people. A 2013 study found that the district is home to over 500,000 jobs.[1]

A heritage of the city's founding in 1781, Downtown Los Angeles 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 for decades until its recent renaissance starting in the early 2000s: Old buildings are being modified for new uses, and skyscrapers have been built. Downtown Los Angeles is known for its government buildings, parks, theaters and other public places.

History[edit]

Further information: History of Los Angeles

Early years[edit]

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."[2] 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.[3]

Infrastructure enhancements and the laying of a street grid eventually brought development south of the original settlement into what is today the Civic Center and Historic Core neighborhoods.

Downtown's golden age[edit]

By 1920, the city's private and municipal rail lines were the most far-flung and most comprehensive in the world in mileage, even besting that of New York City. By this time, a steady influx of residents and aggressive land developers had transformed the city into a large metropolitan area, with Downtown LA at its center. Rail lines connected four counties with over 1,100 miles (1,800 km) of track.[4]

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,"[5] 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.[6]

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 [9]) 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[edit]

Angels Flight. November 2008

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 onward, 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 LA'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.[7]

Recent years[edit]

The US Bank Tower in Downtown LA is the tallest building in the US west of the Mississippi River (1,018 feet or 310 meters).

In mid-2013, Downtown was noted as "a neighborhood with an increasingly hip and well-heeled residential population."[8]

Because of the downtown area's office market's migration west to Bunker Hill and the Financial District, many historic office buildings have been 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[9] have been created under the adaptive reuse ordinance, leading to an increase in the residential population. With 28,878 residents in 2006[10] and 39,537 in 2008,[11] a 36.9% increase, Downtown Los Angeles is seeing new life and investment.[12]

  • 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.[13] 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 the downtown area, facilitates access to the city center, especially from the congested west side.
  • On August 7, 2007, the Los Angeles City Council approved sweeping changes in zoning and development rules for the downtown area.[15] 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.[15]
  • In 2009 Bottega Louie opened on the first floor of the historic Brockman Building on Grand Avenue and 7th Street. It contributed to the revitalization of Downtown LA by creating restaurant row, which has since brought numerous new restaurants and retail shops to the area.[16] In 2012, the upper 11 floors of the Brockman Building were bought with the intention of being sold as luxury lofts[17]

Geography[edit]

Downtown skyline during sunset as seen from Griffith Observatory, October 2006.

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.[18][19][20]

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.[19][20]

Adjacent neighborhoods[edit]

Relation of Downtown Los Angeles to other communities:[19][20]

Included[edit]

Within the neighborhood are included these smaller areas:

Population[edit]

Downtown Los Angeles at night
The Orpheum Theatre, 2007

The 2000 U.S. census found that just 27,849 residents lived in the 5.84 square miles of Downtown. The population increased to 34,811 by 2008, according to city estimates. As of 2014 the population of the district had grown to 52,400 residents, and 5200 residential units were under construction.[22] The median age for residents was 39, considered old for the city and the county.[19]

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.[23]

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.[24] 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, about the same ratio as in the city as a whole.[19]

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 (57.4%) was the highest in Los Angeles County, followed by University Park (56.6%) and Chinatown (53.6%). 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.[19][25]

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.[19]

Public transportation[edit]

Local and regional service[edit]

Current Los Angeles Metro Rail map showing rail and rapid transit lines

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 in the district 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.

  • Metro operates an extensive bus network,[26] including Metro Local, Metro Express commuter lines, and Metro Rapid[27] buses with signal priority and limited stops.

Amtrak[edit]

Los Angeles Union Station main passenger concourse

Amtrak operates intercity passenger train service on five routes through Los Angeles Union Station: The Coast Starlight, Pacific Surfliner, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle.

Greyhound[edit]

Greyhound Lines operates a major bus terminal in Downtown Los Angeles at the intersection of Seventh and Alameda streets.[30]

Service to Los Angeles International Airport[edit]

Transit expansion[edit]

  • The under constructed Regional Connector Transit Corridor will connect the Expo and Gold Lines between Little Tokyo which will be renamed 1st/Central and 7th Street Metro Center.
  • 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.[35] The project is currently projected to be operating by 2014.[36]

Cityscape[edit]

Parks and open space[edit]

Pershing Square during the park's Summer Concert Series

Downtown Los Angeles is home to several public parks, plazas, gardens and other open space:

Several future park proposals for the district 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;[38] 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 under construction.[39]

Additionally, the city of Los Angeles recently completed a new park located on the 400 block of South Spring Street in the Historic Core neighborhood.[40]

The modern skyline of Los Angeles resulted from the termination of severe height restrictions in 1957.

Skyline[edit]

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 [41]), 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.[42]
  • 705 Ninth Street, a 35-story residential tower, was completed in 2009, though the project remains mired in bankruptcy.[43]
  • 717 Olympic, a 26-story residential tower, was completed in mid-2008.[44]
  • 888 Olive, a 32-story apartment tower by Vancouver-based Omni Group, will open in the first quarter 2015.[45]
  • 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.[46] The project has been delayed due to funding issues but is now back on track and progressing.[47]
  • LA Central, a two-tower residential and hotel project designed by RTKL Associates in the South Park neighborhood of Downtown LA, currently in the pre-construction phase.[48]
  • 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.[49]
  • Marriott International is currently building a 24-story Courtyard and Residence Inn tower near L.A. Live, slated to open July 2014, as well as a 20+ story Renaissance hotel to open in 2016.[50][51]
  • Metropolis, a mixed-use three-to-five tower project at Francisco and Ninth streets, is currently in the planning phase.[52]
  • 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.[53]

Building height limits: 1904-1957[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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,[54] 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.[citation needed]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch. This building is now loft apartments.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Central Health Center in Downtown Los Angeles.[55]

The Southern California Liaison of the California Department of Education has its office in the Ronald Reagan State Building in Downtown Los Angeles.[56]

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Los Angeles Branch is located in Downtown Los Angeles.[57]

Economy[edit]

Anschutz Entertainment Group has its corporate headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles.[58] Sidley Austin operates its Los Angeles offices in the Gas Company Tower.[59]

Education[edit]

Colburn School on Grand Boulevard
Ramon C. Cortines High School for the Visual and Performing Arts

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.[19]

These are the elementary or secondary schools within the neighborhood's boundaries:[60]

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is at 800 South Hope Street,[20][61] and the Colburn School for music and the performing arts is at 200 South Grand Avenue[62]

Emergency services[edit]

Hospitals[edit]

Dignity Health-California Hospital Medical Center is located in the South Park district of Downtown LA at 1401 S. Grand Avenue. The 318-bed community hospital has been providing high-quality care to residents of the district and its neighboring communities for over 126 years. Dignity Health-California Hospital Medical Center is known for its wide range of medical services - from Women's Health and Maternal Child, to Orthopedics and Cardiology. The hospital also operates the only Level II Trauma Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and its Emergency Room treats over 70,000 patients each year. The hospital's neighbors include Staples Center, "L.A. Live", Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising and the Fashion District.

Fire services[edit]

The Triforium sculpture with Los Angeles City Hall in the background

The Los Angeles Fire Department operates the following fire stations in Downtown Los Angeles:

Police services[edit]

The Los Angeles Police Department operates the Central Area Community Police Station in Downtown Los Angeles.[63]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Downtown LA Demographic Study 2013". http://www.downtownla.com/survey-2013-results.asp. 
  2. ^ FATHER CRESPI IN LOS ANGELES, USC
  3. ^ Downtown History, Downtown Center Business Improvement District
  4. ^ Westworld. 2000
  5. ^ "Wall Street of the West Had Its Peaks, Crashes", Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Salvatore Cartaino Scarpitta, Los Angeles Stock Exchange, bas reliefs". Publicartinla.com. 1929-10-29. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  7. ^ "Last Remaining Seats". Laconservancy.org. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  8. ^ David Pierson, "Whole Foods to Open Downtown L.A. Store in 2015," Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2013
  9. ^ http://www.downtownla.com/pdfs/econ_residential/1Q09HousingBook.pdf
  10. ^ Cara Mia DiMassa, "Downtown L.A. has gained people but lost jobs, report says", Los Angeles Times, February 21, 2007.
  11. ^ [1] DowntownLA.com demographic study
  12. ^ "Ordinance brings new life into downtown L.A.'s Main Street". Los Angeles Times. 2009-06-11. 
  13. ^ "Facilities, STAPLES Center". AEG Worldwide. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  14. ^ Glaister, Dan (27 May 2005). "Downtown looks up: Dan Glaister reports on ambitious plans to create a brighter, better and shinier heart of LA". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 19 July 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Sharon Bernstein and David Pierson, "L.A. moves toward more N.Y-style downtown", Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2007.
  16. ^ http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/the-downtowners-of-distinction/article_1b311095-358e-5d39-ab5b-351f6dcb9c1a.html?mode=jqm
  17. ^ Vincent, Roger (2012-04-16). "New owners turning Brockman Building into apartments". Los Angeles Times. 
  18. ^ [2] "Central L.A.," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q [3] "Downtown," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  20. ^ a b c d e The Thomas Guide, 2006, pages 634 and 674
  21. ^ 2012-2013 Official Visitors Map, Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, 2012
  22. ^ Wowtapka, Dawn (November 26, 2013). "In Downtown LA, a Housing Revival". Wall Street Journal. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ Trounson, Rebecca (April 12, 2012). "A multicultural moment: Downtown L.A.'s population evenly split". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 13, 2012. 
  24. ^ [4] "Diversity," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  25. ^ [5] "$20,000 or less," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  26. ^ "Metro Maps". Metro.net. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  27. ^ "Metro Rapid". Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  28. ^ DASH Schedule, LADOT.
  29. ^ DASH Weekend Schedule, LADOT.
  30. ^ "Locations: California". Greyhound.com. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  31. ^ "LAX FlyAway". Los Angeles World Airports. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  32. ^ [6][dead link]
  33. ^ "Joe Biden says California high-speed rail looking good for federal money", Los Angeles Times.
  34. ^ "Why High-Speed Trains?". Cahighspeedrail.ca.gov. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  35. ^ "Streetcar". Bringing Back Broadway. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  36. ^ "Progress". Bringing Back Broadway. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  37. ^ Green, Emily (2009-05-23). "LAPD green: landscaping at the new police headquarters". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  38. ^ "Little Tokyo looks to get back its vibes with new development". The Japan Times Online. 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  39. ^ carllehmanpi.com (2009-04-03). "Los Angeles Downtown News and Information – LA Downtown News Online > Archives > News > Korean Air Plans $1 Billion Downtown Project". Downtownnews.com. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  40. ^ "Curbed LA: Shiny Downtown Tower Is Out, New Park Is In". La.curbed.com. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  41. ^ "LA City Hall - Student Reader". StudentReader.com. 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  42. ^ "Studio Daniel Libeskind: Los Angeles Planning Commission Approves First Libeskind Tower For Downtown La". Daniel-libeskind.com. 2009-04-15. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  43. ^ "MerueloMaddux". MerueloMaddux. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  44. ^ http://717olympic.com
  45. ^ http://www.ladowntownnews.com/news/the-development-scene-the-latest-info-on-downtown-projects/article_b91d651e-c3d5-11e2-8963-001a4bcf887a.html
  46. ^ The Grand. Thegrandla.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  47. ^ "L.A. Now". The Los Angeles Times. 2009-02-10. 
  48. ^ RTKL Associates
  49. ^ "L.A. Live". L.A. Live. Retrieved 2009-06-13. [dead link]
  50. ^ http://www.travelagewest.com/Travel/News/L-A--Live-to-Get-New-Renaissance-Hotel/#.Uhu7HNK-rfg
  51. ^ Vincent, Roger (2013-03-07). "Marriott doubles down on high-rise hotels in L.A". Los Angeles Times. 
  52. ^ "China's Greenland Buys Stake in Los Angeles Project". Bloomberg. 
  53. ^ 8:11 AM (2009-04-07). "Amid slump, one part of downtown remains hot". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  54. ^ Alexander Garvin. The American City, 2nd Edition, 2002.
  55. ^ "Central Health Center", Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  56. ^ "Southern California Liaison", California Department of Education. Retrieved on December 23, 2009.
  57. ^ "FRBSF Branches", Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Retrieved on March 30, 2010.
  58. ^ Anschutz Entertainment Group. Retrieved on November 9, 2009.
  59. ^ "Los Angeles", Sidley Austin. Retrieved on December 17, 2009.
  60. ^ [7] "Downtown Schools," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  61. ^ Mapping L.A.,Los Angeles Times
  62. ^ [8] Colburn School website
  63. ^ "Central Community Police Station – official website of THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT". Lapdonline.org. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 

External links[edit]