June 13th, 2008

Los Angeles Local Attractions

by Don

Downtown Los Angeles – The city’s original Spanish settlement is preserved by (1) El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Park. On the north side is Olvera Street, a Mexican street market originally called El Paseo de Los Angeles (Walk of the Angels). Facing the park’s east side is Union Station, built in 1939 in the Spanish-mission style and fea-tured in numerous Hollywood films, including The Way We Were. Two blocks south of the park is the (2) Civic Center, where City Hail, which served as Clark Kent’s ‘Daily Planet’ in TV’s old Superman series, provides panoramic views from its tower. Also in the vicinity is the Los Angeles Music Center for the Performing Arts and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, a former venue for the Academy Awards, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art at California Plaza which houses a 5,000-piece collection representing art from 1940 to the present. The Victorian-era Bradbury Building on Broadway, önce the city’s main shopping and entertainment street, has appeared in many a movie, including Chinatown and Blade Runner, and the beaux-arts Biltmore Hotel on Grand Avenue, which opened in 1923, hosted the Academy Awards in the 1930s. Another landmark is the postmodern Westin Bonaventure Hotel on Figueroa Street, its five shimmering cylinders sheathed in mirrored glass.

Wilshire Boulevard is a main thoroughfare which runs for 16 miles from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica Bay. Majör attractions along Wilshire include the renowned (3) Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with its huge collection of art from ancient times to present. The Museum is housed in a large complex situated in a park it shares with the prehistoric La Brea Tar Pits, where fossils extracted from oil upwellings are displayed in an adjacent museum. A few blocks north, at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue, is the open-air (4) Farmers Market, a hub for locals and tourists with över 100 stalls and 20 restaurants.

Hollywood & Beverly Hills -The heart of Hollywood is the intersection of (5) Vine Street and Hollywood Boulevard, over-looked by the Capitol Records Tower which resembles a stack of 45s. A few blocks west along Hollywood Boulevard is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a mile of sidewalk where the names of legendary entertainers are embossed in brass. Farther west along Hollywood Boulevard is the famous Mann’s Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s) where many a motion picture premiere has been commemorated with the hand, foot and nose prints of stars placed in soft concrete in the foyer.

Nestled in the hills north of Hollywood Boulevard is the (6) Hollywood Bowl, an amphitheatre where summer evening concerts are held. Nearby (7) Griffith Park, containing a zoo and planetarium, is one of the largest urban parks in the world, occupying land donated to in 1896 by a mining tycoon. Scenes from the TV series Bonanza and the James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause were shot here.

Just north of Hollywood, on the edge of the San Fernando Valley, is (8) Universal Studios Hollywood where visitors to this popular theme park are transported around a 420-acre complex and introduced to the movie art of special effects, including an encounter with King Kong and aliens armed with death rays. The Valley is home to most of the majör film and television studios, and tours are available at Warner Bros. Studios and NBC Television Studios.

West of Hollywood is Beverly Hills, an exclusive residential area where many of the stars reşide in hedge-hidden mansions. The pastel-pink (9) Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Boulevard was built in 1912 and was, for decades, the place where movie producers would cut deals in the Polo Lounge. The neo-Gothic (10) Greystone Mansion on Doheny Road was built by a wealthy oilman in 1927 and is now owned by the city of Beverly Hills, its manicured grounds öpen to visitors and the setting for scenes in The Witches of Eastwick.

Rodeo Drive is perhaps the most famous street in Beverly Hills (see shopping section) and the (11) Regent Beverly Wilshire, at the south end of Rodeo Drive, is another landmark hotel, its Wilshire wing built in 1928. Scenes for the hit movie Pretty Woman were shot in the presi-dential süite. Nearby is the Beverly Hills Trolley, which provides street tours of local landmarks and the former homes of celebrities.

Long Beach – Located about 5 miles east of Los Angeles Harbor, Long Beach is where the Queen Mary has been permanently docked since 1967. Daily tours of this 1930s Cunard liner are available to the public, its onboard facilities including several restaurants and shops as well as a hotel. The geodesic dome beside the Queen Mary’s dock used to house Howard Hughes’s Spruce Goose before being converted into a cruise facility by Carnival Corporation, which also constructed an adja-cent docking pier for its cruise ships. Ferry service connects Long Beach with Catalina Island, lying 22 miles offshore.

Orange County – Tourist attractions include Knott’s Berry Farm with its replica of an early California Gold Rush Town, and Disneyland, the huge amusement park that has been the centerpiece of Anaheim (Orange County’s tourist hub) since opening in 1955. Beautiful beaches üne the coast of Orange County, including Huntington Beach with its broad white-sand beaches, and Nevcport Beach where an island-dotted harbor is home to hundreds of yachts. Other popular beach communities are Laguna Beach, its hillside homes popular with artists, and Dana Point, one of southern California’s top surfing destinations and named for Richard Henry

Dana, author of Two Years Before the Mast in which he describes the local harbor as it was more than a century ago. San Juan Capistrano is home to a famous Spanish mission, founded by Padre Junipero Serra in 1776 and named after St. John of Capistrano, a Crusader. The stone church was completed in 1806 but only the chapel survived an earth-quake in 1812. For decades swallows would arrive at the mission from their winter home in Argentina on or about March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph, but in recent years the number of swallows returning to the mission has dwindled because of scaffolding that surrounds the church and the development boom in the area.

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