Week 181: The DTLA Arts District

July 28, 2019

10,000 Steps a Day in L.A. #3: Industrial Chic, 2.9 miles

This hike changed Barbara's and my impressions of the DTLA Art District. Classy and eclectic, the original buildings (many historic monuments) have been given new life and opportunity. I can't wait to see how it grows and develops in years to come. The origin story of the area, west of the First Street to the Seventh Street bridges from Santa Fe Avenue to 4th Street began, as a lot of LA neighborhoods did, with the 19th-century arrival of industry along the L.A. River. From 1893-1939, the Santa Fe RR Depot at Santa Fe and 2nd St., attracted the growth of foundries, furniture, rubber, and apparel factories nearby. By the time the RR depot was demolished in 1946, industry had left their historic infrastructure behind and, within a few decades, the creatives moved into the abandoned warehouses. Ergo: the "Art District." Added to the charm of the neighborhood are the iconic bridges that cross the river. Merill Butler, L.A.'s Engineer of Bridges in the 1920s, gave each historic bridge a different architectural feel—First Street (corniced arches,) Fourth Street (Goth,) and Seventh Street (a double-decker.) Barbara and I began hiking down Mission Road to the Seventh Street bridge, constructed in 1910 for streetcars with a double-decker addition on top for cars in 1929. In the distance, construction on the new 6th Street Viaduct (the old one, the 1932 Streamline Moderne crown jewel of L.A. bridges, was deemed unsafe for earthquakes). Estimated completion date now 2022. To quote Barbara, "The bridge construction mess looks like the end of an Avengers movie." Across the 7th Street bridge, our first stop (and my biggest curiosity), was the new Warner Music Group HQ in the former Ford Factory on Santa Fe. On the National Register of Historic Places, Ford Factory L.A. manufactured Model-T's and then Model-A's from 1914–1929. WMG bought the entire building in 2018 and spiffed it up into an artistic, old-on-the outside, new-on-the inside, environment of old brick, neon, and steel. Facing the entrance on Santa Fe is the former LAFD Engine Co. No. 17 (1917–1980), now a restaurant and hotel. We hiked up 7th to Mateo Street and over to another historic landmark, the 1925, Nabisco L.A. HQ (Oreos! Mallomars!) now the Biscuit Company Lofts with a starting price of $800K. Each.  Up the block, the purple/red/green Two Bit Circus, the world's 1st micro-amusement park with virtual reality rooms like "Lost City" and "Escape from Werewolf Village." West on Palmetto past old bldgs. with new face lifts, including the Mateo Building that houses part of the USC Roski School of Art & Design; and the 1881–1992 Barker Bros. Factory Warehouse, now fancy lofts. Down Hewitt to the Urth Caffé, over to Coylton for a look at the block-long stretch of murals known as the Arts District Flea. Each block breathing new life, new creativity, and new promise for a very old neighborhood. We walked across the 4th Street Bridge, over the set for Grease's "greased lightning scene," to pick up the car then returned to Urth for mochas. LOVED this neighborhood!

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