Week 224: Mid-Wilshire / Miracle Mile

December 13, 2020

 10,000 Steps a Day in L.A. #18: Treading Above the Goo, 4.11 miles. 

With apologies to Paul Haddad, Barbara and I had a reason to do his excellent 5-mile hike backwards and with a few adjustments. However you choose to walk it, this hike covers L.A. history, landscape, and architecture from 2-million years ago to today. We parked near the Farmers' Market and walked south to the intersection of Fairfax and Wilshire, one of the most architecturally diverse corners in the city. On the NW corner, Johnie's Coffee Shop, built in 1956 and deemed a L.A. Historic Cultural Landmark as one of the few remaining examples of the "Space Age" Googie architecture popular for diners and coffee shops in the 1940s to 1960s. On the SE corner, the Peterson Automotive Museum, opened in 1994 then redesigned and wrapped with a "hot rod red" stainless steel ribbon in 2015. Takes my breath away every time I spot it in the distance. Next to us on the NE corner, the 1939 May Company building, another L.A. Historic Cultural Landmark for its gold-tiled cylindrical section, one of the "grandest examples of Streamline Moderne architecture remaining in L.A." This famous building will become even more famous when it re-opens on April 30, 2021 as the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, complete with the brand-new, 3000 sq. ft. global theater added in the back. Heading east on Wilshire, we stopped for pix at Urban Light, an assemblage sculpture of 202 old L.A. street lamps from the 20s and 30s, put together by Chris Burden as the entrance to LACMA. Except LACMA's not there anymore! Demolished just this year, the new LACMA $650,000,000 campus won't open until 2024—it's all dirt and cranes behind a long fence right now. Moving on, we wandered into and around the LaBrea Tar Pits, the visible portion of the giant subterranean oil field sitting below Hancock Park for the last 2.6 million years. Captain Allan Hancock donated the land to the city in 1916 with a request to "preserve the science." A million fossils have been excavated from the site since 1906, and, according to the sign on the construction site for the Purple Line Fairfax Station across Wilshire, they're still digging up skulls and bones. We wandered through the tar pit grounds past the Page Museum, came out at Curson, then walked up to and through a portion of Park La Brea. Opened in 1948, Park La Brea's 4,255 units in towers and garden apartments covering 160 acres make it the largest housing development west of the Mississippi. A quick left at 3rd St. put us at the East entrance of Pan Pacific Park, and a quick stroll through to the West end put us at our real destination: The Grove. Its land has a cool history, from 1880s dairy farm to oil field to 1948's Gilmore Drive-in. The Grove opened in 2002 as an outdoor center with shops, restaurants, movie theaters, and fountain. Perfect for an early Sunday morning, social distanced holiday window shopping fix—our reason for doing this hike backwards. We exited through the Farmers' Market, the historic, 1934 L.A. Landmark, with a wave goodbye to the Travel Angel, thankful for an almost normal morning in the city. 




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