Brisbane Airport BNE Issue 5 - page 22

BNE October/November 2014
Tim Richards
takes a detour downtown in LA and discovers
some special attractions not to miss
any travellers think they have Los
Angeles figured out. It’s Disneyland on
one side and the Pacific coast on the
other, Hollywood up top, and lots of freeways
in between. Right? It’s true that the combined
appeal of Mickey Mouse, beaches and the
silver screen isn’t going to fade any time soon.
However, in the heart of LA where tourists rarely
go, there are attractions around the revived
Downtown area which provide new insights to
the City of Angels.
1. The French Dipped
LA’s foodie treasure is the French Dipped
Sandwich, as perfected by Philippe the Original
(1001 N Alameda St). This old-fashioned diner
on the edge of Chinatown has funky retro
décor, long timber tables, sawdust on the floor
and a counter selling classic candy.
What makes the place special is its roast beef
sandwich. According to legend it was created by
accident in 1908, when a sandwich intended for
a hungry policeman was accidentally dropped
into the bottom of a roasting pan. The officer
loved the result and from that time the French
Dipped Sandwich has been on the menu.
Nowadays it’s made while customers wait,
incorporating a
which has been rendered
from roasting pan drippings and beef stock
over two days. It’s served with pickles, chilli,
potato salad, a boiled egg, and a big side serve
of nostalgia. See
2. Theatres of Broadway
Move over New York – Los Angeles has a
Broadway too. A century ago, it was the
thriving shopfront of Hollywood, lined with
cinemas showing the greatest movies to emerge
from the city’s famous studios. Over the
decades, LA’s Downtown fell on hard times.
Now, however, the area is being regenerated
and the marvellous old façades and interiors
restored to their former glory.
Take a walk along Broadway below Pershing
Square and look out for such gems as Loew’s
State Theatre, once the home of Metro Pictures;
the stylish Tower Theatre which screened the
first “talkie” in 1927; the renovated Orpheum
Theatre where you can still catch a classic film;
and the extraordinary Los Angeles Theatre,
modelled on the Palace of Versailles.
Better still, at 10am Saturdays there is a
Broadway Historic Theatre and Commercial
District Walking Tour. See
3. TheGrammyMuseum
On the western edge of Downtown, the
Grammy Museum (800 W Olympic Blvd) is
housed within LA Live. This purpose-built
precinct is filled with live performance venues
and cool eateries.
The museum’s exhibits are cleverly laid out,
with lots of interactive elements. You’re sure to
learn something about unfamiliar genres as you
make your way through each level. There are
alcoves devoted to particular musical genres,
from jazz to rock, each featuring details of its
history and stars.
Another great feature is a classic jukebox
which has been souped up by the addition of
a digital music library and big screens. As each
tune plays, text pops up to explain the song’s
history. You may have trouble tearing yourself
away from playing the nostalgic hits of your
childhood. See
4. Culver City
Never heard of this LA locale, sitting halfway
between Downtown and the beachfront of
Santa Monica? Laid out in 1917, this suburb has
always been a movie-making hub. It still hosts
the vast Sony Studios, where
The Wizard of Oz
was filmed when the lot belonged to MGM.
The regular studio tour reveals famous sets and
props behind art deco façades, then a walk to the
intersection of Washington and Culver Boulevards
is the gateway to a neighbourhood of great bars
and restaurants with a smart casual vibe.
A highlight here is Rush Street (9546
Washington Blvd), a Chicago-style bar with
classy burgers and craft cocktails, the latter
containing memorable local ingredients such
as tequila, jalapeno chilli or agave syrup. Other
great local bars include City Tavern (9739
Culver Blvd), with its multitude of beers; wine
specialist Bottlerock (3847 Main St); and the
smooth Seventy 7 (rear of 3843 Main St), a
speakeasy bar in an alley.
5. América Tropical
Before Los Angeles was a great American city,
it was a tiny Spanish village. The heart of
that village, El Pueblo
org), survives just north of Downtown and
there’s plenty to see on a wander around this
compact area. Off a broad plaza, pedestrian
Olvera Street leads north past old, low
buildings and is dominated by a colourful
‘Mexican marketplace’.
A highlight is the Avila Adobe, a home built
in 1818 for a wealthy Mexican cattle rancher
and the oldest building still standing in the city.
A little further along is an even more
intriguing museum, opened in late 2012:
the América Tropical Interpretive Center
This institution explains the political turmoil
of the Depression era in LA, focusing on the
controversial América Tropical mural painted
in 1932 above Olvera Street by a Mexican
muralist. Climb the stairs to see the newly re-
exposed art … and reflect on the always lively
story of LA.
Getting there
Fly direct from Brisbane to LA with new daily
services by Virgin Australia from 26 October
2014. See
Tim Richards was hosted by the Los Angeles
Tourism & Convention Board
Another side to LA
Where to stay
Figueroa Hotel
(939 S Figueroa St).
Casablanca collides with ancient Arabia at
this lush inner city oasis originally built in
1925 as a YWCA then converted to a hotel
after the Depression. It’s a popular watering
hole pre- and post-concerts and shows
nearby. A hot spot for people watching. See
Culver Hotel
(9400 Culver Blvd). Opened
in 1924, the hotel was in its heyday in the
1930s and ‘40s providing a temporary home
for film stars in
The Wizard of Oz
With the Wind
as Culver City also became
the home of the major movie studios. A
major renovation was completed last year.
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
(506 S Grand
Ave). This European-style palace celebrates
90 years this year and the grande dame
has played host to many movies including
Iron Man
The Dark Knight Rises
which have filmed scenes in its
plush surrounds. For more information see
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