P!LA: By Car

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Sunday, April 5, 2009
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Downtown. (All photos Matt Chaban)

Downtown. (All photos Matt Chaban)

What better way to see LA than the way she was intended, by car. My colleague Sam Lubell was kind enough to chauffeur me around the city from time to time–when he wasn’t, the buses were surprisingly nice, far more so than in New York, I must admit. While Sam drove, I did my best to take a few pictures.

The windshield adds a nice artistic glow.

The windshield adds a nice artistic glow.

Coop Himmelb(l)aus High School for the Visual and Performing Arts.

Coop Himmelb(l)au's High School for the Visual and Performing Arts.

The Standard Downtown, where the Postopolis! LA magic happens all week.

The Standard Downtown, where the Postopolis! LA magic happens all week.

Signs of LAs past are everywhere, including theaters on nearly every street, even when theyre long gone and have been taken over by venders.

Signs of LA's past are everywhere, including theaters on nearly every street, even when they're long gone and have been taken over by vendors.

Sam says Langers has better pastrami than Katzs. That may be true, but can it top the Downtown Deli, around the corner from the AN offices and the best in town?

Sam says Langer's has better pastrami than Katz's. That may be true, but can it top the Downtown Deli, around the corner from the AN offices and the best in town?

Development had been so overheated that shiny new condos were being built everywhere, even atop older--and uglier--utility buildings. The result is rather interesting, though.

Development had been so overheated that shiny new condos were being built everywhere, even atop older--and uglier--utility buildings. The result is rather interesting, though.

UPDATE: Here are some more pictures from the bus ride to Union Station, where I caught another bus to the airport. Also, I was wrong about the above building. That’s a parking garage. See the comment section below for more.

Coming Temple Street we pass, appropriately enough, Rafael Moneos Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, a massive Catholic church overlooking downtown.

Coming to Temple Street we pass, appropriately enough, Rafael Moneo's Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, a massive Catholic church overlooking downtown.

And going down the hill: Moneo from the other side.

And going down the hill: Moneo from the other side.

Another look at Coop, from the Freeway--its really amazing how many of these buildings are truly designed to be experienced from this vantage point.

Another look at Coop, from the freeway--it's really amazing how many of these buildings are truly designed to be experienced from this vantage point.

The aforementioned Union Station, a splendid example of LAs baroque Deco-meets-Southwest traditions.

The aforementioned Union Station, a splendid example of LA's baroque Deco-meets-Southwest traditions.

The much maligned LA Live.

The much maligned LA Live.

If you dont know why, just ask Sam Hall Kaplan.

If you don't know why, just ask Sam Hall Kaplan.

Sprawl, beautiful sprawl. That dark outcropping in the background is downtown.

Sprawl, beautiful sprawl. That dark outcropping in the background is downtown.

The only way to truly get a handle on LA's immensity? Out an airplane porthole.

The only way to truly get a handle on LA's immensity? Out an airplane porthole.

3 Responses to “P!LA: By Car”

  1. kurt says:

    that last building is 1100 wilshire. yes they have been built into condos, but the 11 story brick clad building is the parking garage. and the tower above was always there too.

  2. Matt Chaban says:

    Kurt,

    Thanks for the heads up, and apologies for the mistake/presumptuousness. Not sure if this makes it better or worse, though I did find it particularly interesting, when later driving by the building on the 110, that the awful parking lot could not be seen from the freeway, only the glassy tower. Really makes you realize what, how, and for whom they’re designing in LA.

  3. One has to wonder if LA was really intended to be observed by car? Thanks to big oil companies and American auto makers Los Angeles went from having one of the best mass-transit systems in the world to the chaotic tangle of freeway spaghetti you see today. The dismantling of interurban railways, trolleys, etc. took less than a hundred years during the 20th century. I wonder if the urban core would be more vertical than it currently is provided these modes of transport were allowed to remain. Just some food for thought.

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