Sunday, August 09, 2009

Downtown Los Angeles: Getting There and Getting Around

If you visit Los Angeles and arrive in a car, you must understand that you will spend a lot of your sight-seeing day here:
[This photograph does not give you the reality of the mind-numbing bumper to bumper congestion that occurs daily on Los Angeles freeways. Case in point: we spent a full hour Saturday evening driving at the wild and heady pace of 5 mph, speeding north on the 405 past the Los Angeles International Airport.]

You must also understand that, like all major cities of the world, parking space is limited and therefore costly. In downtown Los Angeles, parking costs range from $1.00 to $10.00. And that's if you can actually find a parking lot with available parking.

[I hope you do not think me bitter. Not at all. I am merely stating the facts here.]

Would it not be much much better, much simpler, to utilize the mass transit system? Of course it would! Hop on a bus ($1.25 fare) and let someone else do the driving and dodging, accelerating and braking. Disembark from the rapid bus at the newly constructed Metro Train Station at Vermont and Wilshire.

You can choose stairs or escalator. Queue up to purchase your All Day Pass ($5.00).

Trains come and go every few minutes. Stand on the side of the platform that says Union Station. Pretend that you are in London, riding The Tube. Imagine the British accented voice telling you to 'Mind the Gap' as you step on the train.

Grab a seat if you can and count your stops. Three to Union Station.

Look all around you at the old elegance of this still gracious railway station of yesteryear. Notice the high ceiling, the polished wood painted to match the tile motifs on the walls, columns and floors. Think about rail way station scenes from Funny Girl.



Welcome to Los Angeles!

Walk across Alameda Avenue. Straight ahead you will see Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles. There are shops, museums, and restaurants to explore. There may even be a movie photo shoot happening!


No cars here. The movie location caterer has to walk several blocks from the closest Starbuck's to bring stars and directors their afternoon coffee.

On Hill Street, at the bottom of Bunker Hill, skyscrapers tower above you, built sturdily to withstand even the strongest earthquake.


In earlier times, the Angel's Flight Funicular transported passengers up and down the hill. But now it hangs sadly on its wires, watching the pedestrians huff and puff on the hundreds of steps that parallel its tracks.


You can't see the details of skyscrapers or funiculars if you are cooped up in your car. It's much more interesting to stroll through Grand Central Market over to Broadway and down to Ninth, across to Maple and the Fashion District.

If you get lost, you can always ask the yellow shirted Los Angeles Downtown Safe Team guy for directions back to the Metro Station at Pershing Square. That's what he's there for.

[Thanks to David McMahon for selecting this post as a top contender for Post Of The Day.]

23 comments:

ellen b. said...

Great post Willow. I've been tempted to take the train to L.A. It would be interesting to go back to Olvera Street. My 1st grade class went there on a field trip :0)

nikkipolani said...

I agree -- terrific post! I'd gone into LA years ago when the blue line (I think) had just been opened. Definitely better than driving and (not)parking :-)

Dorothy said...

Fun post, Willow! I almost feel like I've been to L.A.!

Tracy said...

FANTASTIC post, Willow! Thanks for taking us along... I've not been to LA...hopefully one day, although getting around does seem daunting to say the least--LOL! Happy Days, my friend ((HUGS))

Roxie said...

Since DH has family in LA, I have already seen more freeway than I care to. Your tour was the best I have ever had!

The Curious Cat said...

That is rather cool - I sit in London but I kind of get to see a little of Los Angeles - I like it! Why is the Angel's Flight Funicular not working anymore? What a shame...my boyfriend is off there next week...I'll warn him about the traffic! xxx

Marg said...

That's the best tour that I have been on and it didn't take 10 hours.
It sure pays to use the transit system.
In Europe we always take the trains.

Flower said...

You have shown us the way to go!!

david mcmahon said...

I remember those scenes from Funny Girl!

Mama Mia said...

I miss my town!! Thanks for the wonderful jaunt down memory lane, Mums. :o) Remember the time we got one of the Safe Team guys calling all over their radio lines trying to find us a good place to get manis & pedis??? hehehe...

Caroline said...

Since my sister and her family moved from Redlands to the Midwest over five seven years ago, we hardly ever venture into Southern California. You've made it look almost inviting. I do love that there's so much history there.

I remember your connections to Humboldt County. It is such a beautiful place. My parents are both approaching their eighties, and I'm not sure how much longer they'll be able to maintain their huge yard. I keep thinking that we should just trade houses and I'll just teach at College of the Redwoods. Ha, ha

Melanie said...

I like to explore by foot if I can. I miss so much when I whizz in a car. A lot of UK cities have congestion problems now so have "Park and Ride" schemes. You pay a small amount to park outside the city then a regular bus takes you in to the city so you can shop. It does mean though that if you want large items you use out of town shops with parking outside them instead.

Lovely tour of LA. I've never been.

Wolynski said...

Great tour of downtown L.A. No, you're not bitter - L.A. could use a better transit system. Union Station is just wonderful. Great photos.

Betty said...

Willow,

Thank you for a different view of our wonderful United States...completely opposite of my scenery...rolling farmlands, forests, livestock....

Thank you for the kind comment regarding my husband's recovery...we are so thankful....

Please drop by again...Betty

Moannie said...

I once navigated JP and kids from Las Vegas to LA, right up to the entrance of our pre-booked hotel-everyone was as surprised as I. We managed to see a lot of LA in two days, but not one of these places...too late now to go back so thanks for these great pics, and thanks to David for giving you a mention.

Jientje said...

I would LOVE to that one day, and explore LA like this! Sounds much more fun than a traffic jam! Thanks for this great post Willow. It was as if I was right there with you!

Sara said...

I love Union Station! Whenever I am there (which isn't very often) I like to imagine it in the 1940's, when it would have been in full swing, men in suits and hats, women in dresses, heels and hats, and everyone bustling to and fro catching their train or arriving.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Are you like a professional travel writer just playing with us here in blogland? You captured a great day in LA perfectly!

Love old train stations! Sara is right...go there wearing hats, gloves and suits! Why not?

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

What an awesome post, Willow! Thanks so much for sharing this information ~ it otherwise would never have occurred to me to try the mass transit system. Looks like a fun way to explore downtown LA!

Deb said...

Thank you for the tour of LA. I have never been there although I would like to someday. I come from a small town in a small state and would probably be quite overwhelmed in LA but I would love the adventure!

kbbryant said...

Oh Willow, I loved this post..many memories of my childhood. We went to the train station to pick up my grandparents from Ohio and my dad worked in the main post office next door. Angels Flight! I had forgotten all about that one.

neulekirppu said...

The Union Station looks lovely!

momy4him said...

you make LA look fun! i want to go now!