I’m embarrassed to admit that after living in this city for 11+ years I’ve barely set foot in the concrete enigma that is Downtown LA.
Why you ask? Mostly because of her tricky one-ways, the wafting smell of urine and the dark alleys where obviously there lurks a monster of one kind or another. For me, DTLA was the shadowy place the light didn’t touch and so I heeded Mustafa’s advice and steered clear whenever possible.
But honestly 10 years ago she was unattractive. After decades of abuse and neglect the beautiful art deco facades of downtown began to crumble and slowly she became a shell of her former glamorous self when the well to do and celebrities flocked to her theaters, restaurants and hotels in the 1920’s and 30’s. I have wistfully poured over pictures and articles of that magical time in the city’s history. She was so spectacular!
The reality however, the morose state of her disrepair always just bummed me out when I walked around the city. And so I would trek back up the 101 like the good little Valley Girl I am, leaving behind my dismal mood and an untold amount of unfulfilled adventures.
But over the last few years I’ve witnessed a visible difference, a major revolution. Every time I visit there’s new construction being done or renovations completed or a grand opening for whatever new bar or restaurant has moved in. The change is incredible! This city is dusting off her flapper dress and rising again, albeit slowly, into the dazzling metropolis she once was. Think less of the 20’s glitz & glamour, though, and more urban vitality. There’s a new, contagious energy in DTLA that was missing before but that you can’t deny has taken over the city.
I suppose I should give credit where credit is due. I have my fabulous friend Jacqueline to thank for my new adventurous relationship with Downtown. She, like me, is from Minnesota. When she told me she was moving out here and that she wanted to live downtown I was mortified! I thought, oh god, she’s going to hate it and move back immediately! But my words of hazard luckily did not pay off and she and her boyfriend Emmanuel moved there two summers ago.
Because of Jax Downtown Los Angeles is not as much a concrete enigma to me anymore as she is an artsy, culinary jungle ripe with an unlimited amount of fun! I’m very much looking forward to getting to know her better…and soon.
Rules for Visiting Downtown LA:
#1. Go in off-traffic times or you’ll regret ever getting in the car at all.
#2. Know where you’re going and where to park ahead of time.
#3. On that note, bring cash for parking, as most of the lots don’t accept debit cards.
#4. Go hungry. The food options down there are plentiful and worth the drive alone.
#5. Finally, and this one is really important, those aren’t homeless people, they’re hipsters. Apparently there’s a difference.