Observing Los Angeles

NY Post decrees LA is the future

dt-skyline-lao.jpgA New York Post real estate editor and travel writer have written a very readable travel piece on the "new" Los Angeles that transcends enthusiasm (though it has plenty of that.) It's actually savvy about some of the shifting cultural currents here. They declare that a decade of building transit lines and creating walkable neighborhoods has allowed the melting pot to "actually began melting, bubbling over messily and rather beautifully all over every aspect of city life." They cite four changing neighborhoods as exemplifying where LA is headed, and where tourists should visit: Downtown, Venice, Hollywood and the area around The Grove, which they label Mid-City West.

People who say that the Los Angeles sprawl cannot be tamed have obviously never been to London. Or maybe they have, and refuse to see the parallels between the two cities, both essentially a chain of villages that grew enough to bump into one another. All you have to do is knit the villages together with a proper transit system, and voila, everyone shuts up about sprawl.

It will take Los Angeles, oh, like, forever, to get all the way there, but in places like Mid-City West, a low-rise, vaguely suburban in-between spot, you can see it all coming together in what has become, rather by accident, one of the most vibrant parts of town.

Of course, it helped to have the historic farmers market at the corner of Third and Fairfax, next to the CBS Television City studio (“Price Is Right” taping anyone?); over time, everything seems to have evolved around it — the revived Fairfax District to the north, the gigantic Grove shopping center, the booming Third Street corridor, Beverly running parallel. This nabe is where you’ll find some of the country’s best sneaker/street-wear shopping (holla, Undefeated, Flight Club, Sportie LA) and, at the southern end of things, behind the imposing Park La Brea residential development, is the cultural magnet and gathering place that is LACMA; the Purple Line subway extension, which will link Downtown, Koreatown, Mid-City West and Beverly Hills with Century City, Brentwood, Westwood and, hopefully someday, the beach in Santa Monica, will have a station right at the museum entrance, at Wilshire and Fairfax.

Well actually a couple of blocks east, closer to LACMA's door — big bone of contention in the neighborhood.

Regarding Venice, where rising rents are forcing changes on Abbot Kinney Boulevard and fomenting a makeover of Rose Avenue: "Outside of Downtown, LA’s most fascinating area these days is Venice, which has gone from being a funky and fun dead end to being front and center in the city’s complete revamp. (Sorry, anyone who was thinking of buying a ridiculously cheap place in its ever declining catalog of seedy side streets — those days are essentially over.) What Venice has become is, quite simply, one of the most inspiring urban settings in North America, a major leap from a few short years ago."

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