This is NOT a tour about beautiful buildings–although beautiful buildings will be all around you. This is NOT a tour about brilliant architects–although we will gaze upon their works and marvel.
Esotouric’s The Lowdown on Downtown IS a tour about urban redevelopment, public policy, protest, power and the police. It is a revealing history of how the New Downtown became an “overnight sensation” after decades of quiet work behind the scenes by public agencies and private developers. This tour is about what really happened in the heart of Los Angeles, a complicated story that will fascinate and infuriate, break your heart and thrill your spirit.
So join your host Richard Schave, the founding director of the Downtown LA Art Walk non-profit, on a tour that reveals the secret history, and the fascinating future, of this most beguiling LA neighborhood.
This is a tour about the populated, vibrant mid-20th Century Downtown Los Angeles you’ve only heard about, and about the 21st Century Downtown that can rise again with a richness of heritage and quality of life leaving natives and visitors gaping in disbelief. This is a tour about Downtown’s invisible neighborhoods and great public spaces which managed to escape the wrecking ball. This is a tour about how gentrification sprung up on the city’s meanest streets, with all the conflicts that go along with a major socio-economic shift in a small community, and about how the free speech concerns of Occupy LA protesters came into synch with those of homeless rights activists in a challenging moment for LAPD and the arts community. This is a tour about the real and evolving Los Angeles, the city even natives don’t know. Get on the bus for the real Lowdown on Downtown, as no one but Esotouric’s Richard Schave can reveal it.
Our tour begins in the corporate public spaces of Bunker Hill and Pershing Square, each the result of deliberate social engineering (the razing of old Bunker Hill which displaced 9,000 residents; the elimination of positive public space in Pershing Square to thwart public address and gatherings). We segue to the underappreciated yet extremely successful public spaces of the Historic Core and then to the emerging live/work community of The Old Bank District, where developer Tom Gilmore’s gentrification and the popular monthly Art Walk are bringing life to spaces which have been dead for decades. The tour concludes with a visit to an underground arts space.
Having studied under architecture critic Reyner Banham in the mid-1980s, tour host Richard Schave has taken it upon himself to correct his teacher’s gross oversight of downtown Los Angeles, relegated to a dismissive coda in his seminal Los Angeles guidebook Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies. Richard and his wife Kim Cooper work extensively with the history and lost cultures of downtown in their bus tours, in their work placing Art Walk into a non-profit, on blogs including On Bunker Hill, In SRO Land and1947project, and through public lectures on the subject.
This tour has a significant walking component, down the stairs along Angels Flight, around Pershing Square, through several other pedestrian locations. It is broken up, but please be advised to be ready to stretch your legs.
Locations on the tour include:
Grand Central Market
Mercantile Arcade Building
Bloom’s General Store
An underground arts space
This tour is just one of our California Culture tour series (formerly known as the Reyner Banham Loves L.A. series).