The Crown City masquerades as a calm and refined retreat, where well-bred ladies glide around their perfect bungalows and everyone knows what fork to use first. But don’t be fooled by appearances. Dip into the confidential files of old Pasadena and meet assassins and oddballs, kidnappers and slashers, Satanists and all manner of maniac in a delightful little tour you WON‘T find recommended by the better class of people! From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination (with a visit to Sirhan Sirhan’s folks’ house), Eraserhead star Jack Nance’s strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons’ death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour’s dozens of murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that’s as fascinating as it is creepy. Passengers will tour the old Millionaire’s Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall and discover why people named Judd should think twice before moving to Pasadena.
For Richard’s once-a-year birthday bus adventure, we invite you to join us for an all-day outing exploring the history, landscape and built environment of Orange and Los Angeles Counties. No need to pack a picnic lunch, as we will stop at an Indian food buffet, with the meal cost included in your ticket purchase.
This is a one-time only bus adventure that will never be repeated. Stops include a jazz age mausoleum (Melrose Abbey in Anaheim, tour led by cemetery historian Nathan Marsak), a mid-century master-planned city (William Pereira’s Irvine, with our native guide, architect and historian Alan Hess), a collection of restored and relocated early California landmarks (Heritage Hill Historical Park, Lake Forest) and two important Southern California medical and social service institutions (Metropolitan State Hospital, Norwalk and Rancho Los Amigos, Downey). To learn more about this all-day excursion, read on!
In Anaheim – Cemetery historian Nathan Marsak introduces us to MELROSE ABBEY (Richard Haley, 1929), a mausoleum designed in the California Mission-ized spirit of its namesake Gothic Scottish ruin, as memorialized by Sir Walter Scott. Here lies the luminous Carolyn Jones, ever known as Morticia Addams…
In Irvine – Join architect and historian Alan Hess to explore the endangered mid-century legacy of WILLIAM PEREIRA, city planner and architect, at the project that represents the high point of his career and of the state’s economic power, influence and glory: the transformation in the early 1960s of the old Irvine Ranch into a master-planned City and University. Our focus will be UC Irvine and the University Park neighborhood. At UCI, we’ll focus on the core buildings around Aldrich Park, all of which are classic Late Modern, integrated into a beltway with an enhanced sense of topography, design and environment. At University Park, planned by Pereira and designed by architects Richardson, Nagy and Martin, we’ll explore one of the first implementations of a superblock, with greenbelts focused on walkability and open space…
In Lake Forest (formerly El Toro) – Take a time travel trip through a 19th century eucalyptus forest leading to a collection of restored and relocated landmarks at HERITAGE HILL HISTORIC PARK. On site are four fully restored and furnished historic buildings illuminating the early history of the Saddleback Valley and El Toro area, from the Mexican Rancho era (Serrano Adobe, c. 1863) to the founding of the town of El Toro (El Toro Grammar School, 1890; St. George’s Episcopal Mission, 1891) through the citrus farming era (Harvey Bennett Ranch House, 1908). There is also a reconstruction of an Indian village, representing the life of the “People of the Land Before 1769”…
In Norwalk – Enjoy a rare on-site tour of the METROPOLITAN STATE HOSPITAL, including the 162-acre institution’s new history museum, which sensitively interprets a century of evolving mental health policy in Southern California through fascinating artifacts and vintage photographs…
In Downey – As the sun sets, we’ll visit the beautiful, decaying Southern Campus of RANCHO LOS AMIGOS. Originally known as The Los Angeles County Poor Farm, it was established in 1888 as a rehabilitation facility providing work, housing and medical care for the indigent. The period of greatest construction was the 1920s, with notable structures in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The now vacant historic buildings are unfortunately popular with trespassing “urban explorers” and ghost hunters, which may explain several recent major fires. The old campus is slated for redevelopment, which is expected to include the preservation and adaptive reuse of some of the historic structures. Here’s your chance to get to know these beautiful structures in their original setting, before they are restored.
Please note that this is a Special Event, and vouchers and discounts good on our regularly scheduled bus adventures are not accepted for this tour.
Update: please note the changed time for this event – Mayor Eric Garcetti will be cutting the Centennial cake at 10:30am (formerly listed as 9:30am).
You are cordially invited to join us at Grand Central Market to celebrate the Centennial of this Los Angeles institution, which also happens to be the home of our free monthly cultural lecture and walking tour series, the LAVA Sunday Salon.
The festivities last all day and into the night (see this link for details), and include live music from Janet Klein and the Parlor Boys, free rides on Angels Flight, a costume contest, cookbook release party and much more.
You’re welcome to visit Grand Central Market on Centennial Day as your schedule allows, but here at LAVA, we like cake. So please join us at 9:30 a.m. for the unveiling of a massive, 100-layer birthday cake created by Valerie Confections. There will be free slices for everyone as we toast the next century of L.A.’s iconic breadbasket. Long may she serve.
LAVA and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission invite you to join them for a free tour of a downtown landmark that is also home to a contemporary lobby mural by Kent Twitchell: Bob Hope Patriotic Hall (Allied Architects,1925).
Brigadier General Ruth Wong (US Air Force, Ret.), the Director of the County of of Los Angeles’ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, will lead the tour of the building and discuss its history. Archivist Glen Roosevelt will share some of the historic military artifacts held in the Patriotic Hall. And artist Kent Twitchell will be on hand to discuss his 2010 commission to replace the original 1942 lobby murals (by Pasadena artist Helen Lundeberg), which were lost during a 1970s renovation.
Space is limited for this free event, so please only RSVP if you can attend. No “plus ones”—each attendee must sign up with a unique name and email address.
Parking around Patriotic Hall is quite limited so please give yourself plenty of time to find a spot, or take public transportation.
Join us as C.C. de Vere, creator of the Frenchtown Confidential blog, shines a light on the long-forgotten Gallic roots of the city of Los Angeles.
Did you know that French and French-Canadian newcomers outnumbered all other immigrants in 1850s Los Angeles… that the city’s second-oldest hospital was called The French Hospital for over 125 years… that until the 1890s, French was the second most commonly spoken language (after Spanish)? At this month’s LAVA Sunday Salon and walking tour, Frenchtown Confidential lives again.
C.C.’s short illustrated lecture begins at 2pm, and highlights some of the more famous locations and incidents covered in her blog. After the lecture, we will pack our gear and walk to the Plaza, to visit a number of significant Franco-Angeleno sites. Attendees should arrive on time and immediately check in at the LAVA table, and be prepared to make a walk of a little over a mile.
At the end of C.C.’s talk, and just before we leave for the Plaza, Fanny Daubigny, a French-born, Los Angeles–based writer, will read an excerpt of her forthcoming book ‘Proust in Black’. She teaches at CSUF and is the author of numerous articles on Marcel Proust. Fanny is also currently working on a translation of Suzanne Lummis’ poems.
Register by following the “buy tickets” link above. Each attendee must be registered with their own name and unique email address.
“[This tour is] a poetic journey full of rare insight into the life of a man who’s come to represent the ghettoized contingency of the City of Angels.” – Tanja M. Laden, Flavorpill
This tour focuses on Bukowski’s great passions: writing, screwing and Los Angeles. We’ll take in the canonical locations of his life and myth: the Postal Annex Terminal where he gathered the material for “Post Office,” the De Longpre apartment where he briefly experimented with marriage and fatherhood, the cathedral-like Central Library, an iconic SRO apartment residence and many other spots. Along the way, we’ll explore the people and ideas that made up the warp and weft of Buk’s rich inner life. This Esotouric bus adventure is hosted by Richard Schave and spans Bukowski’s personal city, from Skid Row to once-genteel Crown Hill, to Bukowski’s favorite East Hollywood liquor store, the Pink Elephant.
Go East, Young Crime Fiend!
For years, the devoted and demented crime historians of Esotouric stockpiled hideous 20th century crime tales from the east side of the Los Angeles River, waiting for the perfect moment to spring them upon an unsuspecting world. That moment has arrived. On the EASTSIDE BABYLON tour you’ll discover fascinating, little-known neighborhoods and the grim memories they hold. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.’s oldest cemetery and home of some most unusual burials. Visit East Los Angeles, where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride–and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood’s myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder. All this, and so much more on EASTSIDE BABYLON, Esotouric’s exploration of L.A.’s most horrifying forgotten crimes.
On this guided tour through the Beverly Hills of the early 20th Century, Crime Bus passengers thrill as Jazz Age bootleggers run amok, marvel at the Krazy Kafitz family’s litany of murder-suicides, attempted husband slayings, Byzantine estate battles and mad bombings, visit the shortest street in Los Angeles (15′ long Powers Place, with its magnificent views of the mansions of Alvarado Terrace), discover which fabulous mansion was once transformed into a functioning whiskey factory using every room in the house, and stroll the haunted paths of Rosedale Cemetery, site of notable burials (May K. Rindge, the mother of Malibu) and odd graveside crimes. Featured players include the most famous dwarf in Hollywood, mass suicide ringleader Reverend Jim Jones, wacky millionaires who can’t control their automobiles, human mole bank robbers, comically inept fumigators, kids trapped in tar pits, and dozens of other unusual and fascinating denizens of early Los Angeles.
There are even some celebrity sites along the route, including the death scenes of Motown soul sensation Marvin Gaye and 1920s star Angels baseball catcher Gus Sandberg. And the architecture too is to die for, as the Crime Bus rolls down the elegant streets of old West Adams, lined with gay mansions, adorable bungalows and signs of a century’s decay which only enhance the neighborhood’s charm.
The tour also offers an overview of the neighborhood’s many early subdivisions, and a groundbreaking court case that helped end housing discrimination nationwide.
Passengers on this eye-opening, funny and informative tour will forever see the West Adams district in a new light. It is highly recommended for natives and newcomers alike, crime and history buffs and anyone who likes to seek out the unexpected.
Wilshire Boulevard is an iconic Los Angeles thoroughfare—from its prehistoric origins as a path forged by extinct megafauna to the spectacular Art Deco monuments of the Miracle Mile. It’s also ground zero for some deeply strange, only-in-Los Angeles crimes and oddities that played out against the backdrop of the boulevard.
Esotouric is proud to present a brand new crime bus tour whose deceptively simple route contains a multitude of mysteries. For cruel plots, divine inspiration, historic preservation, love gone sour, lucky breaks and weird tales, join us on the Wilshire Boulevard Death Trip, a dark day’s out among the city’s most glittering architectural gems.
Bungalows. Crime. Hollywood. Blondes. Vets. Smog. Death.
This was Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles, which resonated under deft and melancholy fits from his writer’s bow.
Join us as we go down the mean streets that shaped his fiction, and that in turn shaped his hard-boiled times, in a four hour tour of downtown, Hollywood and surrounding environs: The Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the Hotel Van Nuys, Paramount Studio’s gates, and much, much more, including a Chandler-themed gelato stop at East Hollywood cult favorite Scoops.
Through published work, private correspondence, screenplays and film adaptations, we trace Chandler’s search for meaning and his anti-hero Philip Marlowe’s struggle to not be pigeonholed or give anything less than all he has, which lead them both down the rabbit hole of isolation, depression, and drink.
Exclusive on this tour: the fascinating story of Raymond Chandler’s lost comic operetta The Princess and the Pedlar, a bombshell in Chandler studies, discovered by our own Kim Cooper in 2014.
Tour passengers will have the opportunity to purchase an autographed copy of co-host Kim Cooper’s mystery novel The Kept Girl, inspired by this tour and starring the young Chandler and the real-life Philip Marlowe on the trail of a cult of murderous angel worshippers, as well as the new Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles.