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A Weekend Walk Through the Civic Center

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 17, 2005, at 12:59PM

Yesterday after getting back from church I decided it was just too nice to stay inside, so I figured a bit of a walk was in order. The one area of Downtown that I've probably most neglected is the Civic Center, so I set my course for there and took a little walk through that big part of Downtown that is government property.

From my apartment I started up Spring St. At 1st St. I remembered that I needed to stop by an ATM, so I went west to hit the Bank of America ATM on the corner of 1st and Broadway. Then I walked north another half block and turned left, walking through the Court of Flags (which it seems very hard to find a good picture of online). On Hill St. here there's one of the excellent Angels Walk history signs. From it you'll learn about the old County Courthouse, and the Hall of Justice. Interestingly, though, you'll only read that the Sherriff's Department moved out of the Hall of Justice in 1994; no mention is made that the building was red-tagged, and has ever since been embroiled in a dispute over who should pay to make it re-inhabitable. But that's getting a little out of order...

Crossing Hill St. you'll walk through the "El Paseo de Los Pobladores de Los Angeles" (and please don't ask me to type that again: it's a handful). It's nice enough as far as grassy areas go. On the weekend it had a handful of homeless people enoying the grass and a few other people walking around. Flying here on the side closer to Hill is a POW flag, to be flown until all soldiers missing in Vietnam are accounted for. To me that says it's flying forever. On the side closer to Grand Ave. you'll find a large fountain, though it turned off exactly as I was about to take a picture.

Walking up the stairs to Grand, I turned right and walked to Temple St. Here stands the still-new Cathedral, which I've never been inside. Just yesterday Jim Winstead mentioned that the Cathedral's exterior really isn't all that impressive, and I have to agree. That said, though, I know that their decision to go with rough stone was designed to make a statement about permanence.

Continuing downhill on Temple you pass the County's central heating and cooling plant, and then come to the aforementioned Hall of Justice. It's been over ten years since the Northridge quake and still the fight over who's going to pay for repairs goes on. It's so odd to see such an imposing building surrounded by fencing and with its doors boarded over with plywood.

I cut around the US Courthouse, and then found my way down to the Los Angeles Mall. The mall is completely empty on the weekends. The mall is several decades old, and many of the store signs look to be just as old. Where else are you going to find a B Dalton Booksellers? I hadn't heard of them since I last watched Reading Rainbow.

Exiting the Mall onto Los Angeles St. side, I walked down to 1st and cut west along the new Caltrans Building. I wandered the building's "public space" a little, dodging the film crew personnel that were at work. I'm still not sold on the building, though I did enjoy figuring out that ivy was intended to grow up its exposed concrete facings.

I walked down Main St. the rest of the way back to 6th. Again I ran across a film crew that had the street blocked off between 4th and 5th. Main St. is still well populated in the evening by those without much of anywhere else to go, but they left me to my business. I passed by one group of middle-aged to older men. The topic of conversation? Politics; specifically the Democratic party and Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

One block west on 6th and I was back to my apartment, my feet a little tired.

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