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Book Review Time

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 24, 2005, at 09:56AM

Saturday I picked up two books with information on Downtown: BlackBook List Los Angeles 2005 and Downtown Los Angeles: A Walking Guide (second item on the page). Obviously I haven't yet gotten into them in a lot of depth, but I figured I would drop reviews of my first impressions. One line BlackBook List summary: Great info, but I wish it had more on things like hours. One line Walking Guide summary: Good stuff, but a little outdated now.

The BlackBook List is a small guide to restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. It's got short two to three sentence attitude-filled reviews of places all over LA. For instance, the review of Weiland Brewery in Little Tokyo:

Weiland Brewery 400 E. 1st St. (Alameda) (213) 680-2881 Frequent this brewery from 1898, which closed only during that nasty prohibition business, if you like to drink near the source. Original brick structure houses a high-beamed ceiling, eclectic jukebox and muscular selection of beers. Don't ask for an O'Doul's unless you want to get your mouth washed out with hops.

All in all it's good stuff, and has a fair share of places I wasn't familiar with. Like I mentioned in the short summary, I wish it had more info on hours, etc, but I understand that the small format doesn't really allow that.

My parents tried to order me Downtown Los Angeles: A Walking Guide for Christmas, but it didn't ship in time so they tasked me with buying it once I got back out here. I finally got a chance to pick it up Saturday. The fourth edition has a copyright date in 2004, but some of the information doesn't seem like it's been updated that recently. For instance we read that "A major private investor in the Historic Core is Ira E. Yellin," but sadly Yellin died in 2002. Information on the Historic Core's residential boom is also lacking: the book mentions only Grand Central Square Apartments, Angelus Plaza, and Tom Gilmore's Old Bank District. Mentioned redevelopment plans seem a bit off the radar these days:

Downtown's separate parts must be joined back into a whole. Walkways should connect formerly separate districts. Electric trolley "circulator" buses would sail up and down Broadway. The rebuilt Angel's Flight would be joined by one or two other "flights."

Electric trolley buses and more funiculars are not things I expect to see built any time soon.

Occassional information is just plain wrong. The map on page 24 has Spring Street a one-way going north (it actually goes south), while Hill Street is a one-way going south (it's actually a two-way street).

But as long as you don't rely on the details too heavily, the book seems good. Just double-check things before you get too attached to what it's saying.

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