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What's It Like Living Downtown?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2005, at 09:36PM

I got an email today with some questions that I thought really captured what I hear people asking about Downtown LA. I answered it; and also asked if I could post the question and answer on the website. He agreed, and here it is. I'd love to hear how others would answer the same questions.

I am a native Los Angelino (grew up around the Fairfax / Melrose area) who has been living in New York for a couple of years now. I'm going to be moving back to Los Angeles this October and was reading up on the latest developments in and around Los Angeles. From what I've read in various sources, Downtown LA is undergoing quite the little renaissance. Is Downtown really being transformed the way it sounds like it is? I know there are lots of pricey apartment buildings and condos being converted/constructed but how is living in Downtown right now? Are there any decent places open after 5pm now? I remember Downtown rolling up the sidewalks after business hours and all day on the weekends. Is there anything to go to after hours now? Do any shops stay open late, or is it still a ghost town at night with panhandlers and crime?

From an insiders perspective, what are your thoughts on living in Downtown?

Just thought I'd seek info from one who actually lives there vs. what I read from developer propaganda ;)

My answer is after the jump.

Here's what I wrote in response.

I moved Downtown last May, and it's been fascinating to me to watch the progression of Downtown even since I've been here. It really is a situation where the amenities such as food and nightlife follow the residents. Sometimes there's a bit of a delay, but they are coming.

How things stay open definitely seems to me to depend on the neighborhood Downtown. The skyscrapers still shut down when the workers leave, as do most of their little food places. The fancy restaurants stay open, and that part of town does a good night business for Staples events and Music Center/Disney Hall patrons, but that area still feels to me like it closes up early.

I live in the Historic Core, over on Spring Street. Next door to me is a pizza place that's open until 10pm. A few blocks away is Pete's Cafe, in Tom Gilmore's Old Bank District. They serve a great burger late into the night (and other stuff, but that's all I get). Next door to Pete's is Banquette, a fun little cafe with really good salads and sandwiches. I'm not sure their hours, but they definitely stay open into the 9 or 10 range. Across the street is a little market that's open similar hours. The PE Lofts at 6th and Main will be opening soon, and they're talking about a bunch of that sort of stuff that'll be going in on the ground floor.

Nightlife wise, last night I walked over to the Golden Gopher (4 blocks), a fairly new bar that's been mentioned in the NY Times quite a few times. The same people just opened the Broadway Bar, a block away and right next to the Orpheum theatre. They're also involved in at least two other Historic Core bar projects that should be opening in the next six months.

Downtown LA isn't to a pedestrian nightlife level anywhere near NY, but it's definitely starting to pick up steam.

I couldn't see living anywhere else in LA right now. I love the urban feel, and especially all the cool old buildings of the Historic Core. It's just exciting to walk around and see new things opening all the time. Downtown really does have an energy to it right now.

Hope that helps,


So my question to the rest of you is, what would say to those questions? What's it like for you living here (those of you that do)?


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