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Morning's Journey to Daycare

By David Kennedy
Published: Wednesday, August 09, 2006, at 01:02PM

This morning was one of those mornings that happens to parents of young children on a semi-regular basis -- everything went wrong. The end result was I had to drive my daughter to her daycare at Union Station. Usually, her mother drops her off via the Rapid or Dash buses. Even though, it was a hassle and I was late for work, the short drive gives me a lot of pleasure. I love how in such a short trip, I pass through so many interesting neighborhoods.

As we exit the parking structure and head east on 9th near Broadway, we pass my beloved Angelique Cafe and the new snazzy Tiarra Cafe. As we roll through the northern edge of the Fashion District, the clothing stores gradually give way to a concentration of shops selling all kinds of fabrics with their wares spilling onto the street. As we approach San Pedro, there is the Croissant Shop. This is one of those places you always say, "I gotta stop there sometime." I finally did the other day. Forget about it. The croissants are not worth stopping for. Too dry.

Heading north on San Pedro, there is a collection of flower shops which have spread from the traditional confines of the Flower District. Before I got married I used to go here all the time. It is wonderful seeing the district grow. Also, I think of ghosts of downtown's past. You can see the sign for Gorky's, a watering hole from years ago.

The vibrancy of the Flower District gives way to the squalor and stupidity of Skid Row. Amid a group of people camped out on the street, I see an obese street person laying unconscious on piece of cardboard on the sidewalk. I ponder the never-ending pleas of 'compassion' for this wretched soul. I wonder how progressive politicos squares this reality with their rhetoric. I think of the wisdom of our city's authorities and wonder why they think this place makes sense. Seems to me they've had decades to sort this out.

Before I think through these issues more deeply, the Toy District is upon us. Another place bustling with business and life. I'm always amazed when I think how this place got started. I heard it was a bunch of refugees fleeing Vietnam in the late 70s who'd settled in southern California. Working for minimum wage as dishwashers, they started selling toys from the back of trucks in this rundown neighborhood. From this seed, the Toy District blossomed. I have no idea if this is true.

As we drive through Little Tokyo, my daughter points out our pediatrician's office. We've been very pleased to find an abundance of excellent doctors in this neighborhood. We got references from our pediatrician for a urologist and podiatrist. We were a little skeptical at first. But, we've been completely won over. If you're new to the neighborhood and need a doctor, Little Tokyo is a great place to look.

Crossing Alameda on 2nd, we enter the Artist District. Plenty of residential construction going on here. I really hope these projects bring some life to this neighborhood. I've lived downtown for years and the Arts District has always struck me as an insular place. The only thing that drew me to this neighborhood was a bookstore which had a short run near Sci-Arc. It puzzled me why they couldn't make it here. Hopefully, these new residences will make the neighborhood a little more lively in a public way.

Turning onto Sante Fe which merges into Center Street, we pass through an older industrial area. There is no pedestrian activity, but I assume the area is busy with work inside. As we approach the 101 underpass, in the distance we can see various iconic buildings -- City Hall, Hall of Justice, the Cathedral. I also spy the bridge spanning the 101 for the Gold Line extension to East L.A. As soon as we emerge from the underpass beneath the 101, Union Station and the MTA Tower are before us. My daughter's daycare is here. We enter the parking structure and pass through the new secure parking gate (thanks to terrorist concerns), I park and take the elevator to my daughter's daycare.

The whole trip is about 2.5 miles and takes me only a few minutes. But, the journey takes me through so many different parts of downtown. It is a small pleasure and compensates for the morning's chaotic beginning.

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