Posted by: Brad Nixon | October 14, 2010

Downtown L.A. Update

I’d like to add a few details that I omitted from an earlier post about buildings in downtown Los Angeles.

If you did not read the original post, I can save you some time. CLICK HERE to read the original piece, because I’ve now added the same information that I’ll present here.

The Los Angeles Conservancy has steady attendance for their guided tours of various parts of the city: informed docents lead you step by step, and make certain that you not only see the sights, but understand context and history. I recommend their tours to you if you have the chance to catch one.

En route from the Central Library to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, I snapped this shot.

Subway Terminal Building Brad Nixon 3423 (640x366)

This is the Subway Terminal Building from 1925. At the time, Los Angeles was building a new terminal for the Pacific Electric Railway Interurban or “Red Car” public transit system, and this noble structure was to serve as a new commercial nexus. Downtown at that time occupied the land around the foot of Bunker Hill, and the Hill itself was the residential area for the city’s power elite, so it made sense as a transit intersection.

There’s a further connection with the landmarks from last week, because the Subway Terminal architects, Schultze and Weaver, were also the architects of the Biltmore. A quick glance at THAT building is all you need to see the similarities:

Millennium Biltmore Brad Nixon 3424 640

The Subway Terminal project has been converted to residential purposes, as part of L.A.’s burgeoning renaissance as a downtown in which people actually live, as well as work, and let us hope that it is a trend which will lead to further resuscitation of regular life there. CLICK HERE to read more about the building.

On 5th street, I photographed an excellent Art Deco high rise:

Title Guarantee Brad Nixon 3425 (480x640)

That is the Title Guarantee and Trust Building, erected in 1930-31. There are some notable murals inside that depict the history of Los Angeles. Since I didn’t read up ahead of my visit, I passed by without looking inside, so I have no photos for you. Besides, I was on a mission to get to the Bradbury Building, and time was short, so I may not have ducked in there, even had I known there was more to be seen. Wikipedia tells us that this building served in the “Lou Grant” TV series as the headquarters of the fictional Los Angeles Tribune (L.A. is famous for newspapers that are primarily fictional). CLICK HERE to read more about this building.

Because we’re all about “Added Value” here at Under Western Skies, I’ll add a bonus look at the world of L.A. It’s a city famous for its freeways, and here’s one of those archetypal points at which freeways dominate the landscape. Just yesterday I was on my way to a meeting and found myself stalled in traffic on the exit ramp from eastbound I-105, the Century Freeway, onto the northbound, Harbor Freeway, I-110.

LA 110 - 105 interchange Brad Nixon 4290 (640x469)

Not your everyday bit of highway engineering. Here’s the secret to survival if you find yourself stalled in a similar situation, about 120 feet in the air: DON’T THINK ABOUT EARTHQUAKES.

2017: Years after this post appeared, that very ramp above was the scene to the memorable opening shot of “La La Land.”

Have a great day.

© Brad Nixon 2010, 2018


  1. oh downtown el-lay guru, is that city building that was on the badges in “dragnet” still there? and i suppose the record building is prolly in hollywood.
    thanks for these articles!


    • Yes, City Hall is northeast of the Bradbury and is newly renovated. I’ll visit there for you. I need to go there, because I’ve never been inside. The old Decca Records building IS in Hollywood. Now sez “Capitol.” I tried to shoot it that same day but traffic was bad and I’d’ve killed somebody. I’ll pull off the road and nab it some time.


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