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Downtown Art, Architecture and Culture

L.A.'s Music Center, the Cathedral, Bunker Hill and Library Square
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours

Overview :  This tour covers some of the highlights of the new art and architecture that have transformed downtown Los Angeles since redevelopment... more »

Tips:  Bring sturdy walking shoes and sunscreen. Because parking downtown is expensive arriving by public transit is recommended. The tour is... more »

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Points of Interest

Designed by the Spanish architect Jose Rafael Moneo and completed in 2002, the 11-story, austere contemporary structure is constructed of adobe-colored concrete. The cathedral is the third largest in the world.

Enter from Temple Street, up to the plaza level and through the monumental cast bronze doors. The doors and figure of Mary above were... More

The iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is a 2003 addition to the Music Center, the major performing arts complex of Los Angeles County. Clad in stainless steel, the impetus was a gift of $50 million by Lillian Disney for a concert hall as a tribute to her husband, Walt Disney.

The Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los... More

3. MOCA Grand Avenue at California Plaza

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has three facilities, including this Post-Modern 1981 red sandstone building by celebrated Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The sculpture in the courtyard is "Airplane Parts" by Nancy Rubin. The flagship giftshop is well worth a visit even if contemporary art is not your thing. The museum rotates works from... More

MOCA is part of the $1 billion California Plaza complex, a Bunker Hill Redevelopment project. The 133-acre redevelopment project area was created in 1959, generally contained by First and Fifth streets, the freeway on the west and Hill Street on the east. The formerly prestigious residential district of Victorian-era housing was deemed to be ... More

NB: ANGELS FLIGHT IS CLOSED AGAIN, AT THIS TIME. Check Twitter for current updates At the back of the water court is the restored funicular railway Angels Flight, which runs 298 feet up Bunker Hill. First opened in 1901, Olivet and Sinai transported residents to the Victorian residences atop Bunker Hill for a fare of 1 cent. It was mothballed in... More

If you want to ride Angels' Flight, a number of lunch options exist at the bottom of Bunker Hill in the Grand Central Market. Traditional Latin American choices are available inside the market.

Tip: Carry your food back up the hill to enjoy at the water court.

Known by several names, but usually called Library Tower by Angelenos, this postmodern granite-and-glass skyscraper is the tallest building in California at 1,018 feet and 73 stories. Designed by architecture firm I.M. Pei & Partners and opened in 1989, it was part of a $1 billion redevelopment project that included the Gas Company Tower and... More

Enter on Fifth Street and proceed to the rotunda of the landmark 1926 Bertram Goodhue building. The rotunda is named for Lod Cook, former Arco chairman who spearheaded fundraising to save the damaged library collections after the 1980s arson fires.

Walk down the corridor to the east (left with your back to the US Bank Tower) and stop at the... More

Diagonally across from the Maguire Gardens of the Central Library is architect John Portman's 1978 Bonaventure Hotel. Rather than enter through the pedestrian-unfriendly Flower Street frontage, take the escalator up via the Bunker Hill Steps. (On your left, detour for a view of the Fish and Flamingo fountains at 444 S. Flower.) Use the pedestrian ... More

Our final stop is John Portman's futuristic Bonaventure Hotel, opened in 1978. A prominent icon visible from the Harbor Freeway, it is one of downtown's most photographed buildings. The glass elevators have views to the outside. In the movie "In the Line of Fire", John Malkovich famously falls to his death from an elevator while being chased by... More