The stereotype about people not walking in L.A. is true a lot of the time. It’s very spread out here, and even if your destination is only a mile or two away, it can be hard to find a safe pedestrian route along streets designed for high speed traffic. Having said that, one of the things I love most about living in Hollywood is actually how many great things there are within walking distance of my apartment. Yesterday, Mr. Koz and I strolled down to Melrose and Vine looking for something to eat. The place we had planned to go to was closed, so we wandered into an unassuming little spot called Mario’s Peruvian and Seafood. Oh, wow, was it good! (Got me thinking a weekly restaurant review might be a fun addition to the blog.) Then on the way home, I got an eyeful of the stereotypical Hollywood view:
I never fully appreciated how much I love my hills and my sky until I went to visit my brother in New York a couple of years ago. I love cities, and New York is certainly a great one, but the super tall buildings began to feel overwhelming and oppressive to me after a little while. I happened to be there to witness a twice-yearly occurrence known as the Manhattan Solstice, or Manhattanhenge. It was a fascinating experience, but after returning home, I felt grateful for the wide open sky, and my ability to go outside and view a stunning natural light show any night of the year.
Sadly, though, a lot of older buildings here have been neglected, and are going to ruin, making them targets for developers who snap them up, tear them down, rebuild as cheaply as possible and rent them out for as much as possible. They are hungry to turn L.A. into a “New Manhattan,” and are pouncing on older sites to knock them down, fighting for permits to build ever taller buildings. While on the face of it (ignoring the other issue of former tenants being displaced in favor of new, richer tenants) some of the new buildings could be seen as improvements, they are still bland and featureless, sometimes borrowing elements from the local style, such as clay roof tiles, but without any of the wonderful details and whimsical elements that brought so much charm to old Hollywood. That classic Hollywood shot I posted above is actually a new apartment building, cleverly disguised to blend in to the surroundings. That little corner looks cute in the picture because it’s framed with the tree and the sign and everything. But apart from the red tile roof, it had no personality to speak of. But then on the other side of the street, there was this beauty:
I loved its tripped out combination of molded concrete, wrought iron, and hand painted, Egyptian-inspired details. The front entrance was framed by a molded arch, and featured more Egyptian-inspired paintwork. Exactly the kind of quirky personality and funky glamour that made Hollywood great in the first place.
Hidden gems like this are one of the things I love best about where I live. And the sunsets. I hope they never take away my sunsets.