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Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Los Angeles

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I was introduced to the Los Angeles Conservancy by Andy who was part of their Last Remaining Seats program. We saw Citizen Kane on the beautifully restored Orpheum Theatre. He has a strong interest in the history and architecture of Los Angeles, so when his birthday came around, it seemed like an ideal time to investigate what the Conservancy had to offer.

In addition to their other programs, the Los Angeles Conservancy offers theme walking tours. Some require reservations, some allow for walk-ups. The docent-led tours tend to be on weekends, and some, like the one we chose, are actually held every weekend, while others are more sporadic. We chose the “Historic Downtown Tour” as a good way to get an overview, and we liked it so much, I think we’ll be going back for the more specific tours.

The tour ran for about 2 1/2 hours, and we roamed from Pershing Square down to the landmark buildings on 5th and 6th Streets, and back over to the sights on Hill and Broadway. As you can see by the photos, many of the buildings we explored were Beaux-Arts and Art Deco marvels. It’s a fair amount of walking, but there are built in rest points. Our docent was fun and very knowledgeable. In addition to being able to get into some of the historic buildings, she had photos of how LA looked in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Plus, it was only $10 for non-members (and cheaper for members) which was perfectly doable even for my tight budget.

Obviously, the tour is great for people new to the city, but I’ve lived here 16 years, and 95% of what I learned on the tour was entirely new to me. It actually made me excited to spend more time learning about the city, and it sparked my interest in spending more time downtown (which to this point has been pretty limited to theater events).


Pershing Square
Pershing Square
View from Pershing Square
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