Changing face of the city

I went to hear Stephen Gee talk about his new book about LA City Hall. Stephen Gee is the one who has been working tirelessly to bring the architect John Parkinson back into LA history.

So here’s my little part. I went looking through my photos to find images of the Title Guarantee building. Designed by John and his son Donald in 1930. A wonderful example of Art Deco. Pay close attention, this picture was taken maybe four years ago. Things have changed.The tower and rooftop are the same.When built, the tower acted as a billboard, someone said there is now an apartment there. Not sure if that is true.A few years ago, Starbucks opened up on the ground floor. Eight years ago there was one Starbucks up in Wells Fargo Plaza, on Bunker Hill. Today there are all over downtown, which just goes to show how much development is going on.I took this picture just the other day. After 40 years of being an empty lot, the Title Guarantee building will be surrounded by a large massive development.  I’ll keep posting along the way.Stephen Gee was able to turn the book into a documentary. I will be setting my DVR for Oct. 7, I also might be buying the DVD. It will be available on Amazon sometime next month.

Also, one of the great-granddaughters was at the lecture. She recently moved back to LA and of course is working with Stephen Gee to bring John Parkinson back to LA lore.

Leah

Time to finish up with Quebec

I really loved Quebec, even though someone in Montreal stated very clearly: Quebec is government and tourism. Very true, but they do tourism very well. Those staircases! I just can’t get over them, with all the snow and ice how are people not slipping and falling? You’ll never find me living in that climate with that kind of trek just to get to the front door.There are plenty of stairs outdoors, it’s a walled city, with many points in and out, not just gates. Most stairs were stone, but this looks like a newly renovated wooden staircase. There is a funicular going down to the lower city, except it isn’t really a funicular. Each car travels independently, so no counterbalance. Originally, This was enclosed and used for merchants to get things from the top, which is where most of the city is, down to the businesses here. As tourism grew, they opened it and made it a tourist attraction. So now the food merchants have to navigate the stairs to get supplies… really, we saw it happen.There were a number of great murals, not as many as Montreal, but fun to see. This is right next to the funicular. In the open area is a memorial to Joliet, he and Father Marquette left from here to explore and discovered the upper midwest and the Mississippi River. Which explains why the names Joliet and Marquette are scattered throughout.  They lost all thier diaries from their first trip, which prevented others from following in their footsteps. Joliet disappears, I had heard in Chicago that he was killed by Indians, but here in Quebec they didn’t want to say.The streets down here are fun, full of restaurants and very nice businesses, sure an occasional t-shirt shop, but mostly nice shops.  We went into the covered market, were very happy to see Hebrew. We ended up buying some croissants and blueberries that we had for breakfast. The blueberries were amazing! Not like the ones we get here.

And now for some architecture.The Hotel Clarendon, the first hotel in Quebec. (well, the first to survive a fire, have I mentioned that fire was the biggest enemy in any city?)  This is Art Nouveau, which is why Quebec has more in common with Europe than most North American cities. This is a European style, that didn’t really make it here. Maybe because of how expensive it is to create these intricate designs.There are quite a few metal workers who would love to have this kind of commission again.  Unless it’s a very wealthy private estate, I don’t see any builder willing to pay the price.This Art Deco is right next door! How cool is that! The new style next to what it replaced. Today this is also an hotel, although originally it was an office building. There are a handful of other Art Deco buildings in Quebec. By the 1920’s the businesses and building was happening in Montreal, which is where we are going next.

Leah

Quebec, part l

I made reservations in Quebec, was very pleased with the Hotel Champlain, right in the walls of the old city, with parking!!! We only took the car out once, but it was nice having a place to park the car while we hopped on buses and boats to get around.I guess I should start with the most photographed hotel in the world. The Hotel Frontenac. When the city was created, they chose to build the city up on a hill, so that they’d need less walls. The city is 400 years old, ancient for North America. It is where the St. Lawrence River narrows, so it’s a great place for a port. At the time, the fur trade was all the rage. Very very hardy adventurous Frenchmen went into the backcountry and came back with furs, which were shipped from Quebec to Europe. Someone needed to build a port and a town for that to happen.On all the tours we took one word was repeated over and over again – fire. Fire has always been the biggest enemy in any city and for years people have tried to figure out how to safeguard buildings. Today a restaurant is in this building, the oldest surviving building in the city. In Quebec’s case, war and bombardment destroyed many of the old buildings. This is a typical house, built of local limestone, it would be limed, with white lime to make the stone less porous. The roof would be slanted, they get up an average of 10 ft. of snow in the winter, flat roofs will collapse. There is a railing along the roof line to prevent big chunks of ice falling, but then you do have to worry about icicles. The roofs were made of tin from barrels, recut into tiles. The red color came from mixing cow blood into the resin. Nothing was wasted.Here is an example of the tin being cut into tiles for the roof.

Speaking of rooftops, here are a few more amazing ones.The advantage of taking the double-decker bus, I get a better view of the rooftops. This and many others are copper that has gotten this green patina over time. The combination, of green, red, tin and other shades of brown, really makes the skyline very interesting.

The French got here in 1534 and ruled for over 200 years. Those early years were just fur trappers, traders, and the Catholic Church. The British had communities in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, although those were basically under French rule. At some point immigrants stopped coming from France but still came from the British Isles. That was probably balanced out by the high French Birthrate. In 1759 a battle was fought in what is today, The Plains of Abraham. Both the English and French Generals died there. Years later an Obelisk was erected, honoring both generals. Sorry, I didn’t take a picture. My comment is: Canadian Nice! No where else in the world would someone honor both the victor (English) and the defeated (French) in the same monument. 

English Victorian homes, this is the first time the houses are set back a ways from the street. Some more of those outdoor metal or wooden staircases, even the British Victorians adopted them.Down in the lower city, are four houses that were renovated with four different types of roofs from Quebec’s history. On the left, the red roof as it probably would have looked originally, it would have been made of wood – fire hazard. Then a slate roof, but that was very expensive, the cut tin roof and the British tile roof.Flag of the province.

Leah

On the way to Quebec

After a lovely wedding weekend, we headed north back to Canada. We didn’t turn on the gps, just drove north, following a map. We figured we’d end up somewhere between Montreal and Quebec, preferably not on the main road.

We did find a tourist information stop, where a few towns were recommended. We missed the fort, but found ourselves in Beloil, buying chocolate. The friendly sales girl wanted to know what the heck a couple of Los Angelenos were doing in a small town in Quebec, just exploring. Since she was from Quebec City, she gaves us a very good tip on what to do there, more on that later.We have some wonderful florists here, with amazing window displays. How nice that in summer, Martin can have this beautiful display outside.There are many beautiful churches here, unfortunately, these days many are no longer in use. This one in Beloil still is.There was a large cemetery next to the church, of course I had to check it out. Joel went and took a walk by the river, there are only so many cemeteries he can visit.  One marker really stood out from the rest.I went to check it out.An eight year old boy, sad, very sad. I didn’t check to see if in later years his parents were buried nearby. If they are still alive, they would be very very old.Another church across the river. I could have just taken pictures of churches there were so many.In Beloil, a 100 year old business, this old town isn’t very big, but it now has restaurants and that gorgeous florist. I like the paint job here, reminds me of colorful New Orleans. Other than this old town, most of Southern Quebec looked dull, main drags that could have been anywhere in Canada or the US, just all the signs are in French.

For some reason we decided to bypass Drummondville which is quite a large city and go on to Trois Rivieres, which is on the main highway. So we drove through driving rain, by the time we got there, we were tired. We drove to the old part of town, the one or two hotels didn’t look good, so we kept going. All we could find were old 1950s motels that looked like they hadn’t been updated at all. So back to town we went, we found an Italian place for dinner. The food was pretty awful, but they kindly directed us here:I took the picture the next morning. We waited half an hour for the owner to come over from her restaurant. Turns out we got a very nice room for the night. Since we had to wait, she even took $5 off our bill, which wasn’t expensive to begin with.While driving through Trois Rivieres I saw a lot of this, outdoor circular staircases going up to the second floor of buildings. Later in Quebec I got the explanation that was very common throughout the Province. Rather than waste space inside on staircases, they are outside. I get it, 100 or 200 years ago people simply lived in weather. They didn’t control it like we do today, so exiting to such a staircase would be normal. I understand that these kind of flats are popular in places like Quebec or Montreal – until you have a baby and need to schlep up and down them with a baby and stroller, especially in winter.

Then we headed out on the Chemin Du Roy towards Quebec. We were expecting to find a coffee shop, no luck, a few towns in, we stopped at a gas station that had a convenience store. The coffee and croissant were fine, but this is advertised as a scenic day trip. Scenic yes, amenities, not really.Yes, a beautiful church among the cornfields.We arrived in Quebec to a whole new adventure.

Leah

The Bradbury, inside! Up the elevator into an office!!

The lobby of the Bradbury building is open during business hours and people are welcome to enter. These days they pay attention, if it looks like you are taking more than the normal amount of pictures, or if you have massive camera equipment – they will stop you. Otherwise, visitors are welcome. But that is it, you can go to the first landing of the stairs, no more.

I took the elevator in the Bradbury to the top floor
I took the elevator in the Bradbury to the top floor
Standing right under the amazing atrium in the Bradbury building, Los Angeles
Standing right under the amazing atrium in the Bradbury building, Los Angeles
Details of tiles only seen from the top floor of The Bradbury building.
Details of tiles only seen from the top floor of The Bradbury building.
A rare treat, being on the top floor of The Bradbury building
A rare treat, being on the top floor of The Bradbury building
Two fireplaces, inside and office in The Bradbury Building.
Two fireplaces, inside and office in The Bradbury Building.
View through massive doors out to the atrium of The Bradbury
View through massive doors out to the atrium of The Bradbury
Old fire hose in The Bradbury Building
Old fire hose in The Bradbury Building

On Friday I was lucky to lead a tour of Seismic Engineers who were in town for a conference. The last stop was the Bradbury.We had a special treat, the opportunity to go up in the open cage elevators and then slowly walk down the stairs.  When I give tours, I don’t normally take pictures, this time I had to, it’s not often one gets to go in the elevator and get a closer look at the amazing glass atrium ceiling.I only had my phone, although it does take good pictures, the distortion is much greater than a good solid camera.  In the middle of this photograph is the mechanism to open up the clerestory windows to get air circulation.The details!!! The glass is so well reinforced that in 120 years they have never replaced a pane. The decorative terra-cotta has an interesting design up here as well.What an engineering as well as design marvel this building is! As we walked around, Rachel approached us, she is director of Public relations for Berggruen Institute, a Think Tank that now occupies the whole south side of upper floor. She graciously invited us in.The office is still very sparse, they only recently moved in. I had heard of fireplaces in the offices. Here is one.How cool is this, with a wall between, these two are simply a two sided fireplace. Not functional anymore, but oh so beautiful.Another room had this beautiful exposed brick one. There were a few employees, as well as a lovely Golden retriever, sorry I didn’t get his picture.One of the office doors, looking back out to the landing. These are strong massive wood and literally, go from floor to ceiling.Another tall window, it may be a little hard to see how wavey the top pane of glass is. Glass isn’t a solid, it’s somewhere between solid and liquid and this 120 year old pane is getting the wave look old glass gets. This is because gravity is slowly dragging it down.Out on the landing, more wonderful details. Look at this firehose reel. Although it is no longer functional, they have kept these on display – once again, design and function working so well together. In the 1950’s one of the elevator operators was in the building late at night and fire did break out, she called the fire department and saved so much of this building.

Modern amenities have been added and are hidden in plain sight in these ducts, for the building to be used today, it needed modernization.

Beautiful woodwork, newel post, staircase, The Bradbury building
Beautiful woodwork, newel post, staircase, The Bradbury building
Looking down on the Lobby of the Bradbury Building
Looking down on the Lobby of the Bradbury Building
View from midlevel, The Bradbury Building
Vew from midlevel, The Bradbury Building

Ahh, the details! This staircase goes up to the roof and is off limits. More wonderful terra-cotta.Another newel post, this time cast iron.The floor, another beautiful element.
An angle only workers and visitors to the offices get to see.From one of the midlevel landings. This really is one of Los Angeles’ treasures.  One of the big payoffs for these years of volunteering was the ability to see more details of the wonderful landmark.

Leah

Brewery Artwalk revisited

I wasn’t sure I was going to go this spring, but I’m glad I did.I explored parts of the compound I hadn’t seen before. Always a fun thing to do.The ghost sign from Edison, this building was built in 1902 as the first Edison power plant west of the Mississippi.Tucked off in the corner is a workshop of innovators and builders of amazing things. I have to confess that I didn’t go see their installation, next time.This is the backside of the building, so maybe the building was built in 1894, or maybe most of the powerplant was added on later.

And now what is really cool, what is inside this large structure today. The Stronghold Climbing Gym, it is enormous, I am just sharing two images, it is probably the biggest indoor climbing facility around.You know me, I will take any chance I can get of taking pictures of the downtown skyline. From this angle the new Broad tower is invisible.

And then it was on to visiting friends and seeing their work.Teresa and Hawke in front of their Ascension quilt. Me too! I got into the fun. As did many of the visitors to this studio.  They are planning a series of quilts with the theme of wings.  I’ve watched this one being created on Instagram, was so much fun to see it in person.

And finally, the neighborhood, The southern tip of Lincoln Heights.Among the industrial and the freeway, old homes survive. Some like this one are well cared for.Or how about dressing up a small cottage with some Victorian flair?Then there is the old rundown Victorian, broken up into apartments. So this is how one uses the vestibule to create two private entrances. It is a large building, so it could be there more entrances were created on the sides or the back.

All in all, a good time, and yes, come fall, I’ll probably go back again.9

Leah

A very busy weekend

Spring has sprung, everywhere the flowers are showing off. Look at these bearded irises! After a few years, my irises have died, I think I need to get some more. I know, the blooms are short-lived, but they are so worth it.Don’t know what this is, but boy do I love the bright orange.California poppy is popping, especially at the Theodore Payne Foundation for native California plants. Every spring they have a sale, it’s been years, so I went. I bought this fellow there years ago and it’s a large bush now.They have garden tours, it was too busy today for that.This is a great place for any kind of information about native plants.$80 for this cactus, must be rare.I came home with a few penstemons, they will have beautiful blue-purple flowers and should bloom for a few months. That is unusual with natives, most have a burst of flowers and then that’s it. If all goes well, next year I’ll add more natives to the garden, since my garden is a little sad these days. The the next day, I grabbed a friend and we went on the Pasadena Historical society home and garden tour. No photos allowed except from the curb. I understand that. Sometimes it’s about the experience without the photos. So here is an amazing Mid Century, it’s hard to see, but there is a glass bridge that connects the two sides of the house. Oh and the wife does a lot of mosaics!A 1908 farm house. Today there is a small nursery in the back, all this on a rather busy street.The McNally Mansion in Altadena is up for sale! Built in 1887 it was a rea treat. They still have gas chandeliers!Although this view is from the curb and today is used as the front, this is actually the back of the house. The house just went on the market! It is a historical home, so it can’t be torn down, what a gem! Well worth the visit, which is why I love these tours.

Leah

The Freehand hotel

Another old commercial building that was turned into a hipster hotel.Looking at the website, I see there is a pool on the roof, but I didn’t go up there. Of course, I love all these cool details. The tile floor, the tile around the windows, the wonderful archway. The lobby is small, yet mighty.  Where Nomad used exuberant colors, things here are quiet and subdued, yet no less beautiful.The Bar! I have no doubt that all the tile work here is new since this used to be the lobby of an office building. How wonderful that the designer makes the new loos so old. Not just the tile, all that woodwork!From inside looking out at 8th st.This chair! I don’t know how comfortable it is. But the workmanship. There were at least two of these. Once again, I don’t know if the tile on the floor is original or not. I am in love with all the textures here.It feels like a British colonial club in India. Pay attention to the sign across the street, that intrigued me.If I just posted this image, you’d say, San Francisco. I do not know if the upstairs are still a hotel. The Golden Gopher is a modern take on the dive bar. Created in 2004, although the website does say that Teddy Roosevelt bought this building and had a bar here in 1905. Who knows?Right next door to the Golden Gopher is another old building. Hotel Bristol, which is no longer a hotel but low-income housing. What that means in LA, is newly arrived wanna be actors live here. This is what happens in LA, cheap, low-income housing doesn’t go to the low-income non descript workers in this city. It goes to the hipsters. I guess that is just how the market works in this city.  It’s not like we don’t have options, it’s just a question of who gets those living spaces.

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Leah

Nomad Hotel

I gave a tour downtown. Here’s some advice nobody wants. If you have trouble walking and rely heavily on a cane, please do not come to a walking tour that is over a mile long, includes hills and many stairs.  I had an organized group from Orange CA, three people could hardly walk. I felt very sorry for the other tour-goers, I couldn’t abandon the slow walkers, so the tour was very truncated. At the end, I left them at the Bradbury Bldg, they were to walk another 3 blocks to Cliftons, I noticed that the three stragglers were left behind, no-one cared to walk slowly anymore.

I rewarded myself by checking out some new hotels downtown.The Giannini building was built for the headquarters of the Bank of Italy back in the 1920s. It stood vacant for years. then it was purchased and turned into a luxury hotel. A few months ago, I was watching an episode of NCIS Los Angeles, and a murder occurred in the LA Athletic Club, which is right across the street, since this building was still under construction, they got permission to film in one of the rooms, abandoned and empty. I love it when I figure these things out.The building is an example of Beaux Arts, a beautiful example.I am so grateful that none of the exterior details were destroyed during the years of abandonment.I’m sure all the terra-cotta is from Gladding McBean. I don’t know who made the metal work, but I see it all over downtown.The side entrance is small, it’s easier for cars to stop on Olive St. rather than 7th. So the Valet is here.The lobby, in all it’s glory!  So many details are original. The furnishings are new and gorgeous. I want all those lush textiles!There is a bar and restaurant in the lobby, the place was full. Always look up!I so want this chair! The guys’ hat just adds to the colorfulness of it all.Right next door is the Whiskey Bar, Seven Grand, I bet their business has improved as well. Across the Street in Bottega Louie, 7th st is one of the liveliest streets downtown.

Even the Broad Tower, the tallest building downtown shines over 7th st. To be honest, It shines over everything.

In another post, another hotel.

Leah

Missing the quilt show

There is an Art Quilt show in Santa Monica. I’ve been meaning to go, what better time than on a Tuesday when I have to be on the westside with my grandkids. So I looked up the information, wasn’t that easy to find. I drove to the museum, only to discover that it’s not open on Tuesdays. As I said, not easy to find details about this show.

So I took advantage of being so close to the beach and had a better time walking around then I would have at the show.It started with this, full of gratitude that I have the time to spend an hour on the beach.Santa Monica Bay is amazing, mountains with right up to the water on the northern edge as well as on the southwestern edge. Most of the bay has a very large flat sandy beach. Luckily for us, the harbor wasn’t placed here and they didn’t build right up to the water, so this is an enormously wide, white sand beach.The pier was supposed to be the start of a harbor, turns out that the underwater topography isn’t good for that at all. So the harbor is further south, and we enjoy an amazing beach. Today the pier is just for enjoyment, complete with an amusement park. It was a very warm day, but not many people out at the beach. In the summer, even mid-week, this place is very crowded. The bike and pedestrian paths are very wide and well maintained. Not only people come out to walk. So did this pony, I mean Great Dane.Walking back to my car, I took a side street and admired the multi-million dollar homes. They probably started out as beach cottages, not anymore. This one has the surfboard at the ready.You know me, I love the architectural details.People certainly take pride in these homes, they are all beautifully maintained.Being so close to the ocean means a lot of paint. I’m glad they are keeping these gems up.  I really like the reflection of the black detail in the window, allows me to see the design so much better.

I have to do this more often, leave an hour early and enjoy a walk on the beach. I get stuck in my routine and forget to do these kinds of things. I need to make this part of my routine.

Leah