Los Angeles | City of Contrasts

Mention Los Angeles to people and their reactions are as varied as the city’s neighborhoods.  To some, it is the incarnation of the American Dream –  the place where stars are born. Or, a sprawling car centric culture albeit one with panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. Lately, many think of the burgeoning arts scene and the remarkable culinary diversity  (no longer is the difference between LA and yogurt that [only] one has an active culture). 

It would be impossible to even scratch the surface in one post or even a dozen, so I will concentrate on the areas I know best, starting with a walk along Grand Avenue, in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels_DowntownLA_
Robert Graham’s Bronze Entrance Doors at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, a masterpiece by José Rafael Moneo is a good place to begin.   An eleven-story building with virtually no right angles, the cathedral was completed in 2002 and Sunday mass is offered in 42 languages. The entrance is framed by exquisite bronze doors sculpted by Robert Graham.


Heading south, the Music Center plaza is home to four cultural institutions:  Mark Taper Forum,  Ahmanson Theater home of the Center Theater Group and others;  Dorothy Chandler Pavilion where the LA Opera and dance companies perform;  and Walt Disney Concert Hall , home of the LA Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

At the Music Center, Robert Graham’s Dance Door Frames LA City Hall in the Distance

Public art is everywhere (especially if architecture is included) and I love the Robert Graham piece shown above.


It would be impossible to miss Walt Disney Concert Hall – Frank Gehry‘s terrific tribute to the performing arts.

Diller, Scofidio and Renfro’s “hide and seek” building

Next to Disney Hall, the new Broad Museum  designed by Diller, Scofidio and Renfro is a feast for the eyes and admission is free.  Across the street, don’t miss the wonderful Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Los Angeles designed by Arata Isozaki with Nancy Rubins’ incredible sculpture anchoring the complex.

Nancy Rubins, Airplane Parts, MoCA, dtla
“Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts” (2001) by Nancy Rubins at MoCA

Continuing on, keep an eye out for the wonderful 1960 mural of telephone parts shown below.

Telephone Company Mural_DowntownLA_insta

Finish with a visit to the  Los Angeles Library Central Branch in its fabulous 1926 building.


In a little over a mile, you will have covered almost a century of architecture and art! Stay tuned for more on this amazing city including (of course) my favorite places to eat!

17 thoughts on “Los Angeles | City of Contrasts

  1. Thank you for the photo of the library! Richard’s family built it. LA is home to stunning architectural commissions, starting with the Greene Brothers and Bertram Goodhue, Neutra, A.Quincy Jones, Gehry, Maltzan and Johnson Favaro. It is the mecca of the new.

    Liked by 1 person

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