Main and Los Angeles Streets, Downtown — Worth the Walk

After arriving in downtown Los Angeles, I still had about an hour before my Southern California Transit Advocates meeting. So I decided to do a little urban exploration, on foot.

I looked down Spring Street. Didn’t see too many people walking around, so I thought, “A walk down Main would be more rewarding.” So I walked down First St, then took a right turn on Main.

And I was more than pleasantly surprised. Main had quite a few nice-looking restaurants, lofts, and even a couple of bookstores. And, there were plenty of people walking about.

I remember walking along Main, near the old RTD building (425 South Main) in the early and mid 1980s. Then, there was little but abandoned buildings, bums that would follow you for blocks begging for change, drunks and druggies. When I was interning at the former RTD Library, I learned to get in and out of that building very quickly….

But now, Main seemed downright civilized. There wasn’t that much transit, other than the Metro #92 bus and the Gardena #1, both infrequent. There were plenty of parked cars on both sides of the street, though.

I stopped by Metropolis Books and chatted with the counter staff. Metropolis had a nice selection of books on Southern California history, right by the door. Another nearby bookstore featured mostly used art books and CD’s.

One block to the east lay Los Angeles Street. Remembering that Fifth and Los Angeles was the site of the 1920s-era Motor Transit depot, I decided to pay a visit to the site. Los Angeles Street itself is now a busy, Hispanic-oriented shopping street, much like Broadway, but a bit more livelier. (If Broadway gets “gentrified,” the current stores there will probably find a place on Los Angeles St….)

The former Motor Transit depot is still there, but it has been divided up into several different stores. I was just about to get a closer look, when I heard this little voice beside me, saying, “¿Quiere hot dog?”

I looked down and saw a small grill (heated cookie sheet, really) with bacon-wrapped hot dogs, buns and condiments. Here in front of me were the famous bacon-wrapped hot dogs that everyone has been talking about. I bought one ($3) and ate it as I walked up Fifth St towards Hill. Not bad, actually, although I did expect a little more smoky bacon flavor.

Fifth St. didn’t seem bad either, although that’s where a lot of the SRO (=homeless) hotels are located. A few people were hanging out in front of the hotels, but no one hassled me or begged for money, as in years past. The sidewalks aren’t always the cleanest in the world—we had to step around someone’s “leavings” in a couple of places, but for the most part, the walk up Fifth from Los Angeles to Hill was trouble-free.

4 Comments to "Main and Los Angeles Streets, Downtown — Worth the Walk"

  1. cph's Gravatar cph
    January 1, 2015 - 10:20 pm | Permalink


  2. Yorkman Lowe's Gravatar Yorkman Lowe
    January 1, 2015 - 10:31 pm | Permalink

    In the 20s, Main St was a popular shopping street, from photos I’ve seen; but over the decades it declined to the awful place you remember from the 80s. I recall that in 1965-71, many RTD lines ran on Main St. but it appears they’ve been moved. In 71, an LA Times columnist criticised RTD for running so many outbound lines on Main, saying ‘housewives and winos don’t mix.’ In 7/78, about 4pm on a weekday, I visited the RTD HQ at 425 Main St but very likely left my car in a downtown parking garage. In May 2010, out of curiosity, I took a walk on Main St, and I was pleasantly surprised at the improvement; I also explored the ‘toy district’ (3rd, 4th, and Weller Sts.) which had many Asian-run small businesses.

  3. Yorkman Lowe's Gravatar Yorkman Lowe
    January 2, 2015 - 12:16 am | Permalink

    My Error: by ‘toy district,’ I meant to say 4th, 5th, Wall, and Winston Streets.

  4. December 7, 2015 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    LA’s been part of my life ever since I can remember which is kind of odd, since I’m a mdidle-aged Australian who has never set foot in the city. Your town never fails to fascinate me, Larry. I guess it’s the same all over the world. Keep the great stories coming.

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