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Los Angeles

by Philip Greenspun,


The second-largest city in the United States is too big to cover in one page:


My personal favorite cultural spots in Los Angeles are the Getty Museum (of which I have 60 photos), Zen Garden at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, and last but definitely not least, the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA):

The photo at right is of Paul Cadmus's painting Coney Island (1934). It doesn't show working class people at their best (one of them is reading about Adolph Hitler, for example). It is one of the more disturbing paintings that I've seen in a museum. It reminds me a bit of R. Crumb but executed with the vivid colors of oil paint, framed and lit with art museum quality. I wasn't surprised to learn that Cadmus was censured, censored, and threatened with lawsuits over works like this.

Once a year, I check www.lacma.org to see if they've put up a page about the work, but so far I've been disappointed.

High Culture

The oldest existing Bob's Big Boy, built in 1949, is in Toluca Lake, California (in the San Fernando Valley, adjacent to Burbank) at the intersection of Alameda and Riverside Drive.

If You Don't Like Riots and Crime

If you want the urban experience without the riots and crime, then Universal CityWalk is for you.

Long Beach

The Queen Mary is here. Nobody knows why.

Very Long Beach

Readers' Comments

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Don Montgomery , March 08, 1999; 08:06 P.M.

About ten years ago, I spent seven months working in L.A. (as a subcontractor on new Bel-Air residential construction; I'm from Dallas). I was living in a travel trailer on-site, so I occasionally was happy to get away to "see the sights." I have often been frustrated in telling friends to be sure to visit Graystone (Greystone? I don't remember whether a British spelling was affected or not) Mansion in Beverly Hills, only to find out later that they just didn't get around to it. I saw quite a bit of the area, as you might imagine, the more so because my cousin from San Francisco came down a couple of times to sight-see with me. However, Graystone Mansion impressed me no end. It has a bizarre history, and anyone who likes old movies will never be the same after visiting it, since it was used as a location for many big budget black and white Hollywood productions. Some other interesting facts are that there was an infamous unsolved society murder there, the house has stood vacant for decades, and it's the only (if memory serves me---I don't *think* I'm making this up!) municipal park in Beverly Hills, standing over the city's underground reservoir. But, it's closed after dark, so go early enough to explore the impressive grounds, and peer through the windows (last I was there, there were no tours inside :-( ). That being said, the old place sparks the imagination tremendously, especially if you can suspend your disbelief about ghosts. (I really enjoyed the Getty Museum, as well!!)

Don Montgomery

David Li , May 27, 1999; 06:09 P.M.

It's kind of misleading to say that Los Angeles is Beverly Hills and Universal City and Long Beach and whichever other sites you might care to point out; Los Angeles City is actually a city bordered on all sides by a whole bunch of other cities. Los Angeles County is a whole other thing. As you know a County might consist of a huge geographic area which might contain one or more cities, but vaguely calling the whole region Los Angeles does a big disservice to at least three other counties which occupy portions of the same region (as they would be quick to tell you). Long Beach is in Orange County. Anaheim is in Orange County. Beverly Hills, Universal City, Glendale, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Pasadena and a whole bunch of other cities are in Los Angeles County. There's a big distinction (as you'd very quickly find out if you had a car and tried to find Long Beach in a Los Angeles County Thomas Bros. Guide).

If you're only in the Los Angeles Area for a tiny portion of the year you miss out on a lot: Rose Parade, Marathon, Concerts, Conventions, etc. Taking pictures is nice (I like the pictures) but you've got to actually spend some time living here if you want to see what it's like to actually live here; I mean seriously, Venice Beach? The Getty Center? The Queen Mary? How touristy can you get? If touristy is what you want then Las Vegas is the place to go ($1 billion for a hotel, how much more touristy can you get?).

John Karu , June 25, 1999; 01:20 P.M.

Sorry, Long Beach IS IN Los Angeles County. It has always ben in Los Angeles County.

Amy Crawford , November 07, 1999; 06:19 P.M.

You may be confusing Long Beach with Laguna Beach, which is in Orange County. It hosts the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts every year, which is a smashing pageant to attend.

Yvonne Grant , December 01, 1999; 12:00 P.M.

Being a disabled person I travelled last year to Long Beach for a conference and I actually stayed on the Queen Mary. It is a beautiful ship with so much history attached to it. Being brought up and living in Scotland it was a delight to stay on something that was actually built in Scotland. I travelled to Venice Beach where the sights and sounds were something else and on a whim I actually got a tatoo! Im not saying where - It is a facinating place to have a vacation where the residents make you very welcome - but where you also find alot of homelessness and people begging on the streets. Quite a contrast to the life styles that are portraid from the affluent members of society in general. I travelled alot by train, and the underground both very accommodating for people in wheelchairs. Places of interest to visit, Getty Museum, Walt Disney, Universal Studios,The Observetory, Sea World, The Queen Mary to learn about its history and the many Hollywood Stars, The Chinese Theatre, walk along the street where the hand prints have been made including Tom Hanks and many more (I just missed Tom Hanks by a few hours)and Elton John to name but a few. Have a trip to the shops where you will be dazzled by some of the prices, have a sight seeing trip to the movie stars homes - there is so many things to do that you will soon come to the end of your vacation and want to go back again and again....

Nick Santangelo , January 18, 2001; 06:39 P.M.

I must take exception with the opinion that Los Angeles is crime ridden and the only way to enjoy the City 'safely' is to go to Universal Citywalk. I live in Mount Washington and travel downtown, to Hollywood, you name it. I never have any problems with crime and no, I don't just sit in my car! These stereotypes have got to go.

Long Beach is in L.A. County, by the way.

If anyone out there is really open to the real L.A., not the hackneyed media, local news deciption, let me know and I'll be glad to help you out.

Jeroen Wenting , June 19, 2001; 04:33 P.M.

I like the way an American portrays an American city the way they normally portray the rest of the world and reading other Americans' comments about it...

Larry Gassan , June 26, 2001; 02:55 P.M.

Los Angeles is 100,000 villages with overlapping boundaries. Universal Studios, although in Los Angeles, is much more about a generic pre-fab genetically engineered entertainment "experience" than living in Los Angeles. All in all, this gave me reasons to document & upload the Los Angeles I've lived in for the last 24 years.

Julien Redux , March 26, 2003; 08:31 P.M.

Wow, having grown up in Southern California and spending much time in Los Angeles county I can't believe how you have such few pictures to show for your effort. Was that the only girl you saw on Long Beach? Bob's Big Boy? Who cares, I didn't even know it was there and I lived in the valley for 6 months. How about checking out UCLA, Sunset Blvd., Mulholland Drive, and for a true urban "safe" experience outside Universal's citywalk you might want to try Santa Monica. How bout Pasadena, Brentwood, Marina Del Rey, Bel Air or at least Beverly Hills in some pictures.

Randall Bourne , August 19, 2003; 02:32 P.M.

Malibu at sunset

I just want to say that I agree with many of the readers as I have lived in Los Angeles; moved there from Oklahoma, 2001. Not once did I ever see any type of riots, gang violence, etc. Some visitors to LA may say negative things about the traffic but as I have experienced the worst of downtown driving most people are polite enough to let you change lanes IF you use common sense and your turn signals. I worked as a photographer with a private studio who happened to have accounts in a few of the south central LA high schools and not once did I, being the only white guy around, ever have a negative experience. The kids (and some looked like were members of gangs) treated me with respect as I also returned the respect. I found the people of LA generally nice. It is a beautiful city to visit again and again. I agree also with one reader that to really experience life in LA one would have to live there for awhile. LA is truly a melting pot of hundreds of cultures and experiences. I basically avoided the usual tourist traps and felt the celebrities deserved to be left alone and not gawked at from their front gates of their homes. In my opinion they are just ordinary people with extraordinary jobs. The Malibu beaches at sunset(any other time too) were particularly more photogenic than that pic I saw of Long Beach. Hundreds of miles of beaches and a million more beautiful photo opportunities all around LA. RB

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