Sunday Time Travel: Digging Deep in the Arts District

A tour day reveals how imagination and industrial form merge in the downtown nook.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Tuesday, Nov 5, 2013  |  Updated 10:06 AM PDT
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Sunday Time Travel: Digging Deep in the Arts District

LA Conservancy

The American Hotel marked its centennial back in 1905. Gotten to know the Arts District landmark? You can on Sunday, Nov. 10 during a Los Angeles Conservancy tour.

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City sections that boast a hulking, old-school, brick-and-pipe industrial feel tend to follow a few different paths into the future, or have thus far in our country's larger cities.

The structures can go fallow or remain empty. The structures might be razed for new development. And sometimes, just maybe, the neighborhood can spark again, if not through machines and industry then paintbrushes and ale tanks and books.

LA's own Arts District is pretty much Exhibit A in this last category. And LA Conservancy is intent on people knowing the colorful slice of downtown better via a Sunday, Nov. 10 tour.

The district can hardly be said to be "burgeoning" any longer, as it has held a robust arts community for a couple of decades now. (Does practically every fourth Angeleno have an Al's Bar story from the '80s? We feel like this might be the case.) But burgeon it does, still, in places like Angel City Brewery and SCI-Arc and the Biscuit Company Lofts and the myriad businesses doin' their thing. (That's a prereq for opening something in the district: A commitment to doin' your thing.)

And new, new, new places seem to be debuting in the old, old, old buildings at quite the clip. It's a funny past-future place, though expect the docent-helmed LA Conservancy day to be more past-looking. Did you know the American Hotel, built in 1905, was once the Canadian? You'll leave with tidbits such as that in your brain, trust.

You'll be on foot, not bus, visiting various stops, where various knowledge-filled people will discuss origin stories of the buildings in which you stand. The whole shebang is in the four to five hour class.

Cost? Thirty five bucks for the general public. 'Course, you'll want to have a bit more dough on hand, given the Arts District's rep for interesting restaurants and beverages. (Yeah, we're thinking of the Vanilla Porter just released by Angel City. Pre-judgment? It sounds like November in a bottle to us.)

But the district is always open for business, lookie-loo-ing, and meditations on industrial LA of a century ago, regardless of day.

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