Happy 35th, LA Conservancy Walking Tours - NBC Southern California

Happy 35th, LA Conservancy Walking Tours

Thousands of Angelenos have sauntered into the city's past via these story-filled stroll-abouts.



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    LA Conservancy
    LA Conservancy's popular Walking Tour Program marks its 35th anniversary on Aug. 13. Been on one lately? They cover downtown, City Hall, Angelino Heights...

    Even as freeways and commutes and traffic jams have blossomed in other cities over the years, Los Angeles, in many minds, forever rules the "Most in Love with Cars" category.

    There's some truth there, but the holders of that particular opinion are not taking our ever-growing Metro system into account, nor large-scale bicycle events like CicLAvia, nor the LA Conservancy Walking Tours, which mark 35 years on Aug. 13.

    For while locals do often approach longer distances by auto, a growing number of adventurers are exploring smaller areas by foot thanks to a host of niche tours.

    The LA Conservancy strolls were at the early helm of this get-moving movement. This was no easy task, especially when you consider that a single tour launched the get-to-know-your-neighborhood events back in 1980.

    That was a year, you'll recall, when newspaper headlines regularly featured the word "smog" in large type and the song "Walking in LA" was only a couple of years out from hit singledom. (You'll recall that Missing Persons sang "nobody walks in LA.")

    But the tours just weren't about ditching the car and reveling in a fresh-air saunter. Thousands of Angelenos have learned about architecture and the audacity of some of the city's early founders. Included on the tours are the Art Deco structures of downtown, Pershing Square, The Biltmore, and the Historic Core, plus several other nearby nooks.

    This, in turn, created a wider love for our shared civic memory. And the notion that LA only ever tears down its older buildings in favor of the shiny and new began to slowly dissipate (thanks also to the Conservancy's advocacy and efforts over the same time period, of course).

    Is it a good thing, to connect locals to their city's past in the form of its still-can-be-seen structures? Without a doubt. Is it a good thing that these tours aren't rare, once-a-month happenings but rather occur every single week while covering several different neighborhoods? Surely.

    Is it a great thing that, after having joined a Los Angeles Conservancy Walking Tour, that you can point out to visitors various buildings and tell their old stories? So great. 

    "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings" is a beloved saying -- thanks, Frank Capra -- but there should be more sayings in this realm. Such as "every time an Angeleno takes a walking tour and learns more about the city the fabric of shared history becomes a little bit stronger."

    Well, it isn't that catchy, or memorable, but it does have heart. Find that heart on your next stroll-and-learn with the LA Conservancy, the city's biggest matchmaker between curious locals and historic architecture.

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