Downtown / LA Metro (6)

Downtown L.A. viewed from the Arts District

A Visual Walking Tour of the Arts District in Downtown L.A.


Esther Tseng

The Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles is one of the hottest neighborhoods in L.A. From the area’s beginnings as Jean-Louis Vigne’s vineyard to an orchard growing mostly oranges and grapefruit, by the late 1800s it became an industrial center for railroads and manufacturing. Eventually, the railroads gave way to the trucking industry and industry moved to other L.A. County areas like Commerce in order to build larger buildings to accommodate their growing businesses.

In the 1970s, artists braved dangerous conditions and began to occupy the area’s dilapidated buildings, having been priced out of areas such as Venice and Hollywood. Eventually, they opened art galleries and began to develop these buildings themselves, thereby preserving a big part of L.A.’s industrial history.

The area again underwent another downturn in the 1990s before being saved by Joel Bloom and his supporters, who officially renamed the area the “Arts District.” Today, it is home to many creatives, including those in green technology, architecture and entertainment. Read on for a visual walking tour of this burgeoning urban oasis.

Redwood tree and atrium at Clifton's Cafeteria

Clifton's Cafeteria: The Story of an L.A. Icon


Elina Shatkin

How magical would it be to instantly trade the sidewalks and steel of an urban downtown for a woodland utopia? Clifton's spanned 16,000-square-feet of faux redwoods, frolicking forest creatures, scenic murals, a brook babbling with limeade and a 20-foot waterfall cascading over artificial rocks. To say that Clifton’s was unique is like saying LeBron James is a pretty decent basketball player. Imagine a larger-than-life diorama designed by Walt Disney on a Pine Sol-fueled bender. Simply put, it was unlike any other restaurant in Los Angeles.

Hotel Normandie lobby

Hotel Normandie: The Story of an L.A. Icon


Sandi Hemmerlein

Situated only three miles in each direction from Downtown L.A. and the Miracle Mile, Koreatown has become a historic, cultural and entertainment destination, marked by the revival of architectural icons like the Hotel Normandie