Civic Center Tour: History

Some Background:

Here’s what you get: the nation’s third largest performing arts center (with four venues including the iconic Disney Hall), a performing arts high school, a performing arts college, an art museum (and another on the way), a city hall, a federal courthouse, a county courthouse, a criminal courthouse, a police headquarters and a cathedral – all within three or four blocks of the Civic Center subway station. Plus – you have views that extend (on a clear day) east into the mountains and west over the Pacific. Not too shabby, we’d say!

For walking tours, it just doesn’t get much better than this. Everything’s close, the streets align in a predictable grid, it’s fairly flat and where it’s not, your walking is rewarded with great views. Parks, courtyards, public art and interesting building shapes and sizes are everywhere. And compared to most other sections of downtown, the Civic Center area is more open and just maybe a bit more grand.

Los Angeles isn’t just about movie stars, beaches and smog – though it has all that in spades. It’s about government and – don’t smile – culture. The city is the county seat for Los Angeles County – the nation’s most populous at almost 10 million. Within that county are 88 incorporated cities, including Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest. That alone tells you a lot goes on in the city, county and state government offices within the Civic Center – roughly a 10-block area below Bunker Hill.

A lot is going on atop Bunker Hill, too. A philharmonic orchestra, an opera company, a chorale group, and a theater group all call the 11-acre Music Center their home. Together, they form the nation’s third largest performing arts center with over 8,200 seats. Mix in a contemporary art museum and art schools (with theaters of their own) and you have something quite significant. Not bad for a city Norman Mailer once labeled “a constellation of plastic.” (Or worse…see below.)

Neil Simon Quote

Count yourself among the 72 and take the WalknRideLA Civic Center tour.

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