Exposition Park/USC Side Trip

The Side Trip:

What you’ll see:

  • Exposition Park (sports venues, museums, gardens)
  • USC Campus
  • Historic homes, churches & buildings

How do you get there and back? You take the DASH “F” bus. It operates daily (except major holidays); every 10 minutes during the week, every 20 minutes on weekends. The route is simple: down Figueroa Street, around the USC campus (Exposition Blvd., Vermont Ave. and Jefferson Blvd.) and then back up Figueroa. The bus costs just 50¢ per boarding, 25¢ for seniors 65+). Exact change is required. The buses are blue and white with “LADOT” on front. Some are standard size; some are the longer, articulated buses.

How’s the Side Trip organized? Like this: You get on the DASH bus at the Convention Center and get off at Figueroa Street and Exposition Blvd., do the walking tour of both the park and the campus, and re-board the Dash bus at Figueroa and Jefferson Blvd. returning to where your started. On the way to or from the park and campus you may hop off and on the bus if something in the content and images below catches your curiosity.

–> From the Pico station, walk along Pico Boulevard to Figueroa.

–> Cross Figueroa to the Convention Center. A marked DASH “F” stop is located on Figueroa in front of the center’s South Hall.

A) Side Trip Boarding Point. Board the bus when it comes. Just drop the change in the fare box, take a seat (best views are on the right) and off you go. The ride down Figueroa Street to the park takes about 10 – 15 minutes. Along the way you’ll see:

At Washington Blvd. stop: (Southbound: first stop after Venice Blvd.; Northbound: first stop after 23rd St.)

Bob Hope Patriotic Hall. 1816 S. Figueroa Street. Allied Architects, 1926

The architects, all military engineers, built this 10-story building like a tank. It’s organized as a Beaux-Arts building and its style reflects a striking Italian Renaissance design, particularly as seen from the street (or DASH bus). But it stands curiously alone – like a lone soldier in a field of car dealerships and warehouses.

The land it rises from was deeded by Civil War veterans. Once completed its facilities were used by the Grand Army of the Republic and veterans of the Indian Wars, Spanish American War and the Great War (later re-named World War I). The name “Bob Hope” was prefixed to the buidling in honor of the comedian’s devotion to entertaining the troops during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

The hall houses military memorabilia and documents, including uniforms and personal photos and letters once belonging to Winston Churchill, George Patton and Norman Schwartzkopf. But you can’t see them right now because the building is closed during a $48 million renovation. Due for completion in 2012 it’ll have new heating, ventilation and A/C; ADA upgrades; and a refurbished basement kitchen, gymnasium (up on the top floor), auditorium and conference/meeting rooms.

At 23rd Street stop: (Southbound: first stop after Washington Blvd.; Northbound: first stop after Adams Blvd.)

Stimson House. 2421 S. Figueroa Street. Carroll H. Brown, 1891

Here’s a rare (for Los Angeles) example of the almost fortress-like Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. Back east in Boston, in 1877, Mr. H. H. Richardson completed the Trinity Church and the look created a sensation, taking its name from its creator. It didn’t quite take off in Southern California, however, and all but a few examples that were built have since been demolished. The Beaux-Arts style (like the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall) arrived about the same time and there’s no question which style won out.

Richardsonian or Beaux-Arts, the $150,000, 30-room house (most expensive in town when it went up) is impressive. The four-story octoganal tower is the most notable feature – easily seen from the DASH bus as you pass by. Also notable is the red color of the stones, quarried in New Mexico and shipped west at huge expense.

Those blocks of red stone likely saved the life of its owner, Thomas Stimson. A private detective, hired by Stimpson himself to protect himself and his family, was convicted of planting dynamite beneath Stimson’s bedroom. The explosion blew a hole below the home’s foundation but the rock protected the sleeping Stimson. As a trial later revealed, the detective felt his job would be more secure if he could demonstrate Stimson’s life was in constant danger – so he staged the explosion himself. He was sentenced to five years at Folsom Prison.

Stimson and his wife came west to L.A. in 1890. The man, a self-made lumber baron, settled a year later in his castle of stone. But inside, every first-floor room (there are about a dozen of them) was furnished in a different type of wood. A room of oak leading into a room of mahogany had double-sided doors; one side crafted in oak, the other in mahogany. Details, details! Mr. Stimson died in the home in 1898, his wife passed six years later.

Note the “canal” running along Figueroa Street in the old photo at left. It’s an offshoot of the zanja madre (“mother ditch”) irrigation system which channeled water in from the Los Angeles River. Take a look, some portions of the filled-in ditch remain hidden behind fences and walls lining the street.

The house remained a home until 1940 when the “Red Castle” was sold (for just $20,000!) to a USC fraternity. Mrs. Doheny, widow of the oil tycoon Edward Doheny, still lived next door (the neighborhood was once called “Millionaires Row”). She grew so tired of eight years of fraternity party shenanigans that in 1948 she upped and bought it for $75,000, turned around and deeded it to the far quieter Sisters of St. Joseph who converted the fraternity house to a convent. Mount St. Mary’s College used it for housing but today it’s back to being a Sisters of St. Joseph convent. Portions of the TV show “Pushing Daisies” were filmed here.

(The exterior of the Doheny Mansion can be seen. See below at the Adams Blvd. stop.)

At Adams Blvd. stop: (Southbound: first stop after 23rd Street; Northbound: first stop after 30th Street.)

St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church. 621 W. Adams Blvd. Albert C. Martin, 1925

José Benito de Churriguera, a 17th century Spanish architect, is generally credited with popularizing, if not developing, the bigger-than-life, heavily embellished style named for him: Churrigueresque.
Fast forward to the early 20th century. The style’s revival was underway, helped along by noted architect Bertram Goodhue who’d just completed designs for the California-Panama Exposition in San Diego (photo at left). So taken by Goodhue’s work, Albert C. Martin created this church here on Figueroa Street in the same Churriqueresque style. You’ll find the similarities are remarkable.

(Mr. Goodhue’s designs also impressed the L.A. City Council when they sought an architect for their new library. But by then, the early 1920’s, Mr. Goodhue was moving towards the cleaner, more streamlined Art Deco look. The library he designed – today’s downtown landmark – is almost the antithesis of Churriqueresque.)

The story has it that oil magnate Mr. Doheney, who lived nearby, asked that the planned church (the one he’d be attending) be built at a 45 degree angle to the corner to lend it added distinction from commercial buildings already up or planned for the thoroughfare. Mission accomplished. But most agree: positioned at any angle, this 1,200-seat church would be a stand out.
Automobile Club of Southern California. 2601 S. Figueroa. Hunt and Burns, 1923
The architect who designed the iconic Bradbury Building, Sumner Hunt, partnered in the design of this Spanish Colonial Revival structure. As the largest affiliate of the American Automobile Association, you’re looking at one busy club. They were already 23 years old when they moved into this building. In 1906 they began printing road maps and a monthly magazine followed three years later. In 1922 they published their first comprehensive traffic survey of Los Angeles. In 1937 the club detailed their proposal for the city’s regional freeway system.
For years the club used the street corner at Figueroa Street and Adams Boulevard as the “epicenter” of Los Angeles; distances to and from the city were measured from here. The lobby is worth a look. If it’s open, whether a member or not, go on in and check it out.

St. John’s Cathedral. 514 W. Adams Blvd. Pierpont and Walter S. Davis, 1923
Though not as large, as elaborate or as well-sited as its neighbor diagonally across the street, St. John’s has its charm. It also has a title: Cathedral – a designation bestowed to the former St. John’s Episcopal Church in 2008. The exterior of the Romanesque-style structure is modeled after an 11th century church, San Pietro, in Tuscania, Italy; inside, the ceiling’s design was copied from a church in San Miniato in Florence, Italy. This building replaces an 1890, wood-shingled church that stood next door. It’s long gone, as are the acres of orange groves that used to surround it.
The structure is made of reinforced concrete; some walls are over two feet thick. If you look closely, you may be able to make out the woodgrain imprints that remain from the forms used in the cathedral’s construction.
West Adams Boulevard & Neighborhood, extending a couple of miles west from Figueroa Street to Arlington Avenue. (Take a stroll along portion of the boulevard if you have the time.)
At its height (around 1880 to 1920 or so) the West Adams neighborhood was the wealthiest in the city. A list of residents who lived within the Victorian, Queen Anne, Mission, Tudor, Italian Renaissance, Arts & Crafts and Spanish Revival homes (only in L.A.!) read like a who’s who of local movers and shakers: Doheny (image at left), Huntington, Dockweiller, Clark, Whittlesey, Wilshire, Stimson, and Kerckhoff. Soon, movie stars from the silent and early talkies era settled on the graceful, tree-lined streets – though the resident “old money” didn’t necessarily welcome them: Fatty Arbuckle, Busby Berkeley, Theda Bara and Norma Talmadge, among them.

Later, the tonier ‘burbs of Hancock Park, Beverly Hills, Pasadena and the Hollywood Hills skimmed off the uppermost classes and West Adams began to decline in prominence. But upper-class African Americans – mostly film or sports stars – took their place: Ray Charles, Hattie McDaniel (first to win an Academy Award), Louise Beavers, Ethel Waters, Little Richard, Marvin Gaye, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Joe Louis. But they moved on, too, leaving the area at it lowest in the 1970s and 80s. In the 1960s, construction of the Santa Monica (I-10) Freeway divided the neighborhood, further dropping property values.
Smart money is coming back to the neighborhood. Though a lot of the old homes have been demolished or “modernized” beyond hope, blocks and blocks remain. The West Adams Heritage Association, founded in 1983, works to protect and improve the region.

Doheny Mansion. Chester Place, Theodore Eisen and Sumner Hunt, 1889.
The house sits within the campus of St. Mary’s College. Edward Doheny purchased the opulent home in 1901 and he and his wife, Estelle, moved in. Public tours of its interior are available but only on certain days and only by reservation. Click here for more information. But you can see its exterior, an interesting – almost bizarre blend of California Mission, Moorish and Gothic styles. From the corner of W. Adams Blvd. and Figueroa St. just walk west on W. Adams Blvd. to Chester Place, turn right and continue to the end – about a 10-minute walk.
Look for the Felix the Cat sign on the left at the corner of Figueroa Street and Jefferson Boulevard. It’s the “new” location (since 1958) of Felix Chevrolet. If you’ve already completed the main tour, you’ve seen the dealership’s first, 1922 location. When they moved here they put up a new “Felix the Cat” sign and here it remains. In 2007 the three-sided sign was designated a Historic-cultural Monument by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commisison.

The name “Felix” wasn’t picked out of the air. The cartoon character was named for the dealership’s owner, Winslow Felix.

Felix the Cat quote


–> Exit the DASH “F” bus at the USC “Entrance 2” stop (first stop after 35th Street).
–> Continue down Figueroa Street, crossing Exposition Boulevard.

–> Walk down Figueroa Street about two blocks to the entrance to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


If you look into the park to the right and see what looks like a United Airlines DC-8 jet coming in for a landing at the Aerospace Museum, you’re headed in the right direction.

–> At Exposition Park Drive turn right and walk to the park’s main entrance.  

B) Exposition Park Entrance. Exposition Boulevard, 1872

Bounded by Figueroa St., Martin Luther King Blvd., Vermont Ave., and Exposition Blvd. The park includes sports venues, gardens and museums, most of which are listed below.

In 1872, when the city’s population numbered all of about 6,000 souls, a 160-acre tract was set aside and named Agricultural Park. Though farmers sold their produce and stock here, the big draw was the racetrack. If it moved, people came from all around to watch it race – and bet on the outcome: dogs, bicycles, automobiles, rabbits, horses and even camels. Moreover, sitting just outside city limits, the park was exempt from the gambling and liquor restrictions Los Angeles was (at first, at least) pretending to enforce.

As the neighborhood began to attract wealthy residents, what the police couldn’t enforce, the well-connected residents could. Moreover, the park was just a drunken stagger across the street from the newly-founded (and the then Methodist and Episcopalian-affilitiated) University of Southern California. United, the indignant homeowners and educators worked to transform the glorified fairground into a world-class park.

Out came the racetrack and in went flowers – today’s Rose Garden. Out came fields and in went museums. With the completion of the State Exposition Building in 1913, the park was renamed Expostion Park. A few years later a coliseum was added. Exposition Park had arrived.

It’s a Fact:

In 1906, two 75-ton steam locomotives, each speeding at 50 mph, collided head-on as thousands of helpless onlookers watched. The staged event took place at Agricultural (now Exposition) Park, filmed by Thomas Tally, who, in 1896, opened California’s first permanent movie theater at 311 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles.

Straight ahead is the only stadium in the world to host the Olympic Games not once (1932), but twice (again, in 1984): the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Before walking towards the stadium take a quick look at the tall palm tree at the park’s entrance. The plaque (image at right) explains its significance.

To the far left is the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Welton Becket, 1959). Welton Becket is probably best known for the landmark Capitol Records Building in Hollywood. 

The arena seats anywhere from about 14,000 (hockey) to over 16,000 (boxing/wrestling); far more for concerts and conventions. Lacking a major professional sports team, the arena supplements USC Trojan games with conventions and concerts but its days are likely numbered. 

In 1959, the then Vice President Richard Nixon, dedicated the arena. The following summer the arena hosted the Democratic National Convention whose presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy, went on to beat Nixon. Boxing events for the 1984 Olympics were held here. Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Van Halen – all have performed here.

–> Walk to the Coliseum.

C) Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Despite its two-time hosting of the Olympic Games, the Coliseum wasn’t built for that event. Designed by the renown father/son team of John and Donald Parkinson (City Hall, Bullocks Wilshire and dozens more), it opened in 1923 (USC 23, Pomona College 7) as a memorial to veterans of the Great War (World War I). The 75,000-seat venue was expanded for the 1932 Olympic Games to over 101,000. Later renovations included a reduction of seating to a more comfortable 93,000+ capacity when most of the bench seating was replaced with individual seats. A 1993 renovation lowered the playing field by 11 feet.

The future of the giant Coliseum is a giant question mark. With the Raiders’ return to Oakland in 1995 the venue lacks a professional football team. Even USC threatened to leave unless a promise of updates and modifications was made (they were). Preservationists push to retain the 20th century Coliseum’s basic form but the costs to do that – and update it to 21st century needs may be prohibitive. Meanwhile, a privately-funded football stadium was given a go-ahead for the City of Industry but there’s now talk of a massive, multi-purpose stadium-cum-convention facility to be located at the current site of the Los Angeles Convention Center’s West Hall.

It’s a Fact:

In 1967, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted history’s first Super Bowl (Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10). The event wasn’t called the Super Bowl yet; it was the “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.” Earlier, with Dodger Stadium under construction, the venue hosted the 1959 World Series (Dodgers 4, White Sox 2), making the Coliseum the only Olympic stadium to host a Super Bowl and a World Series.

Olympic Gateway” (Robert Graham, 1984) greets the main entrance to the Coliseum. The headless and footless, life-sized bronze statues are modeled after Olympic athletes: Terry Schroeder (water polo, U.S.) and Jennifer Innis (long jump, Guyana).

–> Continue around to the right on N. Coliseum Drive (the Coliseum should be at your left).

Portions of the California ScienCenter’s Sketch Foundation Air and Space Gallery (Frank Gehry, architect, 1984) are visible beyond the parking garage on the right. You can’t miss the A-12 Blackbird on display here. It’s not a model; it’s the real thing and because it was an A-12 trainer, it has two cockpits: one for the pilot and one for the instructor. As a trainer, it also flew more miles than any other A-12. The spy plane is made mostly of titanium and flew at twice the speed of sound.

Because of a recent acquisition, the Air and Space Gallery’s future remains uncertain.

  • Upside: NASA recently awarded the campus with Endeavor, the youngest of the four remaining space shuttle orbiters.
  • Downside: Where, on an already space-challenged campus, do you put a spacecraft that’s 122 feet tall? 

It’s likely the shuttle will be displayed vertically, as it appeared on the launch pad. That would require an imposing structure at least a 12-stories high – a home that’s also wide enough to accommodate Endeavor’s 78-foot wingspan. There’s been no decision yet whether the current Air and Space Gallery will be modified for the shuttle or demolished and replaced with an all-new building. 

Beyond it, beyond your view, is the Wallis Annenberg Building for Science Learning and Innovation (naming rights can make for mouthfuls). Classrooms and working laboratories make this space an active learning experience. The venue’s “Big Lab” provids 32,000 square feet of ongoing, hands-on experimentation. As the former State Armory of the California National Guard, the 1912 structure was threatened with demolition. Saner minds prevailed and the armory was retrofitted to its current role. 

Next door is the California African American Museum (Jack Haywood and Vincent J. Proby, 1984). Here, a permanent exhibit traces the African American migration from the west coast of Africa to the west coast of North America.

–> Continue along N. Coliseum Drive to the south entrance of the California ScienCenter.

D) California ScienCenter. The California ScienCenter (California Science Center) replaces one of the park’s earliest structures: the 1913 State Exposition Building, designed to showcase the state’s agricultural resources. As California’s science and technology-based industries grew, the building was renamed the California Museum of Science and Industry. It was gutted in the 1990s when the existing building was constructed but the original, north-facing façade remains – you’ll see it after you pass through. Should you want to spend some time inside, click here for admission costs.

There’s plenty of public art in the forecourt, most of it well marked. Directed to impress the minds of kids of all ages, spend some time here. Notice the quotes on the steps leading up to the building. Notice also that the gap between Larry Kirkland’s two-piece “California Gate” creates an outline of the state.

Larry Kirkland quote

An IMAX theater stands to the right.; to the left, the entrance to the center. It costs nothing to walk through, so…

–> Walk through the California ScienCenter lobby.

Within is a gift shop, some fast-food outlets, restrooms and some interesting goings-on above.  

–> Continue through the building and exit via the opposite (north side) doors.

After exiting, be sure to turn around and face the building. As mentioned earlier, the 1913 façade was kept; the rest wasn’t. The building was dedicated the day after William Mulholland went up to the Valley and turned the gates to open the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Straight ahead is the Rose Garden irrigated by water from that aqueduct’s source, the Owens River Valley, over 200 miles distant.

Off to the right, in front of the Wallis Annenberg facility, is the façade retained from the original National Guard Armory. Straight ahead is the Rose Garden, which you’ll return to in a few minutes. To the left is the Natural History Museum, your next destination.

–> From the California ScienCenter, turn left and follow State Drive to the museum.

E) Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (Frank Hudson and William Munsell, 1913) is just one of three operated by the county: this one, The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (the latter literally translates as “The The Tar Tar Pits”) and The William S. Hart Park and Museum in Newhall (former home of the silent film cowboy star and where bison roam). Should you choose to tour this building, click here for admission information.  

The museum opened the same day the State Exposition Building opened. Back then it was called the “Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art” but as its collection grew, the art was moved to spanking-new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in 1963 and the science occupied the reworked California ScienCenter. A major renovation and a complex seismic retrofit was completed in 2009, including a restoration of the rotunda’s stunning stained glass skylight. It’s been said that the building looks more like the original 1913 structure than at any time in the past 80 years.

Today, the rotunda’s occupants are entitled the “Dueling Dinosaurs.” They’re skeletal replicas of T. rex and Triceratops specimens. Outside, on the Exposition Boulevard side of the musuem, those same characters duel in the sun – but with flesh of bronze. The hungry beasts are currently under protective custody, pending re-construction of their site. Other exhibits, too many to mention here, fill the museum’s three floors. But know that upstairs, within these walls, real staffers are at work preparing real dinosaur fossils for display. If you want to touch a real, 120 million-year-old fossil, pay the admission and go on up!

–> From the museum’s entrance, retrace your steps back to the Rose Garden.

F) Rose Garden. Thanks to L.A.’s clime, roses are in bloom here most months. The roses in the Rose Garden replaced an open lawn; before that the 7-acre space was devoted to the park’s racetrack. The 15,000 rose bushes were planted in 1927 and over the years that count has been upped to about 20,000 – and over 200 varieties. Most are marked so follow your nose to your favorite. Statuary and gazebos dot the garden. The Rose Garden is a popular spot for weddings and similar events. Click here for more information.

–> Cross through the center of the Rose Garden, around the fountain, and out to Exposition Boulevard.

You’re looking at the future – and the past. This is Metrorail’s Expo Line station at Exposition/USC, scheduled to open November, 2011.  Click here for the Expo Phase 1 map. From here, downtown L.A. will be four stops and about 7 minutes away. By 2015 service will extend for 15.2 miles connecting downtown with Santa Monica on the Pacific Ocean.

The rail right-of-way you see here is hardly new; trains began operating along the route in 1875 – electrified since 1908. Passenger service ended in 1953; diesel freight service ended in the late 1980s.

–> Cross Exposition Boulevard and enter the USC Campus.

In 1880, ten teachers began intstructing 53 students on a dusty “campus” on the outskirts of a frontier town. Tuition was $15 per term. Thus began the University of Southern California, founded by a judge (Robert Widney), a former governor (John Downey), a banker (Isaias Hellman) and a former horticulturist (Ozro Childs). About 1,000 Angelenos (one-tenth of the town’s entire population) turned out for the opening day. The students didn’t have a dormitory but they had a band and a debate club! Today’s student body numbers about 37,000 with 3,200 full-time faculty.

There’s a long list of historic buildings within the 226-acre campus. Architecturally, they run the gamut from the Romanesque Revival favored in its early days through the more recent International and Postmodern styles. Regardless of the style or decade, there’s brick – lots of brick! Your walk through the campus will be relatively brief, pretty much sticking to Trousdale Parkway , the main north/south walkway which connects Exposition Boulevard with Jefferson Boulevard.

G. Mudd Hall.  The School of Philosophy – Mudd Hall (Ralph Carlin Fleming, 1930), is to the left as you enter the campus. The tower is visible from throughout the campus and ties with the globe-topped Von KleinSmid Center Tower (which you’ll see later) as tallest on campus. Opposite, on the right, is Bridge Hall (John & Donald Parkinson, 1930). It, and the Hoffman Building behind it, constitute the Marshall School of Business. John Parkinson and his son Donald set the tone of the Romanesque Revival style seen throughout the campus during its substantial growth spurt in the 1920s and early 1930s. Next to Bridge Hall is the Leventhal School of Accounting building. To the left is Zumberge Hall (1930) and next to it, the Topping Student Center.

–> Continue along Trousdale Parkway to the Hahn Central Plaza and fountain.

H) Gywnn Wilson Student Union. The Student Union (John and Donald Parkinson, 1928) to the left is impressive in its Italian Renaissance cladding. The firm Gladding, McBean, did the terra cotta carvings. If you look closely, up under the eave above the entrance, you might see a monkey thumbing its nose at Dr. Rufus von KleinSmid, USC’s Chancellor at the time of the building’s construction. The story goes that artisans working on the building got tired of the almost daily suggestions offered by the Sidewalk Supervisor (that’d be the Chancellor) so they took out their frustrations on the terra cotta.

I) Tutor Campus Center. To the left, down Childs Way (most pedestrian walkways here are named for founders or benefactors – you just crossed Downey Way) is the new Tutor Campus Center (A.C. Martin Partners, Inc., 2010). USC Trustee Ronald Tutor, class of ’63, earned naming rights to the center with a generous $30 million donation. The principal architect, David Martin (class of ’66) represents the third generation of Martins within the A.C. Martin firm. The $130 million center provides spacious lounges and meeting rooms, food courts overlooking pedestrian and dining plazas, theater and function rooms – all of them gathering places for students. It’s the first LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) on campus.

J) Allan Hancock Foundation Building. Opposite the Student Union is the Allan Hancock Foundation Building (Samuel Lunden and C. Raimond Johnson). The Hancocks were the fabulously rich (land, and the oil below it) family whose name found its way into Hancock Park, one of L.A.’s early, exclusive residential enclaves. The Hancocks donated the La Brea Tar Pits to the City of Los Angeles.

The building’s brick and concrete blend well with its neighbors but a closer inspection reveals its Moderne styling – a progression from Art Deco that evolved during the 1930s. This building was completed in 1941. Ornamentation is dramatically reduced, the lines are clean and more angular, columns are totally absent – replaced by the vertical piers with windows recessed between them. The building marked a transition between the Romanesque Revival styles before it and the International and Postmodern styles that followed from the 1960s to the present.

The bas-reliefs near the building’s roof and on the north and east walls (here, mammals retrieved from the La Brea Tar Pits) are by Merrell Gage, one of the city’s most noted sculptors.

K) Hahn Central Plaza. Standing within the Hahn Central Plaza, it’s easy to spot Tommy Trojan. The life-size bronze statue (Roger Burnham, 1930) is an unofficial mascot of the university. The ideal Trojan is “Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous and Ambitious” – or so says the inscription on the pedestal. Cross-town rivals at UCLA may have other words for Tommy and for this reason, the statue is protected during the week leading up to the annual USC-UCLA football game. There’s also a Tommy Cam – a security camera pointed at the warrior Click here to see him.

Tommy Trojan is not the mascot of USC. He’s a shrine to the school’s teams, the Trojans. In the school’s early days, their athletes had a rough go of it. Against often overwhelming odds, against far bigger, stronger and much better-equipped teams…they lost. But the point was they soldiered on and for that reason, the name “Trojan” seemed to fit. It was bestowed to them by a Los Angeles Times sports editor in 1912 and it stuck. Maybe they owe their pluck to the USC marching band which went on to record not one, but two records that went platinum.

The USC mascot is “Traveler, ” a white horse. His statue (Ronald Pekar, 2010) stands atop the grassy knoll in front of the Allan Hancock Foundation Building.

L) Bovard Hall. Rising above Tommy Trojan is Bovard Hall (John Parkinson, 1921). Built as sort of an all-purpose building (administrative offices, faculty offices, 27 classrooms and an auditorium) the Italian Renaissance structure is topped by a 116-foot clock tower. Each side of the square tower project two sculptures (Johan Lachne Gruenfeld, 1921): South – Phillips Brooks and Borden Bowne (religious leaders); East – John Wesley and Mathew Simpson (founder of Methodism and methodist preacher, respectively; North – Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt; West – Cicero and Plato. If you haven’t guessed, USC was originally affliliated with the Methodist Church but with its founders including an Irish Catholic (Downey) and a German Jewish immigrant (Hellman) that affiliation was always loose and ended in 1952.

Opposite Bovard Hall is Alumni Park. The fountain within (Frederick William Schweigardt, 1935) is entitled “The Four Cornerstones of America Democracy.” The four kneeling females symbolize “Community,” “Home, ” “School” and “Church.”

–> Walk into Alumni Park and turn right, continuing past the fountain to the Doheny Library.


M) Doheny Memorial Library. Edward Doheny Jr., son of the oil magnated Edward Doheny, was an alumnus, class of ’16, and a trustee of USC. He was murderdered at his Beverly Hills home (the 55-room Greystone Mansion) in 1929 and as a memorial to their son, the Doheny’s donated the full $1.1 million needed to erect the USC library. The completion of the Doheny Memorial Library (Cram and Ferguson, Samuel Lunden, 1932) marked the first time 52-year-old university had a separate library building. Here, in front of the library, the annual commencement ceremony takes place in May.

–> Walk up the steps, through the ornamental bronze doors, and up the steps to the Circulation Desk.

As you walk the steps to the entrance, know that president-elect John F. Kennedy and President Gerald Ford were here before you. Both delivered speeches to students and faculty gathered here at the library.

If you’d like to explore the interior on your own, pick up a self-guided tour booklet at the Circulation Desk.

The First Floor is the most impressive: the rotunda’s stained glass windows (Wilbur Herbert Burnham), the Treasure Room’s murals (Samuel John Armstrong) and the immense, light-filled rooms of the Current Periodicals Reading Room and the Los Angeles Times Reference Center. Tha latter’s coffered ceiling was designed by John Smeraldi whose handiwork also appears on the ceilings of downtown’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel.

To the left of the Circulation Desk is the Card Catalogue Room whose hundreds of wooden drawers provide a quaint backdrop to the computer screens that replaced them. Downstairs is Cinema Library you shouldn’t miss.  

It’s a Fact:

To check out a one of its 450,000 – 500,000 books from Doheny Library, a 1930s student would, 1) look up the book’s index number in the Card Catalog, 2) enter that number on a “call slip,”3) submit the call slip to the loan desk where, 4) a staff member would slip the slip into the appropriate pneumatic tube which would, 5) suck the paper to the appropriate “stack level” where, 6) a staff member would retrieve the requested volume and place it onto a conveyor belt which would, 7) carry it down to the loan desk where (step 8!) a number on a light board would signal the waiting student that their book was available for pick up. Easy as 1, 2, 3…!

–> Exit the library. An easy walk to the left, a block down Childs Way, will show you the Widney Alumni House, the university’s oldest remaining building.

N) Widney Alumni House. In 1880, this was USC. It’s here where those first 53 students took their classes. Designed by architects Ezra Kysor and Octavius Morgan (among the city’s first notable architects), the Widney Alumni House has been on the move over its 130-year history. This is its third site, the original being located at Founders’ Park just north of Bovard Hall. From there, in 1907, it was lifted and moved a block west to where today’s Physical Education Building stands. When construction began on that building around 1928, it moved here. Today it houses the USC Alumni Association.

–> Return on Childs Way to the Hahn Central Plaza. Turn right on Trousdale Parkway and continue to the tall tower with the globe on top.

In the 1920s and 1930s, today’s pedestrian walkways were vehicular streets, Trousdale Parkway being one. There’s still lots of traffic but today it’s bikes, not cars, that cause congestion. Estimates place the campus bike population to number up to 15,000 and at some hours they all seem to be in motion. At this writing, both Trousdale Parkway and Childs Way are off-limits to riders between 9 am and 4 pm. Distracted bikers who are texting or sipping coffee (or both!) have been cited as a major cause of accidents.

Films shot on or near the parkway include “The Bachelor,” “Forrest Gump,” “The Graduate,” “Old School,” and (we think) “Legally Blonde.”

It’s a Fact:

The list of famous USC alumni is long and includes Neil Armstrong (’70), the first man to walk on the moon. But here’s an alphabetical list of notable USC dropouts: Hugh Beaumont (Barbara Billingsley’s husband, “Ward Cleaver,” on “Leave it to Beaver“), Art Buchwald (Pulitzer Prize-winner humorist and columnist), Jackie Coogan (child star in silent movies), J. Paul Getty (millionaire industrialist), Lionel Hampton (jazz musician), Michael Landon (“Little Joe” on “Bonanza” and star of “Little House on the Prairie“), Robert Stack (TV and film star, including “Airplane“), and John Wayne (film actor).

O) Von KleinSmid Center of International and Public Affairs . The “VKC” is named for the university’s fifth president (remember – the bespeckled Sidewalk Superintendant?). Once completed in 1966 by modernist architect Edward Durrell Stone, a line of about fifty students, staff and faculty formed a “human conveyor belt,” passing thousands of volumes of government, public affairs and political science from the Doheny Library to their new home. At 167 feet, the center’s tower equals the height of the Mudd Hall Tower which you saw on entering the campus. Together, by eleven feet, they out-tower Waite Phillips Hall, seen just beyond. But it wasn’t always so; the globe was added atop the tower a year after it was finished.

–> Continue to Waite Phillips Hall.

P) Waite Phillips Hall. Despite its mere 156 feet, this hall dominates the north end of the USC campus. Whether Edward Durell Stone’s 1968 structure fits architecturally with its surroundings is another matter. It does have plenty of brick and those arches do recall the Romanesque arches seen on most other USC buildings. Whatever, the building is a campus landmark. Recently its rooftop made the blogs when a couple (student and non-student) chose it for extra-curricular activities.        

–> Continue down Trousdale Parkway to W. 34th Street.

Q) School of Cinematic Arts. About a block down 34th Street to the left is the School of Cinematic Arts (Urban Design Group, 2010). It’s a sprawling, 200,000-square-foot, 7-building complex, the largest of which are the George Lucas (’70) and Steven Spielberg (Long Beach ) buildings. Four industry-size sound stages are located here. It’s believed that Lucas, who picked up almost half of the buildings’ construction cost, wanted the building to fit the late 1920s look of the campus when the film studies first appeared on the USC curriculum. Some feel the faux treatments are more reflective of a Hollywood set. Go check it out and decide for yourself.

–> On Truesdale Parkway, continue to the Jefferson Boulevard entrance to USC.

R) Shrine Auditorium. Across the street to the right is the Shrine Auditorium (John C. Austin and M. Edelman, 1926). A pair of domed cupolas mark this Moorish-styled theater. When it opened, its 6,400+ seats made it the largest in the world. Its proscenium-style stage is larger than New York City’s Radio City Music Hall. The stage itself could seat over a thousand and that size allowed it to host the USC Trojan’s basketball court for decades. The Shrine was even big enough to house King Kong; portions of the film were shot here (it was on this stage where the jealous Kong broke his chains to rescue his fair-haired love, Fay Wray).

But wait – there’s more! On that stage, in 1984, Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial.

For years the Shrine alternated with the Music Center as the Academy Awards venue. Following the 2001 opening of the Academy’s purpose-built Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, the Shrine Auditorium – and its adjacent Exposition Center – underwent a major renovation.

Locate the DASH “F” bus stop at Jefferson Boulevard/Trousdale Parkway. It’s almost directly in front of the Parkway at the exit of the USC campus. Locate also the fare (50¢ regular fare; 25¢ for seniors 65+).  

–> Board the “F” bus for the short ride back up to the Convention Center.

–> Exit the DASH bus at the Convention Center (Ending point “S” on the map). Walk one block east to the Pico Station. 


If you’re headed for the 7th Street/Metro Station, so is your DASH bus. You can skip the walk over to the Pico Station and stay on the DASH bus; it’ll stop right in front of the 7th Street/Metro Station entrance.

Thanks for coming along!

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