Today was day four in LA. I decided to skip the conference lunch and explore my surroundings on foot. The LA Convention Center is in Downtown LA, which like many downtown areas in spread out cities, is almost a misnomer. I get the impression that LA is a city of neighborhoods, and not a City, in the more traditional sense.
I wanted to see what the downtown area was like, so I used Google Places to find a restaurant that was 2 miles away and plotted a not so direct route to walk there. On the way I passed through quite a few districts or areas, and saw some really great architecture. This conflicted with my initial impressions of LA having the sort've anywhere USA building styles.
As with many cities, the turn of the century to pre WWII buildings have incredible character and are really ornate and interesting to walk by and experience. I really enjoyed the walk and the round about way, while annoying Google Navigation, on my phone, was really a great opportunity to see a consistent and reinforced urban feel.
If you are ever here, I suggest Pershing Square. This park, near the central library, is very different than the normal park or square you experience in say a New York. It is an event center as well as a recreational spot. It is a good mixture of hard scape and land scape and it includes an underground parking facility as well as public transit hubs and while I couldn't do it justice with photos there is a very unique public bathroom here, too. In a way it reminds me of the sculpture garden in Seattle.
I had to laugh quite a few times about signage. Some makes so much sense, I wonder why it isn't more prevalent in other cities. As you move down a street, mid block there are signs to give you a heads up about the cross street you are coming to. This is so simple and an obvious benefit for visitors to your community. The reverse of this is the ever present wall sign. I am not talking the simple business name on the wall, but whole sides of tall buildings, including my hotel. I'll upload a photo when I get back, but for now, check out this image (older but still similar). Walking along today, I saw two crews on different buildings painting these signs.
I can only imagine the sign review process for these signs.
Tomorrow I am finishing the conference with four sessions in the morning, and then a mobile workshop in Orange County. It will be interesting to get out of the City and check it out. I am sure, like everywhere else I have visited here, it will be a unique place with a look and feel all its own.
A comment from yesterday (thanks John), asked if I saw the Cyclivia event on Sunday. This event was amazing and if I hadn't been interested in seeing it, I couldn't have missed it. Basically, it was a seven mile block party promoting safe, car free spaces for people to flow around the city. It was really well done and from a basic premise really worked well to promote streets for all forms of travel.