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There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
Los Angeles has often been characterized as a jumble of “suburbs in search of a city.” But Los Angeles has always boasted a significant downtown and it looks a whole heck of a lot like it did eighty years ago. Unlike Manhattan (on an island) or Philadelphia (squeezed between two rivers) or Chicago (pressed against a lake), developers in Los Angeles could build freely to the west rather than destroy existing structures.
The Historic Core is stuffed with grand old buildings, many exactly 150 feet in height, owing to a height limit ordinance passed in 1911. The restriction was intended to limit the density of downtown Los Angeles and allow the famous Southern California sunshine to reach the sidewalks. Rare exceptions were granted for decorative towers with setbacks in the upper stories that appeared in the 1920s. The restriction was lifted in 1957 but there is still none of the experience of being stranded in an urban canyon in the Downtown Core.
The Downtown Core is roughly defined by four north-south streets from Hill Street to the west to Main Street to the east. The Theatre District tour will travel down Broadway and back up Hill Street (the Financial District tour covers Spring and Main streets). Broadway began filling with theaters built as vaudeville stages in 1911 which gave way to glittering movie palaces during the 1920s and 1930s. Broadway’s Golden Age was brief - there was a movie-going shift to Hollywood Boulevard and then a mass population exodus to the suburbs. Some of the great movie houses were torn down, others struggled on as grindhouses showing exploitation films, and others just sat vacant. Today the Broadway Theater District contains the thickest concentration of pre-World War II movie palaces in America, although less than a handful still exhibit movies.
These movie palaces were famous for their breathtaking interiors awash in exotic themes and appropriately we will begin our tour at one of the District’s oldest buildings most famous for its elaborately crafted interior at Broadway and 3rd Street...