(500) Days of Downtown

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I’d been wanting to see the indie romance movie “(500) Days of Summer,” which was largely filmed in downtown L.A. and in which its classic architecture plays an important role, and had also been wanting to take the train to downtown L.A. again.

When I saw that the movie was playing at the obscure Laemmle Grande 4-Plex at 3rd and Figueroa, the idea of seeing the movie downtown proved irresistible, even though it’s also playing in Claremont. So on Saturday I took the train to Union Station and the Red Line subway to the 4th and Hill stop.

I had lunch at the Grand Central Market, the 1917-founded mecca of food vendors and produce stands. I got a smoothie at La Adelita and two tacos at Maria’s Fresh Seafood. Across the street is Angels Flight, the short railway dating to 1901 that hauls people up and down Bunker Hill. Alas, Angels Flight is still out of commission, as it’s been since a fatality in 2001, although its return seems poised to happen.

I hoofed it up the stairs by the railway and took a break on a bench at Angelus Plaza. Not the right bench, as it turned out. A couple of crucial scenes in the movie, which I saw afterward, are set in the park, but the bench the characters sit on is a different one with a better view. Oh well.

Making your way through Bunker Hill as a pedestrian isn’t simple, what with the varied elevations and fortress-like architecture, but the utopian-styled plazas seemed more lovable as I traversed them on foot. Eventually I located the subterranean theater next to a Marriott. The theater itself seems like a ’70s relic with a musty smell and floor-to-ceiling curtains separating the thin-walled auditoriums.

Afterward, I walked up Figueroa past the Music Center and the weird new high school by the 101 to Chinatown, and then east to Union Station for the ride home.

How was the movie? Like Grand Central Market, Metrolink and downtown, highly recommended.

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  • http://diversitown.blogspot.com meg

    For an earlier snapshot of Bunker Hill geography, have you seen the 1961 film *The Exiles*? It is cinema verit, and it follows several Native Americans around for a day. They all live in tenements on Bunker Hill (and can’t afford the Angel Flight fare most of the time), and they do a lot of walking around. The fictional day ends at a party up on top of a bare hill that I think is now part of Dodger Stadium. Highly recommended.

    [Haven’t seen it but remember reading about it when it was unearthed a few years ago. It sounds neat. — DA]

  • Lisa

    Nice blog post, David. It inspires me to spend more time in downtown.

    [Yay! Yes, I’m a fan. — DA]

  • Bob House

    You need to add a couple of John Fante’s books, set in downtown LA, to your reading log to further savor the history. Skip the 2006 movie made from “Ask the Dust” by Fante — it was filmed in South Africa with stage sets for identifiable L.A. scenes.

    [I do need me some Fante. His “Ask the Dust” also has the benefit of being short. — DA]