Legends of Los Angeles Past

I know, I know, we are all tired of hearing about the mythicized revival of downtown Los Angeles.  With the exception of the Music Center, the Staples Center and Disney Hall; a handful of top-notch restaurants and bars; and the occasional Twitter-fueled stop by the Kogi taco truck, many Angelenos find little reason to trek across the city–especially since no one tends to carry mass amounts of quarters to feed $4 per hour parking meters.

But alas, there have been recent developments in downtown’s move to be something more for locals and tourists alike.  The $2.5 billion, 4 million square foot mega-development LA Live has popped up providing denizens a commercially minded haven.  Two proposed multi-use commercial/office/residential skyscrapers are set to be constructed along the Figueroa Corridor, one replacing the Wilshire Grand Hotel, and the second is to be built directly across the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Despite new arrivals to the Los Angeles skyline, there have been multiple attempts in the past to bring back the glam and glitz downtown LA originally held in its hey day.  Of course, many of those efforts have gone unnoticed due to lack of funds or community support, leaving many of those spaces vacant and straight up depressing.

But the Bringing Back Broadway project is doing something right. Passing its year anniversary a few months ago, the Bringing Back Broadway project, backed by 14th District City Councilmember José Huizar, is an initiative to revitalize Broadway, a street that intersects downtown with one of the largest concentrations of historic theatres in the nation and the original home of Los Angeles’ vaudeville and cinematic entertainment before studios settled farther west.

Now, Broadway, once considered the retail capital of America, is currently filled with empty ground floor retails shops or stands filled with electronics and cheap clothing.  Few of the lavish theatres of the 1920s offer programming. And parking is a drag.

The Bringing Back Broadway project has laid out an ambitious ten-year plan, focusing on filling up the empty retails spaces, revamping those theatres, providing parking (thank goodness!), as well as resuscitating the Los Angeles streetcar.  This initiative’s leadership is comprised of city officials, private property owners, and other stakeholders, who are making promises, raising funds, and are slowly checking off that huge to-do list even in their first year.

Reviving a city center takes serious time, money, and effort as all urban development endeavors do.  But with this cultural investment, we can carefully construct an area with a historic past and a bright future, without the unfriendliness of gigantic advertisements and product endorsements of recent commercial developments.  Bringing Back Broadway smoothly integrates the importance of private and public partnerships to form a seamless city center with both parties satisfied and further more, to create a place where commerce and culture can flourish.

Crossing my fingers and toes, I hope that Bringing Back Broadway brings the sexy back to downtown. Or at the very least, more parking…

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