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What creates a city? Buildings? Commerce? Streets? Cars?

No. People, of course.

They may settle first as farmers. Or ranchers. Or prospectors. In some way they stake a claim on open land. They build a house, plow a field, raise a family, make a life.

And with that life, they begin a community, then a town, then a city. If they prosper, the family grows to generations.

And the city grows, too.

Banks are erected. Commerce is established. Railroads bring more people, more commerce. More banks are built. Then insurance buildings. Then title & loan buildings. Hotels for businessmen. Restaurants for businessmen. Billiard halls for business pleasure. And bars, plenty of bars for different kinds of business and pleasure.

Soon, the farms are no longer at the town’s center. The ranches no longer ring the city. By this time, the cities are no longer a community of homes and families and children. They no longer vibrate with daily life. They vibrate with the sound of money.

I was invited by friends to take a walking tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy to explore Historic Downtown Los Angeles. The part of the city we explored has had a difficult few decades as businesses abandoned the historic buildings of commerce and built newer, taller, shinier skyscrapers a few blocks North or South or West or East of the old city center.

But today, downtown Los Angeles has made a comeback. And once again its rebirth began with the movement of people.

The grand old business buildings have been converted to the business of life. Artist lofts in an old bank. Sparkling apartments in a run-down hotel. Expensive and sexy condos in an insurance tower.

The streets are busy now with folks walking their dog, buying their lunch, meeting friends for dinner at a local cafe, going to the movies, reading a magazine on a park bench, ordering a latte, taking the kids to school….living life.

The beautiful buildings, so many of them abandoned for years or decaying for decades, are vibrating now with a variety of new sounds…the sound of laughter, the sound of conversation…the sound of community.

Here’s a link to the photos I took yesterday of Historic Downtown Los Angeles.


2 Responses to Downtown Los Angeles Is Alive

  1. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for sharing. I worked nearby at 5th. & Flower Street for 20 years. It’s been 18 years since then and I don’t even recognize downtown L.A. The community is sure making strides in brightening the place up for a new generation!

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