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THE NEXT LOS ANGELES / TURNING IDEAS INTO ACTION : Livable L.A. : How can we guild a sense of community and improve the quality of life away from job, freeway and police station? : Solutions : Remake Downtown Ethnic Districts

July 17, 1994

FROM: Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer ("Fahrenheit 451," "The Martian Chronicles") and urban activist.


Bradbury wants to link and improve the three historic ethnic neighborhoods in Downtown Los Angeles--Olvera Street, Chinatown and Little Tokyo--into a walkable and exciting district for tourists and Angelenos to visit.

Not many other cities in the world can boast of such ethnic diversity in such close proximity, Bradbury says. But not too many other great cities, he adds, have so hurt potential urban jewels with poor lighting, worse signage, disdain for pedestrian life and a debilitating sense of isolation. The result is that the once-vibrant neighborhoods now seem downright lonely at night. Los Angeles should weave those three neighborhoods together, using lights, landscaping and improved security. Visitors could be pointed along a designated route, jazzed up with vendors, bookstalls and pushcarts on now-drab streets. One model is Boston's Freedom Trail. Local successes include Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade and Pasadena's Old Town.


In January, Los Angeles city government finally killed plans for the $33-million "Steel Cloud," a grandiose and odd-looking structure that was supposed to span that freeway section near Olvera Street. It would have cost $33 million. Bradbury is relieved by its death: "We don't need a monument. We need fluid movement of people." This money could be put to use realizing Bradbury's plan.


"All these Downtown neighborhoods can function again. We need to repaint, redo, rethink and integrate them. It's not that expensive. It's all just waiting to be changed."-Ray Bradbury,

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