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Exploring L.A.'s Landmarks

October 08, 1998|BOOTH MOORE

The Los Angeles Conservancy is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special event Sunday. Why not spend the weekend exploring some historic landmarks the conservancy has helped to save?

Friday Evening

Make a pilgrimage to Downey to dine at the 1953 Speedee McDonald's Drive-In, the earliest remaining example of the McDonald's brothers' red-and-white tile hamburger stands. When the restaurant was closed in 1994 (due to Northridge quake damage, McDonalds Corp. said), the conservancy held rallies at the site, prompting a response from Gov. Pete Wilson, who urged the corporation to "preserve for posterity the home of the Golden Arches." The restaurant was reopened in December 1996, and it's been serving up Big Macs, along with 1950s souvenirs in the adjoining gift shop, ever since. Lakewood Boulevard and Florence Avenue. (562) 622-9248.


Perhaps the part of L.A.'s urban landscape most visibly touched by the conservancy's work is downtown. Begin the day by taking one of the conservancy's downtown walking tours. This Saturday, choose from the Art Deco Tour, the Biltmore Hotel Tour, Broadway Theaters Tour, Marble Masterpieces Tour or the Pershing Square Tour. All begin at 10 a.m. and last 2 to 2 1/2 hours (except the Biltmore Hotel tour, which begins at 11 a.m. and is one hour). $5; free for conservancy members. (213) 623-CITY for reservations.

Then, you may want to walk to 4th and Hill streets, where you will find another preservation success story. Beginning in 1901, Angels Flight cable cars carried riders to the top of Bunker Hill on what was touted as the world's shortest railway. The rails were dismantled in 1969 as part of an urban redevelopment project, but thanks to the conservancy, the Cultural Affairs Department and the Community Redevelopment Agency, the original station house at the top of Bunker Hill and the Hill Street arch at the bottom were restored and reopened in 1996, so you can still ride the rails today--and for only a quarter. Daily, 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

It was the proposed demolition of the Central Library for high-rise replacement that brought about the creation of the conservancy in 1978. Visit the 1926 landmark, which reopened in 1993 following restoration and an expansion (the East Wing). 630 W. 5th St.

Have an early dinner at Engine Co. 28. Slated for auction by the city in 1979, the conservancy, with other preservation groups, secured an agreement to renovate the 1912 downtown landmark instead. The Renaissance revival-styled building opened as a restaurant in 1989, with ceramic Dalmatians and red clubby booths. Don't miss the crab cakes. Monday-Friday, 11:15 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 5-9 p.m. 644 S. Figueroa. (213) 624-6996.


It seems appropriate that the Coliseum, a monument to the city of Los Angeles that has hosted so many historic events (the 1932 and 1984 Olympiads, political rallies for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy and the city's first major league baseball game, to name a few), is now hosting the celebration of a group that has worked so hard to preserve L.A.'s monuments. The L.A. Conservancy's 20th Anniversary Celebration will offer guided tours of the Coliseum, designed from 1921-23 by John and Donald Parkinson, children's kite decorating, food tasting from historical L.A. restaurants, music, a giant birthday cake in the shape of the Coliseum and more. Anniversary banners by acclaimed architects and artists Laddie John Dill, Frank Romero, Tim Street-Porter, Julius Shulman and others will be auctioned off, with proceeds to benefit the conservancy. Noon to 4 p.m. 3939 S. Figueroa St. (near Martin Luther King Boulevard). $20 for conservancy members; $25 for nonmembers. Admission is free for children under 12. (213) 896-9114.

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