The Unexpected Beauty of Historic Los Angeles

View Heading Up 4th Street to Flower
As the tour conductor of our family trip, I'd consulted my guide books and Urbanspoon, a great online resource for restaurants, for a spot to eat dinner. Blossom, a family friendly Vietnamese restaurant, had been recommended by both Le guide du routard and Urbanspoon, so I figured it was worth a try.

We had to venture down 5th Street, past Pershing Square, which I'd read was to be avoided at night, and walk two streets below Broadway. At the Square just behind the famous Biltmore Hotel, the scenery and people changed dramatically, from Lexus-driving Armani-clad businessmen to a few urban hipsters, some rubbies, drug addicts and droves of everyday people, walking and socializing on the sidewalks. The language in storefront windows had also  changed to Spanish. The gleaming glass of the skyscrapers had given way to older art deco buildings. Then at the corner of Broadway and 5th Street, I was awestruck. Broadway was lined with old rundown albeit beautiful theatres.

Some of the wonderful embellishment in historic LA
At the corner, I looked at my husband, who seemed wary. Yes, I could smell the urine too, the telltale sign of a densely populated area. As we crossed the street I said, "I wanted to take a picture, but I felt conspicuous." He looked straight ahead and asked, "How much further is it?" Our five-year-old, aka "the Dude," was getting testy. Children had changed how we viewed a city, making us hyper-vigilant about safety.

Our Way Back on Fourth Street

Turning back for a picture was out of the question, but I thought about Broadway through the entire meal, which was pretty good for the price. Unfortunately, with all the Vietnamese restaurants in Montreal, including our favourite on St. Hubert, we have a good reference for comparison. While Blossom had awesome iced green tea and delicious iced coffee served with condensed milk, the chicken curry was too savory for my liking. Yes, I've recently become salt-adverse and have always been, well ah, picky, but my husband loved Blossom's pho.

Before leaving, I asked the owner if there was a route back to our hotel to avoid Pershing Square just before nightfall. He laughed and told us to take 4th Street as an alternate route. On our way back, we passed by a few hipster bars, restaurants and art galleries. In other words, gentrification has begun in historic downtown LA, apparently a beef of the city's Occupy movement. There were plenty of "film ready" signs in the windows of old art deco buildings. Fourth Street indeed had fewer people, but it also included a very steep incline, and the Dude complained bitterly. He was so put off that the next day, he even refused to go to the beautiful Los Angeles County Library, just across the street. "The hotel pool or nothing," he said with his arms crossed and his foot tapping.

It appeared that I had missed my window of opportunity to see Historic Downtown LA and explore this wonderful old neighbourhood I'd never heard anything about. I'd already played my "Mommy insists" card for the LACMA. Would I be able to return...



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