So, Where Is Downtown Los Angeles?

Downtown_Los_Angeles_SkylineA few weeks ago, I was planning to spend an afternoon and evening with a visiting Russian student. He asked me to suggest what to do, so I gave him two choices: we could stay along the coast (where the land meets the ocean) or we could go to downtown Los Angeles. “What,” he asked, “and where is downtown Los Angeles?”

Good question. Usually, when we talk about downtown, we’re referring to the center or main business part of a city. In contrast, the suburbs are areas away from the center of a city where people live.

When you’re talking about Los Angeles, though, the downtown/suburb contrast doesn’t tell the whole story. For one thing, downtown isn’t in the center of the city.

Many years ago, someone described Los Angeles as “…72 suburbs in search of (looking for) a city.” The reason is that much of the area that we now know as Los Angeles was made up of many smaller towns in the past. Those towns grew until they connected with other towns around them and, eventually (after a time), with Los Angeles to become the large city we have today. Hollywood, for example, was once a small community (an area where people live) that merged with (became part of) Los Angeles in 1910.

Today, most people agree that downtown Los Angeles includes a small area framed (surrounded) by the 101, 10, and 110 freeways (a wide road designed for fast travel). And that’s where my student and I decided to go.

If you’d like to see some of the highlights (most important or interesting parts) of our time downtown, you can do that by going to the Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour web site and click on the maps to move from one place to another. We visited parts of the New Downtown (ND) and the Historic Core (HC). Here are the highlights:

  • Pershing Square (HC)
  • The Biltmore Hotel (ND). This was the largest hotel in LA when it was built in 1923.
  • The Central Library (ND), across Grand Avenue from the Biltmore, a historic building with modern touches (details or additions).
  • The Bunker Hill Steps (ND) take you to the top of the hill and the historic center of the old financial district.
  • The California Plaza (ND)
  • Angel Flight (ND)
  • The Grand Central Market (HC) and Bradbury Building (HC). The Bradbury, built in 1893, is one of the oldest buildings in downtown LA.
  • The Westin Bonaventure (ND) hotel, a good place to go after the sun goes down for lattes (strong coffee drink with steamed milk) in the revolving (turning in a circle) lounge (place to sit and relax) at the top of the hotel.

Hope you enjoyed downtown Los Angeles as much as we did! And I hope you can experience it for yourself sometime soon.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to So, Where Is Downtown Los Angeles?

  1. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    And where is downtown Los Angeles? Can I go there? What can I find in downtown Los Angeles? I live in a small city in Bazil where you can easily find downtown. Big cities have downtown but it is difficult to find it.

  2. Dan says:

    Hi there guys,

    C’mon Aecio, right now Warren’s face meet palm so hard seismometers in California registered the event.

    Do not you see the answer to all your questions are just in the post, with a link to a webpage packed full of picture of downtown LA?.

    Bye, Thanks

  3. Elinaldo says:

    Warren, thanks for your accurated informations about LA.
    I’ve just signed in ESLPod.
    I hope it will help me to improve my skill as a learner of English language and enlarge my vocabulary each day as well.
    That’s all for now.

  4. emiliano says:

    Thank you Warren for your good wishes but I think it is not possible for me to make a trip
    to California or L.A., too far, too espensive, and also too complicated for and old man like
    Two years ago I was planing to go over there, but after some good conversation with a friend
    who explained me how it could be a trip to California I desisted of going.
    My sister Fátima was in the city and met Jeff, being him so kind with her as to show
    Fátima and her boyfriend L.A. downtown,
    So, yes, Jeff is that kind of person, like you with the Russian student, beside profesor you
    are also city´s guide.

    Thank you.


  5. Warren Ediger says:

    Yesterday I talked to my student, who has returned to Moscow. He told me that our short walking tour helped give Los Angeles “a face”. He enjoyed it so much, he said, that he repeated it the next morning with some friends who had just arrived from Moscow so that he could show them the Los Angeles he had discovered the evening before.

  6. emiliano says:

    Dear Elinaldo, sure you will do.



    What for? am I waiting.

    Good question my friend, but I have not any answer, I know I am waiting since several years, just since
    the moment It was evident I was getting old.
    My body is old, my legs pains, my arms pains, my mind pains too and so I am one day and another.
    So yes, I am waiting, to be beter?.

    No, my God, that could be in other life but not in this one. What could I wait for it would be being
    worst every single month or year that I could live.

    So, waiting what for?

    I don´t wat to think deeply about that question, even I don´t want to answer it, may be my reply should be very sad.
    In fact every day I am doing silly things that doesn´t produce any good result, buying things I don´t need, sufing
    by internet several hours a day, writing which ever single subject I think about, like this one, listening new classical
    music, reading a new book, and what is the better job, looking after my dear Cuca who needs my help.

    Doing such a lot of things the day pass away very fast and I do not think about what am I waiting for.

    When my mother was living her last years she was in a big building in company of several other old people.
    The majority of them were very old and their minds were not so good.

    Nearly all of them were sitting on their chairs looking in front of them, seeing nothing, doing nothing, just
    waiting the food, waiting their pills, waiting for some relative who comes and visit them, a son, a daughter,
    a friend, a grand daughter or son, but the majority of the days, nobody comes to see them.
    So, they were waiting, and waiting, their faces sad without any emotion on them, only if you say something
    to them they smile and once again remains on their seats without moving.

    When I saw these persons my impression always was that they were awaiting the death.

    They were aside of society, just parked like broken old cars that have been left by drivers who looks for a new one.
    These people have move for long and they are just too old for be used by the society.

    I don´t want to think I am also an old car, broken, too old, that is waiting for just die.

    But evidently I am that old car that doesn´t stop because just in the moment it remains sill it will be parked
    like the people I saw when I was visiting my dear mother in that sad place.



  7. emiliano says:

    Sorry, I don´t know what is correct

    What for? I am waiting………..or ……What for? am I waiting.

    Please, help me.


  8. peter says:

    Well, almost all mega-cities share the same fait.they are all started out small communities then over the time all the sporadic communities join together and shape towns then cities and mega cities.
    Take Toronto for example.the city starts by Lake Ontario many years ago and moves towards North as small communities joined one another and formed GTA ( Greater Toronto Area) which include Toronto and all surrounding suburbs.
    Well ,unlike LA ,here ,every body has a clear cut perception rather understanding of the location of downtown Toronto which is the heart of the city close to Lake Ontario. Here people Some times Confuse inner city with downtown. But ,they are completely separate areas.


  9. emiliano says:

    Today Madrid is a big city, nothing similar to the city I knew when I was a boy and walk round its streets and squares, in fact I can´t recognise this city of today less friendly than fourty or thirty years ago.
    Its a beautiful city, without any doubt, Madrid has some museums so good as el Prado, Thyssen, Reina Sofia, and parks as El Retiro or Casa de Campo.
    Also there is the Royal Palace, Sabatini Gardens, Gran Via with its incredible buildings different from other cities of the world.
    Years ago every person who came here to live, after some time it was a madrilean more, it doesn´t matter which part of the world she ot he was born.
    At the end these people love the city as it was of them, their city by all means.
    My parents came from Burgos when they were married already, I was the only one that was born in the city, the Little city then, but it was so nice, friedly, funny as always it was.
    They, my parents, seems madrileans after ten years living here.

    The castellano language here sounds different, as in every land of Spain, but we talk so different that the language its called “castizo” because
    we use a lot of words and expressions that they are not used other parts of Spain.

    + + + + + + + +

    We have our own music, “chotis”, that is sing and dance in the feasts, but also our own Opera that here we call it “Zarzuela”, it is similar
    to an Opera but its also spoken at the same time that the music sounds and the singers sing. I do love Zarzuelas, and despite there are these
    kind of music from all lands of Spain, Madrid has their own Zarzuelas where the way of speaking of “castizos” are the accent that is necessary to use.

    The girls are called “chulapas” and the boys “chulapos” and all they have a peculiar way of being dressed, nice coloured garments and also
    the girls wear “mantones de manila” what is absolutely necessary for them if they wanted to be good dressed.


  10. peter says:

    You know ,
    Downtown Toronto in and of itself is a is a metropolitan city. It carries the mantel because downtown toronto in and of itself is the economic,business ,culture Centre of ,I dare to say, all canada with a vast business district located at the core of downtown and a large number of historic monuments and significant museums. The large entertainment strict in downtown core attract people all over GTA specially on weekends. All in all ,downtown Toronto is a charismatic urban area that carries a historic vibe.


  11. Marcos says:

    Hi everyone

    I’ve been in Los Angeles in 1997 just for a few days. I was in hotel in Monterey Park and I visited some business and friends in Pomona and Cerritos, near Lakewood. I’ve been in Hollywood too and I passed through downtown, but was rain. So it was a fast trip.

    Thanks Warren for that kind of information, maybe next trip.


  12. Marcos says:

    Hi again

    Here in my city downtown is clear to us because is a small town and it is truth for neighborhood too. Suburbs in a small city normally is where poor people live, if you live away from the center you are poor, but nowadays it changed with new private areas building for rich people around the city.

    Nice day to us

  13. lili:) says:

    Hi Emiliano

    First of all, I want to thank you for writing something special for us to read. I always learn something reading your post. Your description of the old people in old people’s home was so good. When I say good, I mean it was a bad situation but you depicted a vivid picture.

    I always compare old people to old cars. It’s very expensive to keep old cars because we seem to forever changing some parts for old cars, just like old people need cataract operation, false teeth, changing knee caps etc etc. , However, I had never thought about the scenario of all the old cars in the scrap yard. Oh, how sad! Please don’t be an unwanted old car. Be a vintage classic car.


    About your question “What for? I am waiting………..or ……What for? am I waiting.”

    Do you mean to say: “What am I waiting for?”


    How are you getting on with your novel writing? Publishing soon?

    Please give my best regards to Cuca.


  14. emiliano says:

    Dear Lili, I could remember quite well the time I was visiting my dear mother and the sight of these poor old people alone, without any hopes, doing
    just nothing, looking to the air, waiting the pass of time, one day after other, and so on.

    It is very sad, and if you have not the ocassion of going to a place like this it is nearly imossible making your mind about how is it.

    Just a pleasure to see you here Lili, even to see me also, as lately I don´t write so much, but our dear Tania asked me to write more and so I am
    doing now.

    My English is going down because I stoped reading Englsh books but even writing in English, as you know I was writing a story that is over now.
    What I am doing now is writing about the Little Emiliano when he weas eight or nine years and started to go to school with Jesuits monks.
    It was difficult time here in Spain with the dictator Franco, life was hard and we all were poor withouth nearly anything.

    I could remember that time very well, despite it was long time ago, and I have wanted always to write about it. Now it is my chance and I
    writing about it.

    Thank you Lily, I remeber so well you and of course I could evocate the first time you wrote here and Emiliano saying to you, just write more
    Betty, you write really in a good way, it is easy an you´ll improve your English soon.
    Did you remember Lily?

    All the best to you dear, emiliano

  15. lili:) says:

    Yes, of course, Dear Emiliano, I remembered how I started writing here.

    I read yours, Peter’s, Tania’s, and many other friends writings a few years ago. I was not sure about writing here because I was afraid of letting people see my writings. And then I was motivated to write my first post here by Lucy’s Panda “eat, shoot” story – the one that tells us why “punctuation” is very important. You and a few other friends welcomed me and urged me to write more. My guard lowered and I continued to write in this blog because I thought I didn’t need to worry about people who could write good English like you guys here. Another reason for me to write is because I need to improve my writing. A language is made up of listening, speaking, reading and writing, all four are equally important.

    It’s time for me to thank you Emiliano and everyone including all our teachers (Lucy, Jeff and Warren) for encouraging me to write. I’m fighting against nature in terms of time and intellect available to each person on earth – trying to learn so much at third age.

    I’m sure there are many people who surpass me in learning diligently. The list starts with our teachers in here, and then you Emiliano and other friends and many other learners who I don’t even know their names because they never write here, and then ……….

    Time for me to stop writing this morning, and look forward to reading more and more from you guys.

    Best Regards


  16. lili:) says:

    Sorry I made a mistake in my above post.

    “I remembered how I started writing here.”

    Should read as:

    “I remember how I started writing here.” (Simple present tense for the verb “remember”)


  17. Dan says:

    Hello everyone there.

    I have looked at the photos of the places you guys visited through the linked website. The tour was focused on New Downtown and Historic Core.
    Looking at the map, first thing that grabs my eye is that my whole little town cover the area of South Park, give or take.

    After that I have also watched a bunch of videos on YT posted by people living there and giving out their opinion about LA.

    On one specific tour guide video, one of those with the goal of presenting a “cool” place where you WANT to be, starts off with:
    “Los Angeles a city of sun, dreams and prosperity”.

    I am sure you guys have a beautiful city there, but I’ll keep looking at it from my little town. No plan to visit there in the near future.

    Thank you.

  18. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Thanks Waren for the explanation. Sometimes I act like a dork by skipping the lines I should read. This was the case but I promise no to do it again in the future. Gladly you sent me some words making clear all the mess.

  19. Dan says:

    I was looking around for more info about things to see in LA.
    At a LA official website, under info for tourists, there is this place called El pueblo historical monument.
    Watching a video of the place, I saw the oldest house in LA and one of the first luxury hotels.
    I liked the shrine there. A mixed of patriotism with religion and other. I didn’t see that well in the video.

  20. Dan says:

    Me again.
    Just because I came across the term “Adobe” used for buildings
    and I didn’t know what it was.
    As anyone else I know Adobe the software company, and that is what you find looking for it.
    Adobe, as a construction material also used here in the Mediterranean region. Especially in the south.
    Sardinia has a climate very similar to California. Sunny and dry.
    My parents are both from there,and I remember as a child visiting there, these houses made out of adobe.
    It was clearly visible it was mixed with stray.
    For me as a child it was curious because visiting from the north party of Italy, these kind of buildings do not exist apart for r
    Small portion like perhaps a old hayloft.

Comments are closed.