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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 8:39 AM
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Los Angeles' Central Avenue and Environs - South LA, Watts, the Arts District


This past Sunday I wanted to drive the whole length of Central Avenue, which stretches from Los Angeles' Little Tokyo neighborhood at its northern end, and then goes all the way to the City of Carson at its southern end, and take pictures of whatever popped up. Instead I just drove part of the way down to Watts, and then drove back north. Here are some pics, of which I didn't realize I took more than I thought.

Here's the Coca Cola Bottling Plant. I've always read about this building but have never actually been to it. From what I remember reading, it's actually a 1937 remodeling of an older warehouse building, done up in a Streamline Deco Moderne vernacular, in the form of a ship; I don't see the connection between Coke and a passenger ship, but whatever, I like it.


This building is catty-corner to the Coca Cola Bottling Plant. Apparently it's the African-American Firefighter Museum; it was closing up by the time I arrived; I wish I had gotten there earlier just to look at the exhibits. Looking at the plaque on the building, the building was built in 1913, and used to be a firehouse that was completely staffed by African-Americans. I think I'll go to it on another day, it sounds interesting to me.


Driving further south on Central Ave., I stumbled upon this building. It looks like it was once some kind of theater, but now it's an Iglesia de Jesucristo, Ministerios Juda. What does Juda mean, I wonder... I'm too lazy to look it up right now.


I love me some pupusas. ¡Ay que rico!


Didn't stop for pupusas, though. I thought I would continue journeying south...

Ah, the Dunbar Hotel. Back in the day, this is where all the great African-American performers stayed at, because they weren't allowed to stay at other hotels. Oh that is a MESS. It was once LA's most prestigious hotel for the African-American community. In the 1930s-1940s, it hosted Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Lena Horne and many other jazz legends. Other noteworthy people who stayed at the Dunbar include W. E. B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Ray Charles and Thurgood Marshall. Former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson also ran a nightclub at the Dunbar in the 1930s.


Here's a 1938 postcard of the Dunbar Hotel:

From USC archive

These hearses were catty corner to the Dunbar Hotel.


Further down, I entered Watts.

This is in front of a housing project. And notice the green box on the tree trunk, I think it's a trap for fruit flies, but I could be wrong.
Here's another shot of the housing project.

Very dismal, but I saw worse; I felt funny taking pictures of the worse ones. People started looking at me funny when I took my camera out.

Here's the 103rd St. Station on the Metro Blue Line. A long time ago it was the Watts Station on the much-storied Pacific Electric streetcar line. In fact the Blue Line pretty much follows the old Pacific Electric right-of-way from downtown Los Angeles to downtown Long Beach.


Here's a pic of the same station back in 1906.

From USC archive

Ah, the Watts Towers. I've been here once before a few years ago but didn't take pictures. Close up, they're pretty Gaudi-esque. These are only some of the many pictures I took of them.




















Some people showed up 10 minutes after I did to look at the towers.


The neighborhood around the Watts Towers is pretty dismal. There was actually loud Mexican banda music coming out of one of the houses for a bit while I was at the Watts Towers. The area has really become more Latino.




After admiring the Watts Towers, I drove back north up Central Avenue.




Notice the burned utility pole. A remnant of the 1992 Riots, perhaps? And the vacant corner lot, probably a result of the '92 Riots too, maybe?






I wonder if this woman is pondering getting her 100% natural extensiones de cabello.


I saw a lot of Virgins de Guadalupe on Central Avenue.




Would you buy your kitchen cabinets here? The place is in business, so apparently people do.


At this Louisiana Fried Chicken place, you can also get Chinese food! Something for everyone, I guess!


In addition to all the Virgins de Guadalupe I saw, there were plenty of Mariscos places too. Not an area I would imagine that would specialize in seafood.




In my twisted imagination, this couple is going to the no-tell motel for an illicit fling. Hehe!










I found this scene interesting. The liquor store is called "MY Liquor Bank." I guess you can cash your checks there too. I noticed a lot of people using payphones in this neighborhood too; is this guy calling his jaina? And look at the man in the ballcap; looks like he pissed his pants, the poor guy.






I thought this warehouse off of Central Ave. was interesting; it looks like it had an upper story that was lopped off.




Looks like she bought her bottle of water and is wheeling it in her stroller.




I eventually made it back to where I started. But instead of going into Little Tokyo, I headed into the Arts District, which is just east of Little Tokyo.


Walked around a bit before catching a bite to eat and beer.


More housing going in, I suppose.


Here's an old rendering of what was the Santa Fe Freight Depot, which opened in 1907, from ulwaf.com.


It was eventually abandoned; early in this present decade, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci Arc) moved into the building, which by the 1990s had been stripped of its detail.


According to Wikipedia, the building is 3/4 of a mile long and if it were stood up lengthwise, it would be taller than the Empire State Building.


The dormitory for this school is across the street in this building:


Here's an old lithograph map of the location of the old Santa Fe Freight Depot, courtesy of ulwaf.com:


The graffiti here is interesting. More artistic, if you will; I doubt it's gang-related.








Someone was working on his wall:






Got my bite to eat and beer here, at the Cafe Metropol, Good place.

From cafemetropol.com

I could even see the graffiti from inside the restaurant. The guy in the baseball cap ordered what looked like a really good pizza, but then he doused it with Tapatio and Tabasco! Why'd he ruin it like that!?


I got the cheese plate and two beers. Yum! Didn't douse it with Tapatio and Tabasco, though.

The End.
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Last edited by sopas ej; Aug 25, 2009 at 4:06 PM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 2:30 PM
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Excellent job!
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 2:56 PM
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Very cool Sopas! It is nice to see a very different part of Los Angeles I think never seen on this forum before. Great looking photos and informative too. Thanks for sharing.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 2:56 PM
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Nice research too. You'd be great for tours.
Now you just need to hit the San Fernando Valley...
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 5:07 PM
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I enjoyed the commentary too! As well as the photography. Thanks!
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 5:24 PM
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Wow, definately hitting up all the tourist spots!
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 6:11 PM
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Interesting tour.
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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 6:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO View Post
Nice research too. You'd be great for tours.
Now you just need to hit the San Fernando Valley...
The Valley, eh? Nothing much to photograph, really, though I guess there are a few interesting neighborhoods, and perhaps getting some of the Studio City/Sherman Oaks and Warner Center/Woodland Hills office towers. Maybe Ventura Blvd. as well, but not too much between Topanga Canyon Blvd., the San Diego Freeway, the Simi/SF Valley Freeway, and the Ventura Freeway...

Aaron (Glowrock)
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 2:32 AM
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Thanks for all the comments!

A San Fernando Valley photo thread, huh? Hmm... that would be a challenge; no offense to Valley boys and girls but I don't really like the Valley; if I do go there it's to go to the Great Greek and La Fondue Bourguignonne, both in Sherman Oaks. But if it's any consolation, I live in the San Gabriel Valley, and IMO apart from the immediate Pasadena area, most of the SGV is pretty gross too.

But regarding the SFV, I already have it in my head of what pics to take-- but we'll see.
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 2:51 AM
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Well it is too fricken hot in the SFV right now to take photos. It's going to be above 100 the rest of the week with most areas around 105.
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 3:37 AM
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Well it is too fricken hot in the SFV right now to take photos. It's going to be above 100 the rest of the week with most areas around 105.
Yuck. That means in South Pas it'll be just a few degrees less than the SFV. Time to go to the beach. Or San Francisco!
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 5:32 PM
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IMO apart from the immediate Pasadena area, most of the SGV is pretty gross too.
San Marino doesn't appreciate that comment!
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 5:48 PM
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San Marino doesn't appreciate that comment!
San Marino can lick my hairy hole.

Hehe! Well, I was actually including it when I said "immediate Pasadena area," which to me is Pasadena/South Pasadena/San Marino/Altadena.

Honestly, though, I don't like San Marino-- too Republican, the few businesses they do have aren't open on Sundays, and too many rules and regulations. People say South Pas is hoity-toity and snooty but living in South Pas I know that isn't true; South Pas has many left-leaning residents (in fact voters here voted no on Prop 8) and I feel people are friendlier here. I live near the San Marino border, and one time, while taking my evening walks, I crossed into San Marino. A woman was out on her driveway, she looks at me and I thought she was going to say hello, but the first words out of her mouth were "You don't live here, do you." I said "no, I live in South Pas, I was just out for a walk" and kept walking. From then on, my opinion of San Marino and its residents was cemented.
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 10:39 PM
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Awesome pictures. Your next tour should be the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw District/Liemert Park area. I think it would be really interesting to show one of the few wealthy African American areas in the US.
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 11:31 PM
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Those Watts Towers are really something. Thanks!
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 11:38 PM
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Nice tour of a rarely seen place on this page!! Thanks!!
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Old Posted Aug 26, 2009, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sopas ej View Post
According to Wikipedia, the building is 3/4 of a mile long and if it were stood up lengthwise, it would be taller than the Empire State Building.


I think it's worth noting that this building is actually a quarter of a mile long, not three-quarters of a mile long, although your point about it being longer than the empire state building is probably accurate. Regardless, nice pics Sopas. Watts is one L.A. 'hood i've never been to so it's cool to get a free tour.
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Last edited by Phil McAvity; Aug 27, 2009 at 12:20 AM.
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Old Posted Aug 27, 2009, 3:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil McAvity View Post

I think it's worth noting that this building is actually a quarter of a mile long, not three-quarters of a mile long, although your point about it being longer than the empire state building is probably accurate. Regardless, nice pics Sopas. Watts is one L.A. 'hood i've never been to so it's cool to get a free tour.
Oops, my badness! I stand corrected. Thanks for that.
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Old Posted Aug 27, 2009, 5:05 AM
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Nice tour, parts of the city that I'm very familiar with since I grew up in these neck of the woods. BTW are neighborhood around the Watts tower had been majority Latino for a very long time. From what my father tells me who grew up in Watts in the 40's and 50's. Watts was a bit segregated, and most blacks lives on one side, and Latino's on the other. The area for Latino's was around the Watts Tower.
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