Jun
12
2007

Downtown LA, Chinatown, Dodger Stadium & Staples Center

Today was a long day, but one of the best of the trip so far. I started out by catching the train straight into Downtown LA and getting off at the Civic Center station. The station is located right in the heart of a district that is home Los Angeles City Hall, the US District Court, LA Municipal Court and Grand Central Market.

I looked around and took some photos of the buildings and then walked a few blocks towards Union Station. Across the road from Union Station is an area known as ‘El Pueblo de Los Angeles‘. This is where the city of Los Angeles was founded. It started out as a farming town inhabited by the Spanish which was to produce food for their soldiers. Mexico became independent of Spain in 1821 and new settlers flowed into the city. In 1847 US troops took Los Angeles and the area of Spanish settlement began to be taken over by people from all over the world. ‘El Pueblo de Los Angeles‘ though was retained as a monument to the city’s Spanish/Mexican heritage.

Right next to the settlement is Chinatown, testament to the changes that new settlers brought when the US took over the city. LA’s Chinatown is the largest in North American, although San Francisco‘s attracts more people. LA’s Chinatown is caters more to the local Chinese community than it does to tourism. The movie Rush Hour was apparently filmed on location in Chinatown. It is very large in area, parts of it were really dirty and smelly though. I had lunch at a restaurant that I thought would be deserted, but inside was packed with people. It was really cheap too, only $3.95 for a huge main course plate and steamed rice.

From Chinatown I wanted to go and see Dodger Stadium, just to be able to say I’d been there and seen it. On the map it didn’t look far away, but in reality I had to climb heaps of steep hills, got completely lost and nearly gave up on finding it. Thankfully, someone was able to point me in the right direction. When I got there the stadium was completely fenced off, there was no game there today so there wasn’t anyway to get in. Of course, being in LA it is surrounded by car park (it has no public transport close by). All that effort for such a distant view of the stadium, but it was good exercise I guess.

I managed to find a bus that took my straight back to the Civic Center Metro Station. From there I caught the train a couple of stops to Metro Center station and changed onto a blue line train (I’ve only been using red line to this point). The blue line trains are a little more like trams than trains. I only had to catch the blue line one stop to Pico and got dropped right at the doorstep of the Staples Center. If you are wondering what or who Staples is, it is a chain of office supplies stores, much like Officeworks in Australia. The stadium opened in 1999 and is home to the LA Lakers and LA Clippers NBA teams, LA Sparks in the WNBA, LA Kings in the NHL and LA Avengers in the AFL. It also hosts special events like the Grammy’s, Boxing, Concerts and WWE Wrestling. The statues outside the stadium are of Wayne Gretzky and Magic Johnson, neither of them played at the Staples Center, but both are legends of LA franchises in their respective sports.

Downtown LA was interesting, but LA is so spread out the CBD is probably smaller than Melbourne is. It is no Manhattan when it comes to buildings and there are hardly any people around. Once you get off the main streets of LA everything is a bit disheveled, the roads and sidewalks are broken up and dirty and there really is no one around. The picture just before Dodger Stadium probably depicts this best. Tomorrow, I am going to try and get to the Commerce Casino, supposedly one of the top casinos in the world for poker, time will tell.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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