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Downtown, Olvera Street and Union Station

Explore the downtown Civic Center's history, architecture and art
id_3165062
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.4 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview:  The tour explores the public buildings within the heart of the Los Angeles Civic Center district. Starting at the Civic Center Metro... more »

Tips:  If you wish to enter the public government buildings, you will need to pass a security screening, so bring a government picture ID,... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Civic Center Station Metro Red Line

Yes, Los Angeles has a public transit system, although only a small bit of it is subway. The Civic Center station opened in 1993 after seven years of construction. Inside the station, look overhead for "I Dreamed I Could Fly" by Jonathan Borofsky, who created the well-known "Venice Ballerina Clown." Many of the civic works in... More

The building is open Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm; security screening and government picture ID are required. The impressive Spring Street steps are often used for press conferences and filming, but public entry is on Main Street. When you pass screening, you will be asked to sign in and indicate a room number and be issued an ID. Ask if the... More

3. Los Angeles Police Department Administration Building

Opened October 2009, the 10-story building replaces Parker Center. Designed by Paul Danna and Jose Palacios of AECOM, the building is gold certified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, featuring energy-efficient mechanical systems, day lighting, high-performance glass and recycled or renewable building materials.

Start by facing... More

4. Vibiana

Before leaving the area, look to the southeast to see the former cathedral of St Vibiana(aligned with the LAPD building's diagonal). The oldest parts of the building date to 1867. It was damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake and has been replaced by the new Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral. Vibiana, as it is now known, hosts various events and... More

5. Caltrans District 7 HQ

Completed in 2004, the 13-story building at 100 S. Main St. houses employees of Caltrans District 7 and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). Principal architect was Thom Mayne (Morphosis), winner of a Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The public plaza on Main Street includes galleries, public art and a cafe. The outdoor lobby features... More

6. Triforium

Cross Temple Street via the elevated pedestrian bridge. In the courtyard is the bizarre, oft-mocked 1975 "Triforium" sculpture. Intended to be a computer-controlled, laser-emitting, musical sculpture, lights may be flashing around dinnertime. The subterranean mall level contains various fast-food outlets or you can return to street level... More

7. Chinese American Museum (Garnier Building)

The El Pueblo District is the birthplace of the city of Los Angeles. The brick Garnier Building was built in 1890 by Philippe Garnier, a French settler and prominent businessman. It is the oldest and most significant remaining building from the city's original Chinatown. It now houses the Chinese American Museum (enter from the alley, aka Sanchez ... More

The rotunda/band stand to your north is the site of the Plaza, center of Spanish and Mexican life.

Olvera Street, the popular Mexican-themed marketplace, is part of the district created in 1930 thanks to the efforts of socialite Christine Sterling. Sterling was alarmed by the potential loss of significant buildings to decay and demolition, so ... More

Designed by John and Donald Parkinson, and built between 1934 and 1939, Union Station is the last great railway station built in the U.S. A combination of Spanish Colonial Revival, Art Deco and Steamline Moderne, it remains a hub of public transit, including Amtrak, local commuter trains (MetroLink), Metro Rail and bus lines (including the Flyaway... More