By Katie Orphan
Los Angeles still comes to mind for most as a place of palm tree-lined streets, movie stars, and perhaps, a cultural wasteland. In a vastly diverse city of millions, those images have their space, but there’s room for so much more. If you find yourself in Los Angeles for a weekend, there is plenty of literary tourism to embrace. It’s a city not only written about, but written in, so there are landmarks a plenty. So much so, that I’m confining this weekend to the Eastern sides of Los Angeles.
Start the day downtown, as I do. I suggest making a stop in Grand Central Market, to see the way that new commerce and old mainstays coexist in this rapidly redeveloping neighborhood. After you’re sufficiently fed and caffeinated, it’s time to take a walk around the neighborhoods of John Fante and Charles Bukowski.
Thanks to the constant rebuilding and revitalization of downtown Los Angeles, John Fante’s Bunker Hill is long gone. It’s now full of high rises and recent redevelopment, unlike the Victorian houses of Fante’s Ask the Dust and Dreams from Bunker Hill. The Angels Flight funicular, located across Hill Street from Grand Central Market, used to take residents up to their homes on Bunker Hill. Currently out of operation, you can still see the world’s shortest railway before you walk up the hill. The Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Broad Museum are worth seeing, if you have time, before making your way south on Grand Street to the Central Library.
The Central Library was built in 1926, and shows the same sort of hodgepodge of influences that many buildings in Los Angeles bear. Check out the murals depicting the history of California, or any of the exhibits in the galleries in the library. If you’re in luck, there may be an event in the LAPL’s outstanding Aloud series while you’re here, and you can hear a favorite author (or two) discussing their work at the library.
As your afternoon moves along, you can head east to the Arts District. Located a mile east of Bunker Hill and its environs, it’s also home to two of Los Angeles’s newest bookstores. Hennessey + Ingalls recently opened a new location in the Arts District, and Artbook opened a shop adjacent to the Hauser, Wirth, and Schimmel gallery. For the art book aficionado, both stores are delightful. Well-lit, and well-designed (as any art book store should be), these stores both offer a wealth of visual imagery. Before or after browsing art books, there are beers and snacks a plenty in the blocks surrounding these two shops.
Thus fortified, it’s time to head west to a couple spots between Bunker Hill and the Arts District to round off your time downtown. There’s one last store to visit, and it’s the one I call home. The Last Bookstore is downtown’s behemoth of a bookstore. There are two floors of books, music, and art to explore. I suggest visiting our staff picks table to find a title our staff loves, as well as making sure to visit our neighboring galleries on the mezzanine.
To cap off the night, it’s time for one last drinking suggestion. If you don’t mind a dive bar, Charles Bukowski used to drink at the King Eddy Saloon, located halfway between gentrifying downtown and Skid Row. If a dive is less your style, head to Cole’s on 6th Street. Cole’s, along with Clifton’s Cafeteria on Broadway, are two of the few restaurants and bars downtown still in service from the days of Fante and Raymond Chandler. Read Rest of Article Here