We arrived in Echo Park not knowing what to expect. Many had described it as an up and coming area which nowadays can mean any of a numbers of things. Aspirational? Gentrified? Friendly? Sterile? Developed? We awoke to blue skies and with a little trepidation we decided to go exploring.
It turns out that Echo Park is a beautiful enclave placed between the Hollywood Hills and Downtown LA. A tranquil introduction to Los Angeles, which we had feared would be a smog-filled metropolis.
After a flying visit to the famed factory outlets, we headed downtown for some sightseeing. First stop the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Designed by Frank Gehry, opened in 2003, the intersecting petal-like forms look as though they were installed yesterday. A true testament to the technical team who must have spent hours refining the track and cleat systems for attaching what must be kilometres of cladding.
The concert hall has asserted itself as an icon for the city and in many respects it behaves in classic icon fashion. Oriented prominently on a corner site with little reference to the city around it. Vast expanses of un-programmed space, and large areas of concealed facade left un-clad and vulnerable to nesting birds (hence these areas were covered in black netting) and then of course the fire escape stairs. With that said, the courtyard spaces created by the abnormal form of the main building were calm and friendly, and the late afternoon California sunshine brought the place to life. Locals sat to read or catch up with friends in these sheltered spaces above the city. Next time we're in LA we'll have to save up for some tickets inside!
As the sun sank below the skyline we ventured deeper downtown and paid a visit to Seven Grand, a whiskey bar with some very reasonable happy hour deals! After a few Old Fashioned's, Manhattan's and Whiskey Sour's we had no trouble in getting a good night's sleep.