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Los Angeles is especially famous for its beautiful beaches, the glamour of Beverly Hills and of course the huge homes in the Hollywood Hills. Visitors therefore often skip downtown LA, which is a shame as there is plenty to do here.
Los Angeles is not often associated with history – few people even know that the city was founded in 1781. The area around Pershing Square is also called the 'historic downtown'. These streets are full of historical buildings such as the beautiful Central Library from 1926. This huge library is a wonderful example of early Art Deco and the interior is a true work of art. Murals and colourful mosaics decorate the building that houses an enormous collection of books.
Fans and photographers of modern architecture will be delighted with a visit to the Los Angeles Music Center. The centre was originally composed of 3 theatre buildings but in 2003, the eye-catching Walt Disney Concert Hall was added to the complex. This concert hall is the home base of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The undulated shapes of the metal construction were created by Frank Gehry, the same architect who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. There are daily guided tours of the music centre and audio tours for the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Centred around the Central Plaza, Chinatown is packed with shops, souvenir stores and of course Chinese restaurants. The neighbourhood is also called New Chinatown: the Chinese community first settled in the area that is now Union Station and moved to Central Plaza in 1938. First-time visitors who explore the square filled with colourful pagodas may have a sense of déjà vu: the square has been featured in many movies and series, including Melrose Place, Rush Hour and Beverly Hills 90210. There are guided tours of Chinatown every first Saturday of the month, but you may also download a walking route from the website.
Because of the large neon screens and flashing billboards, L.A. Live is also called the Times Square of the West Coast. This large entertainment centre was opened in 2007, next to the Staples Center, home of the LA Lakers basketball team. This is the place to go for a night out. In addition to restaurants and clubs, there is a movie theatre and various bars with live music. But even before nightfall there is plenty to do: the Grammy museum has more than enough for an afternoon of entertainment.
Olvera Street is part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument; this is one of the oldest areas in the city. Visitors can picture themselves in Mexico as they browse the colourful street market, listen to Mexican music and enjoy the many restaurants that serve delicious tacos, fajitas and burritos. This lively street features no less than 27 historic buildings, including Avila Adobe, the oldest standing house in Los Angeles which was built in 1818.