Broadway was once the commercial heart of Los Angeles, but is now a mixture of historic buildings and bustling activity. It still maintains a certain old appeal to it. The district runs along Broadway from Second to Ninth Street, and is one of the busier commercial strips in the western United States.
At the district’s southern end is the Herald-Examiner Building at 1111 S. Broadway. It is a grand mission-style structure highlighted by blue and yellow domes and arcades at the ground level. It used to serve as the home of William Randolph Hearst, who inspired the news magnate character from Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, and his Los Angeles Examiner, the rival newspaper of the Los Angeles Times. The paper at one time had the largest afternoon circulation in the country, but went out of business in 1989 some years after it merged with the Herald-Express. The building has an opulent façade and interior and is used in many movies.
The Theater district is located along the Broadway strip between 6th Street and 11th Street, where you’ll find a handful of notable theaters. The best of the bunch is the Orpheum at 842 Broadway. It is housed in a monumental French Renaissance palace with chandeliers and grand staircases.
The almost as stunning Los Angeles Theater is another one located north along the strip at 615 Broadway. It was built in only 90 days and showed the premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights in 1931. The interior has a plush lobby that is supported by marble columns and decorated with an intricate mosaic ceiling. It seats 1800 and features trompe l’oeil murals along the sides.
South of the Los Angeles Theater is the Globe Theater. This Beaux Arts structure has been converted into a flea market, but is neighbored by old movie houses that are still in use.
South of the Orpheum is the United Artists Theater at 929 Broadway. Completed in 1927 in the mold of a Spanish Gothic movie palace, it has an interior lobby that looks like a church nave. It is no longer used as a theater but serves as a church.
Further south is the Mayan Theater at 1040 S. Hill Street. It is a stunning remnant of the pre-Columbian revival era in architecture. The theater building features sculpted reliefs of Mayan gods and paintings of birds and dragons. Today, it is still used but no longer as a theater.
Next to the Mayan Theater is the Belasco Theater at 1050 S. Hill Street. It has a Spanish Baroque design with a green-colored exterior. Today, its interior is used often to shoot films.
Eastern Columbia Building
The Eastern Columbia Building, located at 849 S. Broadway, is part of the theater district, but is not itself a theater. It is an Art Deco structure built in the 1920s and features gold terracotta walls, sleek dark piers on its roof, and a giant clock face.
The Bradbury Building is probably the highlight of the Broadway strip. It was designed in 1893 by a novice architect who was inspired by a science-fiction story and a conversation with his dead brother, with whom he communicated via an Ouija board. The Bradbury is a stunning example of Victorian-era commercial architecture, built on the site of early 20th century sweatshops. Inside, you’ll find an atrium courtyard with a glass skylight, open-cage elevators, and wrought-iron balconies. The lobby is recognizable to those who have watched the films, Blade Runner and Citizen Kane.
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market is located in the middle of the Theater district of Broadway between Third and Fourth Street. It is Los Angeles’ oldest and largest open-air market. It has a broad ethnic feel to it, and sells everything from sheep’s brain and pig’s feet, to apples and oranges.
Bluestone, Carissa. Fodor’s California, 2007. New York: Fodor’s Travel Publications, 2007. ISBN: 1400017327.
Dickey, Jeff. Los Angeles, 3rd Edition. Rough Guides, 2003. ISBN: 1843530589.
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