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Monday, November 23, 2009

GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK 2009: Eight Hours and 17.4 Miles Later, We Did It!

OK, so it was a tad longer than expected. I had promised 13.5 miles, but walker Will Campbell's mileage counter said 17.4 miles. That sounds a lot more impressive, so let's go with it!

For the fourth annual Great Los Angeles Walk, we decided to make it more about just walking down a major Los Angeles boulevard. With so many amazing homes, buildings, mansions and churches in the West Adams district, it made sense to do Adams.

But I also wanted to start the walk at some place grand -- and the Shrine Auditorium fit the bill. (Plus, we were able to walk by the always cool Felix Chevrolet.) But with Adams' interesting sights petering out by Mid-City, the solution was obvious: Let's finish the walk on Washington -- and for the first time, wind up in Los Angeles City Limits (Venice Beach) rather than Santa Monica.

So approximately 250 of us gathered early in the day (some had been up super early, parking in Venice and then taking the bus out east) for the event. We started at the Shrine at about 9:30 in the morning (accounting for stragglers, and folks spinning the Yelp wheel), and after I smartly eliminated a plan to walk down to the Coliseum, we headed north on Figueroa.

It was at the St. Vincent de Paul church that West Adams Heritage Association member Laura Meyers told us about the history of West Adams -- including the endangered Woolen Mills Zanja, the last evidence of the concrete irrigation system that brought water to folks down there more than a century ago.

We then headed West on Adams, through Mount St. Mary's campus (where the amazing Doheny Mansion stands), through St. James Park (Stearns/Dockweiler mansion) and back down to Adams (Second Church of Christ Scientist, now closed). Another detour took us down Hoover, to see beautiful Victorians like the Cockins House, the Salisbury House and the Forthmann House. Back to Adams again by way of 27th and Magnolia, we saw the Roger Williams Baptist Church, the Menlo Ave. National Register Historic District, the First AME-Zion church and the Van Buren Place Historic District.

It was then up Normandie to hit the Angelus Rosedale Cemetery at Washington, and later the Ray Charles RPM International recording studios. Back down Gramercy, we saw the Marvin Gaye house (right smack next to the 10!). We walked through the Kinney Heights and Gramercy Park neighborhoods and got back to Adams, where we saw the Britt Mansion (now home to LA84) and the Fitzgerald mansion.

It was then another detour, on Arlington to see the Six Feet Under house and the South Seas house. Back down 4th, we saw the Gray Residence (used on "Numb3rs") and then on Adams gaped at the Guasti Villa/Busby Berkeley estate and the MacGowan mansion. We walked to the McCarty Memorial Christian Church, then turned around and headed up 10th to Washington -- and through Mid-City (spotting Magic Johnson at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center!) to our midway point, the Atomic Cafe.

Whew! The second half of the walk wasn't nearly as eventful, but we took Washington through Culver City, past Marina del Rey and finally to the Venice Beach pier.

And then we celebrated at Venice's Baja Cantina.

It was cool to hear from a number of USC grads who noted that they lived around there for four years -- yet had never ventured out into the neighborhood. (It's definitely a much safer and gentrified area than it once was -- but I know several of you were warned by cops to be careful!)

I've uploaded a ton of photos at our Flickr group site: If you were on the walk, feel free to add your pics to the group as well!

And please send me the web addresses to your blog posts and photo collections, we'll post all the links here, for easy access.

THANKS to the West Adams Heritage Association (especially Laura!) and the Mid-City Neighborhood Council (especially Bruce Durbin) for making this walk extra special.

Now, some shots from my camera:

Will and Joni, ready to go!

And they're off!

Thomas Stinson mansion

The crowd gathers in the St. Vincent de Paul parking lot for a talk from WAHA's Laura Mink

Marching down Adams

Doheny Mansion

Cockins House

Forthmann House

First AME-Zion Church

I'm not sure what's going on here, or whether it makes me want to cash more checks.

The imprisoned trees of Washington Blvd.

Ray Charles' RPM recording studio

Marvin Gaye house

"Six Feet Under" house

House used in "Numb3rs"

South Seas house

McCarty Memorial church

You hear that, 10 Freeway? No stopping at any time!

Crossing over the 10

We're on camera!

The Great LA Walk's big celeb sighting: Magic Johnson, at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center.

Cool "GEM" sign on Washington

Walkers take a break at the Atomic Cafe

The Mid-City Neighborhood Council provides a rest stop at the Atomic Cafe for walkers


The youngest walker -- 4 mos. old! (Blogger Baby 2.0 was in the car, so he doesn't count.)

Apparently you can put a price on romantic notions -- and they're half-off!

Wedding at the Culver City City Hall.

Winner for sketchiest business on this year's route. A few walkers poked their head in and asked what he sells -- and he couldn't tell them!

Now that's a wash that went horribly wrong.

One of several groups to make it to the very end.

We'll see you again next year, on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010 for the fifth annual Great Los Angeles Walk!



Green LA Girl

Frenchy But Chic

And check out the Great Los Angeles Walk 2009 Flickr photo pool for pics from the event!

1 comment:

mog78 said...

Terrible sorry I missed this while I was moving. I recently finished grad school at USC and on my commutes to the Westside I explored Adams, Washington, Hoover, Arlington, Normandie, etc. The district has really wonderful mansions, homes, and buildings. I'm so glad you shared it with a great group of walkers!