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Old 05-20-2018, 02:05 PM
 
Location: Seattle
17 posts, read 17,925 times
Reputation: 102

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I was in Los Angeles for several days last week. For reference, I'm a single, 31 year old guy who's from Minneapolis, lived in Austin in for a chunk of my 20's, and have been living in Seattle for the last three years. I'll be moving to LA this summer. My recent trip was to try and scope the town out and get a general vibe of various neighborhoods so I can figure out where I'd like to get an apartment.

Echo Park / Silverlake -

This is where I stayed, near Alvarado and Sunset. Walking on Sunset Blvd from Echo Park up to Sunset Junction, everything appeared a bit more run down than I anticipated. It was a particularly smoggy day with a sort of polluted light, and honestly my first impression of Sunset was that it was an ugly, giant, stinking boulevard with little in the way of apparent charms. Bars on all the windows, beat up old buildings. I always felt safe walking around solo during day or night, but overall the area was a bit grungier (perhaps in appearance only) than expected. Makes sense I suppose given the area's history. Obviously mixed in is some evidence of gentrification with newer buildings housing trendy restaurants and the like. Sunset Blvd definitely seems to be a place with a good amount of activity, but it's not all immediately obvious to the uninitiated (me) - some of the most popular nightlife joints don't even look like functioning businesses during the daytime - just old, nondescript, windowless buildings from the outside. Echo Park (the actual park / lake) I actually really liked - good mix of people just doing their thing - jogging, picnicking, giving away free massages, etc. I shadow-boxed a lap around the lake and didn't stand out at all as there's probably not much Angelinos haven't seen, which I respect. And of course there's a decent view of downtown. Overall I think I could potentially live in Echo Park, it'd just take some getting used to the different vibe and feel of it.

Miracle Mile -

LA's answer to Midtown Manhattan. Which is to say, at first glance it looks like there could be a lot going on, but there's not actually that much happening.

Downtown -

Walkable. Interesting. Dense. Noisy. Most of the things you'd anticipate from a big-city core. Sort of felt like certain parts of Manhattan (albeit "manhattan light" - not trying to be derogatory, just my observation). I think downtown would be my favorite place to live in LA from what I know. Many talk about DTLA as thought its some ghetto wasteland of nothing but homeless and crazies. That's all hyperbole in my opinion. It's not the horror show many would claim it to be. Never felt unsafe walking around (though I did so primarily during the day). Some homeless obviously but most major downtowns will have that. Sure, DTLA has Skid Row but it's not like I'd move to Skid Row proper so, whatever. From what I'm told, DTLA has undergone quite a renaissance over the past decade - if that's the case, well-done and keep it going! No shortage of bars and restaurants and points of interest. I look forward to exploring this area further upon making the move.


Koreatown -

Not easy to assess just by walking around. Fairly dense and walkable, which I like. Everything is in strip malls, which I know means something different in LA than many other cities. Where I've lived, strip malls don't generally house meaningful points of interest - just lame, generic, cheap shops / restaurants / bars. I'm told that's not the case in LA - an unassuming storefront in a strip mall may contain the neighborhood's best bar, or some authentic cuisine, etc. I'll just have to learn over time where the hot spots are. Overall K-town is a place I'd really like to explore more thoroughly - not sure if it'd be the place I'd want to call home, but I'm curious about all the goings on in the area. I know it's a cheap(er) neighborhood, and I've read some folks' opinions that it's ugly or sorta rundown and sketchy. I never got that vibe, it seemed safe and walkable and relatively clean. Saw a couple homeless but whatever, there's a ton of people in general so that's just gonna be part of it.

Culver City - only saw it from the metro stop. My understanding was the train station was pretty much adjacent to "downtown" Culver City. Didn't look like there was anything to it really so I didn't bother getting off the train (I know there's probably something to it I'd just need give it a proper chance).

Santa Monica -

Got off the blue line in downtown Santa Monica and almost considered not even getting off - maybe I'd just sit tight and let the train trace its steps back to downtown and take me with it. I knew immediately I had zero interest living in Santa Monica. I explored (what I presume to be) just a small slice of town and I mean no offense to residents, but to me it felt sterile and touristy. Giant swaths of gleaming new pavement. An ocean view is always nice but as I've never been a part of beach culture, proximity to it is only minimal draw for me.

LAX - if there's a more unsightly airport to fly into, I've never seen it. Flying into LAX on a smoggy day will truly test your optimism. I'm sorry but it's objectively horrendous. You descend into a cloud of pollutants so thick the air is yellow. During final approach you can see refineries near the airport spewing toxic **** into the atmosphere. For the record I'm no tree-hugger yet I found it seriously depressing. Thank god I'm not moving to LA to be live at the airport! But otherwise LAX was an easy enough airport to navigate and deal with.

VERDICT -

Well, I'm still moving to LA even if I didn't exactly fall in love with it at first pass. But I embrace the challenge. Los Angeles is always fair game for people to criticize, it seems - everyone has a reason why they think LA sucks. But I'm NOT an LA hater. I refuse to be. There's no way a city of this size with millions of people is a monolith. There's too much diversity, culture, and activity for it not to have some serious redeeming qualities. If all you do is walk around and soak up the ambience, LA may indeed disappoint - its architectural allure pales to NYC's or Chicago's, it's natural beauty is a distant second to SF or Seattle (save for some points strewn around LA's west side, but you get the gist), the urban landscape is often uninspired, and much of it is dominated by pedestrian-hostile pavement. But if that's all you see in LA, then my hope is you haven't REALLY seen LA. My optimism requires me to trust that the beauty of LA is, ironically, beneath the surface. Have the random conversation with a stranger, take a seat at the unassuming strip mall cafe, take a chance on someone's advice who's been here for awhile. Most importantly, keep an open mind. Perhaps the angel's in the details.

Extras -

Granted I didn't hang out in Hollywood, but overall the LA was surprisingly unpretentious. Sure, you have some cats in Echo Park hipstered out to the 9's, but whatever. I'd steeled myself for a possible impenetrable curtain of vanity, Instagramming and wannabes, but it honestly didn't seem so bad. I presume Hollywood and / or beach-y areas have more of those types?

Public transit exists! I'll have a car when I move to town, but during my visit I opted to do it completely on public transportation. Not even so much as an Uber. I got my tap card, and found that getting between the neighborhoods mentioned above was fairly straight forward if not always super fast. Busses were either on time or super late, but at least they've got GPS so you can anticipate how late they'll be. The Metro seemed to work fine as well. I dug it. LA should continue investing in public transport in my opinion - its the easiest way to shrink a city of this size.

Pershing square - I get why people make fun of it. Meaningless purple spires. What? Yet it'll always by my DTLA landmark of choice. I like it in a weird way.
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:21 PM
 
Location: Orange County... Arizona bound
3,565 posts, read 1,998,843 times
Reputation: 4983
You certainly sound like a LA urban kinda guy. I agree with most of what you wrote except downtown LA. I'd never live there. You only saw a small part of LA you missed parts like Pasadena, the valley, Long Beach. Maybe you should take another trip here and look around some more. What city are you working in? The smog definitely takes getting used to.
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:35 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
3,166 posts, read 3,881,699 times
Reputation: 2378
Except that there hasn’t been any smog. People not from LA and even people from LA tend to confuse fog/overcast with smog. If it’s yellow or brown, it’s smog. If it’s grey, it’s just overcast.

Really LA’s smoggy days are behind us. Not that we have great air quality but it’s tremendously improved. LA used to have over 100 smog alerts per year in the 60’s but we haven’t had a single one in 30 years. We’ll likely never have another one, unless there’s a massive fire or volcano eruption.
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
3,166 posts, read 3,881,699 times
Reputation: 2378
Good report SebastianCalhoun. Pretty fair overall. I will say that the inner LA areas that you visited will tend to look run down compared to a fast growing sunbelt city like Austin. The new stuff for this region is in the outskirts, like South OC or Canyon Country. Except downtown. Lots of new places in South Park that replaced parking lots.
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:55 PM
 
121 posts, read 105,892 times
Reputation: 267
Nice write-up. I'm hoping to eventually make the move from Denver as soon as everything aligns professionally. I've spent the majority of my visits in Silver Lake, Echo Park, Venice, Santa Monica, and Hollywood. The only downtown experiences I've had so far were Grand Central Market (awesome) and The Jewelry District (far from awesome).

My target neighborhoods are Silver Lake, Echo Park, West Hollywood, Highland Park, Angelino Heights, and the base of the Hollywood Hills/Runyon Canyon area. Best of luck on your relocation.
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Old 05-20-2018, 06:18 PM
 
Location: Seattle
17 posts, read 17,925 times
Reputation: 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Easy View Post
Except that there hasn’t been any smog. People not from LA and even people from LA tend to confuse fog/overcast with smog. If it’s yellow or brown, it’s smog. If it’s grey, it’s just overcast.

Really LA’s smoggy days are behind us. Not that we have great air quality but it’s tremendously improved. LA used to have over 100 smog alerts per year in the 60’s but we haven’t had a single one in 30 years. We’ll likely never have another one, unless there’s a massive fire or volcano eruption.
Fair enough. I'm certainly no smog expert! I just remember they day I flew in in particular seemed to have poor visibility / air quality, and then it got better later in the trip. According to what I looked up online on various weather services, that day had the most particulates in the air and worst air quality rating out of all the days on my trip. Not sure if the source of pollution was manmade or had to do with some natural phenomenon.

Most importantly though it's great that LA's air quality is continuing to improve!
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Old 05-20-2018, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Seattle
17 posts, read 17,925 times
Reputation: 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finper View Post
You certainly sound like a LA urban kinda guy. I agree with most of what you wrote except downtown LA. I'd never live there. You only saw a small part of LA you missed parts like Pasadena, the valley, Long Beach. Maybe you should take another trip here and look around some more. What city are you working in? The smog definitely takes getting used to.
Agreed that I only saw a small part of the city, as I didn't explore any of the places you mentioned or Glendale, The Valley, Hollywood, Lincoln Heights, etc.

As for DTLA, I'd definitely want to continue my research before putting down a deposit on an apartment. I'd want to hang out in downtown at night to get a more complete sense of the place and to sort of assess the noise levels around various buildings.

I'm being transferred for work, and I'm a salesman for a cannabis wholesaler. So the cannabis retailers will be my customers. I won't be tethered to an office too regularly, so I think what's most important will be being someplace relatively central and with pretty good freeway access so I can get around town as efficiently as possible to see my accounts which will likely be fairly spread around.
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Old 05-20-2018, 07:18 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 12,094,796 times
Reputation: 12377
Go through Pasadena. Sounds like a good fit for you.
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Old 05-22-2018, 10:27 AM
 
309 posts, read 192,497 times
Reputation: 440
I'm also from Minneapolis, a tad older than you and have been in LA for 8 years.

You really can't compare any other city to LA. Not only are Austin and Minneapolis significantly smaller with less diversity and opportunities, but they both have the downtown area, as the core city hub. People travel into the city for work and entertainment.

When I first moved here, it blew my mind that morning traffic was terrible leaving downtown for work instead of people commuting to downtown for work. And, while LA has a thriving downtown now, we also have other pockets throughout the City that people want to go to that you didn't experience, such as West Hollywood, Culver City, South Bay, Venice, Pasadena, etc..

Also, while we do still have smog issues, you are experiencing our topography and weather patterns of May Gray and June Gloom. Long before cars, the Indians would refer to the LA region as the Smokey Bay. A 'smog' layer forms when ocean breezes draw cool marine air onshore beneath a mass of warmer air above. Held in place by the mountains that shelter Los Angeles on the north and east, the cool air then stabilizes, unable to rise through the warm air above.

It takes a year to "learn" LA and then you will grow to appreciate the good and bad of this city; there is plenty of both.
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Old 05-22-2018, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Houston
1,187 posts, read 1,030,257 times
Reputation: 1347
I'm a guy from Houston who has traveled to LA many, many times since the mid-60s (have family there). The air quality there is vastly improved since the 60s (as in Denver, Houston, and other cities). I don't think people know or appreciate how much the EPA, the state of CA, and others have done to bring that about.

The last few times I've flown into LAX, the air was amazingly clear on all of the approach.

If the OP saw a brown haze, that sounds like LA's type of smog. I agree that if it were gray, it likely was fog off the ocean. There's even more of that along the coast farther north. Obviously, SF is famous for that.
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