Had a very busy day today - the first day it really felt like work! We started out this morning with a return trip to the Chinese Theater to do a tour of the inside, which was very fun and easy. The theater is so beautiful and it's kind of hard to comprehend just how many movie premieres and movie stars have been there over the years, ever since the earliest days of Hollywood. It has been beautifully maintained and is still in use as a cinema.
Then we drove to the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which is near the Hollywood Bowl. It's housed in the barn where Cecil B. DeMille directed the first movie filmed in Hollywood, a silent western called The Squaw Man, in 1913. It was a lonely little museum with an empty parking lot, and the one employee was thrilled to see us. He gave us a good little overview of the history, then we looked around the exhibits, most of which relate to the silent film era - projectors, photos, souvenir programs, etc. DeMille's re-created office, with some original furnishings, is also included. Interesting stuff.
Then David drove me downtown, where I walked around for several hours, taking pictures of architecture. That was sometimes fun too, but mostly that's the part that felt like work. Downtown L.A. is generally not terribly pleasant and it is very large!
I started out in the old theater district on Broadway, which was pretty sad - it is lined with beautiful theaters from the 1920s and 30s, one of which was partially designe by Mary Pickford herself, but now they are all either closed up or contain pawn shops. In fact, the whole street is basically pawn shops, one after another: "We Buy Gold!" "Sell Your Jewelry!" And the street is very much a Mexican district now - most of the signs and blaring music are in Spanish, and I was seriously the only non-Mexican person for blocks. It reminded me of walking through Chinatown in San Francisco - it's amazing how you can be completely transported to another country without even leaving the city.
But there were some highlights as well: I really enjoyed the Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (2002), both beautiful and unusual works of modern architecture. The concert hall was especially awesome - I liked it even better than the Experience Music Project in Seattle, which is by the same architect (Frank Gehry). Just as the sun was setting I made it to my last site: El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the historic center of the city that goes back to the Spanish era.
I'll try to post some photos from downtown soon - no time or energy left tonight to go through them all, unfortunately.
After dark, I finally ended up at Union Station, then took the Metro back to Hollywood, where David picked me up. We met outside the Chinese Theater (above), where our day began that morning. Then he expertly navigated through crazy traffic over to the Farmer's Market for one more delicious reuben from Phil's Deli just before it closed. Yum.
Then finally back to the hotel, to download and backup the 923(!) photos from today, and try to figure out where we're going tomorrow! We have been generally planning to go to Vegas from here, but that does involve an 8-hour drive from Vegas to Reno, so we considered a couple of shorter options - like backtracking up 101 or skipping Vegas and taking Highway 395 along the mountains in eastern California to Reno. David just fell asleep, so the conversation is over for tonight, but currently it looks like we're probably still on for Vegas. I'll let ya know where we end up tomorrow!