BLDGBLOG Moves to Los Angeles

Southern_CA_EQ_11x14[Image: USGS Map of southern California earthquakes; huge version also available].

In less than one month, BLDGBLOG will have picked up and moved itself to sunny Los Angeles, land of freeways and plate tectonics, Philip K. Dick and gang warfare, bikinis and Jurassic technology; city of tar pits and the porn industry, Joshua trees and desert gardens, Scientology and cinema – and so on. Mike Davis. The Italian Job. Anonymity and desert apocalypse. Watts Towers.
In any case, if anyone out there reads BLDGBLOG – any advice on where to live, what to do, who to know…? Better yet, are you in the real estate business and you just happen to have the perfect 2-bedroom apartment, with office space, eagerly waiting to be rented in the ideal neighborhood – and it’s so secret that even Curbed LA doesn’t know about it yet? For that matter, are you preparing to leave the country for several months and you live in Beverly Hills and you need an architecturally enthusiastic man and his delightful wife to water your plants till you get back? And use your pool for you and save the dinner plates from earthquakes…? Or perhaps you are newly stricken with the philanthropy bug, so you want to donate a well-lit room with bookshelves in which BLDGBLOG can upload itself in the off-hours, meditating on Californian socio-spatiality?

[Image: Octopus L.A. For the more satellite-inclined, check out Visible Earth‘s 3.1MB image of Los Angeles from space. Soon you’ll see BLDGBLOG driving around somewhere].

If so – or if you just know a good bar to regularize, or you want to organize deep desert geology hikes, or you want to put together a talk20-like event – leave a comment or be in touch or do neither, but keep reading BLDGBLOG knowing that we’ll soon be neighbors.
Until that western arrival comes, posting will continue apace – although you may see a lot more Quick list-style posts as general busy-ness seems to be increasing by the day.

44 thoughts on “BLDGBLOG Moves to Los Angeles”

  1. You gotta move downtown and watch as a modern american city tries to transform itself from a car captive nightmare into, well, something else. Los Angeles is changing fast, but it’s all balls-in-the-air right now. It will be interesting, at least, to watch them come down. Angelinos know better than to think it will go without hitches. A lot of us are looking out the corner of our gaze, not getting our hopes too high, trying not to let on we are excited by the prospect or frightened by the precedents.

    It is a great place to be, for people that are curious and concerned about cities of the future. This is where the fight is engaged already, and we really need a lot of help.

    Welcome to the future . . .

  2. Good luck in LA and in finding a place. Hope you find friends, love, peace, money and joy in the city of the angels.

  3. Geoff- has several of threads discussing your exact conundrum… So if you are wondering about living on the eastside, westside, or in san pedro, you can trust the collective wisdom (and snarkiness) of the ‘nectors.

    Best luck-


  4. Hey, my husband and I are moving to LA in a month too! How ironic. Can’t help you with finding a place to rent, we’re searching ourselves and wouldn’t mind some advice too, so if you get any please pass it on.

    As for a bar I would recommend The Dresden, as in seen in the movie Swingers. It’s retro decor is in mint condition for a bar and authentic. And you need to watch Swingers first before going there to appreciate the atmosphere.


  5. Man, I’m excited. Thanks for the tips, hello’s, suggestions, thoughts, bar names, emails, realty insights, Archinect threads, etc. I’ll be in touch.

    And any thoughts on things like short hikes outside the city, best movie theater, best Thai restaurant, best bookstore, best… whatever? However subjective the word “best” may be. For that matter, worst restaurant, worst neighborhood…

    And how’s Culver City? We think we want to live in Culver City.

    Meanwhile, our solar system now only has eight planets. Goodbye, Pluto.

  6. The main decision facing you, the decision that will shape your experience is where you choose to live. I would go with far east (echo park – groovy and diverse, downtown – urban pioneering, atwater or eagle rock – understated but hip) or far west (anywhere along the beach). Unless of course you have tons of money. Then the hills beckon. Bronson or Beachwood Canyons are perfect hilly neighborhood. Find good house rentals posted outside the restaurant/grocery store @ Beachwood and Belden.

    My friend raul posted a good what to do in LA list a few months ago.

  7. Stay on the east side… people in Santa Monica and the surrounding areas are barricaded in by the horrible 10 freeway. Try Echo Park, Highland Park, or Silver Lake (if you can afford it).

  8. Echo Park is nice, as is Eagle Rock and the hillier parts of Silver Lake. Mar Vista has its good points too…pretty similar to Culver City.

    For restaurants, Alegria (Mexican) on Sunset and Micheltorena. Tamara’s Tamales on Washington Blvd. Busaba (amazing vegetarian Thai) on Melrose. Carousel (Lebanese) on Hollywood Blvd. Sanamluang’s a bare-bones (but good) Thai place on Hollywood Blvd, very cheap and open ’til 3 AM. All of these except for Busaba are omnivore-friendly. If you want vegetarian options, I can give you lots of those.

    Bookstores: You’d probably like Hennessey + Ingalls in Santa Monica. There’s another great store across the street, which I forget the name of. Brand’s in Glendale is a good used store. William Dailey on Melrose is absolutely incredible…one of the best stores in the world. Leave your credit card at home, lest you be tempted beyond your power to resist.

    Bars: There are some interesting ones in Chinatown. You might also want to visit Tiki-Ti on Sunset. Tiny and pricey, but great drinks.

    Check out the Huntington Museum in Pasadena, too.

  9. Oh, and movie theatres…Graumann’s Egyptian has all sorts of oddball retrospectives, usually with lectures by actors, directors, etc.

  10. The Sierra Club has some great organized hikes in the area- that may be a nice introduction to the area. People here are nutty, but once you get to know them they start to make sense… like my buddy who drives into the mountains/desert on self guided historical and geological tours – very fun.

  11. Hey, welcome to Los Angeles!

    First off, you have to consider where you will (or won’t) be working. Traffic is a lot worse once you’re dealing with the same drive daily than it seems before you live somewhere. Once you’ve figured that out, pick a place within an 8- to 10-mile radius at most! If you don’t know, then my suggestions are as follows:

    Studio City is a great place to live in the Valley. It’s got excellent restaurants, is close to transit (Red Line Universal Station plus decent bus coverage), and you won’t have to spend too much time on the 101 past the Valley. Good shopping nearby. Not as expensive as most Westside areas.

    North Hollywood/Valley Village is an almost-up-and-coming neighborhood with decent rents, decent transit access, and lots of construction going on. The “NoHo Arts District” is the place to go if you live here — the more north you go, the less desirable it becomes, IMO.

    Silver Lake is great, but the nicer areas reflect that in their rents. Going south a bit (south of Sunset), the area gets a bit ghetto, but rents are more affordable. The whole area is changing though.

    I gotta get going, but I’d really suggest staying on the Eastside (Silver Lake, Echo Park, Atwater Village, Los Feliz, Koreatown, Angelino Heights) or Downtown.

  12. From an LA native who’s lived in Boston, SF, NY, Brooklyn and back again to LA, I have to say that the East (Silverlake, Echo Park, Los Feliz) proves to be the most livable/easy to enjoy (coming from the east coast), and most human scale; if you’re strategic enough about where you end up renting and working, you can enjoy a neighborhood feel, walk to stores, spend time hiking in Griffith Park, walk around the Silverlake reservoir, watch hipsters and the gentrification of the east. It’s actually pretty interesting.

    Downtown is for the curious, adventurous – if i had it, i’d definitely be buying there right now.

    My husband and I live in Culver City right now. Not as human scale and less ‘hip & funky’, wonderful gems here and there (& growing too!). A lot of galleries moving to the area. Simpang Grocery for great Indonesian street food. Cafe Brasil has a nice patio and tasty food.

    Go eat Pinkberry frozen yogurt in West Hollywood. Amazing (of course) Korean food in Koreatown. Just close your eyes and point down on a map and you’ll find some great food.

    Hollywood Bowl visits, parties at the getty, free concerts at the California Plaza, various farmer’s markets all over the city with amazing produce year round, all make LA a great place to live. Welcome and enjoy!!!

    (i love your blog. thank you.)

  13. for your move to Los Angeles, I suggest Rossmore Avenue below Melrose above Beverly.

    There are grand ol’ great apartment buildings that are long on charm and long history…

    Ravenswood… formally owned by the late great vavavoom Mae West.

    My favorite and has signs up right now with availability is The Hermoine…. call (323) 461-8329. I don’t know what the going rates are these days..but the whole area is worth checking out.

    here’s more on Larchmont

    good luck.

  14. I’m not a realtor, so you should listen to me. The number one quality of life issue in LA is: How long are you going to be in your car? Find out where your office is; drive for fifteen minutes, and don’t live any farther away from home than that. Please ignore people who say you need to move to Calabasas to get some land. You’ll spend three hours a day driving.

    I relocated from SF to LA in 1994 with my husband, four year-old daughter, and six month-old son. Except for a nightmarish stint in a Westside apartment, we’ve lived in the Mid-Wilshire area for the last thirteen years. It’s now called “Beverly Grove”, and it’s gotten a little too upscale and crowded, but you can walk everywhere and my kids know every vendor at the Farmers’ Market. A great entry into LA is Park La Brea – rent there; get your bearings, and then find a long-term solution. Since the real estate market is poised to take a severe downturn, renting for a while is a good idea anyway.

    If you don’t have kids and don’t plan to have any, live wherever you want. If you have kids, consider a neighborhood with a good public school; you can be involved a lot more in your children’s lives when you don’t spend all of your time working to afford private school tuition – it’s also a great way to meet your neighbors. My kids have gone to public school all the way through, and they are never more than ten minutes away from home. I now work in my kids’ former elementary school, and I know a lot about the education game in LA. Most of the schools in this area are good neighborhood schools. I have a friend who teaches in Los Feliz at Ivanhoe Elementary, and that’s a quality school too.

    Good Luck

  15. There maps might be of some use. The first one is of the different neighborhoods of LA proper. The second one is of the different cities of LA County. The third one is a bus map, and it just shows the insanity of the cityscape.

    My advice to you would be to actually go to LA and look around at the different neighborhoods. Advice on where to live in LA is often really dead off. Plus, a lot of the best rental properties are only advertised through signs outside the house/apartment. Also, don’t ignore the surrounding cities such as Pasadena, or Culver City just because they aren’t in LA proper. If you can’t make in out to LA before moving (or don’t want to go there without an apartment set up) I REALLY recommend looking at this site I don’t know who takes the pictures, but they are the most candid shots of Los Angeles that I have ever seen. I really like looking at them when I get homesick.

    Good Luck!

  16. This is somewhat confusing to non-Angelenos, and since a lot of people recommended “the East Side,” I thought I should warn you:

    The East Side is not on the east side.

    You see, in most cities, the “East Side” would be to the east of the center of the city (aka Downtown). But, no. Here, the East Side is west of Downtown. But it is the east side of the West Side, that is the easternmost part of that portion of the city west of Downtown, which by all rights should be the center of the city, but really isn’t for most people, unless you speak Spanish. If you speak English, the center which divides “East Side” and “West Side” is probably Western Avenue. Wait, that’s too confusing. Let’s say it’s La Brea Avenue.

    Of course, to the north of west side is The San Fernando Valley, but that’s not called the “North Side,” that’s “The Valley.” I guess if there was a true “north side” it would have to be Lincoln Heights and Highland Park, but nobody calls them that.

    Of course there is a South Side, but that’s called “South Central,” after Central Avenue, or at least it was, as it was officially changed a few years ago to South Los Angeles.

    As for the actual portion of the city east of Downtown, that’s Boyle Heights, and going east after that, East Los Angeles, but East Los Angeles is not part of Los Angeles, it’s a separate city.

    But West Los Angeles is not a separate city, it’s a part of Los Angeles.

    Hollywood is not a city, it’s part of Los Angeles. But West Hollywood is a separate city. But North Hollywood isn’t.

    Hope this clears things up.

  17. Holy hannah, is this a lot of info – this is great. So many decisions. Barista, are you in this same eastern nightmare – that is, the city I shall not name but nonetheless live within?

    So the plan is to arrive. After that… Lots of pro-Wilshire/La Brea sentiment has come up, but there’s lots of persuasive “east side” interest as well… wherever the “east side” really is. Meanwhile I’m still stuck on Culver City. Thanks for all the tips, by the way, I appreciate all this, and it’s good to have even competing opinions before arrival for orientation purposes. And the maps, too – thanks for those, as well, and for the Sierra Club suggestion, and for the what to dos, and the where to eats, and the with whom to hikes and wherein to do so, and the et ceteras and the what nots – and so on.

    Anyway, so the time fast approaches. Any thoughts on the LA Forum or other architectural/spatio-urbanistic organizations? The LA Conservancy, AIA LA, and so on? Or some kind of LA psychogeographic association? Just curious.

    And what’s up with Long Beach?

    Meanwhile, do any of you know about Kerry Sieh, who studies “Los Angeles urban tectonics”? Here’s a list of PDFs about said topic you can download. And here’s an old article on BLDGBLOG about “debris slugs” and rock dams in the San Gabriel mountains, via an excellent essay by John McPhee: Structures of mass wasting. Check it out.

    Finally, what about sound art and the local music scene – is there a microsound/field recordings/sound art scene worth checking into right away? Or a particular venue/bar similar to Chicago’s Empty Bottle? So much to do!

  18. ah, why not, as an ex-angelino i’ll chime in too. for architecture not so-marginalia materials and applications is usually fairly cool. they have small installations and mini-conferences in a gravel courtyard on silverlake blvd (that’s the east side). for movies if you’re on the westside/culver city you shouldn’t miss nuart for classics and second runs and right next door is cinephile, one of the best videos stores in the world (some people like vidiots better). and there’s another one in north hollywood that’s supposedly the best, but i never went. if you’re there in the summer, don’t miss the outdoor movies projected on rudolph valentino’s tomb .

    if you end up in culver city or whenever you go to the museum of jurassic technology and clui, for good, cheap eats try cafe brazil . it’s a personal fave ’cause i was a student there. and just next to cafe brazil is one of the incarnations of versailles . but only go if you’re incredibly hunger or want cuban for lunch the next day.

    you said you wanted to buy something? supreme la , giant robot and gr2 , the grove (i mean it’s an outdoor mall with a trolly, it’s amazing), the farmer’s market is right next door, … you get the point.

    thanks for the chow hound link iturnedouttv. is someone posting all of these on or something?

    best of luck, geoff. but what is it that sends you to lalaland, if i might be so bold to ask…?

  19. not to be forgotten on the little strip of venice blvd by culver city is fidels, run by a very nice couple from oaxaca. which reminds me, there’s nothing like a long weekend in baja to ease the stress of the big city.

    alright, i’m done.

  20. Good luck and your move and welcome to our great city! I just found you through Curbed LA, so I don’t know much about you, but wanted to chime in with my own advice. “What’s up with Long Beach?” If you want to live in LA, well, Long Beach isn’t LA. Nice place to visit for the aquarium and the Queen Mary and the cruise ship port, but, yeah, it’s a whole other city (and vibe).

    Culver City is pretty up and coming. I seem to read about new restaurants popping up there on a weekly basis.

    Here are some links to address other questions you had:

    Great local bar with live music, but also a separate area for having a drink and conversation (this place is very close to the Tar Pits, and drunk-driving distance to Culver City):

    Aside from the Grauman’s Chinese theater, which has tons of history, the best movie theater in LA is the Arclight. Once you get over the price, you’ll love it, I promise:

    For any and all questions about LA restaurants, you can’t go wrong with Chowhound!:

  21. Finally, what about sound art and the local music scene – is there a microsound/field recordings/sound art scene worth checking into right away? Or a particular venue/bar similar to Chicago’s Empty Bottle? So much to do!

    Your best bet is The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS).

    As far as venues go, you could try Il Corral for more noise-oriented stuff, or the Smell. A somewhat more staid sound art option would Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE).

    The problem with microsound-type stuff is that while it’s popular enough to get booked occasionally at standard venues, very few soundmen know how to amplify it…feedback and audience noise can be a real problem…which is why it’s probably best to stick with the specialty venues.

  22. Regarding Chuck’s suggestion:

    Before you move to Westwood, look at today’s LA Times article about Westside traffic.

    One hour to go ten miles? Something to think about. You can always run errands at 3 a.m.

  23. I’m late to the game, but Welcome to L.A., the tastiest city on Earth.

    I recently moved to Eagle Rock from Los Feliz. I would recommend both places. You might find living downtown interesting as well, and there are probably plenty of spots available (they’ve overbuilt lofts and apartments downtown).

    If you’re coming from the East Coast, I would echo some of the comments above and recommend the East Side (Echo Park/Silverlake/Los Feliz/Atwater/Highland Park/Eagle Rock) over the West Side. Mainly because you need a fancy haircut and car to live on the Westside.

    Good bars: Bigfoot Lodge in Glendale, The Chalet in Eagle Rock, The TeeGee in Atwater. And I can’t even begin to list all the great places to eat. I’ll just second the recommendation above to get Jonathan Gold’s COUNTER INTELLIGENCE.

    Two excellent used bookstores: Iliad Books in North Hollywood, and Cliff’s Books in Pasadena. Mystery and Imagination Books in Glendale, across from Brand Books, has a pretty decent sci-fi collection.

    What brings you out to L.A., by the way?

  24. You should try the BunkerHill area, near the Disney Music Center, in the music center area. Prices are affordable-ish and the neighborhood is uphill from the Bank District with its lofts and homeless problems. Good luck on the move.

  25. I live in Culver City – and I love it. It has a small town feel and very convenient to beaches, airport, downtown…Bottle Rock just opened (a wine bar that also serves cheeses, charcuterie, panini) and a half dozen other excellent restaurants have opened in the last year. If you can find someplace in the area south of Sony Pictures you can walk to the Kirk Douglas Theater, movie theaters (only a few years old), restaurants, and excellent coffee at a family-run place called The Conservatory. I love it because I can walk up the street and sit down for coffee, read the paper, wander over to the movies…really different from most towns in the Los Angeles area. Free music every Thursday during the summers at City Hall…I could go on and on.

  26. hi….
    i live in mount washington and there is quite a bit of open space, canyons for walking that lead you to the back of houses on stilts.

    you should check out the los angeles urban rangers (psychogeographic…), machine project, the institute for figuring, AUDC, fritz haeg, outpost for contemporary art, art2102, fallen fruit, midnite ridazz (critical mass..), gallery 727, the port of los angeles, the salton sea, there is a new sound gallery in chinatown i think

    los angeles land consevancy leads tours through downtown la

    food is good at
    cha cha cha (melrose and virgil)
    millies (sunset junction)
    india sweets and spices (vegetarian, the cheapest, and most delcious, in los feliz by a strange old golf-course)
    the taco truck in front of vons just north of alvarado and sunset
    scoops has amazing homemade ice cream and is near the bike kitchen on heliotrope at melrose

    you should go to the spiral jetty too, and death valley. they are sort of nearby.

    the golden gopher in downtown LA
    little joy
    red lion has amazing german beer on tap

    los angeles public library

    are you going to do any projects in public space when you are here?

    the grand old hotels and theatre facades in downtown that have been turned into swap meet space and residential hotels are good to look at.

    and read norman klein’s history of forgetting: los angeles and the erasure of memory

  27. hi i am a board member of the LA forum, feel free to email me if you want to chat about it…

    i think culver is interesting if you are working on the westside… if not i say head to silverlake/echo park. its lovely there and super close to griffith park which has wonderful hiking.

    we are also partial to the mishe mokwa hike in the malibu canyons….


  28. I live in Venice and love being near all the walk streets, Main street and ocean. Its not close to all the stuff people talk about above but who cares, its got all the eccentricities found in big city but with small town vibe. Culver City and Santa Monica are small cities too, with very compact downtown areas that are walkable. I dont like the idea of SL, EP, Valley, Hills because they are not close to the ocean. I hear San Pedro is still affordable, artistic, and has a very quaint neighoborhoody vibe. But its a drive from LA (but direct).

  29. Or does L.A. save us?

    So we’re moving to Culver City. Fortuitous machinations put us within walking distance – which we timed, to the half-minute – of most basic necessities; the whole place will collapse in an earthquake, on the other hand, but it’s real and we’re moving in.

    And, at this exact moment, commute means walking from the kitchen to the office… Subject to change, however, pending more lucrative developments.

  30. A note on directions from an LA native (Echo Parque baby!) who had to get out of LA and now living in much more livable Oakland.

    Whoever made the comment that LA does not follow the pattern of other cities in that “Eastside” refers to East of downtown is incorrect. The “Eastside” is just that, everything east of downtown. The only people who refer to west of downtown as the “Eastside” are the hordes of gentrifiers who have migrated from West LA who hold that place as there geographic center, their Greenwich England if you will. Most of these people–mainly white but not all as educated middle class minorities can gentrify too–see Echo Park, Los Feliz etc. as a breath of fresh air compared to the rest of LA. Well these areas are breathes of fresh air compared to the rest of the dystopia known as the “southland,” LA, socal, whatever you want to call it. Just be gentle with my native Echo Park and the surrounding barrios. People have the freedom to live whereever they want but damn it, please leave some for us native Mexicans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Chinese, bikers, artists over forty, old hippies, old gays, who are the cultural backbone to what makes Central LA a unique livable place in that most unlivable region, LA. Remember, white people have conquered this whole country, leave some for the brown natives (Mexicans are native american and the Southwest is occupied mexico) who built, and continue to grease the wheels of these United SNAKES of AmeriKKKa.

    Johnny Nayarit–Central LA (ECHO PARQUE) refugee happily living in the best city in America OAKTOWN.

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