With new lofts coming onto the market next month, our team is writing a series of blog posts on the Districts of Downtown Los Angeles. If you are interested in purchasing a loft or just interested in the growing downtown area, it’s better to know the districts and loft buildings in each neighborhood.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, a handful of determinedly urban-minded artists saw opportunity in the empty warehouses and began colonizing the area, converting former industrial spaces into roomy working studios, renting space for as little as a nickel a square foot and carving out living quarters, inventing the concept of live-work spaces. The City of Los Angeles acknowledged the reality of the situation and in 1981 passed the Artist in Residence ordinance, which allowed artists to legally live and work in industrial areas of downtown Los Angeles.
Art galleries, cafes and performance venues opened as the residential population grew and although they are mostly a transient phenomenon, they have assumed mythical status among the urban pioneer population. Al’s Bar on Hewitt just off Traction, in particular, served up groundbreaking punk rock from the mid-70s through the beginning of the new century, introducing generations of Angelenos to dozens of emerging groups (among them, Pearl Jam). The Atomic Cafe on 1st Street at Alameda was a popular artists;’ haunt in the late 60s and early 70s. Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), created pioneering post-modern exhibitions at its gallery space on Industrial Street. Riverrun, on Traction, created a regular series of challenging conceptual installations.
Today the Arts District remains the home of artists, arts enterprises and many employed in L.A’s vast film and television industry . The celebrated Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), now resides in the 110 year old, quarter mile-long former Santa Fe freight depot that stretches along Santa Fe between Third and 4th Streets. SCI-Arc’s reputation as an experimental anti-establishment school of architecture is a perfect fit withthe community’s somewhat rebellious self-image and its student population helps preserve the areas youthful character.
- Gallery Lofts
- Barn Lofts
- Beacon Lofts
- Barker Block
- Molino Street
- Toy Warehouse
- Toy Factory
- Biscuit Company
With approximate limits of Second Street to Seventh Street and Alameda Street and the LA River, surprisingly, the Southeast section of Downtown from end to end is totally walkable. in the Arts District, where the graffiti is the art! In the 1970s, the old, industrial warehouses in this district, many of them railroad buildings, were converted into art lofts for both work spaces and, once the AIR ordinance was passed, legal living spaces. Sprinkled amidst these perimeters are the makings of a community rich in character, socially conscious boutiques and some of the best restaurants and bars.
The area features an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and galleries.
The district has some of the best example of lofts, including:
Barker Block lofts (510 S. Hewitt St. | 530 S. Hewitt St.), Biscuit Company Lofts (BISCUIT COMPANY LOFTS FOR SALE), Gallery Lofts (120 S. Hewitt St. | 130 S. Hewitt St.), Molino Street Lofts (MOLINO STREET LOFTS FOR SALE), Toy Factory Lofts, (TOY FACTORY LOFTS FOR SALE), Toy Warehouse Lofts, (TOY WAREHOUSE LOFTS FOR SALE).
LA Art Walk:
The free, self-guided, public art phenomenon known as The Downtown Art Walk brings together art lovers and community friends to the ever evolving downtown Los Angeles. With exciting and unique offerings around every corner, downtown celebrates the arts each and every month on the 2nd Thursday. Please refer to your calendar for specific dates. Hours vary by gallery, but can typically range from Noon – 10PM.
Many of The Downtown Art Walk activities take shape in and around the galleries predominantly on Spring and Main streets between 2nd and 9th streets. However, there is a plethora of art related events and openings, activities, and special programming that take place all over downtown.
For the true art buyers and fans, arriving early offers a more relaxing stroll through the different galleries and art exhibits. As the evening progresses, more visitors descend on the area to meet up with friends and savor the local experience. Visitors and local downtowners can often be found patronizing the outcropping of local shopping, dining and entertainment establishments that have created the thriving, vibrant community
- Bestia (2121 E. Seventh Place; (213) 514-5724, bestiala.com) a restaurant that earns aces: Wood-fired, well-portioned Italian food pairs with cocktails. The best seat in the house might be at the antipasti bar, counterside to the prep-cook duo tossing little gem lettuce salads and composing chicken liver bruschettas by hand.
- Bread Lounge (700 S. Santa Fe Ave.; (213) 327-0782) There’s no signage outside, but inside a excellent neighborhood bakery. Choose breads alongside raspberry-peach preserves at the counter and chunks of real potato in the potato rosemary loaf. Or try the börek, a Balkan phyllo pastry filled with cheese and meats or vegetables, sits near the timbale and ham-cheese croissants.
- Pizzanista (2019 E. Seventh St.; (213) 627-1430, pizzanista.com) slices of pizza run $2.75 to $4, with the pepperoni, Daiya cheese and plain cheese $2 all day Tuesday. Even the Meat Jesus — a pie topped with pepperoni, sausage and bacon — is more conscious than it lets on, with meats frequently coming from humane sources. An emphasis is placed on local ingredients, with vegan options also available.
- The Daily Dose (1820 Industrial St.; (213) 281-9300, dailydoseinc.com) a café. The formidable Farmer sandwich is a best-selling behemoth and a microcosm of the chef’s take on eating fresh. Sliced diagonally, the topography reveals pesto, bright ancho chili jam, burrata, a house-made veggie patty, a sprinkling of chopped scallions, guacamole and halved fingerling potatoes, all layered within a giant square of ciabatta.
- Eat.Drink.Americano (923 E. Third St.; (213) 620-0781, eatdrinkamericano.com) The menu is a concise range of sandwiches, soup and salads. Lunch is available from 11:30 a.m. to about 5 p.m.
LOCAL GROCERY: local options are Cookbook, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and McCall’s but Urban Radish beats them hands down on service, quality and price. In the summer of 2013 the Urban Radish opened in the Arts District (661 Imperial St urban-radish.com).
- Urban Radish is an upscale and local grocery store next to Church & State in Downtown Los Angeles; while it is small, it features everything you would need to make a meal from vegetables and fruit to dairy, cheeses, seafood, and meats (it is kind of like an independent Bristol Farms); prices are about what you would expect for this type of store; a few items do feel very pricey; their fresh fish selection is small, but Urban Radish does feature nice looking US Choice beef (around the same prices or maybe a little less than Bristol Farms), a good variety of cheeses and several cured meats.
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