Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bringing Broadway Back

I'm not sure when I decided this, but Los Angeles is the most intriguing place in which I've ever lived.  Perhaps it was when I realized that the Park Plaza Hotel is not actually an operating hotel, or that the city is actually building rail transit at a faster clip than any other American city.  But somewhere along the line I realized that this home of Hollywood was in the midst of another makeover.  Here's a place that came of age straddling the advent of the automobile, torn between an incredible urban core and sprawl that has caused it be nominated as the ugliest city in the world (behind, I will add, somewhere else I have lived).  And it's gritty. Like New York in the 70s gritty. But there's hope.

It's no secret that millennials as a whole have started returning to the dense urban cores that their parents fled for the suburbs.  It's already happened in New York and Boston, and finally Los Angeles is catching on.  At the core of this makeover is the Bringing Back Broadway initiative.  I joined this group a few months after hopping off the plane at LAX in a cream colored cardigan, and found myself on a planning team for Night on Broadway.  On January 31st, 20,000 Angelenos descended on DTLA for a night of free theatre performances, street food, art, and music to celebrate the revival of a part of town that had long been a dead zone after sunset.

Other initiatives this group has going include incentivizing businesses to rehabilitate some of the vast stock of incredible historic architecture and develop the DTLA streetcar.

I'm glad that this type of development is getting recognition.  And getting involved was as easy as showing up to a meeting of like-minded individuals.  Having only been a kid at the time when New York and Boston gave their cores a good microderm, it's incredibly gratifying to witness the changes in Los Angeles as the vestiges of Los Angeles' past start to resurface from its worn art deco facades.  Standing on the steps of the Los Angeles Theatre that night, I overheard one man in hipster glasses turn to his friend and yell, "This is the coolest night I've had in LA."  Who knows-maybe one day the east side will steal back some of that interest that has for so long gone west.

Regardless of what happens, Los Angeles probably won't become New York anytime soon.  And I like that.  I finally called up that doctor in Beverly Hills (you know the one), and during my annual physical he told me I need to start eating exclusively organic and add chia seeds to my diet.  Where else am I going to get that sort of medical advice?

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