Inspired after watching 500 Days of Summer on Friday night, Ugly Shoe and I decided to take a trip to downtown LA on Saturday to explore the locations which were so well shot and romanticized in the film. Besides the occasional trip to MOCA, Santee Alley or Staples Center, I don't wander into downtown LA that often so it was a good excuse to do some navigating around that part of city.
My favorite scenes in the film are where at the park bench Tom and Summer share on a grassy knoll overlooking downtown LA. My 'where is the location of park bench in 500 days of summer?' googling wasn't too successful but the historical self guided walking map and lady on the other line of the 24-hour downtown LA helpline were great resources. With our downtown map print out, we headed on the 10E towards Pershing Square and found a $5 pay lot between Hill and Olive right around the corner.
Although named California Plaza Park in the film, we recognized Bunker HIll and its shaded park benches immediately (on the corner of 4th and Olive.) The sloped sliver of green grass and broad-branched trees were a leafy oasis amid the dulled Historical section of downtown LA. Looking down, intricately adorned Art Deco buildings and brick highrises in all their faded glory blend seamlessly with squat blocks of parking garages, fast food joints and cracked asphalt-topped pay lots--forcing the eye to search them out amid the concrete sprawl.
Following our map, we peeked into the still impressive, chandelier-filled mezzanine of the Biltmore Hotel, strolled through Pershing Square to find they hosted summer concerts and outdoor films throughout the summer weeks, swung up to 3rd and Broadway to poke our noses through the glass doors of the Bradbury Building--home to both the last scene of 500 Days of Summer and the futuristic backdrop to Bladerunner and took photos of the old-Hollywood opulence of '30's movie theaters-turned-grand storefronts. All the while, taking the advice of the film's protaganist that its easy to miss the glamorous details at street level but all you need to do is look up; curvy crown moldings, fluted spires, mermaids, gargoyles and simple yet striking geometrical patterns perch discreetly along multiple building ledges and windows.
Unlike the awe-striking beauty of other metropolitan cities, L.A. makes you work hard to find its architecheral graces, which oddly made me appreciate what we spotted on our walk more. The one way streets and easy-to-avoid location makes downtown L.A. feel intimidating and not necessarily worth the drive just for a sit at a park and an aimless stroll along its boulevards, but stirred by the appreciative eyes of 500 Days of Summer, we spent an entertaining afternoon discovering an often-ignored, other side of Los Angeles that cost us half the price of our movie ticket.
More info on Downtown LA here and here
Historical Tour starting point at Pershing Square on 5th & Olive
Parking: $5 all day or cheaper at multiple lots or plentiful street parking