Posts Tagged ‘history’
Our Custom Tour Guests Wish to Go All the Way Back
Our luxury SUV is not a Delorean and we cannot travel with our private Los Angeles tour guests forward or backward in time. However, we can visit historical sites in the city and use our storytelling skills and imagination to take them back to the earliest days of our great city. Back then it was a village of 50 people begun in a land occupied by the Tongva and Chumash Indians. Father Junipero Serra (now St. Junipero) had constructed the first of 21 missions several years earlier. In 1781 the small group of settlers settled on a name, “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula” (“The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciúncula River”). That is a bit longwinded and makes it difficult to address a letter or package so the name was shortened to Los Angeles. There remains a small village feeling in this part of downtown L.A. (DTLA) here at the city’s birthplace and Olvera Street, the adjacent historic plaza with colorful booths and tasty restaurant fare. Many city celebrations of many cultures are organized in this cherished location from which so much that Los Angeles is known today really started. Considering the massive changes the city has undergone through the 20 decades or so since its inception we find it amazing and wonderful that we can bring our luxury tour guests here for a look back in time to where it all started.
The City Hall Building in Downtown Los Angeles
Familiar to Our Private Tour Guests
Downtown Los Angeles (we refer to it as DTLA) has been undergoing a significant metamorphosis in recent years as most cities do in their lifetimes. A cycle of boom growth is followed by stasis and then dereliction before a new period of redevelopment takes hold. L.A. Live in the south part of the city has rejuvenated the city as has adaptive reuse of some of the old office buildings and renovation of the Broadway theaters. Downtown Los Angeles is happening once again. The tallest building downtown before the modern era was the 32-story City Hall building. Made with concrete that used sand from each of the state’s 58 counties and water from every historic mission on El Camino Real (the Royal Roadway) the building was the highest point in the city until 1964. Even more important is the recognition the building receives from movie lovers and television watchers who have seen the impressive exterior from all angles over its entire history. Whether playing itself or substituting for the municipal center of an unnamed or different city, the filmography of Los Angeles City Hall is as impressive as the cast of characters who have run the city over the course of its relatively short history. Our private Los Angeles tour guests interested in downtown can visit City Hall and its wonderful observation deck to look over the north part of the downtown core where they can see Japan Town, Chinatown, Olvera Street and Union Station.
Did They Even Have a
Private Los Angeles Tour Back Then?
We enjoy this opportunity to look at a THEN photograph when we take so many Now photographs with our guests sightseeing on a custom Los Angeles tour with us. This corner, the very well known Hollywood and Vine intersection, is a stop we often make just down Hollywood Boulevard from the more popular block along the Walk of Fame where Grauman’s Chinese Theater catches everyone’s eye. But this corner is not without its charm, history and stories. There were streetcars back THEN rumbling up from downtown Los Angeles and then through Hollywood along Hollywood Boulevard. To the left and not pictured is the Pantages Theater, likely at this time the place where the Academy Awards were staged. Next door to the Pantages is the notorious Frolic Room. Straight ahead down Vine Street on the left is the Brown Derby restaurant popular with Hollywood newsmakers. Up the hill behind us will be the Capitol Records building in 1956. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce would not begin to place its Walk of Fame terrazo and bronze stars along these two streets until 1958. The Rexall drugstore and the streetcars are gone but there is a whole lot more here today. Hollywood has really changed over the years.
Still Our Must See Private Tour
Destination in Hollywood
At 92 years old the Hollywood Sign is a grand old dame of show biz. She had a little work done (a couple of times) and looks mahvelous (thank you Billy Crystal). The recent repainting in 2005 leaves the sign still glowing throughout the day and in the early evening. As you can see in this 1923 vintage photograph (displayed in the Elite Adventure Tours offices) there was originally nothing on the hills and slopes of Mt. Lee. Some far thinking businessmen in Los Angeles purchased the land and were selling it in parcels to prospective landowners coming to participate in the new industries of Los Angeles and Hollywood. The real estate company paid about $300,000 (in today’s money) for a large sign, illuminated in segments (HOLLY then WOOD then LAND then HOLLYWOODLAND) and as our Los Angeles private tour guests can attest, the parcels were purchased and Hollywoodland was settled. The sign was only intended to be used for a short while but with the growth of the movie business the sign soon became an iconic symbol of the film world and was left to stand, lights out, and deteriorate. Happily, efforts in 1978 that were led by Hugh Hefner rebuilt the aging billboard and the Hollywood Sign Trust now guards and preserves the sign.
Our Private Tour to Malibu Gets in Touch
with Hollywood History
Of course Hollywood sightseeing means a visit to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the studios and nightclubs and chic boutiques. But Hollywood history extends throughout Los Angeles including the 27-mile long coastal city of Malibu. This beautiful strip of southern California coast was once owned by a single person. Beginning in the 1920s she began renting out small lots to actors and filmmakers from Hollywood who would make the then lengthy drive out to the beach for weekends away from the demands of work and studios. Over the years the city advanced, the area developed, people purchased their lots and built fancier and fancier homes along the beach. There are many stories to tell about the famous players who resided and partied here in a fabulous mile-long strip of beach coined the Malibu Beach Colony. The colony remains today, though gated, but accessible along the sandy beach at low tide for our private Los Angeles tour guests to see how Hollywood-on-the-beach folks live today.
California History in Malibu for
Our Private Tour Guests
To add a little spice to a walk with our private Los Angeles tour guests at a favorite southern California beach and surf break we climbed up the promontory above the sand to enjoy the grand view of Santa Monica Bay. Atop the rock is a plaque describing the historic significance of this location. Pt. Dume is on the northwestern tip of the bay and juts out into the channel enough to create a fine surfing destination. Named in 1793 in honor of a Spanish missionary by his friend, English explorer George Vancouver, the promontory is not only an important navigation point for sailors but also for Los Angelenos driving up to Paradise Cove nearby. The promontory is recognizable as they navigate the Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu from Santa Monica. While it sounds ominous when you hear it, Pt. Dume is very much a happy and enjoyable destination for anyone visiting Los Angeles. Add Malibu to your places to see along with Hollywood and Beverly Hills on your next visit to southern California.
Hollywood’s Favorite Train Station Can
Begin Our Private Tour
Union Station is seventy-five years old and still hustling passengers back and forth to their local as well as distant destinations every day. As the largest train depot in the west it is likely the most seen by film lovers and television watchers as the Hollywood studios are regularly parking their trucks and caravans out front to film. Need a train station? Call Union Station. And this station is really ready for its closeup. It is beautiful inside and out. Stucco, tile, wood and steel create a large space for waiting and dining. The station’s significant architectural history bespeaks a “Los Angeles” style that gave the city a unique look in the 30s and 40s. The last of the Harvey House restaurants built as part of a passenger depot was here, sadly unused today. Many of our private Los Angeles tour guests arrive in L.A. by train and we can pick them up right here at the station and begin a custom luxury tour that can conclude at their hotel. Besides enjoying the station we can walk them across the main road to look at Olvera Street, the historic birthplace of the great city of Los Angeles (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula). Adjacent to Olvera Street is Chinatown which was once located right where Union Station was constructed.
Our Private Los Angeles Tour Downtown Visits Chinatown
The history of Chinatown in Los Angeles is both heartbreaking and inspiring. We find it well worth a walk through the district and and a stop at one of the outstanding bakeries for a timely snack as we talk with our private tour guests about Los Angeles in the mid-19th century when California was just becoming a state and a new Chinese population was taking root where Union Station stands today. The small population, mostly men, provided labor for building and rail projects in the booming city. Over time the group flourished but were dislocated when the great train station was constructed. It took creativity and effort by supporters in the business community to envision, finance and build a New Chinatown along Broadway just north of the city. Today this community is robust and vital, a major part of the cultural heritage of a city even more connected to China than ever before.
Our Private Tour Stops at the Traffic Island
So often completely overlooked even by our private Los Angeles tour guests with an abiding interest in the history of movies and early film communities, this sculpture on a Beverly Hills traffic island is a tribute to the early stars and residents of Beverly Hills who organized against the annexation of the city by Los Angeles. Not even 10 years after Beverly Hills was first incorporated, back in 1923, the larger nearby city of Los Angeles set its sights on acquiring the garden community principally because of its water. Were it not for the efforts of Will Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and many of their friends and neighbors the annexation might have happened. Instead Beverly Hills remained autonomous, kept its water and flourished into the beautiful city it is today. In 1959 another group of notable entertainment industry figures funded and commissioned this sculptural tribute to those early leaders of Beverly Hills.
Private Tour to Beverly Hills Number 1
The Pink Palace (or the Pink Lady depending on who you talk to) was designated Historic Landmark No. 1 by the Beverly Hills folks in charge of protecting their architectural history and culture. Of course, as anyone might guess when we bring our private Los Angeles tour guests to this photogenic corner in Beverly Hills, the Pink Palace is the Beverly Hills Hotel, a business many would consider the Number One hotel in the city. Steeped in elegant design and dedicated to guest comfort and luxury, you cannot help but feel special just entering the premises. We often enjoy lunch with our guests at the Polo Lounge, the hotel’s fine and recently remodeled restaurant and patio so favored by movie stars and entertainment industry movers and shakers. For 100 years this building has served its high class clientele and we expect that to continue for another hundred years. We hope to be there that long, too!