Taking a critical look at public space in Los Angeles

Broadway Glory: Future is Looking Brightly on the Past. Sidewalk Analysis

Walk with me! Here are the Youtube videos I made:

Ah Broadway! One of the first streets surveyed by the City of Los Angeles in 1849, Broadway came to develop as a prominent street that was considered the most important area in the city for theater. Home to what is now the Historic Theater District, Broadway is home to 12 movie palaces built from 1910 to about 1931. This was THE place to be in regards to movies/theater. Of course, decentralization occurred quickly with places like Hollywood opening the famed Grauman’s Egyptian Theater and Grauman’s Chinese theater in 1922 and 1927 respectively.

Nonetheless, I don’t think you’ll find such a concentration of movie palaces/theaters anywhere in the country. Let’s be thankful that damages/alterations/demolitions have been kept relatively minimal, especially with the exteriors. The vibrancy and activity is something that was lost long time ago:


Broadway sometime in the 1940s

So today, we’ll talk about the public experience while walking the sidewalks of Broadway from 2nd to 11th. We can analyze this experience using various measurements: safety, condition of sidewalks, cleanliness, aesthetics, function, and interaction of the built environment with pedestrians.

Broadway in this stretch fails almost completely. What Broadway does have, as alluded to earlier, is some very nice architecture. Here are two of my favorite buildings:

United Artists Building. Currently being renovated into the soon to be Ace Hotel

United Artists Building. Currently being renovated into the soon to be Ace Hotel

The Eastern Columbia Building. Image via

The Eastern Columbia Building. Image via

So what did I do? I walked from 2nd to 11th and back while recording my walk. You’ll get to see what the experience is like. As you’ll see the demographic appears to be mostly Latino. Stores in the areas are the “swapmeet” quality. The sidewalks are in a high level of distress. It’s not the most pleasant walk. Although the architecture is amazing, it’s mostly only seen while looking up. The street level appearance of many storefronts is very beat up. But, this should be changing soon and this is the exact reason why I chose 2nd to 11th, because as you can read all about if you follow this link:

Broadway is about to experience some SERIOUS  changes:





Some changes include a push for higher end retail, reactivation of the theaters, hotels, streetcar (approved) and most importantly for this post a road diet.

A road diet? Broadway’s car traffic lanes will be reduced and sidewalk space will be increased. The hope is to make this a more pedestrian and aesthetically pleasing area while at the same time activating much needed businesses on Broadway.

Watch the videos, tell me what you think:

and part two

and part three

finally, part 4



2 comments on “Broadway Glory: Future is Looking Brightly on the Past. Sidewalk Analysis

  1. Reed
    February 21, 2017

    I know this post is a few years old. And it’s great, you managed to cover a lot of ground and I dig the post. In the time since, the proliferation of lofts and buildings converted into condos has sped up gentrification in the area. Also, south of 8th street, more of Broadway is being carved out for mixed use as either bicycle lanes, cafe style seating (a la NYC’s Broadway), or both. Things are certainly happening!

    • oscarnmihernandez
      February 22, 2017

      Wow, completely forgot about this blog! Thanks for checking it out and replying. I think I might start posting on this again – mainly pictures though. You are right about the changes occurring, I should do another video to compare and contrast. The main reason was to document the change from the “dress rehearsal” to the permanent changes that included the wider sidewalks. So many years later and it still hasn’t happened!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: