Taking a critical look at public space in Los Angeles

Religion as Architecture Part 2

Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Image via

Interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
Image via

Hi hi. Welcome back. We’ll be looking at architecture as public art again. As with last time, I mostly focus on places of worship. Make sure to check out part one. So this time, I decided to walk from Lincoln Heights (one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods outside of Downtown) and walk towards Downtown Los Angeles mainly using Broadway. If you’re interest, here is my route:

1) Church of the Epiphany, 1886

So this is a pretty interesting church, mostly because of its age but also because it has quite a large addition to it. The original building was built in 1886. Looking at the building now, it doesn’t look like it’s holding up too well. Although, it does look as if they might be working it. The larger addition was built in the 1910s and is still currently being used as a church. I went in there and it was pretty stunning in its simplicity. I tried to take some pictures, but there was a service going on. Is it rude to take pictures during service?

Follow this link, for a brief history. leased


epiphany lapl 1910

Here we can see the original building with the addition. This picture was taken soon after the completion of the addition. Image via LAPL


Church’s interior is pretty. Image via church’s website.

This area is one of Los Angeles’ suburbs. There are quite a few Victorian style homes in the area:

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2) Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1893

This one stole my heart. I had previously seen pictures of it but for some reason, pictures don’t do it justice. The red brick color really pops out at you and it seems somewhat bigger in person than in pictures. I was surprised to see that originally, the building had a spire on the tower. Wonder what happened there?

Image via Church as it looked by the turn of the century I imagine.

Image via Church as it looked by the turn of the century I imagine.

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Federal Bank Building

This building caught my eye for several reasons. First being the domed top. Somewhat of a rarity in Los Angeles, I was intrigued by the rotunda. This Italian Renaissance building was built in 1910. Looks pretty well preserved. Of course, the most intriguing aspect is that this historic beautiful building is now home to the cheap, although fairly good, fast food chain El Pollo Loco.

Image via Picture looks to be circa 1920s

Image via Picture looks to be circa 1920s

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Buena Vista Bridge (Broadway Bridge)

Los Angeles has never been known for her bridges, but I’ve always been a fan of the historic bridges in the area. Maybe I’ll do a post of Los Angeles bridges.

Bridge as it looked circa 1924. Image via kvet,org

Bridge as it looked circa 1924. Image via kvet,org

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Downtown skyline view from the bridge. In the foreground is LA Historic State Park, soon to be remodeled. I should do a post on it before it changes.

3) Xuan Wu San Charity, ????

Not too sure about this here small temple. It’s right at the border of Chinatown. Very neat.



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Chinatown Central Plaza.

I’ve always been a fan of this place. Great baked goods, a wishing well, and at night the neon lights look pretty awesome.


4) St. Anthony Croatian Catholic Church, 1910

So this place really stands out. In the hills of Chinatown, you’ll come across this church. I wish they would have kept the original facade of the building.

Circa early 1900s. Image via church's Facebook page

Circa early 1900s. Image via church’s Facebook page

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5) Thien Hua Temple, 2005

Not too far from the Croatian Catholic Church, you’ll come across this temple. This seems a bit more expected in Chinatown. Really nice looking temple, and it appears to be a fairly large size. I believe this is a Taoist temple. This is a fairly new building. Maybe within the last 10 years. I can’t recall what use to be here, but I think it was an adapted Christian church.

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6) La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles, 1861

Of course, the mother of all churches in Los Angeles. Outside of the Mission in San Fernando, this has to be the oldest church in Los Angeles. Originally built in the first half of the 1800s, it was destroyed and built up a few times before becoming the permanent structure you see now. You’ll notice that the older building had a tower while the contemporary building has a mission influenced campanario (bell wall).

Circa 1896

Late 1800s

Church about 1880

Church about 1880

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7) La Plaza United Methodist Church, 1926

I wish I would have taken more pictures of this one. Situated right there in the Placita Olvera, it is provides some nice architectural backdrop while hanging out in the plaza.

Church in about 1935 Image via LAPL

Church in about 1935 Image via LAPL


8) Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 2002

This post-modern monument to a higher power is why I really enjoy “religious architecture.” The building goes beyond simple function but also serves as a communicative tool. This church sits on an expansive plaza – well kept and neatly designed. The interior feels large, cold, and cavernous. The right amount of light leaks through, creating a solemn and ceremonial ambient. This one is worth popping your head in for non-religious reasons. They have some nice artwork, a 500 year old reredos (altarpiece), and some nifty lighting. One criticism, it closes itself off to the sidewalk in an ugly fortress manner.

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Image via

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Well that’s it. I actually had more churches/temples to visit, but it took longer than expected. I’ll be heading out for the rest later on this week. Expect me to hit Little Tokyo and beyond next. Let me know what you think.



2 comments on “Religion as Architecture Part 2

  1. CitraGran Cibubur
    August 14, 2013

    Reblogged this on CitraGran Cibubur.

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