Give Us Back Angels Knoll, Vaux's Swifts Migration

Two of Downtown LA's biggest needs are 1. more intuitive pedestrian flow and 2. more green space. Which is why it's so damn frustrating to see Angel's Knoll, a hilly spot off 4th Street between Hill St and Olive St, sit there locked off to the public. Famous for its picturesque bench scene in 500 Days of Summer, the knoll sits next to the also-closed Angel's Flight funicular, dismantling what was once a bustling landmark and pedestrian thoroughfare. The major obstacle is that the "park" was never intended to be a park. When Bunker Hill was developed for skyscrapers in the 70s-80s, the Angel's Knoll lot was supposed to be one of them, as commissioned by the now-defunct CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency). But no one ever built on it, and people began using it as a nice place to sit and recreate, so the CRA let it idle as a pseudo-park. Though thanks to the CRA's dismantling in 2012, the parcel is now in total bureaucratic limbo: the City of LA is now responsible for its redistribution, legally has to sell it since it can't afford to buy it, and thus won't officially designate it as parkland since it can't let Rec & Parks claim ownership. To make matters worse, the adjacent staircase is now being locked up earlier than ever, making it even harder for people to get from Bunker Hill/Grand Avenue to the Historic Core/Financial District. Sure, it suffers from legal uncertainties that make it difficult. But it's incredibly disappointing that we can't enjoy a great green space that, up until recently, was actively used.     •

We're currently at the peak of perhaps the best natural phenomenon in Downtown Los Angeles: the annual migration of Vaux's swifts. Every year around early autumn, tens of thousands of the small cigar-shaped birds make their way down the West Coast towards their winter home in Mexico and Central America. For several years now, they stop in Downtown LA, nesting in a cozy brick chimney on Broadway/5th Street. Beginning as the daylight dips and lasting for an hour or two, the swifts soar across the Downtown skyline eating, mating, and communicating - it's all part of their evening routine. It's an amazing sight to see, well observed from rooftop spots like Perch and Upstairs at Ace Hotel. Even more, it's an amazing feat of nature as the birds, like many humans, find their way back Downtown.     •

Swifts swarming the chimney on Broadway/5th St at dusk (via Youtube - El Chavo)