We eat at Grand Central Market - a lot. It's a bustling microcosm of Los Angeles food culture, evolving to meet the yearns of a more culinary-conscious visitor base willing to meet higher price points, much like the rest of Downtown LA. Though even as it teems with tourists and its prices rise, there remains a determined sense of community. Earlier today as a woman approached Madcapra, the irresistibly good falafel spot, owners Sarah & Sara immediately hurried away from the kitchen and over to the front counter, ready with apologies before she could even order - the loyal patron's favorite dish had been taken off their new menu and they didn't want to let her down. On the other side of the market, even a short line can sometimes take a while at La Tostaderia, as owner Sandra prioritizes making new friends just as much as preparing delicious ceviches and tostadas. Even as more folks flock to GCM, we hope its heart continues to lead it forward.
Efforts to redo Pershing Square, Downtown LA's original central park, took a leap forward last week as the City of Los Angeles agreed to form a public-private partnership for the park's future. Called Pershing Square Renew, it means that the very little money the LA Dept of Rec and Parks has can be supplemented with private sector funds to launch an international design competition, pick a winner, build those plans out, and operate an essentially new park. It's a big win - most people around here agree that what we currently have isn't adequate. Calling in architects and designers worldwide to imagine a new Pershing Square should bring some forward-thinking ideas to the table. But in a world of "starchitects" and futurist design, it may be most helpful to look back at Pershing Square's lush, vibrant, simple past than towards a shiny over-designed future.
Pershing Square in 1890, then called Sixth Street Park, and circa 1940s.
By the 1950's, it began attracting an underground crowd fueled by lewdness and lust, which we explore deeper in Issue 1 of Get Down Town.