Downtown has undergone some rapid changes. I’ve been in LA for nearly seven years now. Back then, DTLA seemed to me to be a dismal place. Maybe that was in large part just my perception, but nobody will deny that the gentrification bug has bitten hard. I believe there are always pros and cons to that. Now I walk around DTLA at any time of the day without worry. The homeless population has been pushed further east out of DTLA to an even smaller radius of Skid Row, and into the Inland Empire (some may see that as a pro, but as an advocate for the homeless, I see this as inhumane).
Broadway has been the subject of much of this new sparkle. New stores like Ross and Urban Outfitters have popped up, diminishing the swap meet-style of many of the shops (I’ll leave that up to you whether that is a pro or a con) and the proposed street car plan is still on the table.
This morning I came across a blog entry on ladowntownnews.com about Councilmember Jose Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway initiative. This would reduce the number of traffic lanes from six to three. Sidewalk and curb space will be extended, making this area more friendly to pedestrians. Metro will build new bus shelters and reorganize the stops.
Personally, my feelings about this are mixed. I really like the concept of giving the streets back to the people. One part of that which concerns me is that there is no mention of a bike lane. I like Broadway as a N/S way through DTLA due to its wide streets. Does this leave bikers to find another street? Are we going to have to be those jerks who bike through pedestrian-designated areas?
I am also concerned as what this is going to do in terms of historic preservation. Broadway, in my humble opinion, is one of the most beautiful corridors of LA. I’m curious what extending the sidewalks and curb space will do. If you walk down this corridor, you’ll notice that the sidewalks are not the cracked cement that line most of Los Angeles streets, instead made of beautiful, black stone. The buildings consist of art deco masterpieces from the Golden Age of DTLA. Will these sidewalks be replaced to more adequately connect to the extended curbs? How will new businesses respect these historic structures?
I am pretty excited about the reorganization of bus stops on Broadway. If I’m going from DTLA to Echo Park, or nearly anywhere on the Sunset corridor, I will catch a bus on Broadway. I often end up walking up and down for a couple blocks until I find the specific stop for my bus. There seems to be no method to the madness of the stops. Having a few centralized stops will be a good thing.
What are your thoughts on the Broadway project?
Picture of the recently reopened Ace Hotel on Broadway with the iconic “Jesus Saves” sign. Photo courtesy of lamag.com.