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Access Los Angeles 13e
Welcome to LA!
Los Angeles is a peerless puzzle. Unique, often maligned by New Yorkers who think of it as one big backyard barbecue area, it is a mythical city where big breaks happen every day. It's a fairy-tale metropolis of dreams, schemes, and fortunes, where hordes of wannabe stars flock by plane, train, and bus hoping to someday see their names in the proverbial "lights." Fueled by pie-in-the-sky optimism, they act out their life stories like ideas for screenplays scribbled by aspiring writers on cocktail napkins. But of course, not everybody who comes to LA wants to be in pictures; some are just chasing their own versions of the American Dream.
Why? Because Los Angeles is a city where anything can happen—and almost everything does, from the sublime to the ridiculous and the tragic. In this picture-postcard setting, snow dusts the mountaintops while sandy-haired, suntanned surfers battle the waves just a few miles away. It is here youngsters can take a fantasy trip through one of the grandest amusement parks of them all, Disneyland Resort (in neighboring Anaheim). It's where TV game-show contestants spin wheels for fortunes, or try to become survivors (auditions are held at CBS Television Studios, 6121 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, every spring; audition information is available only online at www.cbs.comonly the fittest need apply). This is a town where anything can happen, and has, from devastating earthquakes and riots to famous murders and mishaps. But it's also one that seems to weather all storms with flying colors and continues to enchant, entertain, and endure.
Part movie and entertainment capital, part social experiment, LA is a vast megalopolis where all types of lifestyles and cultures converge in a kaleidoscope of head-spinning contrasts. From cutting-edge architecture like the Walt Disney Concert Hall to fantastic food to warm sandy beaches, LA delivers. Unlike what is normally considered a "city," Los Angeles is actually composed of 9 distinct areas or neighborhoods—downtown LA, midtown LA, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West LA, Bel Air, Brentwood, and Santa Monica. To sample this City of Angels, cruise the storied boulevards—Wilshire, Sunset, Santa Monica, and Olympic—that snake like tributaries to the Pacific Ocean and its legendary beaches. Heading west on Olympic, stop for crab soup in Koreatown, and spy the Beverly Hills High School's oil rig as you approach the striking twin towers of Century City. On Sunset, pull over for a drink at the Sky Bar at Mondrian, the Key Club, or the Art Deco Tower hotel, check out the scene at comedian Dan Aykroyd's House of Blues nightclub, pick up a movie-star map for a tour of the estates of the rich and famous, or turn off at Will Rogers State Historic Park to tour the Rogers home and hike the chaparral-covered hills. You can also ponder the beasts of millennia past at the La Brea Tar Pits along Wilshire, browse through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's gallery of German Expressionism, or inspect the latest in haute couture at the exclusive boutiques on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Head over to Santa Monica, where life's a beach by day and a playground by night. Pedal, rollerblade, or skate along the strand, but don't miss a stroll on the pier or to the Third Street Promenade, with its movie theaters, trendy restaurants, and bookstores.
In addition to all that, Los Angeles boasts a thriving restaurant scene that has turned the area into a gastronomic delight as exciting new eateries blaze a culinary trail from downtown LA and beyond. For starters, there's Patina at the Walt Disney Concert Hall catering to the theater crowd. The young set flock to hot spots such as A.O.C., Sterling Steakhouse, Sona, Noe, Koi, Dolce, Dakota, boe, Tower Bar, Luna Park, Falcon, Grace, OPUS, Hollywood Roosevelt, and Tantra—where most of the action is over trendy drinks at the bar. You'll find them all ranked and listed in this guide along with the usual popular suspects such as Spago, Water Grill, Le Dôme (which has been stunningly remodeled), Morton's, and The Palm Kate Mantilini. Dining out has never been this exhilarating in LA, and it's only just begun. More cosmopolitan than ever with the emergence of a pulsating after-hours club scene, Los Angeles has blossomed into a lean-and-mean metropolis. No one can ever kick sand in its face again. (And they know whom we're talking about.)
All this before you even tackle LA's notoriously congested freeway system with its unending on-ramps and 528 miles of clogged tarmac. But burning fuel personifies the Southern California experience, so when you're ready to venture beyond the city limits, fill up your tank, grab a road map, and buckle up for a fascinating tour of the most motorized region in the world. Drive north up the coastal highway and sink your feet into the gilt-edged sands of Malibu, home of the rich and beautiful. Or, for a complete contrast to such a privileged lifestyle, head back south to Venice Beach with its New Age hippies, bikini-clad roller skaters, well-oiled bodybuilders, and chain-saw jugglers who spend their days by the sea. Wherever you go, you'll enjoy ideal weather (it's practically perfect year-round) and a few surprises along the way.
As you read through this guide you'll notice some major trends and changes. Most notably, nearly every major hotel has been honed and spit-shined to the max with multimillion-dollar renovations and improvements. Urban renewal runs rampant between Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. Long Beach has blossomed into a major player on the tourist map. On the culinary front, steak houses have burst on the scene, offering carnivores big, juicy cuts of prime meats in which to sink their canines. And for night owls, a slew of chic, trendy clubs pulsate with celebrities and young hipsters seeking after-hours fun and entertainment. Just remember that almost anything can happen here.Access Los Angeles 13e. Copyright © by Richard Saul Wurman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.