Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tourists In Our Own Hometown

A couple of weeks ago the girls' cousin sent a flat version of herself to us for a school project. Our assignment was to take photos of this Flat Kid in 6-10 different places in our community showing important things about our town, our geography, our weather, our major landforms, etc. Now the actual city of our mailing address has not much of interest in any of these areas but since we live in the Los Angeles area there's plenty of places we decided to visit.

We began our adventures with Flat Skye by taking the bus and the subway to downtown Los Angeles. None of us had ever been on the newer bus line in our area and it was only the 2nd or 3rd time that we'd ever ridden on the subway! Once we got downtown, we started off on our adventures with some photos at Union Station.
Across the street from Union Station is Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historial Monument, which is the known as the birthplace of Los Angeles. Today it's a busy marketplace and home to 27 historic buildings including Avila Adobe which built around 1818 and is the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. Neither Emily or Hannah had ever been to Olvera Street before.

After spending some time exploring and shopping on Olvera Street, we wandered across the street to Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles which was founded in September of 1781. The first Spanish governor of Las Californias recommended that this be developed into a small agricultural town so it never became one of the actual California Missions. However, a chapel on the grounds was the only Roman Catholic church in the Pueblo de Los Angeles for years.
A short walk away is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels which is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles today. The new cathedral opened in 2002 and was built as a replacement for the older cathedral which had been damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. We did take some photos of the cathedral with Flat Skye but I also had to snap a few of the girls as they played in the children's garden!
We had walked by the front of City Hall earlier but there didn't seem to be a good place to get a picture so we were delighted when we saw the view from near the Los Angeles Music Center. The City Hall was completed in 1928 and was the tallest building in Los Angeles until 1964. The concrete in the tower was made with sand from each of California's 58 counties and water from California's 21 historical missions.
Just down the street from where we took our photo of City Hall is the Los Angeles Music Center which includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall which opened in 2003. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale and architecturally is a very interestig building. The girls wanted to go inside and I didn't realize until we got home that we probably could have since they give tours of the concert hall when there isn't a show going on.
There were lots of other sites we could have seen in the downtown area but we headed back to the subway and on to Hollywood for our next adventure with Flat Skye. Our first stop in Hollywood was the famous corner of Hollywood & Vine where we had to pose to get a picture of the Capitol Records building. This building was the world's first round office building and is home to a few recording studios. There's a blinking light on top of the tower that spells out "Hollywood" in Morse Code ever since the building opened in 1965.
You can't visit Hollywood Blvd. without looking at all the stars on the Walk of Fame and we had to take some time to do just that. We wanted to find the perfect star for Flat Skye to pose with. Since Hannah didn't recognize any of the names on the stars as we passed, Paul recommended that we pose her with Harry Carey, Jr. Now this isn't the famous Chicago baseball announcer, Harry Caray, but this was Harry Carey was an actor in western movies and TV shows. Hollywood Blvd was really crowded or Flat Skye might have posed with more "stars" like Mickey Mouse or The Beatles or Snow White or my favorites, The Osmonds. We really thought about The Osmonds because Emily, Hannah & I actually went to the ceremony when The Osmonds got their star!
One of the most famous landmarks in Hollywood is Grauman's Chinese Theatre. It's probably the most famous movie theatre in the world. In the 1930s and 1940s it was often the theatre where movies were premiered and even today there are still premieres held here. Also, in the 1940s Grauman's Chinese Theatre was where the Academy Awards were held and it's been in many movies or TV shows. Movie stars often left their hand and footprints in cement in front of the theatre. So, with all this history, Flat Skye just had to visit the Chinese Theatre and check out the building and the hand and footprints herself! We didn't get a super great picture of the front of the theatre because Hollywood Blvd. was packed and there was no way to do it.
After visiting the Chinese Theatre we headed over to Hollywood & Highland. This is one of the newer shopping areas on Hollywood Blvd. and is home to the Kodak Theatre which is where the Academy Awards are handed out and where the American Idol finals are held. We didn't do any shopping but we had heard that the Hollywood & Highland center was a good place to get a picture of the Hollywood sign and you can't take a trip to Hollywood without getting a picture of the sign! Since we were able to accomplish that, Flat Skye can truly say that she's been to Hollywood. The Hollywood sign was created in 1923 as an advertisement for a housing development in the Hollywood Hills and it originally said Hollywoodland and today it's one of the most famous landmarks in Hollywood. On a technical note, this was one of the hardest shots of the day to get because of the lighting. If the Hollywood sign was exposed properly Paul and the girls were in shadows and if they people were exposed correctly the Hollywood sign was unreadable.
Hollywood Blvd. is also home to many movie theatres including the El Capitan Theatre which opened in 1926 and was known as "Hollywood's First Home of Spoken Drama". Today this theatre is an exclusive first run theatre for Walt Disney pictures and also hosts live stage shows and othe special events. And Hollywood Blvd. also is popular in television and is the home of the theatre where the Jimmy Kimmel Show is taped. On our way out of the Hollywood & Highland shopping center, we just had to take a photo of both the El Capitan Theatre and the theatre where the Jimmy Kimmel show is taped.

We then got back on the subway and headed up to Universal City. Universal City is home to Universal Studios, which is still a real working move and TV studio and also an amusement park and a concert venue, and it's home to Universal City Walk which is a fun and colorful shopping and dining area. Flat Skye got the chance to pose on a red carpet leading into Universal Studios and to get a little damp in front of the Universal globe.

After the photo ops at the studio, we headed to CityWalk to have some dinner and do a little shopping - who can resist the World's Greatest Sock Store? Not Emily & Hannah!

Day two of Flat Skye's adventures, found us heading to the Santa Monica pier because you can't visit the Los Angeles area without going to the beach! The Santa Monica pier is a fun place to hang out with the beach, restaurants, an aquarium and even an amusement park! Flat Skye had fun trying out a boogie board on the beach and checking out all the rides at Pacific Park even though it was overcast and somewhat drizzly most of the day.

After a full day of fun and rides, we headed back to the Valley via one of the canyon roads and stopped at Top of Topanga Overlook to show Flat Skye a view of the San Fernando Valley. This is an interesting little park and it's fun to look at the picture that they have there of the same view in 1937 when the San Fernando Valley was almost completely farm land. Amazingly we had never stopped here to check out the view.
Hannah's class took a field trip out to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library this year and she wanted to show Flat Skye some of what she saw there. We got out there late so we didn't go inside but Hannah had fun showing Flat Skye the entrance to the library with a bronze statue of President Reagan, a piece of the Berlin Wall and the public memorial to President Reagan. Paul's company had a party at the Reagan Library and he was planning to take a picture of Flat Skye in front of Air Force One but his camera batteries died before he could do that.

In California, every 4th grade student learns about the missions of California and usually they have to do a report and build a model of a mission. When Hannah was in 4th grade, she did her report and model on the Santa Barbara Mission but since that's not in the Los Angeles area, we decided to show Flat Skye the Mission San Fernando Rey de España which is located in the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Mission was the 17th of 21 missions and was founded in 1797.

We certainly had fun showing Flat Skye some of the local sites and we saw some things we hadn't seen before or hadn't seen in years!

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