Thursday, March 31, 2016

TCMFF Sidetrips, No. 4 – Bradbury Building, Angels Flight, and More

Have a little extra time to kill in Hollywood at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), this series covers a handful of my favorite destinations. 


The Bradbury Building
304 S Broadway (corner of 3rd Street and Broadway)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Building hours: 9 am–6 pm, Mon–Fri; 9 am–5 pm, Sat and Sun

[Note: I'm basing building hours off a blog post here, posted August 2015, and it included a picture of the sign showing the hours that match the above. I missed that sign, but this should be correct.]

Angels Flight

S. Hill Street between W. 3rd and W. 4th Streets
[Notes: The railway is no longer in operation. A stairway goes up parallel to the tracks. There is a gate, but it was open when we were there at about midday on a Thursday. I don't know if they lock the gate at any particular time, but I didn't think to look. was less than helpful. That said, Angels Flight is only a block and a half away from the Bradbury, so it would be stupid not to at least walk by.]

Updated March 13, 2017 – Grand Central Market

When I did this last year, I ignored the Grand Central Market. I figured why bother with a market. Bad idea. Yes there is a market, right in the middle, but mostly there are over 30 restaurants/food stands there, featuring everything from Asian and Mexican to oddities like bratwurst curry (it was actually really good). LA locals will tell you that Grand Central Market isn't nearly as good as it used to be. They are probably right, but still, it's pretty darn good.  Given the choice between Grand Central Market and walking five or six blocks to Little Tokyo, I'd take Grand Central Market unless I really was Jonesing for Japanese food. If you're in front of the Bradbury Building standing on Broadway, Grand Central Market is just across the street, next door to the Million Dollar Theater. If you walk through Grand Central Market from Broadway, you'll come out the next block over on Hill Street, and you'll be looking at Angels Flight.

Getting there from the Festival

Metro Rail:  Take the Red Line from the Hollywood Highland toward Union Station and get off at Pershing Square. The Pershing Square Station is at the corner of W. 5th and S. Hill Streets (or close to it anyway). The streets in this part of downtown run more or less diagonal with respect to North–South/East–West, so apologies for the directions being funky. If you just want to go to Angels Flight and The Bradbury, do the following: From W. 5th and S. Hill Street, take S. Hill Street northeast (toward W. 4th St.) a block and a half, and Angels Flight is on the left. From Angels Flight, continue on Hill Street northeast another half a block. Turn right on W. 3rd Street, and the Bradbury Building is the next block at the corner of W. 3rd Street and S. Broadway. 

However, if you want more, the map below is my self-guided tour of the area with a couple of optional side trips.


Optional side trip no. 1  The Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Before you start or after you finish, you might want to go to the L.A. Millennium Biltmore Hotel since it's only a block or two from the start/finish line. From W. 5th and S. Hill Streets, go northwest up W. 5th Street one block, toward S. Olive. Go left on S. Olive, the Millennium Biltmore Hotel is about half a block down on the right. You should be able to enter the hotel on the S. Olive Street side, go through the main lobby and exit on the S. Grand Street. The Millennium Biltmore opened in 1923, and the lobby is pretty spectacular Dozens of films and TV shows have been shot there, including Chinatown, Ghostbusters, and Mad Men. From S. Grand, you can make your way back to W. 5th Street, where you started.

Start at W. 5th and S. Hill Streets, close to Pershing Square Metro Rail station. Go up S. Hill Street northeast toward W. 4th Street. Between W. 4th and W. 3rd Streets on the left side of the street is:

Stop No. 1 –  Angels Flight

Angels Flight is a narrow gauge funicular railway and has the dubious distinction of being the world's shortest railway. Angels Flight first appeared in film in the 1918 Fatty Arbuckle/Buster Keaton comedy short, Good Night, Nurse. The railway is probably best know as the backdrop of numerous Film Noir pictures in the 1940s and 1950s, including The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Criss Cross, and Kiss Me DeadlyIt opened in 1901 and operated in its original location until 1969, when it was dismantled. Angels Flight was rebuilt in its current location a block away and reopened in 1996. Since then, Angels Flight has been subject to accidents and closures. It has been closed since 2013, there currently is an effort to raise funds to reopen. Details at:

If you keep going up S. Hill Street another block and a half to the corner of S. Hill  and W. 2nd Streets, on the left you will see:

Stop No. 2 –  Second Street Tunnel

Los Angeles Times reporter, Dan Neil, describes the Second Street tunnel as "probably the most recognizable city landmark most Americans have never heard of." The tunnel has appeared in dozens of film, and numerous TV commercials, especially for cars. The tunnel is probably best know as where Vivica A. Fox and her dog narrowly escape getting blown to smithereens by aliens in Independence Day. The tunnel has also appeared in Blade Runner, Kill Bill, and a personal favorite of mine, Sneakers. For more info on the tunnel, see

From S. Hill  and W. 2nd Streets, follow W. 2nd one block to Broadway. Go right on Broadway, and another block back to W. 3rd Street. This brings you to:

Stop No. 3 –  The Bradbury Building

The Bradbury Building is best known as the home of J.F. Sebastian in the 1982 Neo-Noir Sci-Fi Classic, Blade Runner. It also appeared prominently in classic Film Noir films, D.O.A., I, The Jury, and the 1951 remake of M. Even if there was no connection to film, I'd want to go there. Built in the early 1890s at a cost of $500,000, over $13 million in today's money, the cathedral-like interior with massive skylight and ornamental wrought iron is spectacular. The lobby is open to the public at the hours listed above. You can go up to the top of the stairs leading to the second floor landings.

When we first came into the building, there was a man coming down the stairs when I snapped my first picture. I actually got a better picture of the stairs with the second shot, but the man in the blue shirt at the top of the stairs in the first picture below is a police detective with a badge and gun at his waist. I thought it was more appropriate to use that shot.

My lovely wife and I

Across street from the Bradbury
on 3rd Street is a building with this mural

Across street from the Bradbury
on Broadway is the Million Dollar Theater
Relief on Million Dollar Theater Building
Optional side trip no. 2  Little Tokyo. From the Bradbury, if you go southeast on 3rd Street about four blocks to S. Los Angeles Street, that puts you at the start of Little Tokyo. We went left on S. Los Angeles Street and took a right on 2nd Street. Another block southeast on 2nd Street, and we were in the heart of Little Tokyo. We ended up having ramen at a place called, Orochon. Located at 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street, Orochon was featured on the Food Network show, Man vs. Food, where host Adam Richman failed to finish their insanely hot ramen. I got spicy level 4, which by their standards is just starting to get hot and was about as hot as I could stand. Then, again, I'm a bit of a wuss.

Level 4 ramen from Orochon, Mmmm
Back at the Bradbury, if you go southwest on Broadway, in a couple of blocks, you'll be at:

Stop No. 4 – Broadway Theaters

On South Broadway between W. 5th and W. 6th Streets, there are the Roxie, Cameo, and Arcade theaters. Then on South Broadway between W. 6th and W. 7th Streets, there are the Los Angeles and Palace theaters. None of these are functioning theaters now, but they all have the original Art Deco facades on the front. Check out historic Downtown L.A. theaters for more info. We just went to the theaters that were on the way to where we were going, but if you poke around on this site, I'm sure you'll find others that are worth a look.

Building under renovation apparently
had hired octopus contractor

My lovely wife in front of
Cameo Theater

Arcade Building detail

Keep going on Broadway to W. 7th and go right. Go one block to S. Hill Street and this brings you to our last stop:

Stop No. 5 – Warner Brothers Office Building

At the corner of W. 7th and S. Hill Streets sits the Warner Brothers Office Building, now home to numerous jewelry stores. While the studios in Burbank cranked out motion pictures, the money men handled the finances in Downtown L.A. The building was originally the home of the Pantages Theater, which sat over 1700 people.

At the roofline, you can still see Warner Brothers inscription
If you look under the diamond, you can
still see the Warner Bros. shield
Warner Bros. Building in its heyday, circa 1938
This brings us to the end of the tour. If you head up northeast up S. Hill Street for two blocks, you're back at the Pershing Square Metro station.

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