I was one of the many people Brett Martin interviewed for his GQ article on Downtown LA and of all the many writers I have spoken with, he has gotten the best grasp on what is new - and unique - about the path Downtown LA has taken.
America's Next Great City Is Inside L.A.
For decades, Downtown has been the dark center of L.A.: a wasteland of half-empty office buildings and fully empty streets. But amid the glittering towers and crumbly Art Deco facades, a new generation of adventurous chefs, bartenders, loft dwellers, artists, and developers are creating a neighborhood as electrifying and gritty as New York in the '70s. Brett Martin navigates his way through the coolest new downtown in AmericaJanuary 2014
There is much, much more in the article - including some greaT quotes from Cedd Moses. And, at the end, Martin sums up what he has discovered about Downtown LA.
Downtown is still very much a series of frontiers—shifting, not fully formed, at times dangerous and self-defeating. What's left of Skid Row is still a shocking tent city reminiscent of The Wire's “Hamsterdam.” The homeless and mentally ill population that fan out from it daily are a major part of street life and a problem that won't be solved by being pushed into a smaller area or different part of the city. New entrepreneurs complain that all the hype has spurred landlords to get ahead of themselves, jacking up rents and scuttling some development before it even gets started.
None of this, says Moses, changes the inevitability of Downtown L.A., its inexorable rise.
"The fact is," he says, leaning forward and making eye contact for the first time, "Downtown is the only solution to the problem of L.A."
And that, truth be told, is when the last of my skepticism begins to dissipate, the moment I finally grasp the vision so many people have so excitedly tried to communicate: that Downtown isn't a bet on hipsterism, not on dumplings or cocktails or cool shops or food trucks. It's a bet on urbanism itself, a conviction that the past fifty years of outward, sprawling cul-de-sac development was just that: a dead end. That this is how we want to live, amidst the spark and jangle of humans pressed up against humans. Even in L.A.
There was a time, Brady Westwater says, when the ten square blocks around Spring and Fifth housed everybody you needed to know—the pioneers of moviemaking, aerospace, agriculture, the oil business, all the industries that built modern Southern California. What was past is now future, he says. “Picture a place where you can walk from MoMA to the Main Library to SoHo to Madison Square Garden to the best restaurants and bars in the world. Every single urban amenity, within walking distance. Where you walk outside and can't help but run into everybody. This is the only city that can offer that. And that's why L.A.—not Dubai or Singapore or anyplace else—that's why L.A. is going to change the world!”