Our Favorite Historical Places in LA
The LA we know and love today has evolved from vast land and simple farms – yes, Rodeo Drive was a lima bean farm – to a major vacation destination and home to close to 4 million people. While many things have changed over the years, you can still see the history of LA throughout many different areas. From homes to monuments to theaters and certain famous streets dedicated to our favorite stars, you can discover LA by looking to the past to see it’s awesome present. Below are some of our favorite places that blend the past to the present and make us appreciate this great city even more.
El Pueblo De Los Angeles National Monument
A historic district located in the oldest part of Los Angeles, El Pueblo De Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by families who came from the Gulf of California and established a pueblo that eventually became the city of Los Angeles. Who knew that this early community of 44 people would become a city of of over 3 million people over 200 years later? Now the original pueblo is a historic park of abut 44 acres. This park includes the city’s oldest structures as well as Avila Adobe which is Los Angeles’ oldest surviving residence. Popular sites of this area are the plaza, La Placita Church, Olvera Street, the old Plaza firehouse as well as many other historic sites. You can get lost in the history of Los Angeles here. You can visit Olvera Street and many other great sites by choosing the downtown option when you Build Your Own Tour with us.
The Miracle Mile
Originally a dirt road with barley fields and oil wells on either side, the Mile was purchased by developer A.W. Ross, who wanted to develop the land into retail shopping and called it Wilshire Boulevard Center. Given that this was 1921, cars were not the usual mode of transportation and the trains didn’t go as far as this area so many of Ross’ usual investors and friends laughed at him and would not give him any money to develop the area. Ross had vision, though, and he believed that the personal motorcar, which was gaining popularity, would change how and where people shopped… and he was right. While it turned into a major shopping destination, as usual with the advancement of motor cars and the creation of mega malls, the Miracle Mile did go into disrepair. It was revamped, however, and is now known as LA’s “Museum Row” . You can find some fun and interesting museums such as The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, The Peterson Automotive Museum and the Craft and Folk Art Museum along what used to be this dirt path in Los Angeles. Like everything else the Miracle mile is weaved into the great history of Los Angeles and is a wonderful place to visit. Check out the Miracle Mile on any of our fun tours of Los Angeles!
Known as one of the most celebrated homes in the world, Pickfair (named by the press) was built for silent film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Originally a hunting cabin, Fairbanks purchased the house for Pickford in 1919 and they enlisted architect Wallace Neff to create a mock tudor style mansion that had 4 stories, 25 rooms and included stables, servants quarters, tennis courts, a large guest wing, and garages. Pickfair became the “it” place for celebrities to gather. If you were at Pickfair it meant you were a part of the in crowd. Legendary guests included Charlie Chaplin (who was Fairbanks’ best friend and lived next door), the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Greta Garbo, George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H.G. Wells, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joan Crawford, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Pearl S. Buck, Charles Lindbergh, Max Reinhardt, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Edison, Lillian Gish, Gloria Swanson, the Duke and Duchess of Alba, the King and Queen of Siam and many more. After Pickford and Fairbanks divorced in 1936, she lived there with her 3rd husband until her death. The home was eventually sold to Pia Zamora and her first husband who ended up demolishing most of the home. This was met with public outrage and she said it was because the house was filled with termites. It was later revealed that a laughing ghost of a woman kept appearing to Zadora and her children and that is why they tore it down. The only remaining artifacts from the original Pickfair are the gates to the estate, the kidney-shaped pool and pool house, remnants of the living room, as well as the two-bedroom guest wing that played host to visiting royalty and notable film celebrities for over half a century. It was sold to a businessman for over $17 million in the mid 2000’s. You can see this house on our All of LA In a Day tour when you go see the beautiful mansions.
The Walk of Fame
In Hollywood, stars are everywhere and the Walk of Fame is definitely a blend of the new with the old. In fact, only in Hollywood you can see stars by looking up and by looking down. Of course, we are talking about The Hollywood Walk of Fame. No doubt about it, one of the most iconic things about Hollywood is the historic Walk of Fame – where you can literally walk all over your favorite stars. Running 1.3 miles East to West on Hollywood Boulevard, the walk consists of over 2,500 five pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded along the sidewalk. The Hollywood Walk of Fame attracts 10 million visitors annually. Some of our favorite actors, directors, producers, musicians & performers have the opportunity to be nominated for a star in 5 different categories – Motion Picture, Television, Recording, Radio and Theatre/Live Performance. A celebrity can have a star in all of these categories. The only person, to date, to receive all 5 is the incomparable singing cowboy Gene Autry. Check out our Hollywood Experience tour OR our group tours to see this famous street.
The Pantages Theatre
The Pantages Theater in Hollywood is one of the most iconic theaters on the West Coast. A Los Angeles Landmark, the Pantages Hollywood opened its doors in 1930. It was the last theater built by Alexander Pantages, a famous Vaudville producer and financier who built his empire on building theaters that showed both film and live productions. This beautiful and historic art deco building sits on Hollywood & Vine and is one of LA’s leading venues for live theater. In the early days of motion pictures, the Pantages was a movie theatre as well, but closed its doors in the 70’s and re-opened to focus on live theatre productions only. Many productions and concerts have found a home at the Pantages Hollywood including Disney’s The Lion King, Wicked, Westside Story, The Phantom of the Opera, The Book of Mormon, and many others.
The architecture of the Pantages is incredible. While its stone façade on the outside is a little plain, it is anything but on the inside with its vaulted lobby and grand staircase that are a pleasure to behold. While it was redone in the year 2000, you still enter the Pantages and feel like you are in old Hollywood. And you almost expect one of the long ago stars to meet you at the entrance. It truly is a magical place to see a show. If you are headed to Hollywood on any of our tours, you can see this landmark still standing proud!
Come discover all of Los Angeles and so much more on a tour with us! All of our tours are private and fully customizable and our vehicles are very comfortable. Our fun, friendly and knowledgable guides will show you LA in a way you will never forget! Call us today to book and see all of the amazing sites of Los Angeles!We have had a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor since 2011 and all of our tours are completely private, custom tours with just you and your family — like your friend in LA taking you around town.
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