On the southern end of downtown Los Angeles is the University Park/Exposition Park community. Filmmakers and visitors alike love the public parks, museums, colleges, cultural landmarks, historic homes and churches that can be found in these tree-lined neighborhoods.
This area is home to the University of Southern California and the famous Exposition Park Rose Garden. Not far from the Rose Garden and the wonderful museums of Exposition Park is the Los Angeles Coliseum.
To get to the start of the tour:
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Adams / Figueroa Bus Stop (DASH F)
Explore the Figueroa Corridor, and catch the DASH F, accessible from the following Downtown Metro stations: Red Line: 7th Street/Metro Center/Julian Dixon station (southwest corner of Flower Street and Wilshire Boulevard); Blue Line: Pico Metro station (Walk one block west on Pico Boulevard to Figueroa Street. CatchDASH F at the southwest corner.) Ride DASH F south on Figueroa Street, and depart at Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street.
Begin your morning at the intersection of West Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Founded in 1900 by ten auto enthusiasts, the Automobile Club of Southern California (2601 S. Figueroa St.) is a three-story Spanish Revival building that boasts a beautiful courtyard, as well as serving as the largest automobile club in the US.
At St. John's Episcopal Church (514 W. Adams Blvd.; 213/747-6285) view a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture, or for a spiritual experience attend morning mass at Saint Vincent de Paul Church (621 W. Adams Blvd.; 213/749-8950) and notice the elaborately carved stone statues of saints that grace the entrance. Built in 1924, St. Vincent’s is the second Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles to be consecrated.
North on Figueroa Street from Adams Boulevard, walk by the Stimson House (2421 S. Figueroa St.). Built in 1891, this is the only remaining example in Los Angeles County of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.
Walk back to Figueroa Street and Adams Boulevard and walk one block west on Adams Boulevard to Chester Place.
University Park is also home to Mount St. Mary’s Doheny Campus (10 Chester Place; 213/477-2500) which was once an exclusive neighborhood of late 19th and early 20th century mansions and is now a second campus for the Catholic college. A 20-acre park-like enclave between 23rd and West Adams streets, the Doheny Mansion (8 Chester Place) is a French Gothic chateau designed in 1899 by Theodore Eisen and Sumner Hunt. Closed to the public, this home is often the site of chamber music concerts and other special events. Finish your walk through Mount St. Mary’s grounds by noting some of the other historic homes of Craftsmen, Mission Revival and Shingle architectural styles.
Jefferson/Figueroa bus stop (DASH F)
Re-board DASH F at Figueroa Street and Adams Boulevard. Just before you arrive at the University of Southern California, hop off at Jefferson Boulevard. Walk west on Jefferson Boulevard one block to Royal Street.
On the northeast corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa Street, look up and notice Felix Chevrolet/Cadillac. The rooftop neon sign dates back to the original founder, William B. Felix, and his friendship with Pat Sullivan, comic book publisher of the cartoon character "Felix the Cat." Used to advertise Felix’s car dealership, the tradition carried on through the new owner during the 1960s. Still standing today, the letters in "Felix" are almost fifteen feet tall, and an example of pop and neon culture in Los Angeles.
Before you explore the University of Southern California, visit its more famous neighbor, the 80-year-old Shrine Auditorium (665 W. Jefferson Blvd.), best known for hosting such national events as the Academy Awards, Emmys and Grammy Awards. Built in 1926, this Moorish inspired building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is among one of the largest theaters in the United States seating 6,700
Located across Jefferson Boulevard is the University of Southern California (USC) (213-740-2311). Founded in 1880, USC is a world-class private university that features a variety of arts events and lectures. Guests are welcome to take a student-guided tour of USC's campus in addition to visiting campus art museums, libraries and historic buildings.
To arrive at the next set of destinations on your journey, you can travel in two ways: One, walk south across USC’s campus to Exposition Boulevard; or two, hop back on DASH F on Figueroa Street at Jefferson Boulevard. Depart the DASH at the first stop after the bus turns onto Exposition Boulevard, just past Trousdale Parkway.
As you depart the DASH, cross the street to Exposition Park. In 1872, the Southern California District Agricultural Society purchased 160 acres of land bounded by what are today Exposition Boulevard, Figueroa Street, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. In 1880, the State of California assumed possession of this area, then known as Agricultural Park, to preserve it for public use. Before being renamed Exposition Park in 1910, the area was known for agricultural expositions promoting the interests of local farmers and ranchers, a race track featuring various types of races including that of horses and desert rabbits, and gambling establishments.
Start at the Exposition Park Rose Garden (701 State Dr.; 213/765-5397) at the heart of Exposition Park, featuring 15,000 species on seven acres of land. Designated as a Los Angeles County Point of Historical Interest in 1987, the Rose Garden is one of the public gardens throughout the United States that All American Rose Selections, Inc. (AARS) donates its new, award winning rose cultivars to each year. Since 1938, this non-profit group has been dedicated to the development and introduction of exceptional roses for the American home gardener. Garden enthusiasts can view these blooms and decide whether or not to grow them in their own gardens. Stroll around the fountain at the garden's center and smell the roses before entering one of the park's three major museums.
Formerly the California Museum of Science and Industry, the new California Science Center (700 State Dr.; 323/SCI-ENCE) opened in 1998. Architects from Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership and Esherick, Homsey, Dodge & Davis (EHDD) designed the California Science Center’s main building as it looks now, blending the front of the original, brick 1912 State Exposition Building with a new structure. The Science Center offers over 100 hands-on exhibits featuring four "worlds" of science in addition to its seven-story-high IMAX Theater, screening movies in 3-D format. Learn about human inventions and innovations, the life processes of living things and more. The Science Center also features fantastic special exhibits that change all the time, so visit often to find out what's new!
Recently undergoing an extensive renovation and embarking upon a new phase, the California African American Museum (600 State Dr.; 213/744-7432) presents a vibrant story that celebrates the contributions of African Americans in art, history and culture. African American Journey West, a permanent exhibit at the museum, features art and artifacts that trace the African American experience from the shores of West Africa to the rural fields of the southern United States to the western frontier.
From the Exposition Park Campus, walk to the west end to visit the Natural History Museum.
Step back more than 65 million years to the Age of the Dinosaurs at the neighboring Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (900 Exposition Blvd.; 213/748-DINO). The museum houses more than 33 million artifacts and specimens, including the Museum's Ralph M. Parsons Insect Zoo featuring Medflies, rhinoceros beetles, tarantulas and scorpions. In the Discovery Center, children of all ages can take fossil rubbings from a realistic-looking rock wall, look at water drops under a microscope, check out "discovery boxes" or even observe live animals such as snakes, fish and lizards.
Walk along Victory Walk to N. Coliseum Drive to the LA Memorial Coliseum.
Walk by the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (3939 S. Figueroa St.; 213/748-6136), designed by prolific Los Angeles architects John and Donald B. Parkinson. The Coliseum has been home of the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, 1959 World Series, and the First and Seventh Super Bowls, as well as international soccer competitions and USC Trojan football. Today, the Coliseum is the home of USC football, family events, international soccer competitions, concerts and special events. View the Olympic Gateway at the ceremonial east entrance to the Coliseum created by world famous sculptor Robert Graham as a tribute to the 1984 Olympic Games. Composed of two bronze piers, supporting headless nude male and female figures, the sculpture is a celebration of the history of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and around the world.
Next door is the Los Angeles Sports Arena (3939 S. Figueroa St. 213/748-6136). Dedicated on July 4, 1959, the Arena has hosted the Democratic National Convention and has been home to some of Los Angeles' professional teams including the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sharks respectively.
Walk toward the southwest end of the park along Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. As you approach Menlo Avenue, see the new Exposition Park Intergenerational Community Complex (EPICC) (841 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.; 213/763-3100) . The largest recreational facility in the City of Los Angeles, the EPICC is a state of the art facility, and expected to become the premier swim training facility for Los Angeles youth in the 2004 and 2012 Summer Olympics. The EPICC site is located near the historic 1932 Olympic Swim Stadium including the original pool and a new family pool, along with a childcare center and amphitheater. The historic, Spanish Colonial Exposition Club House is being renovated for a senior center.
23rd/Figueroa (DASH F)
Walk north on Menlo Avenue to Exposition Boulevard, and turn left to Vermont Avenue. At the northeast corner of Vermont Avenue and Exposition Boulevard, re-board DASH F. Take the DASH towards Downtown Los Angeles, and depart the DASH at 23rd and Figueroa streets. Walk a few steps east on 23rd Street.
Near the corner of Figueroa and 23rd streets is the six space gallery (549 W. 23rd St.; 213/765-0248, showcasing both emerging and established artists, who create significant work that pushes boundaries.