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An insider's tour of Downtown Los Angeles

Published September 5th, 2015

Photographer and traveller Emily Malan took us on a tour of Downtown Los Angeles, now one of the city's most popular up-and-coming neighbourhoods. Here's what she had to say.

I lived in Los Angeles from 2007 to 2010 when I attended a private art university in Pasadena. Once I graduated, I decided to live in Downtown LA (DTLA) for an extra six months before moving to New York City.

I loved the energy of the area then. My friends lived on Spring and 6th and 7th, and the best bars, parties, and restaurants were all happening there.

It was the early stages of gentrification. Everybody knew each other and we all hung out.

I even had a favourite local character, a homeless man named Rickey the Pirate. I like going back to reminisce but also to see what's new and how the neighbourhood is progressing.


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The Springs

The Arts District is one of the newer micro-neighbourhoods in the area, with cute spaces like The Springs. It functions as a store, yoga studio, bike shop and cafe. They have a great back patio where you can order food from their organic juice bar and raw vegan restaurant.

Photo: Emily Malan

LA Chapter at Ace Hotel

The same people who manage and own Five Leaves in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, run the restaurant at the Ace. It's a great spot to eat brunch, people watch and hang out.

Photo: Emily Malan

Pie Hole

This arts district cafe is one of my favourites. They make a variety of pies and have great coffee. I like to order the breakfast hand pie with egg, sausage and cheese, or the Mexican chocolate pie paired with an ice coffee.

Photo: Emily Malan

Alchemy Works

This cute little boutique collaborates with brands and hosts pop-ups — most recently they worked with shoe brand Soludos.

Photo: Emily Malan

Uptown Rocker

The public artworks are different depending on where you are in DTLA. In the Arts District, you're more likely to see mural-based work, while the financial area has sculptural pieces like this one.

Photo: Emily Malan

Ulysses

You can tell how 'bougie' or 'DIY' a neighbourhood is by the public art on display.

Photo: Emily Malan

Angels Flight

The shortest railway in the world is located in the Bunker Hill neighbourhood of DTLA. When the old funicular railway was in operation, it was only 50¢ to ride!

Photo: Emily Malan

Grand Central Market

The market opened in 1917. It's filled with eclectic food stalls that include everything from Chinese to artisan cheese. Egg Slut, The Gorbals and Sticky Rice are three of my favourites for a casual bite.

Photo: Emily Malan

China Cafe

Another good spot for lunch and one of the most iconic stalls in Grand Central Market. They serve classic California Chinese American dishes. My go-to is the chop suey.

Photo: Emily Malan

Walt Disney Concert Hall

An iconic site in DTLA. It was built and designed by architect Frank Gehry.

Photo: Emily Malan

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This article originally appeared on Fathom.

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