Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Esotouric to offer a tour of L.A.'s secret history

Esotouric Reveals The Downtown L.A. Secrets Most Natives Don't Know

WHAT: Esotouric presents "The Lowdown on Downtown: The Secret History of Los Angeles" urban history bus and walking tour, part of the four-tour February Reyner Banham Loves LA architecture and urbanism series

WHEN: Saturday, February 27, 11am-3:00pm

COST: $58, or save $47 on all four February architecture tours with a Banham Bundle

WHERE: Departs from Philippe the Original, 1001 N. Alameda Street

INFO: or call 323-223-2767

"Dorothy Parker once described Los Angeles as 72 suburbs in search of a city. Thanks to [Esotouric's Richard] Schave and his friends that mayfinally be changing." ­ Michael Benedict, Toronto Star

It seems like the whole world is interested in Downtown L.A. the Germans have commissioned a neighborhood travel guide, Eli Broad is weighing parking lots to put museums in, and folks from the Westside have even been spotted sipping cocktails at the Edison. But many natives still have trouble understanding how Downtown works and how it got that way. That's why Esotouric, the eclectic bus adventure company whose tours revea lthe secret history of L.A. through crime, culture and literature, is offering Richard Schave's THE LOWDOWN ON DOWNTOWN: THE SECRET HISTORY OF LOS ANGELES, a provocative tour in the "Reyner Banham Loves L.A." architecture and urbanism series.

The tour exists to put the old ghosts and memories that cling to the historic core into context, and provide natives and visitors with the tools to understand this most fascinating neighborhood.

Esotouric is uniquely suited to explain Downtown. The husband-and-wife team of Richard Schave and Kim Cooper were named purveyors of the Best Downtown Tours by the Downtown News and are the creators of three "time travel blogs"exploring lost L.A. lore (On Bunker Hill, In SRO Land and 1947project).

Richard Schave's most recent TV appearance was as the Downtown expert on the History Channel's "Cities of the Underworld," guiding host Don Wildman through the prohibition-era tunnels beneath the old King Edward Saloon, and he recently lectured on urban L.A. at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.

THE LOWDOWN ON DOWNTOWN is a guided social history of the mysterious, complex and rapidly evolving center of L.A., a thriving neighborhood that was intentionally depopulated in the 1950s and is currently experiencing an extraordinary rebirth. Everyone complains L.A. lacks a center this tour explains why. Passengers will visit exquisite architectural gems, including some seldom seen by the general public, but they'll also enjoy a sophisticated analysis of the economic and social tools used to rebuild downtown, learn how gentrification sprung up on the city's meanest streets with all the conflicts that go along with a community's socio-economic shift, meet creative residents and explore unique destinations.

Featured locations include the intentionally depopulated Bunker Hill and its Angels Flight funicular railway, Grand Central Market, the concrete design disaster Pershing Square (with its tribute to novelist John Fante), European-style dining alley St. Vincent's Court, the lyrical glass-topped Mercantile Arcade Building (an exact replica of a London landmark). Then there's guest host Terry Ellsworth's insider's tour of the Arts District, including a visit to featured artist David L. Caldwell's astonishing live/work space, a multimedia environment that will amaze and inspire.

Promoter TERRY ELLSWORTH has been a seminal Arts District figure for decades, curating the underground Bedlam space, hosting exhibitions at Bloom's General Store and presenting original film programs.

For a sneak peak of sculptor and installation artist DAVID L. CALDWELL's remarkable loft environment and his artwork, visit him online at

So climb aboard THE LOWDOWN ON DOWNTOWN tour and explore one of America's most fascinating neighborhoods with the tour company Lonely Planet calls "hip, offbeat, insightful and entertaining."

Upcoming Esotouric bus tour and special event schedule
Sat January 30 - East Side Babylon crime bus tour
Sun Feb 7 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: South LA
Sat Feb 13 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: Route 66
Thurs Feb 18 ­ Jeremy Kasten presents "Spider Baby" with director Jack Hill
Sat Feb 20 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The New Chinatowns
Sun Feb 21 - Joan Renner lecture "How the 'Bob' Changed History"
Sat Feb 27 - Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: The Lowdown on Downtown-The Secret History of LA
Sat March 6 - Hotel Horrors & Main Street Vice crime bus tour
Sat March 13 - Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles
Sat March 20 - Maja's Mysteries: Rapture & Release (debut)
Sat March 27 - Raymond Chandler's Bay City
Sat April 3 ­ Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits' L.A.
Sat April 10 ­ John Buntin's L.A. Noir
Sat April 24 ­ Haunts of a Dirty Old Man: Charles Bukowski's L.A.
Sat May 1 - Pasadena Confidential crime bus tour with Crimebo the Clown
Sat May 8 - Blood & Dumplings crime bus tour
Sat May 15 - The Real Black Dahlia crime bus tour
Sat May 22 - The Birth of Noir: James M. Cain's So. Cal Nightmare

For more info on Esotouric, please visit

For a review of a previous edition of this tour, see Michael Benedict's Toronto Star article:

For more on Reyner Banham, see

And the BBC documentary "Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles"

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