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East of Westwood


By Mary Daily

Published Oct 1, 2008 8:10 AM

Picture: (top) UCLA Extension, 20th-century style (courtesy UCLA Extension). (bottom) The new Figueroa Courtyard location (Photo by Joyce Croker).

If you were an Angeleno in the early 20th century and you needed to get up to speed on navigation and nautical astronomy, you didn't go to the sea. You headed downtown — to UCLA Extension. And while there may not be much demand for that specialized skill today, there are plenty of best-in-class, 21st-century courses available east of Westwood.

This fall, UCLA Extension offers more than 50 classes at a new downtown campus near the site of its founding more than 90 years ago. The classes are held in 13 custom-built classrooms in leased space at the Figueroa Courtyard office project on South Figueroa and Second streets. The site has secure parking, 24-hour security, a bank branch and ready access to major freeways and public transportation.

Extension's history with downtown began in 1917. At that time, Extension served the portion of the state between Fresno and the Mexican border.

Courses were tailored to the needs of the communities served. Besides navigation and nautical astronomy, among the first classes were household art, practical salesmanship, and "moral education." An early offering for the growing film industry was "Motion Pictures: The Film as a Factor in Molding Tomorrow's Citizenry." By 1919, there were more than 1,600 students attending almost 100 classes.

Today's downtown campus provides evening and weekend courses for professional development, continuing education and personal enrichment to businesses, professionals and residents of downtown and adjacent areas. Course areas include business, education, engineering and technical management, and journalism and public relations.