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Bruin Guide to Secret Sights


By Michael Stone, Patty Park '91 and Maureen Brogan

Published Apr 1, 2014 8:00 AM


Michael Goldstein leads tourists and locals alike on a fascinating tour of downtown L.A. Photo by Angie Smith.

Downtown Treasures

In the nearly 470 square miles that is the city of Los Angeles, an abundance of architectural and historic treasures stand waiting to be explored. The Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve and revitalize historic buildings, places and neighborhoods throughout the city, offers walking tours that highlight different aspects of the city’s history. The Historic Downtown Walking Tour, for example, explores the area’s shifting architectural styles from the 1890s to the present.

Michael Goldstein, UCLA associate vice provost in charge of the Healthy Campus Initiative and a professor at the Fielding School of Public Health, is a volunteer docent who leads the Historic Downtown tour and other tours at least once a month.


Michael Goldstein. Photo by Angie Smith.

“Over the years, downtown Los Angeles has become more and more of a tourist destination, especially among foreign tourists,” says Goldstein, “though the majority of people taking the [conservancy] tours are locals who want to become better acquainted with their city.”

Goldstein’s tour covers a range of beloved Los Angeles landmarks, including Pershing Square, the Biltmore Hotel, the Pacific Mutual Life Building, the Central Library, the Edison Building, Angels Flight, Grand Central Market, the Million Dollar Theater and the always impressive Bradbury Building, a notable backdrop for films from the noir 1950s masterpieces as well as Blade Runner, (500) Days of Summer and The Artist. Tour enthusiasts can see Beaux Artsstyle architecture and Art Deco buildings, as well as skyscrapers from the late 20th century.

“Los Angeles is a young city. The buildings the conservancy works hard to preserve are relatively new and the laws currently protecting them are pretty weak,” confides Goldstein. That alone may be reason enough to see the city with fresh eyes, as a living museum with architectural gems that provide tangible evidence of our history and a connection to those who came before.

To join a Los Angeles Conservancy walking tour or to find resources for self-guided tours, visit

By: Maureen Brogan