From the founding of the city through the 1940s, downtown was the true center of Los Angeles, a lively, densely populated, exciting and sometimes dangerous place. After many quiet decades, downtown is making an incredible return. But while many of the historic buildings remain, their human context has been lost.
This downtown double feature tour, hosted by Kim Cooper, Joan Renner and Richard Schave, is meant to bring alive the old ghosts and memories that cling to the streets and structures of the historic core, and is especially recommended for downtown residents curious about their neighborhood's neglected history.
The Hotel Horrors portion is a true crime and oddities tour featuring some of the wildest, weirdest, goriest and most memorable happenings in historic hotels like the Alexandria, St. George, Barclay and Cecil. Get on the bus to see inside some of these legendary locales and find out where Night Stalker Richard Ramirez liked to stay and the hotel that saw a visit from the Skid Row Slasher, and where two traveling chocolate salesmen laughed so hard they fell backwards out a window to their deaths. You'll also explore the fiery curse that repeatedly leveled the St. George Hotel. Included are some light hearted stories to help the blood and gore go down.
The Main Street Vice portion is a social history tour celebrating the ribald, racy, raunchy old promenade where the better people simply did not travel, but kicks were had by all who did. Burlesque babes and dirty picture parlors, mummified western outlaws and old time tattoo parlors, wax museums and pawn brokers, "professors" offering sex lectures and magazine peddlers with nudie Marilyn Monroe calendars under the counter, sophisticated steak houses and nickel donut dives -- these were the pleasures and the people to be found along Main during the first half of the 20th century, a street that every Angeleno knew offered more (yet less) of what could be seen anywhere else. On this tour, we'll visit the scenes of some more unforgettable debaucheries and share stories of crime, smut, passion and commerce.
Climb aboard for a time travel journey back to the downtown that's not there anymore, and the surprising amount of gems that survive.
UPDATE: The back gate to the cemetery will be open, this means you can park off of Mission on Encinita or Claudia Ave. Last year the parking on Valley Blvd was taken up quite early on.
The Ukulady will be in attendance at the event, in full pioneer garb and singing pioneer songs. The set will begin about noon.
To sign up for this free event: First register as a user on this site, and then return to this page. Refresh the page and the signup tab will appear just to the left, above this paragraph. Click "signup" and reserve your spot. No plus-ones; each guest must register individually.
Join us for a Memorial Day celebration at Savannah Memorial Park. Established circa 1851 and recently made a California Historical Landmark (#1046), it is the oldest American cemetery in Southern California.
The City of Rosemead will host an official ceremony at 10:30am, complete with 21-gun salute and a bagpipe accompaniment. Around 12:15pm, following the city ceremony, LAVA members will gather at the main gate and at 12:30pm begin their tour of the cemetery.
Tours guides, all of whom have decades of involvement with the cemetery, will recount the trials and tribulations of the pioneer families who braved the Santa Fe Trail and the Mojave Desert to make their homes in the lowlands of the eastern San Gabriel Valley, before finding eternal rest in these hallowed grounds. You won’t want to miss this very special LAVA excursion which has become an annual tradition.
The LAHTF returns to the TCL Chinese Theatre for a comprehensive behind-the-scenes tour. Our seasoned volunteer docents will lead you on a full exploration of the theatre – from the projection booth and Grauman’s private box, to behind the screen and under the stage. Theatre historian Ed Kelsey will present the history of the theatre with vintage photos projected on the big screen. All About the TCL Chinese Theatre presents a unique opportunity to explore Sid Grauman’s masterpiece.
The TCL Chinese theatre will soon close for renovation and restoration work. Areas behind the current screen will be altered as part of the renovation. This will be your last opportunity to visit the staging areas of Sid Grauman’s signature prologues. The LAHTF is working in concert with theatre management and can report that no defining historic characteristics in the auditorium or exterior will be affected in the work that will soon take place. In fact, the TCL Chinese will re-open with state-of-the-art equipment and increased patron comfort. It will still be the best place in the world to see a movie.
Buy your tickets now at http://www.lahtf.org/. This event is sure to sell out.
The Crown City masquerades as a calm and refined retreat, where well-bred ladies glide around their perfect bungalows and everyone knows what fork to use first. But don't be fooled by appearances. Dip into the confidential files of old Pasadena and meet assassins and oddballs, kidnappers and slashers, Satanists and all manner of maniac in a delightful little tour you WON'T find recommended by the better class of people! From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination (with a visit to Sirhan Sirhan's folks' house), "Eraserhead" star Jack Nance's strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons' death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour's dozens of murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that's as fascinating as it is creepy. Passengers will tour the old Millionaire's Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall and discover why people named Judd should think twice before moving to Pasadena.
Go East, Young Crime Fiend!
For years, the devoted and demented crime historians of Esotouric have been stockpiling hideous 20th century crime tales from the east side of the Los Angeles River, and waiting for the perfect moment to spring them upon an unsuspecting world. That moment has arrived. On the EAST SIDE BABYLON tour you'll discover fascinating, little-known neighborhoods and the grim memories they hold. Come visit Boyle Heights, where the Night Stalker was captured and a mad dad ran amok. Roam the hallowed lawns of Evergreen, L.A.'s oldest cemetery and home of some memorable haunts and strange burials. Visit East Los Angeles, where a deranged radio shop employee made mince meat of his boss and bride--and you can get your hair done in a building shaped like a giant tamale. Explore the ghastly streets of Commerce, where one small neighborhood's myriad crimes will shock and surprise. Visit Montebello, for scrumptious milk and cookies at Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy washed down with a horrifying case of child murder. All this, and so much more on EAST SIDE BABYLON, Esotouric's exploration of L.A.'s most horrifying forgotten crimes.
Bungalows. Crime. Hollywood. Blondes. Vets. Smog. Death.
This was Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles, which resonated under deft and melancholy fits from his writer’s bow.
Join us as we go down the mean streets that shaped his fiction, and that in turn shaped his hard-boiled times, in a four hour tour of downtown, Hollywood and surrounding environs: The Los Angeles Athletic Club, the Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the Hotel Van Nuys, Paramount Studio’s gates, and much, much more, including a Chandler-themed gelato stop at East Hollywood cult favorite Scoops.
Through published work, private correspondence, screenplays and film adaptations, we trace Chandler’s search for meaning and his anti-hero Philip Marlowe’s struggle to not be pigeonholed or give anything less than all he has, which lead them both down the rabbit hole of isolation, depression, and drink.
A criminal and gastronomical excursion into the San Gabriel Valley, Blood & Dumplings rolls through Alhambra, Temple City, Monterey Park, Rosemead and El Monte, revealing dozens of weird, forgotten crimes and oddities from the valley's past.
Highlights include the mysterious Man from Mars Bandit, the lesbian couple whose bickering over spending cash resulted in one pumping the other full of downers until she died, the young bride who spent her wedding day buried under her parents' house, the battling neo-Nazis of El Monte, Phil Spector's spooky castle and the little bar where James Ellroy's murdered mother Jean had her last drink.
The tour includes a selection of dumplings from one of the San Gabriel Valley's best Chinese restaurants.(Vegetarian passengers, please let us know your food preference several days before we depart.) If using a gift certificate, please note that this tour has an additional $5 dumpling fee, payable in cash or check at the bus door.
"I've taken the famous 'Ghostly New Orleans' and 'Mysteries of Venice, Italy' tours and also enthusiastically enjoyed London's 'Jack the Ripper of Whitehall' tour, and I assure you none surpasses Richard Schave and Kim Cooper's Esotouric "Blood & Dumplings" bus excursion into the bizarrely memorable but rarely-visited regions of East Los Angeles. As humorous and constantly entertaining as it is thoroughly researched, this lovingly crafted 4-hour tour is essential for any tourist or long-term denizen who wishes to comprehend the many fascinating characters and their dark, odd-ball deeds which have contributed to Los Angeles' nutty history. Very comfortable, carefully prepared, weirdly funny, and unforgettable." (F.A.)
"This bus tour... has established itself as an L.A. classic." -The Los Angeles Times
The Black Dahlia murder in 1947 is the most compelling unsolved crime Los Angeles has ever known. What Jack the Ripper is to London, the Torso Killer to Cleveland, the Black Dahlia is to L.A. And yet unlike those other cases, the name Black Dahlia refers not to the killer, but to the victim. What was it about Elizabeth Short that keeps her the object of obsessive fascination by writers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, cops and readers, more than sixty years after she was slain?
The Real Black Dahlia Crime Bus Tour seeks to answer this question by intimately exploring the last weeks of Elizabeth Short's life, asking not "who killed her?" but "who was she?"
The tour takes us from the human hustle of Main Street to the serene lobby of the Biltmore (the second-to-last place she was seen alive), to the newspaper offices and the Greyhound station where she checked her bags, and concludes at the site where her bisected body was found in Leimert Park and with a little known suspect who lived nearby.
From the few personal possessions she left behind to the friends who scarcely knew her, from the mass hysteria of the investigation with its fruitless leads, wacko suspects and false confessions, the tour reveals all that's known about this enigmatic black-haired girl who reinvented herself at whim, and shows how she came to be the unfortunate symbol of her time and place.
Join us as we explore Sid Grauman’s first Los Angeles movie palace. The M$ set a new standard for the national movie palace building boom that swept the U.S. during the 1920’s. Designed by architect William Lee Woollett, the M$ is unique – a daring mixture of styles,art and colors. Described as a Spanish cathedral set in a Greek temple, the interior was a riot of rich colors, original art works and lush patron amenities. The M$ is currently closed to the public. Don’t miss this chance to see this amazing work of art.
More than any other Broadway theatre, the many glories of the M$ are faded or completely hidden from view. Ed Kelsey will highlight the history, illustrate the many interior alterations and celebrate what remains. We’ll take you behind the scenes - from the basement to the balcony - and share the hidden treasures of L.A.’s most unusual movie palace.
LAHTF Member Tour Admission: $10 – limit 2 tickets per member. Tickets are available exclusively at: www.lahtf.org
Tour capacity is limited and a sellout is likely. Act Now! Don’t miss this rare opportunity to experience a breathtaking masterwork. Sign on as a new volunteer, spend extra time inside and see even more! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Southern California 1931: Amongst the burgeoning urban sprawl built atop bulldozed orange groves and the bitter realization that you can’t eat the sunshine, recent emigré James M. Cain found a kernel of truth and his voice, which would eventually distill through his novels, ”The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Mildred Pierce” and “Double Indemnity” and subsequent film adaptations into the unique American genre: Film Noir.
How did this East Coat sophisticate go from managing editor of “The New Yorker” to populist novelist accused of writing dirty books? The tour explores Cain’s L.A. from Hollywood to Glendale and along old Route 66, and includes illuminating visits to Forest Lawn Memorial Park (a Glendale institution and site of the funeral of Mildred Pierce’s “other” daughter, Ray), the Glendale Train Station where the “Double Indemnity” murder plot played out, and the punch line to a Billy Wilder joke so subtle, it’s taken 63 years for anyone to get. The tour will also cover the artisans who transformed Cain’s tales into film, including Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner, each an important contributor to the Film Noir canon.