June 27, 2023

Photo Essay: La Venta, The 100-Year-Old Inn That Once Helped Sell the Palos Verdes Peninsula

"Temperate climate, fertile black soil, and... sea air that contains just the right amount of moisture."

That's how a 1930 issue of the Palos Verdes Homes Association's Palos Verdes Bulletin described the conditions on the hilltop where La Venta Inn now stands, overlooking Malaga Cove, in present-day Palos Verdes Estates, California.


June 24, 2023

Photo Essay: LA Gets Three New Subway Stations (And An Alphabet Soup of Train Lines)

Yes, Los Angeles has a subway. And it's growing.

The above-ground Expo Line—much of which was built along an old Pacific Electric right-of-way—became the "Subway to the Sea" when it fully opened between Culver City and Santa Monica in 2016. (It's now, however, called the E line.)

The Purple Line Extension will put a subway station about a mile and a half away from where I live sometime in the next three or four years. (The Purple Line has also been renamed the D Line but I haven't fully committed to calling the lines by their letters instead of their colors yet.)

Until then, if I want to ride the subway, I've got to make a special trip.

Last weekend, I trekked downtown just to check out three just-opened subway stations that comprise  the Metro Regional Connector project—which allows seamless transit from Long Beach to Azusa and Santa Monica to East Los Angeles along the A and E lines. 

June 21, 2023

Photo Essay: A Stone Tower Gateway to the 'Riviera of America,' Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes Estates is one of four cities that comprise the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, California. 

And at the entrance to the city on Vía Valmonte (formerly known as Vía Mirlo), there's a tower that marks its eastern border shared with the City of Torrance: the Mirlo Gate Tower, or the "Tower House."


June 20, 2023

Photo Essay: A Department Store Founder's Cliffside Summer Estate, Now The Neighborhood Church

One hundred years ago—on June 17, 1923—a real estate rally helped form what became known as the development of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, which is now comprised of four cities (Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates). 

To celebrate, a bunch of cultural institutions, landmarks, historic sites, and other local attractions threw open their doors to visitors this past weekend, as part of "Doors Open Peninsula." 

My second stop of the day turned out to be one of the best: The Neighborhood Church, located in the former Haggarty House on Paseo del Mar in PVE. 

June 19, 2023

Photo Essay: A Wellness Check on the Old Trapper's Lodge Statues, Slated for Removal from Pierce College

In 2013, I reported on a collection of statues at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, California that had been handmade by amateur sculptor John Ehn. 

A descendent of pioneers, he'd dubbed himself "The Old Trapper" (or "O.T.") and built a motel (or "lodge") in the Sun Valley neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley in 1941.

Ehn had no training besides briefly shadowing Claude Bell (of Knott's Berry Farm/Cabazon Dinosaurs fame)—but he took it upon himself to tell stories of the Old West through his art, using his family members as models to portray scenes from pioneer family life. 

"O.T." died in 1981—and his heirs sold the motel property (or, more accurately, were forced to sell it) to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority for the expansion of the airport runways. 

The statues were relocated to Pierce College in 1988. 

They were always a little bit hard to find—but now they're almost entirely hidden from view. 

June 05, 2023

Photo Essay: May Gray at UCR Botanic Garden, Riverside

May Gray has been the bane of my existence since I first discovered it on a business trip to LA in 2006, while I was still living in New York City and still thought that California was all sunshine and palm trees.
It was hard adjusting to the gloomy months of late spring and early summer when I first moved to LA in 2011—but now, after more than 12 years, I'm not just getting used to it. 

I'm embracing it. 

June 03, 2023

Photo Essay: Another LA River Bridge Tries to Unify Two Sides of the Same City

In early 2020, I was working on an article for KCET's SoCal Wanderer that brought me to Rio de Los Angeles State Park—one of three California state parks along the Los Angeles River, this one located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Cypress Park. 

It’s a project first initiated nearly 30 years ago—and, having opened in 2007, it's now become part of the Los Angeles River Revitalization plan to restore 11 miles of the LA River between Griffith Park and Downtown Los Angeles.

But three years ago, there was no easy way to get from the park, formerly part of the Taylor Yard railyard, to the other side of the river (an area known as Elysian Valley/Frogtown).

That changed last year, when the Taylor Yard car-free bridge opened up in the Glendale Narrows section of the Los Angeles River.