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Los Angeles - LA Cultural Facts


The most talked-about concert hall in decades is only one piece of L.A.'s thriving cultural life. More artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians live and work in Los Angeles than any other city at any other time in the history of civilization. Add to that over a hundred ethnic groups that are an essential part of L.A.'s character and the sense of innovation that defines Angelenos. Imagination is the number-one product, making L.A. a cultural capital of the world.


The Walt Disney Concert Hall is the new centerpiece of L.A.'s diverse musical life. The inaugural season includes the L.A. Philharmonic's interpretations of Mahler's "Resurrection," Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique," plus a Berlioz festival, all conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. The new concert hall inaugural season schedule is broad and includes series devoted to recitals, world music and jazz. www.laphil.org

During summer the L.A. Philharmonic moves to the Hollywood Bowl for outdoor concerts under the direction of John Mauceri, forming the largest outdoor music festival in the world. www.hollywoodbowl.org

The award-winning Los Angeles Master Chorale also calls Walt Disney Concert Hall home. The Chorale is lauded for its wide repertoire and this year's plans range from Duke Ellington to Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and the annual Messiah sing-along. www.lamc.org

The Los Angeles Opera opens its season with Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust." Now in its 17th season, this world-famous company has a $30 million budget. The 2003-2004 season includes "Madama Butterfly," "Orfeo ed Euridice" and "Le nozze di Figaro." www.losangelesopera.com

L.A. has more theatrical shows than any other city in the world, showing more than 1,500 theatrical productions annually. The greater L.A. area has more than 500 theatrical spaces where plays, readings, musicals and one-man shows are performed on a regular basis.

Major theaters include the Ahmanson and Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center, the Geffen Playhouse near UCLA, John Anson Ford Theatre in the Hollywood Hills, the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood (home to the Academy Awards™), East West Players downtown, Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills.

L.A. has the most "99-seat" theaters in the world. This actually means 99 seats or fewer and has come about because Actors' Equity allows their actors to work without pay in these small theaters. The result is a boon for theater lovers: dozens of plays every week.

The Mark Taper Forum at the Music Center has a world reputation for developing and producing innovative plays. It has received three Pulitzer Prizes, 18 Tony Awards and other coveted awards including the LA Drama Critics Circle awards, New York Drama Desk Awards and Drama-Logue. www.marktaperforum.com


Los Angeles boasts magnificent structures designed by the world's top architects, making L.A. a mecca for architecture fans. Heading the list of must-see buildings:

* Walt Disney Concert Hall by Frank O. Gehry
* Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels by José Raphael Moneo
* Museum of Contemporary Art by Arata Isozaki
* Getty Center by Richard Meier
* Museum of Television and Radio by Richard Meier
* Skirball Cultural Center and Museum by Moshe Safdie
* Norton Simon Museum: new expansion by Frank O. Gehry
* Japanese Pavilion at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) by Bruce Goff

Renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed nine structures in the Los Angeles area:

* Hollyhock House (1917-1920); Barnsdall Art Park, East Hollywood (closed for renovation)
* Ennis-Brown House (1924); 2607 Glendower Ave., Los Feliz (open for tours). Parts of "Blade Runner" were filmed here
* Anderton Court Building (1953-54); 328 Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
* Alice Millard House (1923); 645 Prospect Crescent, Pasadena
* Storer house (1923); 8161 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood Hills
* Freeman House (1924); 1962 Glencoe Way, Hollywood
* Sturges House (1939); 441 Skyewiay Rd., Brentwood
* Arch Oboler House (1940,1941, 1944, 1946); 32436 Mulholland Hwy., Malibu
* Pearce House (1950); 5 Bradbury Hills Rd., Bradbury

The architectural world recognizes Los Angeles as the birthplace of innovative modern domestic architecture, with homes designed by internationally revered architects such as:

* Frank Lloyd Wright
* R.M. Schindler
* Richard Neutra
* Charles and Henry Greene
* Frank O. Gehry
* Charles Moore
* Wallace Neff
* Gregory Ain
* John Lautner
* A. Quincy Jones
* Raphael S. Soriano
* Craig Ellwood
* Cliff May
* Lloyd Wright
* Bruce Goff

The tallest office building west of the Mississippi River - in fact, the tallest between Chicago and Singapore - is the U.S. Bank Tower on Fifth Street in Downtown L.A. Designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei in 1989 at a cost of $450 million, the 1,108-foot-tall structure has 76 stories. Its distinctive silhouette stands out in the downtown skyline.

The largest historical theater district listed on the National Register of Historic Places is in L.A.-on Broadway, between Third and Ninth Streets in Downtown Los Angeles. The district features nickelodeons, vaudeville houses, theaters and movie palaces.

The Pacific Design Center is affectionately dubbed the "Blue Whale" because of its dramatic bright blue exterior. At 1.2 million square feet, the West Coast's largest interior design marketplace is one of the most striking architectural complexes in the world. The equally dramatic, emerald "Green Turtle" has augmented the original center. Cesar Pelli designed both. www.pacificdesigncenter.com

The world's first circular office building, Capitol Records in Hollywood, was designed to look like a stack of 45-rpm records. Designed in 1956 by Welton Becket and Associates, it even has a stylus atop its 13 stories.

The last remaining wooden lighthouse on the entire coastline of California is in San Pedro at Point Fermin Park. Perched on the cliffside with a sweeping view of the Pacific, the Victorian structure was built in 1874 and functioned as a lighthouse until Pearl Harbor. www.lighthousefriends.com

The largest adobe building in the United States is Mission San Fernando in Mission Hills. Built in 1797 as the fourth in a string of 21 missions spread across California, this remains an active parish church. www.missiontour.org/sanfernando

Folk Art and Public Art
The largest piece of folk art created by a single person is the Watts Towers in South L.A. The self-taught Simon Rodia worked by himself for 33 years (1921-1955) to create the ornately encrusted towers (the tallest is 99 feet high). The towers consist of nine major sculptures covered in a mosaic of broken glass, seashells, pottery and tile. 213/847-4646.

The "Kustom Kultur" hot rod was born in Los Angeles, which is home to car customizing megastars such as Von Dutch, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, the Barris brothers.

L.A. is the mural capital of the world, with more than 1,500 wall paintings on storefronts, alleys and street corners. The world's longest mural (2,325 feet long, 13 feet tall) was painted on a sidewall of the Tujunga Wash flood-control reservoir in the San Fernando Valley. It celebrates the successes of L.A.'s diverse immigrant populations.

Of course L.A. has the world's longest drive-thru mural - a 236-foot stretch of the 405 Freeway between Manchester and Century boulevards on the city's Westside. The mural depicts the L.A. Marathon, held every March.

"Planet Ocean" was for many years the world's largest mural, covering 112,000 square feet of the circular exterior of the Long Beach Arena.


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