Photo by Annie Laskey/L.A. Conservancy

Downtown Renaissance Walking Tour

Downtown Renaissance Walking Tour

E.g., 2014-04-18
E.g., 2014-04-18
Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 10:00am Register
Saturday, May 10, 2014 - 10:00am Register

Main Street downtown was the city’s major business district in the mid-nineteenth century. By the 1880s, the hub of commerce was shifting west to Spring Street, and Main Street emerged as an entertainment district with theatres, restaurants, and hotels, several of which remain. Spring Street was the business center of Los Angeles throughout most of the twentieth century. Its concentration of banks and other financial institutions inspired its nickname, “Wall Street of the West.”

Grand terra cotta facades and gleaming marble lobbies still define the street. Recognized for its remarkable historic integrity, Spring Street from Fourth to Seventh Streets is a National Register Historic District.

In 1999, the city of Los Angeles enacted an Adaptive Reuse Ordinance that fostered the renewal of underused historic structures, resurrecting neglected landmarks and spurring downtown’s revitalization. Spring and Main Streets are once again drawing people to the area with lofts, shops, galleries, theatres, and restaurants.

Walk-ins are accepted on this tour. Please have exact change (cash or check, no credit cards) and arrive at least 15 minutes prior to tour time. Groups of 5 or more are strongly encouraged to have advance reservations. Please note that in the unlikely event the tour reaches capacity, patrons with paid reservations have priority.

If you have an informal group, like a Meet Up, and are planning on designating a tour to come to, please alert the Program Manager Annie Laskey at alaskey@laconservancy.org or 213-430-4209, so that we can have enough docents available.

Meeting Location: 400 S. Main Street (just south of 4th Street). Tour meets near the café to the right of the building’s Main Street entrance.

Parking: Various surface lots in the area. Parking is also available at Pershing Square Garage, located at Olive Street and 5th Street in downtown Los Angeles (one block south and three blocks west of the tour meeting location). $5 with validation.

Metro: Red Line to Pershing Square Station. Follow the signs to 4th Street exit. Go east on 4th Street to Main Street (3 blocks). For details, visit metro.net.

Important Policies:

  • Tour will run rain or shine
  • No refunds.  You can change your reservation date if you contact us at info@laconservancy.org at least 24 hours before your original reservation date.
  • No pets.
  • This tour not recommended for young children.
  • Strollers not recommended.
  • If a member of your party is in a wheelchair, please let us know in advance by emailing alaskey@laconservancy.org.

Sample Tour Sites (subject to change)

Photo by Annie Laskey/L.A. Conservancy

Continental Building

Known as the first skyscraper in downtown L.A., the lavishly decorated 1904 Beaux-Arts style tower remained the city's tallest office building until the late 1950s.
Photo from Conservancy archives

Banco Popular de Puerto Rico

Built in 1903 and the largest individual investment for an office building in Los Angeles at the time, the building was acquired and renovated in 1976 making it the first major step in revitalizing Spring Street.
Photo by Richard Langendorf

San Fernando Building

The 1907 San Fernando Building was developed by James B. Lankershim, one of California’s largest landholders. In 2000, the building was the first adaptive reuse housing project developed by Gilmore Associates as part of the creation of the Old Bank District.
Photo courtesy Big Orange Landmarks

Alexandria Hotel

Constructed in 1906 at the then almost unheard of cost of $2 million, the hotel then added a large addition in 1911. The addition included a beautiful banquet hall with a spectacular stained-glass ceiling, now known as the Palm Court.
Rosslyn Hotel photo
Photo by Richard Langendorf

Rosslyn Hotel

The Rosslyn Hotel (1914) and its annex (1923) across the street were designed by John Parkinson in the popular Beaux Arts style. At one time it was the largest hotel on the Pacific Coast, with 1,100 rooms and 800 baths between the two structures.
Pacific Electric Lofts
Photo by Richard Langendorf

Pacific Electric Lofts

Upon its completion in 1904, the largest office building in Los Angeles featured a waiting area with twenty-foot high beamed ceilings, tall arched windows, marble wainscoting and ornately carved mahogany furniture.