Video Interlude: Take a Sped-Up Ride on the Gold Line Extension From Pasadena All the Way to Azusa

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The tracks for the Gold Line extension from Pasadena to Azusa are now laid and the 11.5-mile leg of the line is now 80 percent complete. This super-sped-up video covers what's expected to be a 17-minute ride in just six minutes, but it slows down at all the stations long enough for viewers to get a glimpse of what those will look like. (Also, 17 minutes to get from Azusa to Pasadena is the magical dream of anyone who's ever driven the 210 Freeway at rush hour, so that's going to be amazing.) The line's scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.

· Travel Along the Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa in Just 6 Minutes! [YouTube]
· See the First Train Move Along the Gold Line Extension's Tracks [Curbed LA]
· See How They Made the Tracks on the Gold Line Extension [Curbed LA]

Curbed Comparisons: What $2,250 Can Rent You in Los Angeles Right Now

Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, where we explore what you can rent or buy for a certain dollar amount in various LA 'hoods. Is one man's studio another man's townhouse? Let's find out! Our friends at Zumper have helped us out with five listings within $100 of today's price: $2,250.

WARNING: put on some sunglasses before looking at the listing photos of this two-bedroom apartment in Montecito Heights because there is a lot of white paint—blindingly bright white paint. The spacious unit measures more than 1,000 square feet and sits on the top floor of its complex. Within its walls are central air and heat, a washer and dryer, and a dishwasher. The eventual tenant in this unit will also receive two assigned spaces, have access to the gym, spa, and pool within the complex, and receive basic cable (included in the rent). Is this heaven? Is that why things are so bright? Rent is $2,150.

There's no square footage in the listing for this two-bedroom in Hollywood, but it sure does look spacious. Each room appears to have its own heating unit, and there's supposed to be at least one ceiling fan, so right there, heating and cooling is taken care of. Just up the street from the infamous "Rock 'n' Roll Ralphs," the building offers on-site laundry and, to sweeten the deal, two side-by-side parking spaces. Rent is $2,200.

Ok, so these photos aren't the best, but this one-bedroom is in a nicely amenitized building (yoga room, gym, sauna, pool) in the rapidly developing section of Westlake near the Good Samaritan Hospital (and not far from the future site of a giant mixed-use project). The 890-square-foot end unit also comes stocked with stainless steel appliances and rent includes two parking spaces. It costs $2,350.

Coming in at 1,000 square feet, this roomy one-bedroom in the Cahuenga Pass offers a balcony, plantation shutters, built-ins all over the place, a parking space, and zero common walls with neighbors. The building's facilities include two pools, tennis courts, a "clubhouse," and a gym. It's also dog-friendly and not far from hiking opportunities. Endless activity possibilities! Rent is $2,149.

There are a lot of clothes and furniture and Asian-inspired decor elements crammed into this 720-square-foot one bedroom in the "ultra sexy Rob Clark building," but, under it all, this apartment is pretty cool. It's got a classy location, right on the border between Beverly Hills and Beverly Grove, plus in-unit laundry, a gas fireplace, and a view directly into a grouping of privacy-affording trees. Rent is $2,350.

Curbed Cup 2014: Curbed Cup Round 1: Arts District (3) vs. Skid Row (14)

Here it is: the 2014 Curbed Cup race for the Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Year. Round one of our tournament features 16 'hoods vying for the coveted golden jpeg—we'll have two matchups every day through Thursday, then take a look at our tournament bracket on Friday. Voting for each poll ends 24 hours after opening (and will be watched closely for any shenanigans). Let the neighborhood on neighborhood carnage begin!

What didn't happen in the Arts District this year? A plan for Metro rail stops, a Vincent-Gallo-fueled turf war, the opening of the only new for-sale units in Downtown, a wellness megaplex, a barcade, a dog park crisis and happy resolution, the announcement of a huge arts complex and an open-air mall, adaptive reuse, new development, the opening of the gamechangingly enormous One Santa Fe mixed-user (with bonus starchitecture!), new zoning rules that could drive even more action in the neighborhood, groundbreaking on its first park, and, finally, complaints from the gentrifiers that the neighborhood is being over-gentrified. Never change, AD (by which we mean keep changing and changing).

The Arts District's neighbor, Skid Row, isn't quite the success story, but it's got more ambition than just about any other neighborhood in LA. Like the AD, Skid Row saw a Michael Maltzan building open this year (supportive housing called the Star Apartments), plus a greening program that employs locals, a new mural that is on its way to becoming an icon of the neighborhood, a movement to make aesthetic improvements, and a new commitment from the city for cleaning and bathroom services. Now the open question on SR is whether it can improve on its own terms before Downtown gentrification swallows it whole.

Rent Check: Ninth Floor Loft in the Eastern Columbia Renting for $2,450

Downtown's most eye-catching building, the Eastern Columbia was erected in 1930 as headquarters of the Eastern Outfitting Company and the Columbia Outfitting Company, furniture and clothing stores. The thirteen-story, turquoise terra cotta landmark is now home to stylish Swedish apparel company Acne Studios' 5,000-square-foot boutique, as well as 140 condos, one of which has just popped up for lease on Craigslist. Per the ad, the available unit is on the ninth floor "and faces the historic Orpheum Theater," i.e. Broadway. Measuring 940 square feet, the pet-friendly loft is a fairly blank and bland slate of stainless steel appliances, black granite counters, and polished concrete floors. However, with the $2,450/month rent comes access to the building's lovely rooftop pool deck and fitness studio, as well as "one secure parking spot and a bike rack."

· $2450 / 1br - 940ft2 - Live in the most beautiful bldg in downtown LA [Craigslist]

Curbed Cup 2014: Curbed Cup Round 1: Bunker Hill (6) vs. Inglewood (11)

Here it is: the 2014 Curbed Cup race for the Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Year. Round one of our tournament features 16 'hoods vying for the coveted golden jpeg—we'll have two matchups every day through Thursday, then take a look at our tournament bracket on Friday. Voting for each poll ends 24 hours after opening (and will be watched closely for any shenanigans). Let the neighborhood on neighborhood carnage begin!

This year marked the beginning of Bunker Hill: After Dark. The officey 'hood got its first luxury apartments in the wildly expensive The Emerson, which was also the first building to go up as part of the long-gestating Grand Avenue Project. Speaking of the GAP, it got back on track with new and superior plans from Frank Gehry. Meanwhile, The Broad museum announced an opening date and Metro announced the Regional Connector, which started construction this year, will have a bridge and elevator to take riders up to Bunker Hill, and furthermore that the line won't disrupt the music at Disney Hall. On the downside: the Angels Flight funicular is still down and the park next to it has been gated off for ages.

Inglewood's fabulous Forum reopened after a big makeover just as 2014 dawned, and later the same month, news broke that Rams owner Stan Kroenke had bought a huge parcel in the city that would be just perfect for an NFL or perhaps MLS stadium. Meanwhile, work began on turning the old Hollywood Park Racetrack into an enormous multi-use development, and a few more development projects popped up in the same area. Plus, work started on the Crenshaw Line, which will run through the city.

Year End Lists: LA Spent 2014 Trying to Figure Out Kissing and GamerGate

[Image via Eric Demarcq / Curbed LA flickr pool]

In the same way that the search history of a computer can offer deep insight into the mind of its user, the most searched terms and queries for an entire city can provide a peek at what weighs on the minds and hearts of its denizens. Google's year-end tradition of releasing these kind of lists (via LAist this year) allows for just that kind of reflection, and one thing that's clear is that what Los Angeles really, deeply wanted to know in 2014 was how to surf, detox, and kiss. Yep, those were the three most searched "How Tos" for LA, respectively. Number 10? How to invest. Well, is it any wonder, after spending all that cash on surfing lessons and juice cleanses? Google also released top "What Is" searches for the city (full of confusing subjects like Bitcoin and GamerGate), top people, top news stories, and more. Here are the full lists:

Top "How to" searches
· how to surf
· how to detox
· how to kiss
· how to knit
· how to memorize
· how to shave
· how to sing
· how to dance
· how to deadlift
· how to invest

Top "What is" searches
· what is ebola
· what is als
· what is isis
· what is bitcoin
· what is magcon
· what is airdrop
· what is whatsapp
· what is wcw
· what is uber
· what is gamergate

Top people
· Robin Williams
· Philip seymour hoffman
· Tracy Morgan
· Jennifer Lawrence
· Donald Sterling
· Iggy Azalea
· Maya Angelou
· Ray Rice
· Carmelo Anthony
· Renee Zellweger

Top trending events/news
· World Cup
· Malaysia Airlines
· Ebola
· Black Friday 2014
· NFL draft
· Oscars 2014
· Coachella 2014
· Olympics
· Blood Moon

Top trending searches
· World Cup
· Robin Williams
· iPhone 6
· Malaysia Airlines
· Philip Seymour Hoffman
· Ebola
· Tracy Morgan
· Jennifer Lawrence
· Donald Sterling
· Iggy Azalea
· What Los Angeles Was Obsessed With In 2014, According To Google [LAist]
· Top Google Searches Reveal LA Was Death-Obsessed In 2013 [Curbed LA]

Celebrity Real Estate: Christopher Meloni Bought the Haunted Ozzie & Harriet House in the Hills For $5.25 Million

Christopher Meloni, most well-known as Detective Stabler in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit but best known as Gene the troubled cook in Wet Hot American Summer, is not afraid of no ghosts. He's just bought the notorious Ozzie and Harriet house in the Hills, which comes with persistent tales of hauntings told by several former owners, all of whom are probably crazy or very gullible. More interestingly, the house was both the real and television home of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson in the '50s and '60s, and the television home of Entourage's Ari Gold in the aughts. It was first built in 1916 and designed by Frank Kegley and H. Scott Gerity; it's been remodelded recently and today has five bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a pool, and a three-car garage on nearly half an acre. Variety reports Meloni and his wife Sherman Williams paid $5.25 million.

· Chris Meloni Picks Up Piece of Hollywood History [Variety]
· Ozzie and Harriet/Ari Gold House Hits the Market in the Hills [Curbed LA]
· Who's Pranking Everyone Who Buys Ozzie and Harriet's House? [Curbed LA]

Bridges & Tunnels: NoHo Pedestrian Tunnel Will Shave Nearly a Minute off Trips Between Red and Orange Lines

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All those wack detour signs at Lankershim and Chandler mean that construction is indeed underway on the subterranean pedestrian tunnel to connect the Red and Orange Lines in North Hollywood. Work began in July this year, and when the project is finished in the spring of 2016, the underpass should shave 44 seconds off the time a passenger spends to cross the street, says Streetsblog, citing a 2012 Metro board report. Forty-four seconds might not sound like a lot, but it can definitely mean the difference between making the bus/train or tragically missing it.

According to Metro's fact sheet for the project, the underpass will have escalators and elevators, in addition to stairs, to allow riders get up to the opposite side. It will also have TAP card machines, which you can never have enough of. The tunnel-making process will also include the relocation of a colorful tile artwork inside the Red Line station; the art piece just so happens to be on the wall where the tunnel's entrance will go. The tilework handily happened to be installed on a knock-out wall, so it shouldn't be hard to safely move it to a new spot in the station.

diagram NoHo station underpass.jpg
The train tracks in the middle of this diagram are the Red Line's, below Lankershim Boulevard. The structures on the top right represent the Orange Line station, and underneath are the new tunnel, escalators, stairs, and elevator. Image from Metro via Streetsblog.
· NoHo Ped Tunnel Construction Underway, To Connect Orange and Red Lines [SBLA]
· North Hollywood Underpass Fact Sheet [Metro]
· Work Begins on Metro's NoHo Tunnel and Universal Ped Bridge [Curbed LA]

SPONSORED POST: The Stadium of the Future

Curbed Features: The Creation of LA’s "Most Recognizable and Beloved" Building

[Griffith Observatory today. Photos by Hadley Meares.]

On May 14, 1935, Los Angeles was abuzz. For months, motorists on Los Feliz Boulevard had "glanced up at the pile of masonry that loomed larger and larger, day by day" on the slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park and wondered when it would be finished. So great was the curiosity surrounding the domed structure, designed by John C. Austin and Frederick M. Ashley and compared by one LA Times journalist to "the magic work of a genie," that gates were constructed to keep away looky-loos who had been "interfering with the workmen" preparing the grounds for the opening on the fourteenth. That night, a crowd of 500 of the city's elite, glittering like a "presidential ball," watched as Mayor Frank L. Shaw accepted the building from the Griffith Estate on behalf of the city. "This magnificent structure, not only will be of value to scientists, but its greatest attraction will be to the masses of other citizens who will now have an opportunity to see how the universe is constituted." Today, in the words of restoration specialist Brenda Levin, who led the building's 2002 through 2006 restoration and expansion with architect Stephen Johnson, Griffith Observatory is "probably the most recognizable and beloved building in Los Angeles."

[Griffith Observatory under construction. Photo via USC and Truthdig.]

The opening of Griffith Observatory was the long-delayed triumph of a dead man. "Colonel" Griffith J. Griffith was a brilliant businessman and philanthropist, but he is perhaps best known as a convicted attempted murderer. Griffith's path to the observatory began in 1896, when he donated 3,015 acres of the old Rancho Los Feliz to the city of Los Angeles to be used as a public park. "A place of rest and relaxation for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people." The plain people, as well as the city's elite, felt their admiration for Griffith turn to horror in 1903, when, drunk, he told his wife to kneel down and pray and then shot her in the face. After his release from prison, Griffith remained an enormously wealthy man but had become a social pariah. In 1912, inspired by a look into the heavens through the powerful telescope at the nearby Mount Wilson, Griffith became determined to build his own public observatory in Griffith Park. According to John Anson Ford, Griffith exclaimed, "Man's sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would revolutionize the world!"

He offered the city $100,000 to build an observatory, but Griffith's reputation was such that the city was not interested in taking more of his charity—at least not while he was alive. When Griffith realized this, he decided to leave a bequest, eventually totaling $750,000, for the construction of a free "Hall of Science" and Observatory atop the peak of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. He died in 1919. In 1930, after many delays due to the complications of establishing the Griffith Trust, the city began a conversation with the trust about accepting the Observatory as a gift. By 1930, the "bug eyed Planetarium," which projected "the stars, sun, moon and other planets in miniature as they are seen in the heavens," had been invented in Germany. This made a Los Angeles observatory with a planetarium (only the third in America, behind Chicago and Philadelphia) an even more exciting proposition. In January 1931, the city and Griffith Trust hammered out the contract, with the Trust and the Parks Commission sharing responsibility for the project.

[Griffith Observatory under construction. Photo via Flickr.]

The astronomer Russell Porter began to draw architectural plans for a domed observatory with extraordinary rooftop views, which greatly influenced both the final original design and the recent restoration. "We were fortunate to have available the original construction documents ā€¦ particularly those of Russell Porter, who not only designed the astronomical instruments but significantly influenced the design of the building," says Levin. "The elegance of the design comes in part from the fact that the architecture reflects the purpose of the building. You do not need to enter the building to know it is an Observatory, housing a planetarium." In June 1931, the respected architects John C. Austin (designer of LA City Hall, Shrine Auditorium, and St. Vincent Hospital) and Frederick Ashley (designer of LA Public Library Memorial Branch and Monrovia High School) were hired as the official architects of the project, and they kept Porter as a consultant. A new lower site, just west of the recently built Greek Theater, was chosen after the peak of Mt. Hollywood was determined to be an unsuitable, costly, and undemocratic choice, with very little parking and very high construction costs.

The Depression probably made the construction of Griffith Observatory possible. Building materials and labor were cheap and plentiful, so Austin and Ashley assured "that in every possible instance, they [would] specify materials obtainable in Los Angeles or the vicinity, thus aiding local industry and employment." On July 20, 1933, Austin, Mayor Frank Porter, Parks Commissioner Mabel Socha, and other leaders participated in groundbreaking ceremonies. The building's design was a mishmash of grand and monument styles, compared by one journalist to a "Roman temple, Moorish mosque or mausoleum," but the main materials were inexpensive concrete and steel, although the domes were to be a brilliant copper. Construction began at a breakneck speed, with hundreds of men employed at the site (including "wandering boys" from a local transient youth camp). Installations for the Hall of Science were designed by Dr. Edward Kurth of the California Technical Institute.


The spirit of public involvement in this very public project could be felt everywhere. The government-funded Public Works of Art program hired six sculptors (including George Stanley, who designed the "Oscar"). Each sculptor designed an astronomer for the 40-ft tall, hexagonal Astronomers Monument that stands in front of the Observatory. The muralist Hugo Ballin led a team of assistants in painting murals for the grand foyer, depicting the history of astrology and the mythical heavens. A machine shop, with thousands of dollars worth of "intricate equipment," was set up in the basement to manufacture and produce exhibits to explain earthquakes, storms, sound, and light. A powerful telescope was placed on the roof. Paul Lange, who had already installed more than 20 planetariums, was brought from Europe to oversee the installation of the German-made Zeiss planetarium. He requested that the 442 seats in the planetarium theater be dark, so they would not detract from the synthetic sky, which would be projected onto a perfect semicircle-shaped dome.

Remarkably, the cost of the construction and equipment was only $400,000. The LA Times reported:

At the planetarium gala opening, the crowd gasped as stars began to appear in the heavens, then the sun arose, and swung across on its orbit, followed later by the moon with all the stars and planets completing their circuit of the heavens.

griffithinteriorvertical.jpgThe Observatory also enraptured the "plain" people Griffith so wanted to please. It was reported that 17,739 people crowded the halls of the Observatory the first week it was open. The thrice daily, 25-cent planetarium shows were filled to capacity, and the visitors came from "every class imaginable." More than 48,000 people visited the Observatory between June 16 and June 30, 1935. The parking lot and buses bustling to and from the Observatory were consistently full. The Observatory's popularity only increased in the decades that followed, with half a million annual visitors in 1950, increasing to two million in the 1990s. By the early 2000s, the building was sorely in need of a renovation. In the words of Brenda Levin, the building and its exhibits had simply "been loved to death."

Under the leadership of Dr. Edwin Krupp, the Observatory's beloved longtime director, the $93 million transformation of the Observatory began. Design meetings were held in the basement of the building, in a bunker-like storage space carved from bedrock. The city of Los Angeles and Friends of the Observatory set about raising the needed funds. Brenda Levin and Stephen Johnson were hired to oversee the restoration. Their credentials were impressive: Levin's other restoration projects have included the James Oviatt Building, the Fine Arts Building, and the Wiltern Theater; Johnson, of Pfeiffer Partners Inc., oversaw the overhaul of LA's Central Library and Union Station. Together, as Levin explains, they came up with a unique plan for the 70-year-old structure:

Our charge from the Observatory and the Department of Recreation and Parks was to restore the Observatory, maintain its historic status and find 40,000 square feet of new space to expand the exhibit program—seamlessly melding the existing and new. Because the Observatory is a building that is viewed from all four sides, North, south, east and west, with almost equal prominence, it was clear to both Stephen and me that an addition to the building would fundamentally change the character of the architectural icon. The aha moment came with the decision to add the additional square footage under the front lawn thereby creating the opportunity to develop an expanded exhibit space dedicated to the depths of space, or post Hubbell exploration.


When the Observatory reopened in 2006, it boasted 60 new exhibits, the 200-seat Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, the ultra-modern below-ground Gunther Depths of Space exhibition space, and a new planetarium. Today, a visit to the Observatory is a communal affair, with visitors from all over the world cramming the exhibition halls and gasping at the breathtaking views. Many use the gleaming white structure as a kind of compass, knowing where they are in the city based on the position of the Observatory in the horizon above. It is consistently filled with school children and science lovers, hikers and architecture buffs. In the words of Brenda Levin, "It was envisioned as and remains a place for everyone."
Further Reading:
· Griffith Park: A Centennial History, by Mike Eberts
· Griffith Park, by E.J. Stephens

· Curbed Features archive [Curbed LA]

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