CicLAvia to the Cuidad: A preview

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This Sunday marks the return of Los Angeles’ tenth CicLAvia in just four years time. It’s hard to imagine a city like ours embracing the concept of shutting town some of our major thoroughfares to vehicular traffic, but the event continues to grow as roughly 100,000 people will take to the streets to bike, walk, skate or anything of their choosing.

Echo Park — The "start" of Ciclavia if you're coming from the North.
Echo Park — The “start” of Ciclavia if you’re coming from the North.

While some of the route we’ve seen in other editions, it is the first time the footprint will include Echo Park and East LA. The distance of the course is only ten miles, but it does touch many neighborhoods worth exploring. My advice is to pick a couple of spots, do a little research and let loose. Here’s a quick rundown of where you’ll be headed:

Echo Park

It’s no secret that that this neighborhood is experiencing a great resurgence. If you head off into the hills, you’ll find many great homes that date back over a century ago. One place I encourage a trip to is the two blocks of Carroll Avenue in the Angelino Heights area, which contain wall-to-wall landmarks of Victorian houses.

You can get breakfast an hour before the start of Ciclavia.
You can get breakfast an hour before the start of Ciclavia.

If you’re really in the mood to challenge yourself, head north up to Fargo St., the steepest street in the United States. It is also worth stretching out to Sunset Boulevard for an eclectic set of businesses that’s full of surprises.

Downtown / Broadway

This stretch has been featured before, but it still has so much to offer. No other place in Los Angeles has a greater stretch of ornate theaters. While access may be limited, people forget to look up to take a glimpse of some of the intricate styling of the facades.

Another must do is to peek inside the Bradbury Building. It’s been in countless number of movies because of it’s unique design and usage of light. If you’re hungry, there’s always Grand Central Market, because there’s always something new there you haven’t tried.


Try not to quote Jack Nicholson here
Try not to quote Jack Nicholson here

Even without CicLAvia, the sidewalks would be filled on a regular weekend. With all the markets and shops, it’s no wonder why it attracts so much foot traffic. Philippe’s is just a block away, which if you haven’t already visited, I will personally stuff a French Dip sandwich down your throat.

To try something different, I’d head north and explore Elysian Park. Compared to Griffith Park, it is highly underutilized even though it offers many of the same amenities. There are a number of vistas that feature great views of Downtown, Dodger Stadium and hills off of the Arroyo Seco.

Arts District

This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles as it has grown organically to offer many niche places to visit. While a few mega-complexes are on their way, the goal is to preserve the character that is on street level.

Not an Imperial Starship, but One Sante Fe looming over the Arts District.
Not an Imperial Starship, but One Sante Fe looming over the Arts District.

I can’t help myself from stopping into Wurstkuche everytime I’m there, but Little Bear fills my need for Belgium beer. Also worth checking out is Eight-Two, an arcade/bar that has a collection of pinball and 80’s video games that will free your wallet of quarters.

Boyle Heights

This early “suburb” of Los Angeles has a lot of history that still exists. It was home to some of the city’s early pioneers, as John Hollenbeck and others called it home. If you venture into Evergreen Cemetery, you’ll see many of these founders interred here including Isaac Van Nuys and the Workman clan.

It is also noted that Boyle Heights used to have a large Jewish community. While many moved west after World War II, including even Canter’s, there are still other landmarks that exist. Just South of Cesar Chavez on Breed St. lies Congregation Talmud Torah, built in 1915. It now is vacant, but used to be the largest Orthodox Synagogue in the Western United States.

East Los Angeles

Something new for this CicLAvia is that it is the first time the course is outside of city limits. East L.A. is unincorporated and is managed largely by the county. Still, it is a large area that contains over a hundred thousand residents.

Breed St. Shul in Boyle Heights hoping for a revival.
Breed St. Shul in Boyle Heights hoping for a revival.

A little out of the way, I’d stray off to Whittier Boulevard, another one of East L.A.’s main hubs. You’ll find the landmark entrance sign there, as well as the Latino Walk of Fame. It is also home to the famous Eastside Eddie Heredia Boxing Club, the outfit where Oscar de la Hoya and others trained.

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CicLAvias are great because they allow you to discover the city more in depth than you can behind the driver’s wheel. If I have any criticism, it’s that there is almost too much to see.

Make sure to bring lots of water (this one will be hot) and study up before you go. There is a lot of information out there, so search CicLAvia or Militant Angeleno for their architectural guides.

Look for me out there.  I won’t be too hard to find. I’ll be the one smiling from ear to ear.