Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Los Angeles ~Grauman's Chinese Theater and Hollywood Walk of Fame

 I grew up in Southern California and lived there till I was almost 16 so we had visited Hollywood many times over those years. But we realized that our 12 year old son had never been...had no idea it even existed! Being "movie" people we knew that we had to bring our son to this tourist destination. He was not disappointed. Of course, never knowing it even existed he had no expectations and, in fact, wasn't even sure he wanted to go so the bar we needed to exceed to impress him was really really low!

Driving into downtown we saw this fun building. It's actually a school but it's definitely a great example of some of the wonderful architecture you can see in Los Angeles. The fun part of touring LA is that you can see something ultra modern like this one right next to something that was built when the city was first formed!
There is a parking garage right at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and N. Orange and when you come up the stairs from parking your car you are greeted by Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. This version of Johnny Depp was waiting for us on the day we visited. Reactions to it ranged from "Cool" to "Funny" to "Creepy" but not a single person walked past without noticing!

Keep walking toward Highland Ave and you will find that Grauman's Chinese Theater is next on your tour. Famous for movie premiers and movie stars foot and hand prints in the concrete, this is definitely a great stop for any tourist seeing LA. 
 The prints in the small courtyard of the theater include more modern references such as these by the cast of Harry Potter. It's fun to match up your own foot and hand prints with those of the stars.
 It's even more fun to match up your prints with the vintage stars like Humphrey Bogart! His shoes, and those of many of his contemporaries, are actually very, very small! 
The courtyard is always very crowded with people looking for their favorite stars, standing in footprints and taking photos of the ground but don't forget to look up! The architecture is actually very striking! So take the time to really look at all of the embellishments on these buildings.

 Keep in mind that most of the outdoor embellishments are metal. So, yes, those horns and fangs would be very sharp!
But it was the dragon that stole my heart. It would be pretty easy to visit Grauman's Chinese Theater and not take in the details but there are many to take in so spend some time looking up, not just looking down. Oh! And if you really have some time, take in a show! Yes, they still show movies at the theater.
One of the most fun details is actually to the right of the theater doors. This staircase connects the theater with the Dolby Theater complex next door. I simply thought they were cool looking so I waited till the escalator, which most people were using, was empty to take my photo. I stopped for a second to check the shot and I'm so very glad I did. A few seconds after I pressed the shutter some teenagers started up the stairs...to find out that they are actually a real keyboard! It plays music! It was completely a joy to watch the kids play on the steps. What a great surprise!
 It was cool to realize that I was standing where they run the Red Carpet for the Academy Awards. If you head up these stairs you will find more shops and restaurants, many of those are upscale but just standing on the sidewalk you get to feel a part of Hollywood without spending a dime.
The big yellow arch is where the stars enter the theater but there is plenty to see here without going inside. You can eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, grab a hot dog from the sidewalk vendor and, of course, take in the costume performers walking the sidewalks and posing with tourists for tips. There's a certain irony in seeing a Spiderman wearing tennis shoes and a fanny pack on Hollywood Blvd.
But none of the performers tickled me more than the Johnny Depp characters of Willy Wonka (seen here in a Candy Shop...no, not kidding you...a Candy Shop) and Captain Jack Sparrow! I've never been tempted to take photos and tip these performers but this was just too good to pass up!
All the way up and down the sidewalks here, for several blocks on each side of the street, are the Stars. The Hollywood Walk of Fame. All different forms of entertainment are featured with music stars such as Michael Jackson. Notice the phonograph icon in the center...do kids even know what that means now? 
 Movie actors and actresses like Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts are featured as well. These stars are paid for from the fan clubs of these performers and the honor is really honoring their fans so they always show up for the presentation and it's a really big celebration when they do.
Sometimes the stars are awarded, as in this case, with the location being honored by the chairman of the Walk of Fame. I, wholeheartedly, support this one! (click on the small picture to read the plaque inscription)
When you get to the corner of Hollywood and Highland you may be distracted by the stores, the enormous gift shop across the way, Souvenirs of Hollywood (which has been there for as long as I can remember) or Ripley's Believe It Or Not on the other corner but, once again, look up. This amazing building is right on that corner and it's worth a few moments just to take in the many details. Oh, look, I found another stone lion! LOL! (click on the photo to see the larger version and then look in the lower left for the lion)
Across the way isn't so shabby either. This view of Hollywood Blvd and the El Capitan Theater (home of the very first Academy Awards ceremony...and, yes, I know way too much about this stuff...) is from the corner of Hollywood and Highland and gives you an idea how vintage architecture is surrounded with more modern buildings on this street.
And the El Capitan is a wonderful example of this classical architecture. It truly is amazing all of the building details that are included in this one piece.
Even the fire escape is ornate! Ok, so you've noticed the landing and how there are plaques and filigree but look at the rungs in the ladder! They, too, are decorated!
The front of the building is no less amazing. Part of this building is now the Disney Store so it was a challenge to show you the vintage details without the modern advertising being a major distraction. 
The details of this building are distracting on their own. This was one of those times when I stopped to take a photograph and lots of people were passing me by on the sidewalk. Slowly, as I figured out how I could capture the fabulous windows, I noticed that people were stopping to see what I was seeing. Probably wondering what I could possibly be so intent on photographing and then to realize how gorgeous this facade actually is and how they could have just walked right by it and never have noticed. LOOK UP. Seriously, there's a whole other world waiting for you. Especially in a city. 
The details are everywhere on this building and I could have eaten up a good part of our day just exploring it but that will have to wait for another trip. This was simply a side gate to the courtyard. Amazing. If you are on Instagram there is an artist that does nothing but spotlight this type of amazing architecture and details in Los Angeles. Look up Revheavygilnoir on Instagram if you love this type of detail!

But if you are into more modern architecture and details, Los Angeles has plenty of that available right outside your window. This was on our way from Hollywood to the La Brea Tar Pits and is now one of my favorites from this trip. Join me next Monday for a tour of that part of Downtown Los Angeles!


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