Friday, September 24, 2010

The Schizophrenic Nature of Downtown

Los Angeles, CA

A man broke into a couples' apartment at the Alexandria Hotel Tuesday morning, woke them up at knifepoint and robbed them. Cash, laptops, ATM cards. Threatened them until they gave up their codes.

Be interesting to see what happens when he tries to use them. At the very least the cops should get a nice picture out of it. Then again maybe he's smart and sells them to somebody else.

Two of the hotel's main selling points on their website are "Controlled Access" and an "Increased Emphasis On Security". Pity that broke down the other day. From what I understand, it's a flimsy promise at best.

The Alexandria Hotel on Fifth and Spring Downtown has seen better days. It has hosted Presidents, foreign dignitaries, movie stars and moguls. In the teens and early twenties it was THE place to be. The Palm Court, the hotel's ballroom with amazing stained glass ceilings has been declared an Historic Cultural Lanndmark and it's supposedly haunted.

In 1923 it faced increased competition when the nearby Biltmore hotel opened eventually forcing the hotel to close out of bankruptcy in 1934. In the '50s and '60s the Palm Court was converted into a boxing ring and it wasn't until the 80's that it got historical status.

Today, the Alexandria lives a schizophrenic existence as low-cost urban housing and a high class restaurant.

It is plagued by complaints of roaches, bedbugs, crackheads. Reviews on Yelp, for instance, vilify it. More flophouse than hotel. On the flipside, the restaurant inside, The Gorbals, gets glowing reviews.

Downtown L.A. is more Blade Runner than people might think. We just need more rain and bigger billboards. This is a city where the nation's biggest open air drug market sits in plain view of City Hall and the courts, where some of the finest restaurants the city has to offer are virtually unknown. Where some of the priciest real estate perches floors above a sea of poverty.

Surrounded by Skid Row homeless and $5000.00 lofts The Alexandria is a posterboy for the current Downtown transition, the manic pendulum swing between destitution and gentrification as it struggles to find a middle ground.

A middle ground that may be impossible to achieve.

1 comment:

Mark Peacock said...

Great post, and stellar writing as usual.....