Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Echo Mountain, Carrol Avenue, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Two tromping grounds for ghosts and one for our better angels...

Echo Mountain:

Beware! This destination near Altadena is a real hike, not a lackadaisical stroll. You hike three miles up--it is a beautiful but tough climb with lush foliage and vibrant wildflowers. On top of the mountain are the ruins of a trolley system that scaled the mountain and the foundations of resorts that gilded age developers kept building in the Victorian and Edwardian era. They would build a hotel- with tennis courts, dance floors and craft lodges ala Dirty Dancing, and like clockwork it would be destroyed within ten years either by fire or landslide! Oh silly humans. Wonderful views, thought provoking ruins, perfect picnic spots.
Overall: A-
Directions: From Hollywood take the 101-S to the 110-N, continue onto US-66 E. Turn left on Lake Ave. and turn right at East Loma Alta Drive--you will see a giant stone gate guarding the entrance of the park. Perhaps some of the ghostly guests lived on the street below...

Carrol Avenue: A lovely surprise in the middle of downtrodden Angelino Heights. One of the first LA suburbs in late 1800's Los Angeles, Carrol Street was once the home of the very rich who lived in gingerbread, latticed, multicolored manors done up in high Victorian style. The homes are now mostly spectacularly renovated (there are a few duds here and there), the lawns green and sprawling, the trees ancient and drooping and the street lights historically accurate. Neighbors sit on wrap-around porches and chat with one another, even the DWP man and I conversed about the loveliness of the homes. One of the grandest specimens was used in the series Charmed, and quite fittingly, Michael Jackson's Thriller was filmed here.
Overall: B+
Directions: From Hollywood take the 101-S. Exit at Glendale Blvd./Union Ave. Merge onto Belmont Ave., turn left on W. Temple, turn left onto Edgeware then take a left onto Carrol Ave. I suggest a horse-drawn carriage, or a smart and sassy Model T.

Cathedral of our Lady of Angels:
The home of Archbishop Gomez, the sprawling cathedral complex is the headquarters of the greater Los Angeles Archdiocese. Smack in the middle of municipal hell (you can park there to go to jury duty!) the Cathedral is a soaring, golden and moving modern architectural wonder, very sparse and elegant and filled with interesting regional art-- all with an aesthetic sensibility that I would call grand California sleek. Very quiet and peaceful, with an almost empty new crypt (final resting place of Gregory Peck) and little chapels dotted here and there where lonely people kneel to pray.
Overall: A
Directions: From Hollywood take the 101-S and exit at Temple Street. Turn left on Temple Street. Arrive at 555 West Temple.