Did a full day walking tour of LA. Our tour guide Damien was very knowledgeable & passionate about giving us all the information in a clear & concise way. The tour was very well planned & organised & was not tiring.
We did The Real Hollywood tour & loved it! The tour was at a great pace & the guide (Vicky) was very knowledgeable & made the tour fun. Thank you!
Stuart was so knowledgeable & was worth the day with him. I had been to LA multiple times before but this is the first time I had taken a tour – so thrilled to have this experience with my mom & sister. I would recommend this tour again & again.
We had an amazing DTLA Murder Mystery Ghost tour with Damien & Dante… thank you very much from the Italian girls… very interesting & funny… absolutely recommended!
This tour was awesome! Stuart is very knowledgeable, likeable & fun. The stops on the tour were very interesting & I learned a lot. I’ve been on quite a few tours of this nature & this was one of my favorites – highly recommend!
Did a walking tour of LA (LA in a Day). Vicky started us off with the Hollywood tour & Damien (who is also the owner) was our guide for the rest of the day. The entire day was awesome, I suggest this tour. There isn’t that much walking, to be honest. It’s very fun!
Union Station & Olvera Street Tour
Just like the best things in life
Less than 1 mile
An easy walking distance
Do it when it suits you
Take as long as you like
Start this self-guided Union Station and Olvera Street tour at the beautiful 1930’s Union Station and go back in time to the earliest years of Los Angeles (including visiting the oldest house in the city), when it was a tiny farming town in the Wild West.
Check here as you do the tour, to discover the locations of some famous movies which were filmed in the area.
Start your Union Station and Olvera Street tour at this 1930’s John Parkinson designed masterpiece. LA wanted to build a grand terminus for thirty years before construction began in 1933 – the railroad companies were so against it that the city took them all the way to the Supreme Court - twice! But it was well worth the wait, the Mission Revival style (with Streamline Moderne thrown in) was designed to help with the promotion of LA as a holiday destination. And it seems to have worked. Marvel at the ceiling, which though it looks like wood is actually reinforced concrete, and wallow in the romance of train travel. It’s been used as a location in numerous movies, including Blade Runner and Catch Me if You Can. Fun fact: Union Station opened in 1939 and is the last major station ever to be built in America.
This is where LA began as a small sub-mission, or Asistenzia, back in 1781. Forty-four settlers moved here from Mexico to found the tiny pueblo. The next year nearly half of them went back! Nevertheless Los Angeles has grown a lot since those tiny beginnings. The remarkable thing is that many of the earliest buildings, built when LA was the wild west, are still standing around the Plaza, including Pico House (1871), the Garnier Buildings (1883 and 1890) and the oldest Fire House in the city (1890). Fun fact: there is a list of the forty-four Pobladores on a plinth on the south side of the Plaza.
The oldest building in Los Angeles is the Avila Adobe (on Olvera Street), which was built in 1818 by Francisco Avila, the mayor of the tiny pueblo at the time. Back then California was small part of the mighty Spanish Empire, although not for much longer, as three years later Mexico gained its independence and Los Angeles, briefly, became the capital of Alta California. When the United States invaded in 1846 the U.S. army used the Adobe for their headquarters. Thereafter it fell into disrepair, until Christine Sterling arrived in 1926 with a plan to preserve the area as a historical monument. She also lived in the Adobe for a while. Fun fact: you can go inside the Adobe, it’s a free museum.
LA IGLESIA DE NUESTRA SEÑORA LA REINA DE LOS ÁNGELES
This little church still has the record for the most baptisms in Los Angeles – it did have a bit of a head start though! It was constructed in 1822 and for many years was the only church in the city. It was a big deal when it opened for business, as until then the inhabitants of the pueblo had had to make the trek to San Gabriel Mission for feast days, weddings and baptisms. Fun fact: you can often go inside La Placita (which the church is more commonly known as, the real name being pretty long), depending on Mass times – or if there is a baptism taking place.
LA PLAZA DE CULTURAS Y ARTES
Next to the church sits this fantastic museum. The site it occupies, the Garnier and Brunswig Buildings, is also historic. The museum focuses mostly on the Mexican heritage on Los Angeles (which has obviously been very substantial). They have some great exhibits and there’s even a reconstruction of the pueblo from the nineteenth century – which is a super way to see how the small farming town that Los Angeles was then looked at the time. Fun fact: this museum is also free, so pause your Union Station and Olvera Street tour for a look inside (and leave a donation).
Pio Pico was a wealthy Californian landowner who was born (in 1801), when Los Angeles was still part of the Spanish Empire. He briefly became Governor during the Mexican years and then achieved his greatest financial success when California was absorbed into the United States, before dying, practically penniless, in 1894. He sold half the San Fernando Valley (where he had a ranch) to raise the money to construct this building. Using brick construction, with gas lighting and no less than two bathrooms on every floor – an unheard of luxury for the frontier town – it was, for a time, the finest hotel in L.A. Unfortunately though, as the area declined so did the hotel (mirroring its owners fortunes), ceasing operation in the 1950’s. Fun fact: Pio Pico’s ghost is reputed to still haunt his old hotel. See if you can see him looking out over the Plaza.
CHINESE AMERICAN MUSEUM
Down Sanchez Street, by the side of Pico House, sits the Chinese American Museum. Why here? Well, you’re now in Los Angeles’ old Chinatown. Immigrants from China began arriving in California in 1849, with the Gold Rush, while others moved here to work on the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Unfortunately though there was huge discrimination against them (including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) and they found themselves forced to live in an area stretching from here to Union Station, since they weren't allowed anywhere else. Fun fact: it’s not remotely fun, but read about the Chinatown massacre of 1871, still one of the largest mass lynching’s in American history, to see what can happen when an immigrant community is singled out as being the cause of all society’s ills.
PHILLIPE THE ORIGINAL
If doing this free self-guided walking tour has made you hungry why don't you eat at this historic Los Angeles eatery? Phillipe was opened in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, a French immigrant.There was quite a sizeable French community in the area at that time and this neighborhood was known as ‘French Town'. A large part of the reason for that is that a French immigrant called Jean Louis Vignes owned a huge vineyard from where Union Station now stands, down to the Los Angeles River. The signature dish is the French Dipped Sandwich (it’s not actually French!) and Mathieu invented it - or it was created at Cole's, another restaurant in DTLA - but it's a genuine Los Angeles dish either way.
We hope you enjoyed this free Union Station to Olvera Street tour. For more information on things to do in Los Angeles and how to navigate the city take a look at L.A. Info, and check in with us on social media to see what else we're doing.
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