Ralph’s and the Rebirth of Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles historically was the center of business and life for the city of Los Angeles. But with the departure of gentrified families and money to the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley and outlying areas in the 1960s, downtown LA became a ghost town at night until the Staples Center for Lakers games and concerts in the 1990s. New Yorkers always have sneered at LA’s downtown because it is so much smaller than Manhattan’s skyline and much less lively as well.

Well, not anymore. Of course, one reason is that I moved to downtown Los Angeles, and things haven’t been the same since 🙂 But this year has seen an explosion of construction, of residential housing and lofts, and new nightlife downtown. The city’s hottest new bars and clubs are downtown including The Edison, 7th Grand, and J Bar (not that I’ve been of course). LA Live is an entertainment complex near Staples that will open at the end of the year including the new Nokia Auditorium which will be home to concerts and the Grammy Awards. The Grand Avenue Corridor is a one mile stretch of downtown being designed by architect Frank Geahry. And the city’s residents are flooding downtown so fast that the loft buildings are completely sold before they even are built. I can’t sleep longer than 6 am anymore because of all the construction noise outside my condo. In the past ten years, only two buildings over 10 stories were built in Los Angeles. In the past year alone, ten have been built and more are coming.

But nothing has given downtown Los Angeles more of a new lease on life than the opening of the downtown Ralph’s Fresh Fare supermarket this morning. The departure of Ralph’s from downtown in 1960 symbolized the death of downtown, and this morning at 11:00 I watched from my balcony as Ralph’s opened its newest store in downtown. Mayor Villaigrossa was on hand to mark this historic and symbolic new day for downtown Los Angeles.

I have a long commute to work, but it has been exciting to live in the midst of the rebirth of a city that I believe will be the most exciting downtown in America in five years.


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