Monthly Archives: October 2010

Walk for October 23, 2010


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The destination of today’s walk was Lost Souls Cafe, located in downtown LA, accessible only through an alley off of 4th St. I’d known about Lost Souls for over a year, but simply hadn’t made it there yet. Heather and I needed a place to work for about 45 minutes, somewhere new, with wifi, and close to Wurstkuche, where we had lunch. Lost Souls fit the bill.

Our route took us from 2nd St, right next to Wurstkuche, west to Alameda. We continued walking west on 3rd until Main St, where we took a left. One corner south, we crossed 4th street, and headed west on 4th for 1/2 a block. After turning left into the entrance to an alley and walking a short distance we were greeted with a sign for Harlem Place Cafe, right next to an unmarked door. That’s the entrance to what used to be known as Lost Souls Cafe.

3rd St, between San Pedro and Wall, is an interesting stretch worth mentioning. I’ve never seen so many pipe shops in the same block. Every store on the south side of the street on that block, except for one, is filled from front to back, floor to ceiling with all manner of pipes, bongs, hookahs and other smoking accessories. They are all wholesale shops. Unlike the shops on Venice Beach and Hollywood Blvd, where pipe shops are also plentiful, which have a wide selection of pipes with very few duplicates, the shops on 3rd have boxes full of exactly the same pipe design. Makes you wonder about your “hand-made” pipe, huh? Heather likened these shops to stores she saw in Turkey, where you can rummage through and haggle for merchandise that hasn’t even yet been un-boxed for display.

We made it to Lost Souls, but not without noticing that Skingraft is located right across the street, next to Bar 107. Heather recognized and called out the store because, a few months ago, she was browsing at the Shop EPIC in Echo Park and found a totally badass black jacket, which was from the designers at Skingraft.

Lost Souls recently changed their name to Harlem Place Cafe. This was an unexpected discovery, and at first we were confused, until after confirming with the girl working the counter that we were indeed at the correct place. We each ordered a pastry and shared a coffee. I had a piece of the carrot cake bar, which was fine, but not worth a shout out. The coffee, however, was surprisingly tasty and complex. The wireless Internet worked well, and they print the access code on your receipt. I thought this was a great system, because it requires you to buy something to get the passcode (unless you ask, but presumably they won’t tell you), and it means they can change the passcode daily. I wonder if they have a system in place to automatically change the passcode each day and relay that information to their receipt text generation system.

It wasn’t until we left Harlem Place, however, that we hit the jackpot of the walk, which was a new hybrid retail/residential space located on the northeast corner of 4th and Main, called The Medallion (Downtown News Article, Curbed Article).¬†We walked around the block, and then through the retail space. There are lots of small storefronts for lease, the kind that, if they were located in a shittier building, would pull down the metal garage door style shutters when they close at night. Making our way into the courtyard area of the complex, we discovered interesting shapes and grassy areas. It isn’t clear if they are intended to be used for animal or human recreation, or to be looked upon only. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a park, but it is definitely a small green space, and a welcome change from the constant concrete. There is another strip of retail spaces one floor below street level in the courtyard area, and a nice section with tables and chairs, concrete tile and square patches of grass on the north side.

As usual, Heather and I looked for a way to go up, which we found in the parking structure elevator. After riding it to the 6th floor and stepping outside, we were treated with wonderful views of the sun setting behind clouds over downtown to the west, and the warehouse section of downtown to the east. We enjoyed the roof for a while, looking at the cityscape, the sky and taking pictures. I climbed up onto the concrete wall at the eastern edge of the garage and looked down upon the traffic and the street activity.

The garage actually has a 7th floor, which is small, only about a fourth of the square footage of the whole garage. This is the pool area, and when we visited the gate was unlocked, so we went right in. It was really neat to look at the pool knowing that 4 feet below the surface of the water was empty space (the 6th floor of the parking garage). We took more photographs and enjoyed the cool wind that was picking up.

Eventually the wind brought enough of a chill to suggest we be done with the roof. We walked back down 3rd and poked our heads in a building we noticed just past Alameda, on the north side of the street, with an open door. There appeared to be a costume shop inside, but it was locked. That concluded our walk.

The highlight was definitely exploring The Medallion. It’s all open to look at, so if you’re nearby you should go check it out. The courtyard is neat and the roof of the garage is open and provides nice views of east LA. Most of the spaces, both retail and residential, seem to be unrented, so it’ll be interesting to see how the space evolves in the coming months. Also, if you’re looking for pipes, the section of 3rd between San Pedeo and Wall is the place to go.