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Thursday February 21st 2019

Travel – Los Angeles: Downtown 6


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Union Station, Los Angeles
Union Station

After the Bradbury, my next favourite building in LA is also Downtown. The impossibly glamorous 1939 Union Station, 800 North Alameda Street. You don’t have to be catching a train, just enjoy the vast, airy concourse – a real throwback to the Thirties. Ridley Scott has a matchless eye for locations and the station is another LA classic to be featured in Blade Runner – as the futuristic cop station.

The police station set for Blade Runner was built within the Union Station’s vast concourse – unfortunately blocking access to the women’s toilets during the shoot.

Union Station is another endlessly adaptable location, becoming New York’s ‘Grand Central Station’ for Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor, an airport for The Replacement Killers, a ‘Miami’ bank for Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, while its (currently closed) Fred Harvey Room restaurant even became the Holodeck of the Enterprise in Star Trek: First Contact.

Cicada, South Olive Street, Downtown Los Angeles
Cicada's glamorous art deco entrance

For an evening meal in classic Twenties style, book a table at Cicada, 617 South Olive Street. You’ll feel you’re aboard a luxury liner as soon as you enter the Oviatt Building which houses the restaurant.

The Oviatt’s design was inspired by a visit to the1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which gave us the term Art Deco, and the Oviatt Building, embellished with French marble and an astonishing 30 tons of Lalique glass, became the first building in Los Angeles to adopt the Deco style which so defined 30s Hollywood.

You may recall Cicada as the place where Vivian (Julia Roberts) has trouble with snails (“Slippery little suckers...”) in Pretty Woman, or as the restaurant in which Tony Bennett serenades Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston in Bruce Almighty. More recently, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have a bit of a confrontation here in Doug Liman’s Mr and Mrs Smith, and it’s where Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) dismisses silent movies in an unfortunate interview within earshot of George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) in silent Oscar-winner The Artist and where Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) briefs sceptical colleagues on her roster of scuzzy prisoners at the beginning of Suicide Squad.

Casey's Irish Pub, South Grand Avenue, Downtown Los Angeles
Casey's Irish Pub, South Grand Avenue

And just around the corner, unwind at Casey’s Irish Pub, 613 South Grand Avenue, which is where Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) meets up with Kurtzweil (Martin Landau) in the first cinematic outing for The X-Files. Down a staircase, below street level, this cosy, wood-panelled bar restaurant is another one of downtown’s regulars on both big and small screen (TV's Mad Men has filmed here). You might also have seen it in George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated Good Night and Good Luck, or in Tina Fey-Steve Carell comedy Date Night. Leave the car behind and kick back with a pint of Guinness.

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