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Old View, New Perspective: In Defense of Pershing Square

"You never saw a dog here." Looking into 6th Street.
Pershing Square is one of my favorite places in L.A. downtown. No. That's not quite accurate: it is not the square that I like but the view that it offers. Palm trees and high rises against the blue sky. So L.A.!

The square itself? That one block in the heart of downtown? I'm not so sure: concrete blocks, spheres, a tower, all in the brightest colors, yellow, purple, and more concrete for the ground. The yellow clashes with the brown of the Biltmore Hotel behind it; the trees are few and small. Bottom line, I have never felt the urge to linger in Pershing Square. It was a place I noticed in passing, on my way to somewhere else. Like a train station.

"No graffiti, no gangs." Concrete blocks, spheres on Pershing Square.
The other day I decided to look more closely, to maybe find a different perspective. It was a weekday, around noon, the space almost empty. I saw a security guard in front of the escalator to the underground parking garage; a dozen homeless people sleeping on a patch of grass or on benches; a few men and women in an area with tables and chairs.

Two people who introduced themselves as Nancy and Tim had a couple of minutes to spare. I asked them how they liked Pershing Square. Tim scrunched up the wrapper of the Subway sandwich he had been chewing on and leaned back in his chair. "It's good. We come here for lunch break. When I started working downtown, in 1999, there were lots of empty buildings here. But it's changed."

Nancy and Tim told me about summer concerts and about an ice rink in the winter, how things were "cleaned up" during the pre-recession years of L.A. downtown's gentrification. "Before then, back in the day, it was a place to avoid", Nancy said.

"Three or four years ago", Tim carried on, "you never saw a dog downtown. Now they walk them here. In the evenings people come down from Disney Hall. The women are dressed to the nines. No graffiti, no gangs. It's pretty safe. L.A. has done a good job and I am proud to be an Angeleno."


debi said…
I'm glad you asked Nancy and Tim. It's nice to hear of good changes like the ones to Pershing Square.
Thanks, Debi. I'm glad too. It's always good to hear the other side. Plus talking to Nancy and Tim was fun.

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