Are you gonna cruise the Miracle Mile? â€“ Billy Joel, Itâ€™s Still Rock and Roll to Me (Glass Houses, 1980)
Long before the Piano Man referenced L.A.â€™s Miracle Mile in a song, this stretch of Wilshire Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea Avenues was just an idea in the mind of Los Angeles developer A.W. Ross.
In the early 1920s Ross turned 18 acres of empty land west of downtown into a bustling commercial district. The automobile, not the pedestrian, would shape the Miracle Mile. Ross mandated that the building facades along Wilshire be engineered so drivers could see everything through their windshield while traveling through the strip. This led to a unique style of urban design called Art Deco.
A sculptural bust of the founder and developer of the Miracle Mile can be found at the intersection of Wilshire and Curson, across from Hancock Park.
The post-war boom of the 1940s brought major retailers such as Desmonds and May Company to the Miracle Mile district. These upscale department stores contributed to the prominent stature of the area. By the â€˜60s the neighborhood was in decline as major shopping centers sprung up in the suburbs and financial institutions and businesses spread across the Los Angeles basin.
However, in the 1980s the area started to make a comeback with the arrival of several museums and high-rise office complexes. Also, the entertainment industry established a presence along the Miracle Mile, including the Screen Actors Guild and the trade magazines â€” Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.
One of the most recognizable landmarks in Los Angeles is the still-bubbling La Brea Tar Pits, which is next to the Page Museum (5801 Wilshire Blvd.; www.tarpits.org), with an extensive collection of Ice Age fossils. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Blvd.; www.lacma.org) has one of the largest collections in the world and is undergoing a multi-phase transformation to accommodate its rapid growth. The Petersen Automotive Museum (6060 Wilshire Blvd.; www.petersen.org) displays vintage, classic and modern vehicles and provides a history of L.A.â€™s love affair with the car.
These cultural institutions are all located along a part of the Miracle Mile called Museum Row.
Most of the Miracle Mile District shuts down after dark with the exception of a few restaurants and clubs. The El Rey Theatre (5515 Wilshire Blvd; www.theelrey.com) is a great place to see live music and just down La Brea is upscale Southwestern dining at the Sonora CafÃ© (180 S. La Brea Ave; www.sonoracafe.com).
The Miracle Mile is one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Wilshire is one of the great boulevards of the world. Donâ€™t take my word for it, cruise down the strip and discover it for yourself.
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 Josh Marks
Cruising Down Miracle Mile
Copyright © 2010 Josh Marks
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