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Los Angeles, California

Like any self-respecting North American city, Los Angeles is also an indisputable example of a city of great contrasts, of chiaroscuros that are obvious as soon as you walk its wide streets or travel on its scarce subway network. In its bright part, excellent examples of fine modernist architecture, from the late 19th century and early 20th century, stately, even regal. That architecture does not escape the gaze of the observant walker. But that same look will discover – that is where the dark part comes into play – a state of abandonment that is at least surprising.

Light is imposed on Los Angeles, first of all, by its geographical location. In Southern California (SoCal, Southern California) talking about seasons is almost indecent, since even in January it is possible to go out in shorts and short sleeves. There is, however, a difference in temperature that recommends not forgetting a jacket and certain winter clothing in the least hot time of year. Especially at night. Southern California, yes, but not the Caribbean.

Along with the climate, the city is also illuminated by the reflection of the glass of its skyscrapers, which are counted because it does not seem very intelligent to “New York” a city and a territory in which earthquakes have historically occurred. The relatively few that populate downtown, however, are built to protect against powerful seismic movements.

And it is also illuminated, without a doubt, by the art collections housed in its many museums: especially The Broad, promoted by a couple of the same name, art collectors; or MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art, both on Grand Avenue. Or the immense LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which should be allowed at least four hours to visit properly – and in front of which, by the way, on the opposite sidewalk of Wilshire Street where, there is a little piece of the history of Berlin, the city once divided by the famous Wall, ten segments of which were placed in this area of Los Angeles.

Back in the center, downtown, Broadway Street, the little sister of the New York street of the same name, and 3rd to 7th, make up an axis that is worth exploring – during the day, as it forms a fascinating axis of theaters, shops and buildings. of dilapidated offices and homes that, precisely for that reason, because of that hidden beauty, captivate a certain profile of urban traveler.

The dark part becomes even more evident and cruel when looking at the terrestrial level through which one travels: women and men dragging their few belongings in shopping carts; old and young people who have been expelled by drugs, alcohol or a combination of both from the board of life to plunge them into that of pure survival, whose sanity was lost among ink bottles, white powders and impossible pills.

The concentration of poverty, if not misery, is what has turned this part of downtown Los Angeles into a “no-go area” where you can certainly enter, but during the day and as naturally as possible, i.e. , without looking like a clueless tourist.

View from the terrace of the Perch LA restaurant. © Ferran Porta

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