It’s Green on the Ground Week, and we’re featuring green bike lanes and infrastructure across L.A. County. Today our volunteer Dale Zapata highlights the green bike lane on South Spring Street in Downtown L.A. and all the life around it.
I started commuting Downtown in 2012 when the bike lane on Spring Street was a supercharged bright green. For someone who had lived in Los Angeles his whole life, the bike lane was a bright surprise and for someone who had just started taking commuting by bike seriously, it was also pretty comforting. Several years later, the intergalactic green has been wiped away, but the bike lane on Spring Street remains a welcome and familiar sight which, thousands of miles of commuting later, still constitutes the last mile of my daily eight-mile morning commute.
For the bon vivants and gourmands, there’s a lot on Spring Street that will satisfy and delight. The list is too long to detail, but I’ll just say that fans of the Grand Central Market would be remiss to ignore the criminally under-trafficked Spring Street Arcade which is anchored on the Spring Street side by Guisados and which is home to Uli’s Gelateria, Downtown Donuts and soon, Clayton’s Public House.
But the very best thing about Spring Street can be enjoyed without spending a dime and can be summed up in two words and one name: John Parkinson. It costs you zip, zilch, nada to appreciate the works of architect John Parkinson that sit along Spring Street, whether you are taking a tour up to the top of City Hall for a rare panoramic view of the city, or you are spending time in the Financial District (Spring Street between 4th and 7th) within which boundaries John Parkinson designed or helped design no less than ten buildings.
Since 2012, I’ve worked at The Last Bookstore, which, in addition to being a place to buy books, is a living, breathing museum on the first floor of the Spring Arts Tower (formerly the Crocker National Building designed with help from, you guessed it, John Parkinson). The art here lives in plain sight. Whether it’s the Kofie mural that greets you in the lobby as you enter the store from 5th Street, Nik Lord’s stunningly detailed black and white mural of a train wreck in the Art & Rare Book Annex, or Dave Lovejoy’s and Jena Priebe’s sculptures that almost literally float above your head as you rise up the stairs into the home of the Spring Arts Collective on the mezzanine, the art of the store has settled into just about every usable space available and less keen observers may miss much of it if they are in a hurry or not paying attention.
It may not have the theatrical flash of Broadway, but Spring Street is a great street that sometimes is nothing short of beautiful (try riding your bike down here when the sun is setting). With the sense of history imbued by the buildings, to experience Spring Street on a bike is to witness and participate intimately in the ongoing, captivating and, yes, at times uneasy story of a city in transition and transformation.