The January theme was transit. The LA Times writer who covers transit, Laura Nelson, came and spoke to the students, interns, and teachers. She explained what she does, why her job is unique, and the challenges that Los Angeles faces in the next decade. Laura gave a brief background, and then she was quickly subjected to the questioning of close to 40 people (including myself), close to all of whom were riveted by the transit world. The group and Nelson also discussed significant expansions that the LA transit world hopes to make in the near future. From this, the group, in addition to myself, thought that these expansions are moving in a direction that will help convince thousands of current drivers that alternate modes of transit are worthwhile and economically viable for the average resident of Los Angeles.
Next, I took about ten students on a journey to Little Tokyo, using the metro. I found that despite my inexperience with public transportation in Los Angeles, getting around our city was actually quite easy. Upon our arrival to Little Tokyo, my group looked through the Japanese American National Museum. This little museum was a great way to orient the students with the Japanese-American experience. I found the museum quite moving, and I believe that the students did as well. Then, for lunch, we went to an authentic ramen shop in Little Tokyo, where my group and I had a great bowl of ramen. On our return to Union Station, the group discussed the future of this station and how the city can use it better. The end of the day seemed to spur some optimism that public transit in Los Angeles is the way of the future, as long as the expansion projects continue. Overall, my day was consumed with the thought that Los Angeles has the ability to become a city in which many more people engage in forms of transportation that do not involve getting in a car.
We began the morning with a talk from LA Times reporter Laura Nelson. Laura covers transportation in Los Angeles, and discussed with us the challenges L.A. is currently facing in regards to the way we move around the city. We learned about the role of MTA in the city, and discussed the role of public transportation and how mass transit functions in LA.
With Laura’s words in mind, my group set out to explore Chinatown. We walked from Central Library to the closest metro stop, Pershing Square. We all bought TAP cards (which are reusable and refillable!) and caught a train heading for Union Station. We had to change lines once we reached Union Station, and then it was only one stop on the Gold Line before we reached the Chinatown stop.
We walked through Chinatown, and made our way to Olvera Street for lunch. Our original plan was to eat at the famous Phillipe’s, however being that it was a Saturday afternoon the line was out the door. We passed up on the famous French-dips so we had more time to explore. After eating at a small Mexican restaurant at the end of the avenue, we visited the Avila Adobe, the oldest house in Los Angeles, an exhibition on the Siqueiros mural and saw some traditional dancing on the square.