In our first installation of Explore LA!, we thought we’d so something quintessentially Angelean, like take a trip to the movies! This Saturday, August 15th, the Los Angeles section of the American Planning Association (APA) is hosting a special tour and movie night at Cinespia‘s Movies All Night Slumber Party. APA explorers will be Guided by professionals and treated to a walking tour of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Hollywood Forever has history-laden past and serves as the final resting place for some of Hollywood’s earliest stars. The site is also a great place for thinking about urban planning and the utilization and re-purposing of existing infrastructure because in more recent times, it has undergone a transformation from near-bankruptcy in the 90s to its revitalization and rebirth as one of Los Angeles’ more beloved landmarks in the early 2000s.
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and more specifically the Cinespia (a portmanteau of two Italian words: “cine” as in cinema and “spiare” meaning “to spy”) screenings, has helped fill one of the most gaping voids in Los Angeles, the dearth of public gathering spaces. Now admittedly it’s not exactly “public” since you have to pay to attend the screenings, but there’s definitely a feeling of camaraderie among the masses of cinema-spies.
Like campers freely lending forgotten necessities it’s not uncommon to strike up conversations with strangers over a borrowed blanket. This bringing together of people for a shared experience is especially beneficial and needed in LA where we are so often shut off from others: either physically in our cars, or mentally on the bus or train with heads clad in earphones and sunglasses. It’s nice to experience Los Angeles in a way that, for once, isn’t so adversarial.
And why not arrive at the Hollywood Cemetery in a fun, shared-experience sort of way? The Hollywood/Vine Red Line Station is only a mile away; it’s an easy 15-20 minute walk and an even easier 5 minute bike ride.
Whether walking or biking, upon exiting the Hollywood/Vine Station head to Vine and turn left (probably easier to just walk your bike from the station, then across the crosswalk with the rest of the pedestrian traffic) then head down ten blocks to Santa Monica Blvd and turn left. If you aren’t that experienced at biking (or if traffic is heavy) you might consider making a two-stage left-turn aka a “Copenhagen Left” on Santa Monica as opposed to the regular way you’d turn left (as a vehicular cyclist, in the left turn lane with the rest of the cars).
To do the Copenhagen Left, enter into the intersection as if you are going to continue through Santa Monica, but instead pull your bike over into the crosswalk in front of the cars queued at the stop in the far right lane on Santa Monica. Then just wait for the light to turn green and continue on to Hollywood Forever. Alternatively, you can dismount your bike before crossing the intersection and walk across as a pedestrian, then do the same again to get you onto the south-east corner of the intersection.
The cemetery entrance is on Gordon St (a block past Gower) next to a little lawn where, depending when you’re arriving, you may see people lined up. If you rode your bike there’s free on-site bike parking, just ask an attendant! Be aware however that this particular screening is a triple-feature, scheduled to end at 4am well after the trains stop running. So if you’re planning on taking the Metro back, make sure to pack up your blanket and pillows and leave on time. And as usual when night biking, be sure to wear bright, highly visible (reflective if possible) clothing, and high powered bike lights to make sure you are visible on the road.
However you choose to get there, you’ll be sure to have a grand evening both under, and among, the stars.