Art from start to finish
Discover a new frontier of self-guided culture
BY MELISSA HECKSCHER
Want to explore downtown but don't want to venture into Los Angeles' only urban frontier on your own?
No problem. Quick Culture, an L.A.-based company specializing in private art-appreciation tours, recently
began offering two-hour walking tours of Gallery Row and other downtown districts for those who don't know
where to start when it comes to exiting east off of the 110 Freeway.
"It's a challenge to get people downtown because there's this sense of the unknown," said Quick Culture co-
founder Charlotte Robinson. "People are intimidated by downtown. ... But there's actually stuff down here."
With more than 30 galleries in 14 blocks, Robinson said Gallery Row stands out because of its bohemian
sincerity, a natural byproduct, she said, of being a fresh batch of newcomers in a city already teeming with
"A number of the galleries are owned by the artists themselves. Some of them have their studios there," Rob-
inson said. "It's a real home that they're trying to create. It's very real." Not to mention, there's the obvious
urban advantage: An easy walk.
"It's nice to be able to walk around the neighborhood," Robinson said. "You can go from Point A to Point B
and, because you are walking, you can discover things along the way." Those things aren't necessarily in-
side the galleries. The 12-story Hotel Alexandria on Spring Street, Robinson pointed out, was once the so-
cialite hub of L.A., hosting the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill and President Theodore Roosevelt.
And nearby, the Grand Central Market stands as Los Angeles County's oldest open-air market.
Farther west, Angel's Flight, a steep one-block railroad on Hill Street, was known as the "shortest railway in
"What we try to do with the tour is do some gallery stops and some architectural stops," Robinson said. "That
way people can learn a little bit about the neighborhood." The downtown t