Late Night Trains? Late Night Bike Rides? A New Park? The Amazing Weekend That Was in Downtown Los Angeles

This weekend saw three pretty amazing events in Downtown Los Angeles. Each unique and important in its own way, that shows how Los Angeles is on the cusp of becoming a world class city for reasons beyond the film industry and a truly livable city.  In chronological order. If you have any experiences with the Grand Park opening, late night train service, or Wolfpack Hustle midnight race, please leave them in the comments.  We’ll highlight some of them on Streetsblog Lite.

Thursday evening, Grand Park officially opened with what Curbed termed, “a very flashy music and dance number that culminated in the re-turning-on of the giant Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain.”  The party continued through the weekend, with Downtowners and out-of-towners alike flocking to the park.

Even a severe head cold couldn't keep Sammy, wearing his Darrell Clarke costume, from enjoying Grand Park.

On Sunday, I ventured down to the park myself, taking the Expo and Purple Lines, pushing a stroller bearing a toddler with a head cold. I knew from social media that the park was already attracting crowds, but was still surprised by the people swaying to some mellow music, the kids splashing in the water rising from the ground near the fountain, and the amount of ugly yet comfortable furniture people sat on.

On our trip, we ran into another family from Mar Vista and a family from Huntington Beach using the train to visit the park. Comfortable transit taking me to well-attended public events in attractive open space? Steve Martin, eat your heart out.

The press is giving the park, and the people attending it, rave reviews. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised at this point that attractive public space and outdoor events draw crowds of happy people. Have we learned nothing from CicLAvia?

As Friday became Saturday and the trains (and Orange Line Buses) continued to run, L.A. quietly took another step towards becoming a transit town. Despite the flurry of press announcing Metro’s plan to extend its Bus Rapid Transit and rail service into the early morning hours, there was no ribbon cutting for the after midnight rail passengers. It might not seem like a big deal, Metro shuffles the deck on its service hours twice a year in some form or another, but consider that late night rail service was such a dream four short years ago that Metro Rider, a now defunct website for news and views on L.A. transportation,  announced it as their 2008 April Fool’s joke.

The idea of late night rail service was a punchline to Fred Camino (before he worked for The Source) in 2008. Today, it's reality.

A quick note of congratulations to The Transit Coalition, who has long advocated for late night rail service. Members of the group have told me for months that the service was coming, and their behind the scenes work paid off.

Twenty-four hours later, as Saturday became Sunday, hundreds of cyclists competed in a race through the 2nd Street Tunnel. While late night bike rides, or races, are hardly news in Los Angeles this one benefitted from an active public relations campaign and by filing all the paperwork to close the street officially.  The “Wolfpack Hustle Midnight Drag Race,” is the culmination of efforts to bring L.A.’s unique “group ride culture” popularized by Midnight Ridazz into the mainstream.

The group ride culture has come so far that the race wasn’t just publicized on websites such as Midnight Ridazz and Streetsblog, but also on Metro’s The Source and other “official” sites.  Heck, the Los Angeles Times actually covered the race in today’s edition.

A gigantic park opening in Downtown Los Angeles, late night trains, the continued movement of L.A.’s bike culture into the mainstream. Nobody’s going to mistake Los Angeles for Copenhagen, but this weekend L.A. showcased its best side, and gave the world a taste of the world-class city it can be.

  • Eric Weinstein

    Took the Expo to the Music Center Friday night. For a birthday party we went to a Disco Dancing lesson.  There’s other dance lessons during the summer. Very nice walk up from the City Center Red Line Station.

    Liked the rebuilt park a lot. Nice fountain, good planting. Quite the pleasant urban stroll at night!

  • Irwinc

    Took the Expo line on Sunday to Expo Park and Grand Park too. Ridership on Expo was pretty good for a Sunday… aside from families with strollers going to Downtown, I saw lots of people using Expo to get to Church at Crenshaw.

  • Davistrain

    I still remember having to leave a couple of Art Fein’s Elvis Birthday Bashes in Hollywood before the last few songs because I didn’t want to miss the last Red Line train connecting with the last Gold Line train.  The last few editions of this event have been in Echo Park, which would be great if the Pacific Electric Glendale Line were still running, but not if one
     has to take a bus to get back to Union Station.

    Regarding the bike event in the 2nd St. Tunnel.  Some of the local bike enthusiasts seem
    quite excited about this, but to me bike racing has about as much relation to making cycling a mainstream activity as the Long Beach Grand Prix has to normal driving.  And club names like “Wolfpack Hustle” and “Midnight Ridazz” do not project an image of bicycling as a part of everyday life the way it is in Copenhagen and Amsterdam.  To those of us who remember World War II, “wolfpack” was a term used to describe groups of German submarines that sent many Allied ships and crews to the bottom of the Atlantic. 

  • Darrell

    ?!

  • Ubrayj02

    The guys who started the Wolfpack Hustle have gotten hundreds of young men and women off the couch and out riding, hard. There are packs of young men in my community that normally would have nothing to do. Now these guys take off on epic bike trips all over the county, dreaming of being as bad ass as the men and women who won the race this past Saturday.

    It isn’t all going to be citizen cyclist marketing that pushes America into a healthier, more financially sound, future. We need to make living life on a bicycle cool as well. So far, it is working okay. With a $0 budget and all-volunteer film, photography, production, and logistics crews the Wolfpack has made its mark.

  • Roadblock

    I believe you are completely wrong. Events such as the Long Beach Gran Prix are exactly the type of events that transformed something as mundane as “operating vehicles” to get around into a fast sexy fun activity that captured the imagination of generations pre-WW2 and after…. crazy shapes, fins, style…. that’s what really sold cars. When something isn’t mainstream it takes some marketing and “badass” imagery to get people’s attention. Decades of racing, car chase scenes, James Dean Burt Reynolds and Steve McQueen led to a culture of car worship that transformed the streets into race tracks. Doing the same thing for bikes is working wonders. The kids arent going to ride bikes if they see the dudes from CABO riding around with 2 mirrors on their helmets and fluorescent vests. The kids are gonna try it for the same reason our parents and grand parents did it… because it’s effin cool. 

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