This weekend (October 17 and 18), Found LA will be taking over the city, offering free, public tours of little-known and under-represented segments of Los Angeles's history and culture. Tours will look at a partially-built bicycle freeway, the roots of LA's LGBTQ's faith communities, LA's history as a cow capital, and more.
A less-than-beautiful building that will be featured on the tour: this "bank that looks like a Taco Bell"
This year's round of Found LA tours take inspiration from LAtitudes: An Angeleno's Atlas, a collection of essays that merge history, culture, and geography, many of which we've looked at before. Architect and educator Wendy Gilmartin contribution to the book is titled, simply, "Ugly Buildings." In it, she admits that while LA has an abundance of beautiful buildings of many styles, it also has a good deal of straight-up unattractive ones. This is a good thing: homely buildings have a lot to offer beyond their disappointing aesthetics. Gilmartin argues that visually unappealing buildings hold clues about the history of Los Angeles and the attitudes and preferences of the people who have lived here; she refers to a building's hideousness as "a gateway" to discovering all that history, and in her free tour in the Valley this weekend, she's going to make her case.
Gilmartin's 1.2-mile walking tour this Saturday ("Misfits, Quasimodos and Stucco Boxes: The Ugly, Ordinary and Unappreciated Buildings of Van Nuys") will unpack the complex unattractiveness of a handful of buildings in the San Fernando Valley, including a "bank that looks like a Del Taco, [the] Tri-Star car wash, and Carlito's Way cocktail lounge."
If the unpleasantness of a building's exterior directly corresponds to the awesomeness and complexity of its history, these buildings will not disappoint. In an email, Gilmartin writes that she chose this area (around Sepulveda near Victory Boulevard) not to hate on the Valley, but because it exemplifies "a suburb that's been growing more urbanized over the last 15 to 20 years. Multiple eras of development overlap … offering a misfit, mixed-up collection of often overlooked structures."
Found LA is produced by the nonprofit LA Commons. To learn more about all the free tours offered at this weekend's Found LA tour series, visit the event's website. Sign up for more than one tour—they'd love that.