The Places Los Angeles Forgot
August 8, 2006 12:14 AM   Subscribe

Tourists coming to Los Angeles usually visit the standard few spots; but there are some amazing urban ruins that even the locals are rarely aware of. From the original site of the Los Angeles zoo (abandonded cages & rock facades now) to the remains of the Sunken City, to the inexorably rusting hull of the 44 year old shipwrecked Greek freighter Dominator, L.A.'s forgotten places are tourist destinations for the intrepid, local & visitor alike. A PDF guide to how to find many of the best (including the Echo Mountain House & The Bridge To Nowhere) can be found here. Many links & inspiration via
posted by jonson (11 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I remember being up on Mt. Wilson and seeing old photographs of the Echo Mountain house. I was amazed to see that there used to be a tram running up there. It would be amazing if you could just hop on a tram from Pasadena and be taken out of the city, into the mountains. I'd love to hike up to that Bridge to Nowhere. It looks very similar to the Colorado street bridge.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 1:37 AM on August 8, 2006


This is right up my alley. Thanks for this.

Got me some weekend plans....
posted by quite unimportant at 1:40 AM on August 8, 2006

When I was around 10, my dad insisted that we go and see a shipwreck in Palos Verdes. The four of us (my dad, me, my brother (8), and my sister (4)) drove to Palos Verdes, stumbled down a fairly steep dirt trail and then gingerly stepped along jagged wet rocks, slippery and dangerous looking.

I, naturally, fell on those rocks and cut open my head. My dad laughed it off, and kept on trying to keep us going towards the shipwreck, while I sniffled and sobbed and bled all over. Finally, he got fed up with how I was convinced I was dying, and took us all home.

He suggests "going down the cliffs" whenever I visit. I'm never going down there again.

It's really nice to finally have a name for that goddamned boat.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:00 AM on August 8, 2006 [1 favorite]

This page links to a Word-format history of the wreck of the Dominator as told by J.E. Hardison, the man who tried to salvage it.
Captain Papanicolopoulos (this is his real name), was on the bridge directing his thirty-man crew and his old and tired World War II freighter, without modern navigation equipment, not even radar, but the Dominator was doomed. [...] It was with a great deal of regret that the Captain gave up his ship, his first trip as a Captain, and undoubtedly, his last by the rules of the sea. He was sixty-four years old, had been to sea all his life, working up to this command from a deck hand. His career ended, aground, eight miles from the safety of Long Beach Harbor. [...]
posted by pracowity at 3:08 AM on August 8, 2006

Swordfish, the hike up to the Bridge to Nowhere is great. I'd recommend, however, wearing clothes you can get wet -- as the pamphlet mentions, you've got to cross the stream several times. At one point the water was up to my chest and rushing so hard that I had to hang onto rocks to keep from being swept away.
posted by hifiparasol at 5:57 AM on August 8, 2006

Thanks for posting this - I'm a big fan of off-the-beaten-path tourism. Some of this makes me want to actually go to LA for something other than record shopping. The Old Los Angeles Zoo looks very intriguing.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:14 AM on August 8, 2006

Here are about as many photos of Echo Mountain in 1894 as you are ever going to find.
posted by Skychief at 7:06 AM on August 8, 2006

It looks very similar to the Colorado street bridge.

Or as some natives prefer to call it, Suicide Bridge.
posted by blucevalo at 9:19 AM on August 8, 2006

The "Abandoned" LA Zoo is a fun stop. You can go hiking up in back of it on trails and find all sorts of abandoned sheds, weird handrails, telephone poles, and other stuff.

It's not the original zoo, though. That was in Eastlake/Lincoln Park.

While you're over on that side of town you can also check out what's left of the oldGrand Central Air Terminal
posted by davros42 at 12:21 PM on August 8, 2006

My pal Rich Polysorbate 60 (literally) worships the Dominator, and has composed many terrifying odes to it. He has been trying to get me to hike there in the middle of the night for a ruin-board jam session for years, but I always assumed that, like Katemonkey, I would be horribly injured along the trek. But any braver souls who want a guided tour of the wreck might want to touch base with Mr. P-60 and see if he's planning a visit.
posted by Scram at 8:26 AM on August 9, 2006

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