L.A. From the Top and Bottom: Up from the Bottom (2008)

MacArthur Park Metro Station

You might feel like you're trapped in a fancy Chinese restaurant as you walk out of the MacArthur Park Red Line station, what with its great walls of shiny scarlet tiles. Suddenly, as you're about to ascend from this subterranean cave to Alvarado Street, the perspective dreamily changes. Looking up, beyond the escalator glimmer of rail and steps, the eye sees an enormous post card of blue sky and a single palm tree. Suddenly you forget the day's headaches — the crummy job you've just come from, the claustrophobic ride over here and the roachy room you're headed to. Mechanical stairs lift you heavenward, the sky mural expands: more palms, gulls wheeling above MacArthur Park's lake, peeling paletta-cart bells. Alvarado stretches, impossibly deserted for a split second, as waddling pigeons gather to form your entourage. Up on the sidewalk men sit on milk crates, in wheelchairs — there's always the legless guy with silver duct tape on his stumps. Great buildings — the Asbury, Park Plaza, Westlake Theatre! — huddle in the distance like old movie stars with sagging faces. In the open air you don't look back to the underworld you've left behind but take in a park with its lovers on the grass, birds sleeping on an island that lies in a lake that shouldn't exist. You feel like a million dollars, tax-free.

—Steven Mikulan

Location Details

660 S. Alvarado St.
Los Angeles CA 90057

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