Join us for the LAST Saturday afternoon pandemic series webinar: The Treasures and Tragedies of Elysian Park

Gentle reader,

Greetings from your friendly historic Los Angeles sightseeing tour company, now offering digital programming until we can again organize groups to gather and explore the city we love.

For the past nine months, every Saturday at noon, we’ve hosted an all-new immersive Los Angeles cultural history webinar, with so many of you lovely folks in attendance and joined by a revolving cast of brilliant historians, preservationists and storytellers.

It has been an incredible experience and we’ve learned so much about Los Angeles, even with the archives and libraries shuttered. These “90 minute” programs have frequently run twice that length, because there’s just so much to share, and it’s a pleasure to spend time with fellow history lovers.

But as infections plateau in Los Angeles and we begin to explore what it will look like to resume operating in-person Esotouric bus tours, it’s time to take a break from the relentless webinar production pace. It’s been a lot of work.

This week’s Elysian Park program will be the last in the pandemic series of Saturday afternoon webinars.

But you can look forward to a new series of occasional weekday evening programs—and we’ve got some wild ones in the works. All 35 (!!) webinars that we’ve hosted since September are available to view on-demand, so you if you’ve been meaning to catch up, now’s the time. And of course you’ll find us regularly posting breaking preservation and cultural history news on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and in this newsletter.

Without a Saturday noon deadline always looming, we’ll be able resume neglected book projects, help to steer archives into institutional homes, advocate for historic preservation and better public policy around Los Angeles land use and get back out into the field to explore historic places in the southland and beyond. We look forward to sharing all of this with you, so please stay tuned!

Esotouric was the first Los Angeles tour company to shut down in March 2020, and we’ll be similarly conservative while deciding how and when to open up again. Your safety is very important, as is ensuring that the experience of exploring the city as our guests is seamless and pleasant.

Los Angeles isn’t the same place it was when we gave our final tour before shutdown (the Route 66 Road Trip), so we’ll be spending the coming weeks revisiting tour routes and snack stops, locking down a new Downtown tour meeting location (RIP Arts District Urban Radish), and reconnecting with the dedicated caretakers who welcome our groups into their historic spaces.

We’re incredibly grateful for your support through these weird times, and glad we could provide a virtual space for history lovers to come together. But there’s really nothing like a real Esotouric tour, and soon we’ll be able to once again say that we’ll “see you on the bus!”

But there’s still this Saturday’s webinar to come, The Treasures and Tragedies of Elysian Park. By popular demand, we’ll look into the Chavez Ravine evictions and the broken promises of modern public housing for displaced residents, with historian Nathan Marsak and displaced Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison. Faux bois artisan Terry Eagan joins us for a virtual tour of the hidden landmark waterfall rock gardens at the Los Angeles Police Academy, crafted in concrete by master sculptor Francois Scotti. Plus epic battles to preserve the park, how Barlow Sanitarium has been there for Angelenos through three pandemics, and Courtland Jindra’s campaign to restore the forgotten WWI Victory Memorial Grove.

And remember if you can’t watch live or need to leave mid-stream, you can watch the recording for one full week. There’s still time to see Precious Relics of Victorian Los Angeles through Saturday night.

These webinars are now available as On-Demand recordings: Downtown L.A. Artists4th & MainLlano del Rio Utopian ColonyDowntown L.A. Treasure HuntWilshire BoulevardSunset BoulevardJohn FanteArt Deco Leisure SuitsPaul R. WilliamsSaving South L.A. LandmarksBirth of NoirStorybook ArchitectureDark Side of the West SideHotel CecilL.A. Historic Preservation, 1900s-1980sSouthern California’s Architecture of DeathCrawford’s MarketsJohn Bengtson’s Silent Film LocationsGeorge Mann’s Vintage L.A.Pershing SquareCafeterias of Old L.A.Programmatic ArchitectureAngels FlightGrand Central MarketOhio River ValleyBunker HillCharles BukowskiRaymond ChandlerBlack DahliaDutch Chocolate ShopBradbury BuildingTunnelsL.A. Times Bombing and 13 Uncanny Crimes & Mysteries.

And we’d love to see you Saturday at noon for the last pandemic series webinar, The Treasures and Tragedies of Elysian Park.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Slip Into Hall of Waters, a ragged Mayan Art Deco marvel awaiting its next act—we find haunting relics in a basement bomb shelter.


If you enjoy all we do to celebrate and preserve Los Angeles history, please consider signing up for (or gifting) the subscriber’s edition of this newsletter, or putting a little something into our digital tip jar. Gift certificates are available for any webinar in our on-demand library (or for upcoming occasional webinars), starting at $10. Printed matter? We’ve got a swell selection of books and maps, some written by us, others sourced from dusty warehouses. For a wider selection, Bookshop uses the power of distributor Ingram to help independent bookstores stick around. We've curated a selection of uniquely Los Angeles titles, and when you order from these links, it supports participating local shops, and us, too. You can also click here before shopping on Amazon... & if you love what we do, please tell your friends.


We're dark until public health officials and we determine that groups can gather safely. But in addition to on-demand webinar programs, we've got 138 episodes of the podcast You Can't Eat The Sunshine free to download for armchair explorers, and videos of the Downtown L.A. LAVA walking tours, plus Cranky Preservationist videos.


Hell yes we want to read John Steinbeck's 1930 pulp werewolf novel! (As with the Raymond Chandler Estate's rejection of the comic operetta we discovered, Steinbeck's Estate nixes publication. Tick tock, public domain is coming.)

Krotona was a Theosophical faith community that settled in Beachwood Canyon in 1912, later decamping for Ojai. Their quirky buildings still stand above Hollywood, and their vegetarian recipes would probably still find favor among the current residents.

As the lights come on again in California, County Sheriffs have been blocking East Los Angeles streets and citing lowrider cruisers. Petition calls the "no cruising" law systemic racism, seeks unfettered use of the cultural corridor of Whittier Boulevard.

We’re troubled by the claims of @nela_butcher that Belcampo Santa Monica is selling imported, non-organic meat, which the company has confirmed. When the upscale ranch stand displaced legacy Grand Central Market vendor Economy Meats in 2013, it was very hard on the Downtown Los Angeles community. Richard was interviewed on Which Way, L.A.? that year about the changing face of the market.

Buckle up for a wild Cultural Heritage Commission hearing on June 3, as the City of LA seeks to landmark Jay Penske's Venice First Baptist Church (site of a recent fire and protests) and Fairfax Theatre gets second hearing based on new research, plus Howard Hughes HQ, Zuni bungalows. (PDF agenda link, opportunities to help with Fairfax, Hughes and First Baptist.)

Patrick Soon-Shiong is a man of low character, who used the respected mouthpiece of the Los Angeles Times to lie to the press and the public about his greedy vote to destroy community newspapers. We despair for Los Angeles, Hartford, Chicago, Baltimore...

Some sweet Los Angeles history was made this week, when an official landmark plaque went up in front of the first See's Candy Shop and Kitchen at 135 Western Avenue. Cheers to our pal George Geary for making this happen, and brava to Mary See, the genius behind the brand.

UCLA's evolving Mapping Jewish Los Angeles project brings a lost world into focus. The new digital exhibition explores Boyle Heights, from redlining to activism, transit to foodways.

Eric Garcetti's Planning Commission sees nothing wrong with demolishing eight rent stabilized Westlake apartments built in 1913 so a New York developer can profit from a massive upzoned TOC project flush to the property line, with fewer affordable units. This is killing Angelenos.

Echo Park reopened yesterday, two months after the mass arrests of protestors seeking to protect unhoused people who were living on the grass, and journalists documenting the events. The park is now ringed by ugly fences, and has signs prohibiting vendors (in violation of state law). Councilman Mitch O’Farrell ran away rather than answer questions about where the displaced people ended up, and some of those folks gave an impromptu press conference in the park. We strongly oppose politicians making public spaces less accessible to Angelenos and visitors, whether it’s at Pershing Square in the 1950s, or Echo Park today.