We're Not Back in the Tour Business Just Yet, So Tune In As We Explore the Secrets of Los Angeles, Virtually

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.

Do you hear that creaking sound? It’s the ice breaking after a year frozen in place.

We find it so hopeful to hear of friends and colleagues getting their COVID vaccines, research libraries soon to reopen, performance spaces given direction for how to serve communities starving for art.

Our phone has been ringing with people asking when Esotouric’s in-person tours are coming back. Right now, we can’t say. There’s just the two of us, and we don’t operate in an event space that can be modified for safety. Right now we want to wait and see how bigger organizations manage the changed landscape of event production in the time of the coronavirus, and to think about how best to keep our tour experiences meaningful and effective within the necessary restrictions.

Presently, the CDC requires that masks be worn on all modes of public transportation, which includes the enclosed coach class bus that we use when giving tours. We think this is a sensible requirement, but a challenging one for storytellers who express so much of our meaning through facial expression, and who are at the center of the action for more than four hours.

So for now, we’re going to continue hosting weekly webinars, keep an eye on the changing winds, and wait a bit longer to turn our touring lights back on, in whatever form that takes.

When we do resume service with Esotouric tours, we expect we’ll join other public venues by asking for proof of vaccination, for the safety of all our guests, our driver and ourselves.

If you’re having trouble finding a vaccine appointment, you might find this hacker-made tool that checks pharmacy websites every minute helpful. And on the social network Reddit, members are chiming in daily with local vaccine information. Here’s today’s post, including reports from Angelenos driving to Cal State Bakersfield, where no appointments are presently required for anyone seeking vaccination, and the candy and giant shoe are worth the drive.

We’ve all been through so much this past year, and are emerging into a different Los Angeles than the one we used to share. Let’s all try to be patient and kind with one another—and with ourselves.

We truly cannot wait to see you again, and explore the city we love together—soon!

We hope you’ll join us on Saturday at noon for John Fante’s Bunker Hill and Downtown Los Angeles Literary Time Machine webinar, honoring the author of the classic 1939 Bunker Hill novel Ask the Dust and the places and people who inspired his work. We’ll be joined by the author’s children Vickie Fante Cohen and Jim Fante, Pershing Square public artist Barbara McCarren (her piece HeyDay, seen at lower right in the image above, references the Long Beach earthquake from Ask The Dust and is currently threatened with removal), Fante scholar Matteo Cacco and Bunker Hill native son Gordon Pattison. For more info or to reserve your spot, click here.

On Saturday, April 10, it’s The Crimes and Oddities of L.A.’s Sunset Boulevard, the latest an ongoing series highlighting weird tales in historic neighborhoods. We’ll work our way along the spine of a lively commercial district, highlighting horrible, fascinating and peculiar happenings that were once the talk of the town, and revealing some unexpected landmarks that once seen will be hard to forget. For more info, or to sign up, click here.

And just added for Saturday, April 17 is The Wonders and Weirdness of Wilshire Boulevard. Join us for a virtual jaunt down the loveliest boulevard in town, as we dig into strange crimes and gorgeous buildings, city planning, historic preservation and the unexpected surprises to be found along this ancient transit corridor. We’ll take you inside Bullocks Wilshire, Wilshire Tower / Silverwood’s, Farmers Insurance and Millard Sheets’ Scottish Rite Temple, and pay our respects to the late, great LACMA. For more info, or to reserve your spot, click here.

Stay tuned as we roll out a new webinar program each Saturday. 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 Art Deco Leisure Suits: How Los Angeles Preserved the 1930s in the 1970s through Saturday night.

These webinars are now available as On-Demand recordings: Paul R. Williams, ArchitectSaving South L.A. LandmarksThe Birth of NoirStorybook ArchitectureThe Dark Side of the West SideIn The Shadow of the Hotel CecilL.A. Historic Preservation, 1900s-1980sTouring Southern California’s Architecture of DeathCrawford’s MarketsJohn Bengtson’s Silent Film LocationsGeorge Mann’s Vintage L.A.Pershing Square 1866-2020Cafeterias 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 tomorrow at noon for John Fante’s Bunker Hill and Downtown Los Angeles Literary Time Machine.

yours for Los Angeles,

Kim & Richard


Subscribe! In the latest subscriber's edition of this newsletter—$10/month, cheap!—Peep Inside a 1930s Movie Theater Manager's Promotional Scrapbook—we get a glimpse of a lost world of thrilling ballyhoo in Old Town Pasadena.


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 library or upcoming calendar, 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 weekly 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.


Video Vault: "Seeing California the Delightful Way..." on America's first Observation Motor Parlor Car, the social way to travel in the 1920s. 3 days from S.F. to L.A. The price was $15/day all inclusive for a spot on the big windowed bus, meals and hotels.

The Larry Edmunds Bookshop is now open for limited in-person browsing. Make an appointment to support the last bookstore standing on Hollywood’s booksellers’ row.

Our Kim Cooper is quoted in Lexis Olivier-Ray's L.A. Taco story about last Sunday's illegal demolition party in an early 20th century Craftsman bungalow. Bam Margera just wants attention and is getting it, but we’d all be better off if he just got lost.

Historic-Cultural Monument nomination filed for Watts Happening Cultural Center / Mafundi Building (Kennard & Silvers, 1969), threatened with demolition by city of LA and councilman Joe Buscaino. Can this cultural treasure be saved?

If the tone of this Archinect piece is anything to go by, LACMA has exhausted all reserves of goodwill.

For background to The Getty's announcement that their Mark Antony gem is a fake, here's Erin L. Thompson on John Boardman, who enjoys the generosity of zillionaires, helps launder their looted treasures through "scholarly" catalogues.

A beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival home... or she was. 845 South Le Doux Road (1931-?)

The Los Angeles Conservancy expresses reservations about initial proposal for expanding Pereira and Luckman's landmarked CBS Television City. We look forward to a robust, preservation-driven discussion about the right way to grow this visionary studio complex.

We're honored and grateful that Save LACMA, the scrappy nonprofit seeking to make the museum more transparent and better managed through a ballot measure, has been nominated by the Los Angeles Business Journal for the 2021 Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards. To watch live on 4/21, sign up for free here.

A perfectly good 1909 house split into apartments purchased for more than $1 Million in 2015, tenants displaced, all boarded up, burns (see photos) in a city suffering a grim lack of affordable housing and a public corruption land use scandal that goes all the way to the Mayor's office. How much did taxpayers pay LAFD to fight this second major fire?

Video Vault: Tory "Magoo" Christman, a member of Scientology from 1969-2000, drives around the Westlake district in 2009, laughing hysterically pointing out CoS landmarks. "This is the Celebrity Center! That's where I trained John Travolta, right here!" She cries, too.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation checks in on one of our favorite small towns, Las Vegas, NM, to see how the small businesses in time capsule buildings are weathering the pandemic. Put the other LV, so full of wonder, on your road trip list!

A month of disruption for passengers and COVID testers as the Academy transforms the landmark Union Station to host the Oscars. Metro has an elegant map and FAQ to help navigate the space.

"Vermonica is wonderful urban surprise in the heart of East Hollywood." We celebrate our favorite piece of public art in a sweet featurette from Spectrum, shot on the occasion of reinstallation of Sheila Klein's original vintage L.A. streetlamp sculpture.

City seeks to take ownership of the CRA’s long neglected Marlton Square next to the Baldwin Hills Mall to develop as a biotech campus. Is this the best use of the parcel? Currently improved with charming 1950s retail and Jerry's Flying Fox lounge (RIP, neon sign MIA).

Demolition permits sought for 8377-87 Blackburn, a row of pretty Spanish rent controlled buildings, 1929-1931. But where are the tenants from the 13 units? The Ellis Act has not been invoked here. It was a curious communal space.

Knock LA talks with people displaced from Echo Park, as well as city outreach workers, finds a very different picture than the one spun by politicians. A really disturbing story, especially considering how much money exists to actually help people.

Bizarre accusations of Russian hosted smear campaigns leveled at former partner by one of the developers hand-picked by Jose Huizar to build Angels Landing, the most valuable remaining slice of the Bunker Hill project. We have our own reservations about the project.