DTLA Tour (Part 5) – Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and Chinatown

A couple blocks northeast of Angels Flight and Grand Central Market is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the largest Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles and one of the largest cathedrals in the country in general. Construction began in 1998, four years after the Northridge earthquake that damaged the previous church of Los Angeles, the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, and the building was completed in 2002.

What really helps this place stand out, besides simply being a large church, is the contemporary modern style used by Spanish architect Rafael Moneo There are a lot of different angles in the design of both the cathedral’s interior and exterior that differ from what you would generally expect from a church. The cathedral fits over 3000 people and contains a a mausoleum, sculpture garden, gift shop, and more.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is built on the side of the 101 Freeway, which my professor noted was similar to how Mormons generally place their temples in areas where people will see them the most. The basic characteristic of universalizing religions such as Christianity (and all its various sub-sections) is recruitment and you can’t gain new followers if people don’t know where to find you.

After exploring the cathedral grounds for twenty or so minutes, we collected once more and headed towards the last main stop of the trip: Chinatown. After many of LA’s Chinese residents were pushed away from their original homes for development, Chinatown moved away with them and now stands where Little Italy used to be. I’ve already been to Chinatown on random occasions such as to eat after my UCLA graduation, buy fireworks for the 4th of July, and check out the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.

Our professor didn’t really go in depth about New Chinatown and our visit there was more to just take in the environment and reflect on what we noticed about our surroundings. We really didn’t get too much time to explore and I really want to go back again and write a more extensive post about Chinatown, but there is one interesting thing related to urban geography that I will point out now. If you look closely at the street signs around Chinatown, they are labeled both in English and with their Chinese equivalent. That’s just one of the many interesting pieces of information about this place, but like I said, I hope to write more about Chinatown in the future.

After meeting up one last time and heading to Philippe’s, we concluded the field trip and many of us went back to Union Station, bringing this trip around full circle. I really learned a lot on this field trip and through these five DTLA Tour posts, I hope you were able to learn some things too. The trip really highlighted how Los Angeles has grown because of its diversity and that’s what makes it a great city.

DTLA Tour Series:
Part 1 – Union Station
Part 2 – El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Part 3 – Bradbury Building
Part 4 – Grand Central Market and Angels Flight
Part 5 – Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and Chinatown


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