The New Grand Park is a wonder in downtown L.A. – Top 5 list (PHOTOS AND VIDEO)

by Russell's Rants

Grand Park opened in downtown Los Angeles last week.  Located across Grand Avenue from the Music Center and between the buildings housing the Los Angeles Superior Court and Hall of Administration, “Grand” is a good description for the park.  It is truly spectacular.

And here are the Top 5 things about it:

5.         It’s finally complete.  The park renovation took over 2 years and had a budget of over $50 million.  The site had been a dusty and noisy construction zone that made entry into the adjoining civic buildings more difficult.  But no longer.

4.         They kept the fountain.  For years, I have admired the art deco wonder of the Arthur J. Will Memorial fountain.  It was a piece of L.A. history – featured in numerous televisions ads and motion pictures, including “Pretty Woman” and “500 Days of Summer.”

When the scaffolding went up, I was afraid that the fountain was being demolished.  Instead, it’s been completely restored, updated – with fancy nighttime lighting – and expanded to become the highlight of the renovated park.  I spoke wtih Julie Taylor, who is the spokesperson for Rios Clementi Hale Studios, the architect for the park renovation, and she told me that it was “very important that the fountain stay and be restored in such a glorious way.”

Music Center

Ms. Taylor agreed that the fountain has become a centerpiece of the renovated park because it has been made interactive and can now be seen from atop Grand Avenue after the removal of parking ramps that had obstructed the view.  “Before you could see nothing.”  Now if you stand mid-way in the park, you can see both the Will Memorial fountain and the Music Center fountain above Grand — thus visually linking, and unifying, the two public spaces.

Score one for historic preservation, and good taste!

3.         There’s more to come.  When completed by the end of the year, Grand Park will have two additional sections added to the one opened last week that is currently bounded on the south by Hill Street.  The two new sections will go all the way to the steps of City Hall – and will available for use by all, from Occupy LA to individual citizens and groups that wish to enjoy the open space.  There are perfect areas and stages for public events.

And dogs on-leash are welcome.

2.         300 trees and 24 gardens are being added.  The new trees and shrubs come from all over the world and are meant to symbolize the diversity that makes up Los Angeles.

1.         The kids love it.  Did I mention the fountain?  Oh, yes, I did, and for good reason.  A 6,200 square-foot water park of sorts has been added to the front of the fountain.  It features a thin membrane of water, just a half-inch deep with a non-slip surface, that draws you in, literally.

Take a look: