10 Great Places: For Breathtaking Views of DTLA

It won’t be long before the Wilshire Grand Center on 7th and Figueroa is completed, taking the title of “tallest building on the West Coast” from the US Bank Tower constructed in the 1980s.  Acquired by the Singapore property group Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd (OUE) in 2013, for the time being, OUE’s 72-floor office building located nearly 1,000 feet above Downtown reigns supreme for having the most breathtaking views and DTLA’s most thrilling rooftop experience.

OUE Skyspace

Prepare yourself for a queasy feeling as your body adjusts to the pressures immediately after exiting the first ascension inside the lavishly decorated elevator. The feeling settles quickly or maybe your just distracted by the maze of digital interactive exhibits that lead you to the second elevator where visitors have access to lounge areas, full bar and 360 degrees of angelic views from the 70th floor.  From these windows one is able to see the 2,800 square feet of outdoor observation deck of Skyspace on the floor below. Only thick glass barriers constructed to keep them from falling off the edge surround those daring enough to venture to the deck. From this point there is only one other box left unchecked when it comes to the complete experience of Skyspace.  That’s right, there’s two ways down to the observation deck…the easy way; you can take the stairs or the hard way; you can take Skyslide. There is no room to breath, your only choice being, holding your breath or screaming, as you find yourself racing down the outside of a Downtown skyscraper inside a curbed glass box, on a magic carpet ride; sliding from the 69th and 70th floor. The walls of the slide are 1 1/4 inches thick meaning, you can take on Skyslide to get rid of your fear of danger, heights, falling, or just being a wimp, but it may not help. Not at all. 633 W 5th Street, 90071.

City Hall Observation Deck

As delicious as it may look from the outside, sometimes with the sweetest indulgence of a $300 million dollar layer cake covered in white frosting, plenty of other buildings across America can try to copy; but try as you may, you just can’t bite City Hall.  Topped by the Lindbergh Beacon, lighting this historic birthday candle has for almost a century invited all of Los Angeles to gather round in song and celebration. Designed by famed architects of their time, John Parkinson, Albert C. Martin and John Austin this wondrous monument in time is mixed from the sand of 58 California counties and holy water from 21 historical missions. City Hall houses the City Council, the Mayor and various lawmakers and visionaries with their eye on Downtown. But to discover a bird’s eye view of Downtown, take the elevator to the top and pear down on Los Angeles as it was first observed over 100 years. With access to the four corners of the earth once where acres of oranges and horse driven buggies once flourished is now littered with government building to the west, 6th Street Bridge (or what’s left of it), to the east, Dodger Stadium north, and the Historic Core to the South headed by the LA Times building still with giant functioning neon clock. 200 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Westin Bonaventure

The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites has got to be one of the most adored landmarks in all of Los Angeles. Built in 1974, the 35-story hotel is sure to give most nostalgic feelings from childhood, reminding us how we rushed to look up just in time to catch a glimpse of one of its moving elevator pods, as it made its way up or down the outside of the dark-rounded glass futuristic fortress, for just a moment, while our parents cruised by on the 101.  But the sophistication and elegance the Westin provides to the adult, as you stroll your way through the atrium lobby, past the bar to the elevator chariots during your leisurely weekend getaway, business meeting, or special event, define the essence of modern luxury. The view from inside the elevator complete you, knowing you’ve made it to the future where you now have become part of the marvel.  Ascend from the ground floor to your suite, with feelings of accomplishment with views of Downtown, including City Hall and Union Station that last only as long as your ride, but with added memories that last a lifetime.  404 S Figueroa Street, 90071.

WeWork at Gas Company Towers

You can please some of the people some of the time or you can please them all, especially your co-workers and guests at WeWork’s Downtown shared office spaces on the 24th floor of the Gas Company Tower a 52 Story skyscraper, owned by Brookfield Office Properties, located at the south east edge of Bunker Hill with amazing views and youthful entrepreneur attitudes who understand the importance of having a pimp ass view when showing off their high altitude enabled offices to family and friends. The nearly 90,000 square feet space at WeWork absorbs Southern exposure through curved glass windows on the top floors of the Gas Co. Towers allowing employees and private party guest views of downtown and beyond to Catalina Island. The Millennium Biltmore, Pershing Square, LA Live, plus most of the rooftops and the tiny inhabitants of the Financial & Jewelry Districts below. 555 W. 5th Street, 90013.

The Standard

At the Standard Rooftop bar you may find it harder to look up than plain looking around thanks to the sunbathers and heated pool party participants that offer some breathtaking skin clad views of their own. The Standard is by far not the highest building with the furthest views, in fact its nestled inside a valley of skyscrapers produced by AON, the US Bank and a few other top reaches…but The Standard is a virtual epicenter of youthful travelers mostly under 35, who don’t yet suffer from the effects of age, including gravity, wrinkles, balding or shyness. The crowd is wet and wild, and the drinks are plenty with specialty cocktails, dance floor, outdoor fireplace, waterbed lounging pods, and a classic German Biergarten with sculptured topiary unicorns leading the way. There is no jumping…or should we say diving, just wading in the water, with some not even venturing that far so to not get their hair and makeup wet in case they decide to hook up at the disco later, which happens often thanks to the convenience of having a full service hotel on the floors below. But if you still came only to enjoy the view of majestic downtown buildings that tower over and surround you at the Standard, there are telescopes posted on the pool deck, and binoculars for sale in the gift shop.  Soon to be steamy ones.

Perch

Undoubtedly one of Downtown’s most romantic restaurant locations, think bird’s nest with live jazz and French cuisine on a roof top deck that offers unobstructed views of Downtown Los Angeles. Is it the nest or LOVE that makes you feel you are floating high above the City?

At first, Perch may not be the most welcoming nest to get to. Located on the 15th floor of the Historic Pershing Building, when entering the building you’re promptly questioned by security as to your purpose inside the building; even when it’s obvious you know where you’re going. A second elevator escort awaits you when exiting on the 13th floor with more questions and more instructions to follow before reaching the lounge at the top.  When exiting the rickety tan and brown striped elevators decorated with brass bird emblems, you’re greeted by a not so tuned old-fashioned piano, almost irresistible not to play, but clearly annoying to anyone who hears it more than once or twice a day. Play it and the reception staff that will surely tell you, you’ll need reservations to dine in. Yet, if you are among the lucky tweeters who are able to rest your tired wings and gain a seat, you’ll find the atmosphere of Perch with its beautiful antique inspired furniture, plush lounge couches and incredibly detailed woodwork, quite enjoyable.  The inside dining area is virtually surrounded by outdoor patio seating areas with ornate fireplaces and incredible romantic views of the Downtown L.A. There is even an upper deck used most days for private parties, on the 16th floor, which requires a separate elevator ride and of course, new instructions by elevator staff to ride up. Once on the 16th floor however, there is nothing to obstruct your intentions in Downtown, just breathtaking views of the night sky above and the stars in your lovers eyes. 448 S Hill Street, 90013.

Continental Building

The Continental Building, aka Braly Block, aka Hellman Building, is a 13-story high-rise residential building completed in 1903, designed by John Parkinson of Union Station and City Hall fame.  Sure, at 13-stories it may not seem like much now, but back in its day it was the city’s first high-rise building, scaring the once then LA City Council into enacted a 150ft height restriction on all future buildings, consequently making it the city’s tallest building for more than fifty years, (besides City Hall, of course, whose construction was backed by such rich and powerful developers that all legalities, restrictions and logic of the time, seemed to have been thrown of the window…no pun intended).  Back then, from the enormous windows surrounded by grand arches, pillars, ribbons and lion heads, the view from the Continental gave way to the region’s most elaborate, creative, forthcoming, innovative, and what would now become Downtown’s most historic landmark of our time. The Continental, thanks to its visionary developers and the City’s new redapt reuse programs, has stood the test of time, and revealed to it’s occupants the history of Downtown Los Angeles. Towering over the time of the horse and buggy, orchard fields, newly built railroad, lights of Broadway, to today’s most solidified and best engineered City skyscrapers. 116 W 4th Street, 90013.

Takami Sushi

The Financial District has no shortage of skyscrapers, that’s for sure. With over a gazillion square feet of office and retail spaces, you can most likely choose anyone of the glass, steel giants to make an honest living, while enjoying a much desired high-story window office view. But if you really want to have a blast, consider taking the elevator 21 floors to one of Downtown’s most unique restaurant concepts.  Serving the highest quality sushi, robata, and Japanese-influenced entrees, Takami Sushi and Robata’s uncompromising good  service, coupled with atmosphere, and tastefully done cuisine is hard to top.  Now imagine dining while enjoying a completely tantalizing view, with a table exploding with the flavors of unique and freshly prepared signature cocktails. On a warm clear night, you can see and feel forever.  Outdoor torch flyers, dim lighting, comfy lounge areas will help you impress every last one of your friends, as Takami was the first in the LA area with outdoor patio dining and the first in a Downtown high rise to offer an exclusive restaurant. Renovated in 1991 the NEC of Wilshire Building was built in 1960, and that may explain its almost uncanny ability to make you believe you’re in an old spy movie of some type. Or at least at a place where you feel you’re on top of the world. 811 Wilshire Blvd, 90071.

Elevate

Don’t try to speak when you’re partying at Club Elevate. Words will do you no justice.  Just allow its splendor to overwhelm you and communicate with your ability to have fun. Elevate is not just a dance club with an amazing lounge. It’s a chance to experience the freedom of altitude inside an Ultra-Lounge where indoor and outdoor become one. It’s a 21-story penthouse, that bathes you in the outside air and shelters you inside enormous, neighboring, architectural structures, leaving you with a feeling of omnipresence, knowing that whatever your private experience with Club Elevate may be, it will be kept secret by the surrounding buildings and by the night. With randomly lit office windows that completely entice you, so close you feel like you can reach out and touch them, Elevate is a portal to another life and one of the greatest places for memories of clubbing in Downtown. 811 Wilshire Blvd, 90071.

Ritz Carlton

What is going on with that design at the Ritz? The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live has dramatically re-shaped the city’s skyline. It looks like a big giant glass chair just waiting for some Japanese Anime creature from the LA Convention Center to come sit in it. Just joking. The Residences, is all glass starting on the 27th floor all the way up to the 52nd floor, with sweeping views at every turn and it stands boldly as an icon above the City.  It hosts no complaints from the many visitors and condominium owners to get to reside there. Honey, it’s the RITZ.., offering world-class amenities and legendary Ritz-Carlton service to royalty, monarchs, dignitaries, the ambitious few with the right karma and those lucky enough to join them. It’s the place where billionaires whisper to themselves about millionaires wondering, “how did they get in here?” At the Ritz…the most magnificent views coming from the top floors belong only to those with who are able enough to afford them. The Ritz condos are sold out. In less than a year, the developer had sold all the residences. My life (smh). Unfortunately, I can’t say I’ve even been there to see or tell you about the view…at this point I can only imagine.  But there’s no need to despair. Maybe one day The Ritz-Carlton will offer me a place inside its glittering star, bringing its sleek, sophisticated atmosphere into my life.  A modern glass structure that soars high above our city is like a big crystal apple I may never get to bite. For me, the downtown oasis mind as well be a mirage but… One thing is for sure, if my cards ever deal me a chance to look through one of those penthouse windows…You’ll know about it. 900 W Olympic Blvd, 90015.

KerFree100

Yup, you guessed it. It's me Keri Freeman, publisher and concept designer for Downtown Weekly. Living, working and playing in Downtown coming from an entertainment background...I discovered something about myself. I discovered I really liked sharing my knowledge of DTLA and its awesome hospitality movement. Also in doing so I have the great pleasure of working with incredible sponsors (who believe in the vision), extraordinary literary artists, photographers, event coordinators and many talented artists and musicians who inspire me every day to keep the DTLA Weekly going. Also, it would seem I'm the only woman of color to publish a newspaper here in over 100 years, so hopefully that inspires some future generations as well....Just remember if its fun...it can't be work....Thank you, people of Gaia, for your continued support and thank you for reading!