in motion
Los Angeles, California

From the founding of the city through the 1940s, downtown was the true center of Los Angeles, a lively, densely populated, exciting and sometimes dangerous place. After many quiet decades, downtown is making an incredible return. But while many of the historic buildings remain, their human context has been lost.

That's why we're launching two new downtown tours meant to bring alive the old ghosts and memories that cling to the streets and structures of the historic core.

Hotel Horrors and Main Street Vice are both are hosted by Esotouric founders Kim Cooper and Richard Schave. The 90-minute tours begin at Cafe Metropol (near the old Santa Fe train terminal at Third and Santa Fe) and meander through downtown, with a one-hour snack and conversation break between them. On each tour we'll visit the scenes of crimes and interesting happenings, and share vintage photographs of the scenes as they appeared up to 100 years ago.

Tour #1 is Hotel Horrors, a true crime and oddities tour featuring some of the wildest, weirdest, goriest and most memorable happenings in historic hotels like the Alexandria, Rosslyn, Barclay and Cecil. Get on the bus to find out where Night Stalker Richard Ramirez liked to stay and the hotel that saw a visit from the Skid Row Slasher, plus which hotel was the choice of Columbian drug mules with cocaine in their platform shoes, what lobby hosted a small scale anarchist riot, where two traveling chocolate salesmen laughed so hard they fell backwards out a window to their deaths and the truth about the myth that Beth "The Black Dahlia" Short was last seen alive at the Biltmore. We'll explore the fiery curse that repeatedly leveled the St. George Hotel and thrill to the litany of stars who stayed at the long-lost and truly grand Hotel Nadeau (now site of the L.A. Times building) including actresses Sarah Bernhardt and Lily Langtree, Henry M. Stanley of “Dr. Livingston, I presume” fame, singer Nellie Melba, Mark Twain and Hawaiian King Kalakua and Queen Liliuokalani. Also included are some light hearted stories to help the blood and gore go down.

Tour #2 is Main Street Vice, a celebration of the ribald, racy, raunchy old promenade where the better people simply did not travel, but kicks were had by all who did. Burlesque babes and dirty picture parlors, mummified old west outlaws and old time tattoo parlors, wax museums and pawn brokers, "professors" offering sex lectures and magazine peddlers with nudie Marilyn Monroe calendars under the counter, sophisticated steak houses and nickel donut dives -- these were the pleasures and the people to be found along Main during the first half of the 20th century, a street that every Angeleno knew offered more (yet less) of what could be seen anywhere else. On this tour, we'll visit the scenes of some more unforgettable debaucheries and share stories of crime, smut, passion and commerce. The tour runs primarily along Main Street, with a few detours to explore similar entertainments offered in the vicinity of Main.

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Added by esotouric on October 10, 2007