bunker hill, civic center, downtown los angeles, financial district, historic core, south park
comments 25

Holiday Lights Aglow: It’s Christmas Time in the City in Downtown LA

The lighted Christmas tree stands prominently over the Jonathan Club in Downtown LA (Photo: Hunter Kerhart)

The lighted Christmas tree stands prominently over the Jonathan Club in Downtown LA (Photo: Hunter Kerhart)

For someone who thrives being in the middle of the city, walking, and taking in the sights and sounds of a bustling urban center, there’s nothing quite like all that added on top of the holidays. Some people dread the holidays, but I love it. To me, I enjoy seeing all the buildings come alive by getting decked out in colorful lights and ornamentation. I love seeing Christmas trees spring up around office lobbies and outdoor spaces. Over the past several years, I’ve been noticing that Downtown LA is becoming more and more festive as our resident population continues to grow and a renewed sense of pride fills our city once again. Walk down almost any street, look up, and you’ll see Christmas trees abound glowing warmly inside living rooms or lights strung across balcony railings.

I used to feel utterly saddened that our downtown — the historic, geographic, and symbolic heart of Los Angeles — was abandoned and dead. It never helped when I would visit cities like New York or San Francisco and see those cities filled with life and decked out during the holidays. That is why I now feel so good every year when the holidays come around and I see Downtown LA transform into a beautiful glittering city of our own. To me, I view it as another sign that Downtown LA is now back and alive! 

Please enjoy these photos taken by downtown resident Hunter Kerhart.

Old Bank District

Old Bank District

Fourth Street through the Old Bank District

Fourth Street through the Old Bank District

Grand Park

Grand Park

Grand Park with City Hall in the background

Grand Park with City Hall in the background

California Plaza on Bunker Hill

California Plaza on Bunker Hill

Library Tower's crown lit up in red and green

Library Tower’s crown lit up in red and green

City National Plaza

City National Plaza

City National Plaza

City National Plaza

Paul Hastings Tower

Paul Hastings Tower

Seventh Street through the Financial District

Seventh Street through the Financial District

The Pantry Cafe

The Pantry Cafe

25 Comments

  1. Beautiful photos. I completely agree with you about the increased holiday spirit. Also it makes Downtown more family friendly. My girls love walking around and seeing the lights and decorations.

  2. Joshua says

    I agree. I love how the city feels during Christmas time! Something about it feels so romantic to me…I hope to see more lights go up in the future. I remember the wedding cake building light up a few years ago in green and red and thought that was really nice. What happened?

    • i need a man says

      Christmas always makes me feel so lonely because IT IS so romantic! sigh

    • David S. says

      Also, don’t forget that the Staples Center used to change their lighting as well from the regular bluish to a deep green during the holidays.

  3. Patrice says

    DTLA was exceptionally festive this year! Love it. When you have a chance, stop by the plaza above FIGat7th – you’ll be pleased. It’s pretty spectacular!

  4. nice. many thanks from orange county, ca. keep up the GREAT work my man. happy holidays…

  5. Andrew W. says

    Gorgeous photos! I agree about how festive DTLA is starting to become every year. There’s just a certain vibrant energy in the heart of the city during the holidays, that feels genuine (unlike places like, The Grove).

  6. Kayla says

    Beautiful photos! I love DTLA so much! I moved here from Dallas almost exactly 3 years ago and have fallen so much in love with this city. Downtown has great potential. Now all we need is a Neiman Marcus like my hometown and we’re set :) Merry Christmas.

  7. Dj Ernie Pearl says

    When I lived at The Yorksire on Broaway near 7th back in 2000,I remember Broadway being decorated from 3rd to Olympic with lighted Christmas wreaths that ran across the street- I wish I would’ve taken pics- nowadays they wrap red tape around a light pole and call it Xmas ready

  8. Mr Whitman says

    Brigham, thanks for the pics. I need to do a walkabout and look at our grand city at holiday time.

  9. Wow haven’t been on Bunker Hill since 2002. Still remember their Christmas Decoration on that year which had a little train that just looped around Santa clause w/ trees.

  10. John G. says

    Those pics project festive luminosity, but they somehow look so desolate because there’s barely any sign of people! Not good Brigham especially when you’re stating we have more festivities as “our resident population continues to grow”. It would be nice to show something reflective of that. However, still a great article and I can admire Hunter K’s eye for DTLA’s architectural and aesthetical beauty.

    • Arts District Resident says

      Hi John G., I am a resident of downtown for 5 years and I can tell you first hand that I have seen more people move down here over the years, making the streets much more vibrant. The reason why there aren’t any pedestrians in those photos? Here’s my guess — 1) Those were taken at night which generally has less people unless you’re talking Thu through Sat when people come here to club and party, and 2) a lot of people of leave the city during the holidays to go travel and see family in other cities and states. Hope that helps quell your anxieties!

      • John G. says

        Thank you Arts District Resident for your thoughtful response. But no, I don’t have anxieties! I meant what I said and I know very well how downtown is. I live only several miles from here and I walk downtown often. The issue is not whether I think downtown is full of street life or desolate, but rather the pictures don’t reflect some of the content material written (growing residential base). It’s just that the folks reading these articles may not be from L.A. – they can be from anywhere from all over the world. Seeing photos of people during the holidays in LA would really show how LA has grown (for example, seeing people ice-skating at Pershing Square or LA Live).

  11. dpdapper says

    Jonh G, these all look like they’re long exposure shots, which tend to remove people and cars.

  12. J.Petrosino says

    Great holiday update, Brigham and Hunter doesn’t get much better. Were lucky to have both of you.

  13. Mikal D. says

    As Joshua mentioned above, the Cesar Pelli-designed tower next to Fig@7th reverted to a “why bother?” mode and didn’t install red and green filters on its floodlights this year as it has done at least occasionally in the past. I wonder why? Economics? Laziness? Apathy?

    Those are the 3 main factors that caused the heart of LA to whither away and become a major embarrassment in the first place. That’s a lesson we in LA should never forget.

    Another reason that Downtown after quite a few generations of dysfunction is giving a bit of respectability to the entire LA basin during the December holidays: It’s now the place where for the first time in the city’s history a formal — and not strictly impromptu or private — gathering place (Grand Park) exists for New Year’s Eve. Pasadena has had to fulfill that role for New Year’s day, but nothing has existed for the evening before, which was painfully evident during the millennium on December 31, 1999.

  14. John G. says

    @P Oh please, spare us the insensitivity. Grow some skin. YOU are the one with NO IDEA. Do you even walk downtown?!

    @dpdapper – Yes, they are long exposure shots, which you are correct tend to remove people. But I referenced some of the CONTEXT of which the article was based on – a growing residential population. These pics don’t reflect that.

  15. Jon Olivan says

    Whatever happened to the annual holiday Lindburgh Beacon light on the tip of downtown’s City Hall that used to be turned on ONLY during the holidays–anyone in the know???

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