Los Angeles is the largest city in California and an enormous extensive metropolis with an urban population of over 12 million inhabitants. This also makes it the second-largest city in the United States after New York City.
The city is situated within a basin in Southern California which means that it’s surrounded by hills which often provide astounding views of the city and its surroundings. To emphasize its importance, it’s considered to be the most powerful and 4th-richest city in the world, quite something indeed.
In this article, you can find a list of the most famous buildings in Los Angeles, architectural features that you simply have to see when you make it to L.A.
1. Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory is a large facility located on an elevated position on Hollywood Hill, majestically overlooking the city of Los Angeles and its surroundings. This means that it’s one of the best spots in L.A. to get amazing views of the city’s skyline.
The complex itself offers tons of space and science-related exhibitions which allows visitors to learn everything about the mysteries of the universe. To make it even better, access to this observatory, which was named after the man who funded it, rich industrialist Griffith J. Griffith (1850-1819), has been free since its opening in 1935.
The Griffith Observatory has become one of the most famous buildings in Los Angeles. It offers 8 Planetarium shows every day and in case the weather is good at night you can view the observatory’s telescope for free as well.
Official website: Griffith Observatory
2. Getty Center
The Getty Center is another enormous complex located in an elevated position. It features the campus of the Getty Museum and can be found in the Brentwood neighborhood in the Westside of Los Angeles.
The complex opened its doors in 1997 and cost an astounding $1.3 billion to build. The center is known for its remarkable architecture and views of the city and is one of two locations of the famous J. Paul Getty Museum.
The museum is home to a wide variety of paintings, including but not limited to pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts. One of the highlights of the museum is Vincent van Gogh’s painting called “Irises,” one of his absolute masterpieces.
Official website: Getty Art
3. Rose Bowl Stadium
The Rose Bowl Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the world and is located in the suburb of Pasadena, about 18 kilometers (11 miles) to the northeast of Downtown Los Angeles. At the moment, the stadium is the home of the UCLA Bruins football team and has been since 1982.
Completed in the early 1920s, the stadium has been praised for its fascinating architecture and has earned recognition as both a National Historic Landmark and a California Historic Civil Engineering landmark in 1987. This amazing stadium has an all-seated capacity of 92,542.
The stadium carries a lot of history as it has been the venue of 5 Super Bowl Games, as well as the host of the 1994 FIFA World Cup Final and various other high-level soccer games. This alone makes a tour of the stadium worthwhile during your stay in L.A.
Official website: Rose Bowl Stadium
4. Hollywood Sign
Even though the Hollywood Sign has become a cultural icon and one of the best-recognized landmarks in Los Angeles, it was never the idea to turn it into what it ended up becoming. The iconic letters on Mount Lee in the Santa Monica Mountains were originally a temporary advertising display for a real estate company.
These were initially set up in the year 1923 and became so popular that they ended up staying there. This has resulted in numerous appearances in popular media which resulted in the 13.7 meters (45 feet)-tall letters becoming world-famous.
Today, the hills near the Hollywood Sign are also a popular location for hikers because the hills offer astounding views of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Hikes start at either the Bronson Canyon, a section of Griffith Park, or from the Griffith Observatory. This allows you to get a close-up view of this iconic landmark.
Official website: Hollywood Sign
5. Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is home to one of the most popular amusement parks in Los Angeles called the “Pacific Park,” as well as an aquarium named “Heal the Bay Aquarium.” It features an iconic Ferris wheel which is powered by solar energy and tons of other family entertainment attractions.
The pier is located at the end of Colorado Avenue in the beachfront city of Santa Monica in the Westside of Los Angeles. The complex was built on two adjoining piers, one of which was constructed in 1909 and which has been the home of entertainment facilities since the early days.
Apart from being a popular tourist attraction in Los Angeles, it has been used as a filming location as well going back to the early 1930s. It has also been featured on numerous television programs and shows and even in video games. This alone makes this popular spot a must-see landmark while you’re in L.A.
Official website: Santa Monica Pier
6. Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the 4 concert halls that make up the “Los Angeles Music Center,” one of the biggest performing arts centers in the United States. It’s located in Downtown Los Angeles and is bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, and 1st and 2nd Streets.
The concert hall has an amazing modern design, cost $274 million to build, and opened its doors in 2003. Large parts of this amount were donated by Lilian Disney, the wife of Walt Disney. The amazing concert hall was built as a tribute to Walt’s contributions to the arts in L.A.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall has a seating capacity of 2,265 and is the home venue of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The hall is praised for its amazing acoustics which makes it one of the best concert halls in the world to enjoy live performances.
Official website: Walt Disney Concert Hall
7. Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal Studios Hollywood features some of the most famous buildings in Los Angeles as it combines an actual film studio with a theme park. This amazing attraction can be found in the San Fernando Valley area. About 70% of the studios are situated within an unincorporated county island known as “Universal City.“
The film studio is the oldest of its kind still in use in Hollywood and offers public tours of film sets. The film studio opened its doors back in 1915 and welcomes visitors with the headline “The Entertainment Capital of LA.”
The film sets and Universal Studios Theme Parks are simply a must-visit attraction when you’re in Los Angeles. It’s visited by over 9 million people every year which makes it one of the top 10 parks of its kind in the United States.
Official website: Universal Studios Hollywood
8. Bradbury Building
The Bradbury Building is one of the architectural highlights in downtown Los Angeles. Even though this office building only features 5 stories, it was completed in the late 19th century and features a fascinating atrium with iconic staircases and elevators.
Completed in 1894, the building was named after the man who commissioned it, Lewis L. Bradbury (1823-1892), a man who became extremely wealthy during the California gold rush. It’s only one of 4 office buildings in L.A. that were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1977 as well.
Even though the exterior of the building looks pretty ordinary, the interior of the building offers a wide variety of architectural designs which make the Bradbury worth a visit. Special tours are offered by government workers who explain the history of the building to tourists.
Official website: Bradbury Building
9. Los Angeles Union Station
Los Angeles Union Station is the largest train station in the Western part of the United States. This makes it no surprise that it’s also the main train station in the city of Los Angeles, built to accommodate trains coming from the Union Pacific, Santa Fe, and Southern Pacific Railroads.
The train station replaced “La Grande Station” and “Central Station” on this location and was completed in the year 1939. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Last of the Great Railway Stations” that were constructed in the United States.
This famous building in Los Angeles was constructed in a combination of the Art Deco, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne architectural styles. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and was dedicated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument 8 years earlier in 1972.
Official website: Union Station LA
10. Los Angeles City Hall
Los Angeles City Hall is one of the most distinctive buildings in Los Angeles. It’s the home of the mayor of the city and houses the meeting chambers of the government officials of the Los Angeles City Council.
The building was completed between 1926 and 1928 and is still the tallest base-isolated structure in the world, reaching a height of 13 meters (454 feet). Despite this, the structure was made earthquake-proof between 1998 and 2001 so it can withstand an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2.
This height also made it the tallest building in Los Angeles from its completion in 1928 until the year 1964. It’s also a popular tourist attraction in the city because it offers a free observation deck which is open during business hours on weekdays.
Official website: Los Angeles City Hall