What's New in Los Angeles
Starstruck. Excessive. Smoggy. Superficial? There's a modicum of truth to each of the adjectives regularly applied to L.A., but the locals dismiss their prevalence as envy from those who aren't as blessed with year-round sunshine. Pop culture does permeate life here, its massive economy employing millions of Southern Californians, but the city where dreams are made accommodates those from all avenues of life.
L.A.'s political scene is completely dominated by Democrats; so much so, that 15 of the county's 18 congressional seats are typically held by the Democratic Party. Locally, the biggest hotbed issue the city faces surrounds housing, or a lack thereof. The latest homeless numbers in Los Angeles have reached apocalyptic levels with more than 60,000 people sleeping on the streets. The city is constantly trying to solve the issue with new shelters, tax hikes, and ordinances, but it's a problem that has only gotten worse throughout the past decade.
Officially, Los Angeles is home to more than 10 million people. Unofficial estimates put the number somewhere between 12 and 15 million. Regardless of the count, the city is one of the most diverse in the country. Nearly half the population is Hispanic or Latinx, the Asian population is more than 15%, and 10% of residents are Black or African American.
Every year, wildfires rip through California causing people to lose their lives and their homes. Stories of harrowing escapes are becoming more common than ever. Fortunately, the city of Los Angeles has mostly been spared from massive fire damage (air quality aside), though the dried foliage in Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Mountains keep residents on high alert. Make sure to check local news reports when hiking on hot summer days.
Though it's nowhere near perfect (or completed), L.A. has been slowly adding Metro lines that run throughout the entire city. Expanding like spider legs from Union Station Downtown, routes can take you deep into Hollywood, down to Santa Monica, and will eventually reach the Los Angeles International Airport.
Hollywood may disappoint tourists looking to overdose on glitz; after all, most of its moviemakers departed for the San Fernando Valley decades ago, leaving the area to languish. Even after the much-hyped debut of the Hollywood & Highland Center, the area remains more gritty than glamorous, but that's part of its charm.
Tourists continue to flock to the region, trodding over the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or seeing how the size of their hand compares to celebrities both living and dead at the TCL Chinese Theatre. It's truly the Times Square of the city, but it's still a must for any first-time visitor to experience.
Scooters and Airbnbs
It’s no secret that L.A. is a hard town to maneuver without a car, but competing scooter companies—Bird, Lime, and Uber—have popped up throughout the city, especially in tourist-heavy areas on the Westside and in Hollywood. The scooter invasion may have some residents griping that they’re discarded on sidewalks like trash, but it’s heavenly for the out-of-towner who doesn’t want to hoof it along the long stretches between Metro stops.
Meanwhile, another tech solution for tourists is being heavily limited: the Los Angeles City Council has restricted Airbnb rentals. Since 2019, property owners have only been able to list their primary residence (as opposed to one owner renting out multiple properties through the website) and only homes that are not under rent control.
First, it was Los Feliz. Then it was Silver Lake. Then it was Echo Park. Now it’s Highland Park, Glassell Park, Cypress Park. The cool kids keep going farther and farther northeast. So, if you want to find the best bars in town, you’ll have to keep venturing farther afield.
The Food Scene
Star chefs continue to make their mark in every pocket of Los Angeles. You can head to Chinatown for David Chang's eclectic spot Majordomo or dine in style at Wolfgang Puck's uberfamous Beverly Hills hub, Spago. Get carnivorous at chef Curtis Stone's meat-lovers' den Gwen in Hollywood. Or slurp up spaghetti at Top Chef alum Antonia Lofaso's Scopa Italian Roots in Venice.
Eating in L.A. remains relatively egalitarian. Even posh places seldom require jackets, so the dress code is casual. Ditto for the menu. (In the city that invented fast food, it's no coincidence that Govind Armstrong flips gourmet burgers at LAX or that Nancy Silverton built her reputation on pizza.) If you want to go budget, you can easily justify chowing down at McDonald's, Carl's Jr., and In-N-Out Burger since they qualify as true local cuisine; they all originated in the Five-County Area.
After a few delays, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures finally opened in fall 2021. The 300,000-square-foot Renzo Piano–designed museum will unveil Where Dreams Are Made, a permanent exhibit that takes visitors inside The Wizard of Oz, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the films of Charlie Chaplin. The first temporary exhibit will be a tribute to Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and will include production materials from Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.
You’ll also be able to step inside another eagerly awaited cinematic wonder: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland opened in 2019. Here you can pilot the Millennium Falcon, join the resistance, and go to the far, far away planet of Batuu.
A long time ago, L.A. lost both the Rams and the Raiders. The Rams came back, but the Raiders stayed away, replaced by the Chargers. The only problem was they had nowhere to play. In 2021, a brand-spankin’-new stadium will be open for business in Inglewood, hosting both teams.
Helping to ferry people to Inglewood in 2021 will be the newly opened Crenshaw/LAX line of the Metro, which connects the Expo Line in the north to the Green Line in the south. Commuters will be able to access Leimert Park and Hyde Park, and eventually, LAX. A few years later, in 2023, the Purple Line is scheduled to expand into Mid-City, connecting it with Downtown.