Grand Park is a Grand Park!

I paid a visit to Downtown’s new Grand Park on Saturday, and it definitely lives up to its name. It is brilliantly conceived and executed and is a welcome addition to the burgeoning Downtown scene.

The park is a 12-acre rectangle stretching from the base of City Hall to the Los Angeles Music Center. Only the part from the Music Center to Hill St. opened on Thursday; the rest will open in the fall.

The Los Angeles Times describes the previous decades-long usage of the space:

It was a collection of parking lots and little-used chunks of public space, hidden by the ramps of a parking garage.

Now it looks like this:

The first thing that greets you is a fountain that apparently has been there forever, however it was hidden behind parking ramps. Smart:

The base of the fountain has been transformed into a water feature in which dozens of kids were playing.

As you proceed there is a great lawn where on this day hundreds of people were taking part in some sort of aerobics lesson. And that was the key — there were actually people gathered in the park. A crowd in Los Angeles that had nothing to do with shopping or a riot; a novel thought. Perhaps this will become a gathering place for people.

For this to happen, though, I think they have to ease parking rules in the area. Non-Downtown residents will not want to go and hang out in a park if they know they have to pay a bunch of money to park their cars. There needs to be either free parking or reasonable meter parking (I paid $1.50 for 30 minutes at the only meter I could find — not reasonable at all) surrounding the park.

Otherwise, though, it is really quite a beautiful, vibrant park.