Every city has its quirks. The little oddities that dot every intersection give places character—from the kinds of trees that line neighborhood streets to the color of stickers carelessly amassed on lampposts. Those tiny details may never reach our conscious understanding of where we live, but they make up the set dressing of our daily lives, silently reminding us of the unique place we find ourselves.
In Downtown, those quirky differences largely defy the general understanding of what LA supposedly means. The skyscrapers and narrow streets seem in almost direct conflict with the manicured boulevards of Beverly Hills or the beaches just miles away. It’s a highly developed, tightly packed oasis amidst LA’s signature sprawl. That might leave it out of tourists’ shots from Sunset Boulevard, but its close quarters create a tension that’s fostered an entirely unique community within the city.
That singular community, one connected through apartment gyms, coffee shops and subway stations, actually shows a rare, underappreciated side of Los Angeles’ beauty. In a city of millions where a 30-minute drive can take you worlds away from home, people still deeply rely on each other, growing closer in disjointed but endlessly overlapping social circles. It’s a place where diversity actually shines through, bringing together often isolated cultural traditions into a classic, but distinctly modern, American melting pot.
With that appreciation for Downtown, we asked our readers about their favorite places in this world within LA. Having counted their votes on subjects as personal as marriage proposal locations and as contentious as the best burger, we hope you can start getting your own feeling for this constantly changing neighborhood. The city will always be daunting, but finding your favorite spots can make this big part of an even bigger city part of your own quirky, unique community.