Neighborhood Tour

3 Literary Tours of Los Angeles from Print to Pavement

by Natalie Compagno
Union Airy, comfy Union Station. Photo by / Flickr.

Never mind the mansions of the movie stars. owner Natalie Compagno took us on three very different literary tours of Los Angeles. Want to see where else the writers go? Natalie also gave us a Cliff's Notes to Literary LA.


Before Chandler, mysteries were considered pulp fiction. changed that instantly, and his poetic words took readers on a crime spree across the Los Angeles streets.

Grab by Herb Lester. It takes fans book by book through the famous Los Angeles backdrops to Chandler's indelible characters. Some favorites are  (905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverley Hills; +1-310-285-6830), which was thinly veiled as the Sternwood Mansion in The Big Sleep and the (1623 Ivar Ave.; +1-323-856-8260) in the same book. Union Station (800 N. Alameda St.; +1-213-683-6729) was featured in Chandler's  and still looks and feels much like it did back then. And, of course, (431 W. 7th St.; +1-213-625-2211), which Chandler himself frequented and used for a scene in .


West Plaza in Chinatown. Photo by / Flickr.


If history piques more interest than mystery, wander the streets of Chinatown to be enveloped in the backdrop of the novels of . See grew up in Los Angeles and spent most of her time with her grandfather's family. Her first book, , was about her family's history and won many awards. Her second, started her historical fiction series set between downtown Los Angeles and China. The (509 Chung King Court.; +1-213-628-3532) shop in the West Plaza, built in the 1940s, is still run by members of the See family. Lisa See created a walking tour of Chinatown based on her family's experiences. Email [email protected] for details or take up the recommended by the Chinatown Business Improvement District.


A cozy setting for a proofread. Photo courtesy of Gjelina.


As a somewhat difficult-to-decipher-scene, the best way to get into literary Los Angeles is to be introduced to it by a local. Like , acclaimed screenwriter (The Informant! and Side Effects) and playwright (The Library), who loves his adopted city and has thrown many holiday parties in bookstores inspired by his love of books.

"Besides writing in my home on the canals of Venice, California, I enjoy writing at  (600 Venice Blvd.; +1-310-437-0970) nearby. (1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; +1-310-450-1429) is where I go to proofread because if I wrote something that didn't work or sucks, at least I can eat delicious food to console me. The upstairs apartment at Gjelina was the perfect place for the staged reading of my play The Library, and the owners might start a literary series soon. My favorite bookshop is (1407 Ocean Front Walk; +1-310-399-2360) on the Venice Boardwalk, and if you want to read about Los Angeles, the iconic John Fante books are a must. Right now I am reading Miranda July's , and I recommend both her and Ron Koertge as great local author to reads."


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