Reason To Gather #6: Exploring the Arts District and the 6th Street Bridge


The Arts District has an endlessly changing mix of restaurants and galleries and an excursion downtown always lifts me up.  Wandering in tourist mode and glimpsing novel views of my own city restores me as if I’ve taken a vacation. And, I’m still home for dinner… even with LA traffic.

6th Street Bridge

I’ve explored the streets and shops adjacent to the new 6th Street Viaduct several times since it’s grand opening last July, and love the views from the new bridge – across to Boyle Heights, up to the San Gabriels and back towards the gleaming buildings of downtown. It’s a bit like Soho back in the day – slightly “edgy” but full of creative energy and new businesses. I especially appreciate the murals and graffiti that abound on the old buildings – here’s a listing of the existing murals and their creators. You can see the original LA Angel Wings by Collette Miller at S Hewitt St & Traction Ave.

Mural Trompe L’oeil

I typically use Hauser & Wirth as my anchor when I head downtown, but each time I explore anew, I branch out a little (street parking is often easy, and paid lots abound). It’s easy to spend a few hours checking out the latest art at Hauser & Wirth, and having a memorable meal at Manuela. With two excellent new shows (see below) this winter is the perfect time to do just that.

River in the summer
River after the Rain

After the rains last month, we enjoyed Manuela, caught the end of the Cindy Sherman exhibit, and then headed south to the see 6th Street Bridge – about a fifteen minute walk — and took in the LA River and it’s crazy concrete banks, brimming with water. On yet another visit, I parked at Ditroit Tacos, and after enjoying a great meal, trekked north to the bridge, dropping into coffee and gift shops, and peering into other galleries. Some discoveries: this Japanese spot had great design, the original LA Stumptown Coffee has a warehouse sized coffee roaster behind the counter, and LADWP runs an Innovation Lab that is working towards a more sustainable future.

Manuela at Hauser & Wirth

If you haven’t yet explored Hauser & Wirth, which opened here in 2016, you’re in for a treat. The business was founded in Zurich and now has branches all over the world, and the Arts District branch serves as much a learning and community center as a gallery – it’s all cleverly housed in a former flour mill and features rotating exhibits of world class art, an excellent bookstore and gift shop, a wonderful garden with kids programming and, best of all a restaurant that is worth the drive at any time of day: the aforementioned Manuela. Definitely call ahead for a reservation.

The wave-like new bridge is actually called the 6th Street Viaduct and is a $588 million dollar replacement for an Arts Deco Bridge that was demolished because it wasn’t earthquake safe. When it opened to the public last July, it promptly invited all sorts of dangerous street-racing type nighttime activities which got as much press as the long-awaited opening itself. That seems to have calmed down at this point, and it’s just a great walk to take with friends who like to explore.

18 railroads convene under the 6th Street Viaduct

Most times I’ve visited, I’ve started from the Arts District side and only made it halfway across the bridge, where I take in the panoramas and shoot off my camera before realizing how much time has passed and headed back again. I learned that there is a way to take the bike ramp down under the bridge, walk underneath and climb back up on the other side (instead of racing across the traffic to catch views from the other side). So, that’s an option, as is walking all the way across to Boyle Heights, exploring that neighborhood a bit, and returning on the other side. There are wide pedestrian pathways as well as a bike path that skateboarders love.


A sign of the gallery’s success in the Arts District is news that a second branch has just opened in West Hollywood in a former car showroom.  Hauser & Wirth represents Los Angeles artists Larry Bell, Mark Bradford, Charles Gaines, Richard Jackson, Rachel Khedoori, Paul McCarthy, Christina Quarles, Gary Simmons, Henry Taylor, Diana Thater, and the late artists Luchita Hurtado, Allan Kaprow, Mike Kelley and Jason Rhoades.

Rita Ackerman “Vertical Vanish”

Here’s what you can see from their artists if you go to Frieze this weekend – list includes Mark Bradford and Charles Gaines pieces, which should be lovely. (Booth D1)

These new shows at the Arts District gallery right now until the end of April: ‘Zeng Fanzhi’ and ‘Rita Ackermann. Vertical Vanish. The new West Hollywood gallery features George Condo: People are Strange from 2/15-4/22 2023

Hauser & Wirth // 901 E 3rd St (213) 943-1620

Hauser & Wirth // 8980 Santa Monica Boulevard (424) 404-1200

The Sixth Street Viaduct

Here is a history of the structure itself from the LA Conservancy and here is a great story by LAist about how folks are using the bridge now. And this organization is working to preserve the LA River and expand healthy living possibilities to help river-adjacent neighborhoods. The Viaduct project includes plans for a 13-acre green space alongside the bridge (to the tune of $30M) – here is an article explaining where we are in the approval and building process.

Finally, here is a fun list of all the films and TV shows and music videos that have been filmed in that section of the LA River.


Other galleries of note in the Arts District – not conclusive, just ones I can recommend thus far:

Institute of Contemporary Art – 1717 East 17th Street

Gallery Luisotti – this new show looks interesting, with photos by John Divola (At Royale Projects
432 South Alameda Street)

Other eateries of note nearby:

DiTroit Tacos (2117 Violet Street, and that’s the correct spelling – lots of adjacent parking)

Girl and the Goat (555-3 Mateo Street; not open for lunch, and tricky to score a reservation) but delicious

Zinc Cafe and Market (580 Mateo Space, lovely space with delicious food) and small market