Atlantic Blvd: Center of urban renewal?

The LA Times' architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, posits that Atlantic Blvd., which runs from Alhambra to Long Beach, is undergoing significant changes to become less auto-centric.

The classic drive-through architecture of the Southern California strip, though a whole lot of it remains, is slowly making way for a new, more public cityscape.

The Alhambra area, though, appears behind this trend according to his analysis. His first stop? Mrs. Lin, psychic.

The drive-in car-centered architecture of Atlantic Blvd isn't limited to fast-food joints and motels. Near the northern end of Atlantic in Alhambra you can pull into a massive parking lot and walk just a few steps to the Mrs. Lin psychic shop. ..The bright red shop is half architecture, half billboard and easy for drivers to spot.  

And Hawthorne's next stop down Atlantic indicated that even if in Long Beach or East LA a thriving new public cityscape may be emerging, some of the local experiments still fall short. He calls the massive Atlantic Times Square development "decidedly uneven architectural results" with its found-floor shops and 210 condos. "It attempts to bring together the street-front energy of nearby Valley Boulevard in Alhambra, with its noodle shops and cacophony of signs in Chinese, and the upscale residential amenities and flashy lighting of Rick Caruso's Americana at Brand complex in Glendale," Hawthorne writes. "It is not a happy marriage."

Still, he writes, the trend along the boulevard points to a new path for Atlantic, including its roots in Alhambra: "Especially among younger Angelenos, including foreign-born immigrants and transplants from other American cities, there is a hunger for better-designed roadways and new ways of getting around. And L.A.'s political leadership is finally responding."

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