On the shiny, new gentrified south end of Downtown Los Angeles there are remnants still, old and recent, of the area’s gritty veneer and shabby neglect. As seen in this photo, there are still simple, non-descript buildings that serve as canvases for glorious flashes of street art, inscrutable guerilla marketing, half-arsed graffiti and wheat-pasted advertisement posters.

Until a few years ago, the neighborhood was a bland, inner-city landscape of down-at-heel, low-rise warehouses and businesses. Over the past decade, a massive building boom has completely changed the landscape. Expensive high-rise buildings, mostly condos in the thousands, retailers, restaurants, cafes and small businesses have spouted up giving the area a discernible extension of the city’s downtown skyline and a palpable buzz.

It seems like the vision of an urbane mixed-use utopia made real and too clean. Except for pockets here and there. Like in the above photo, there are short stretches, sometimes entire blocks, that retain the patination of former urban neglect that lasted decades. We love to see the renewal, what amounts to a whole new part of the city come to life, but we also love seeing the beautiful evidence of its past cling on as a reminder of what once was, even if it was ugly.

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