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AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY
From El Pueblo it's not far to Los Angeles' Chinatown. Since 1850, the city's Chinese population has grown to about 200,000. A four-block area along North Broadway is the cultural and commercial heart of Chinatown. In February, the boulevard becomes the place of the Chinese New Year parade. It is a most extraordinary spectacle with giant dragons, colourfully decorated balloons and lion dancers.
El Pueblo is also home to some of the oldest buildings in Los Angeles, including the Avila Adobe, a mud brick structure built in 1818. Another example is the Pelancoli House, the city's first traditional brick building, which dates from 1855. These two and other historic houses can be found in Olvera Street which has lively restaurants and shops that sell Mexican handicrafts.
From Little Tokyo you can walk to the Broadway Theatre District. It used to have 11 movie palaces, some built as early as 1917. Stars like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin attended film premieres in these elegant theatres. Sadly, only a few of them still show films. Some have been turned into cheap shopping malls, and one is even a church. But in the theatre facades that remain, you'll still see an exciting mixture of architectural periods, reminding us of the city's rich traditions.
It was here, in 1781, that Spanish settlers established the first farming village. Today, this historical area is a popular meeting place for Los Angeles' Mexican-American community. On weekends and during holidays, when they all get together, there's a fiesta atmosphere here.
Leaving the strange smells, sights and sounds of Chinatown behind, it's off to Little Tokyo, where another Eastern culture has taken root. The Zen spirit of Japan is everywhere in this clean and orderly neighbourhood. Wandering the streets here, you'll see several Buddhist temples. But the soul of Little Tokyo is best expressed in its beautiful, peaceful gardens.
The centre of Los Angeles, called Downtown, is one of the best places in the city. Getting around Downtown is simple. You can walk through most of the attractions in a day, and a minibus service operates frequently and cheaply. So leave your car behind and start your tour in the place where it all began, El Pueblo.
The most exciting part of Chinatown is its authentic markets. The shops along North Broadway show a large collection of unusual products. For example, you can buy there dried sea cucumber and exotic teas.