Walk to L.A. Past

Hidden beneath the proud Romanesque-styled brick and sandstone, the 100-year-old Garnier Building, just south of the old Plaza in downtown Los Angeles, is a cluster of dank rooms with dirt floors and brick walls.

According to rumors, when the city was a raucous frontier town and the building served an incipient Chinese community, the basement at times housed opium and gambling dens. All that is left are the rumors, for the rooms at present contain just a modest display of dated photos.

They can be seen as part of a free docent-guided tour of El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park conducted by the Las Angelitas del Pueblo. And being angels of sorts, the guides prefer not to offend anyone and tend not to dwell on the once nefarious activities there.

Other stops on the engaging tour include the 1818 Avila Adobe, the oldest structure in Los Angeles, Sepulveda House, and Firehouse No. 1. For times and reservations, call 213/628 1274.

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