Miracle Mile is a place to live, work, and play

| February 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

By John Welborne
For more than 100 years, the Miracle Mile and surrounding areas have been in the heart of Los Angeles. Primarily residential neighborhoods, the Mile vicinity includes several Historic Preservation Overlay Zones plus the largest multifamily residential complex west of the Mississippi (Park La Brea).

The spine of the community, Wilshire Boulevard, has evolved from just being a shopping destination to being one of the most important commercial/office districts in Los Angeles. Businesses vary, from banks to the headquarters of SAG-AFTRA (in the building originally constructed as the western headquarters of Prudential Life Insurance Company). And, with the soon-to-open Metro D Line subway stations at La Brea Avenue and at Fairfax Avenue, the high-rise office buildings will be joined by new high-rise residential buildings.

But the Miracle Mile is not just a place to live and work, it is a place to play as well. There are museums to visit, restaurants to enjoy and places, old and new, to shop. In this, the 37th edition of our special Miracle Mile section of the Larchmont Chronicle, we offer some up-to-date observations about how some people live, work and play in and around the Miracle Mile.


Living in the Mile, resident enjoys roller skating, jazz and dog walks

By Nona Sue Friedman
Miracle Mile resident Thao Tran bought a home in the area in 2014, drawn by the museums along Wilshire Boulevard. She loves being so close to such an impressive concentration of cultural institutions.
Tran relates that, as a kid in school in Torrance, if you received good grades, you were invited to go on a field trip to these same museums. She came on the trip multiple times. As she says, “Living here now has a romantic feeling. I’ve reached my aspirational neighborhood.”

WALKING DOGS in the Miracle Mile is resident Thao Tran with her dog, Kobe, right, and dog friend, Alfred.

She’s often exploring her neighborhood. “It’s an incredible area to walk in. The homes are historic, and the landscaping is beautiful,” recounts Tran.

She adopted a dog during COVID-19, which has connected her with locals. Apparently, there’s an enormous number of dog owners in the area. So much so that they have a dedicated chat named Paw Patrol. This group creates camaraderie, plans meet-ups and promotes public safety while walking their pooches.

The dog owners congregate at either Wilshire Green Park, also known as Turtle Park, on Eighth Street at Sierra Bonita Avenue, or at Hancock Park around the Tar Pits. “It’s a great opportunity to engage with the community,” she says.

When she moved into her new home, Tran roller-skated at World on Wheels roller rink. After it closed, she decided to challenge herself by taking to the streets and sidewalks on her skates. She now says, “It’s a valid form of transportation in addition to its recreational aspects.” She does errands on her skates and has learned how hostile our city streets are.

After engaging in her community for years, Tran became the field deputy for the Miracle Mile area of Council District 5 in 2023. She says of the city’s 15 council districts, “I have one of the best areas.”

When asked what are some of her favorite evening outings, she’s overwhelmed. “There are just so many.” With her office being close to Tom Bergin’s restaurant and pub on Fairfax Avenue, that’s a common hang on Fridays with co-workers. Or if the season is right, it’s listening to jazz at LACMA. The restaurants at Eighth Street and La Brea Avenue are another common spot to enjoy the Miracle Mile.

Brewing coffee, meeting people while at work in Mile

By Nona Sue Friedman
Working in the Miracle Mile, Chris Chicas, manager of Starbucks at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Detroit Street, says of his Miracle Mile workplace, “It feels like home.”

After working at the Starbucks on Larchmont Boulevard for five years, then moving to the Miracle Mile location two years ago, Chicas says the relocation has been a good experience. It also gave him the opportunity to become a manager.

STARBUCKS store manager Chris Chicas prepares a customer’s drink.

This Starbucks has a lot of regulars who walk over, according to Chicas. He has amassed a consistent staff that customers know. Some even connect with each other on social media. It all adds to the homey feel at this Miracle Mile coffee outpost.

Recently one of the regulars had a birthday. The Starbucks crew celebrated the day by lighting a candle and singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Chicas said it was very sweet.

With construction of the subway station just a block away, Chicas’ team got to know many of the construction workers on a first-name basis. The Starbucks workers even get to hear some of the inside scoop about the work being done. “I think after the subway opens and construction is finished, this store will get even busier,” says Chicas. Currently his store has the highest number of online orders in the district, which consists of 11 stores from the USC area to the Miracle Mile.

Not long ago, says Chicas, he had a hankering for a sandwich from Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese. While on the Boulevard, he ran into former customers from the Larchmont store. The reverse happens too, where someone from his Larchmont days strolls into his current Starbucks. It’s always a pleasant surprise, concludes Chicas.


Playing in the Mile; enjoying music, museums, eateries and more

By Casey Russell
There are certain people who just seem to know how to play — how to experience all the recreation and education available in a neighborhood. Francelle Jones is one of them. She and her husband, Zacerous LaRue Jones, have lived within walking distance of area museums for a little more than six years, and she told us she loves the Miracle Mile because there’s so much to offer.

AT LACMA, Francelle Jones with her husband Zacerous LaRue Jones (at left).

“We love to go to LACMA,” said Jones. In the fall and winter months, the couple has early date nights at the museum. On weekdays, it’s free for Los Angeles County residents after 3 p.m. Before heading into the museum, Francelle and Zacerous enjoy grabbing a quick drink or a coffee at Ray’s and Stark Bar, just north of artist Chris Burden’s “Urban Light,” the 202 restored antique street lamps. In the summer, the two savor Friday night jazz on the plaza.

Also in the summer, the couple enjoys LACMA’s live Latin Sounds concerts on Saturdays. “People bring food and drinks, and they dance. It’s great fun,” she said.

Jones told us that when the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures first opened, she and her hubby went quite a bit. The two would take advantage of the exhibits or see a movie, or they’d go to “the impressive dome area” (the Dolby Terrace atop the museum). “[Once} we went up there and it was just the two of us,” she said. “I sang ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ The acoustics are great!”

Jones told us she’s been to the Petersen Automotive Museum and enjoys the car exhibits. She walks the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits and especially loves to climb the outer museum stairs to look out at the park’s trees and lawn. “I’ve made that my spot to recuperate and meditate.”

The rich history of the Miracle Mile area is not lost on Jones. When she looks out at the area sometimes, she told us, she thinks to herself, “This used to be just a stretch of dirt road. And before that, there were sloths! We’re walking on earth that has been here so long. You have to respect that.”

Clearly, this local, who is an office clerk at Larchmont Charter Hollygrove @ Selma, knows how to play in the Miracle Mile — truly taking advantage of the myriad opportunities the area provides.

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Category: Real Estate

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