Are you Missing Hollywood’s Amazing Unsung Hero?

Hollywood Superstar and Architectural Landmark

If you’re looking for a free attraction in downtown Los Angeles, you won’t want to miss Hollywood’s unsung hero: The Bradbury Building. Built in 1893, this Hollywood superstar and architectural landmark is on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, it’s one of the most filmed buildings in L.A., having starred in hundreds of movies, TV Shows, and works of fiction.

TIP: Look for 12 Film Sets Featuring the Bradbury Building at the end of this article, listing popular movies and television shows filmed on location.


In this article, you are invited to…


Discover a Free Attraction in Downtown Los Angeles

The Bradbury Building looks grand but rather unremarkable from its Romanesque entrance near the corner of 304 South Broadway at West 3rd Street.

The Bradbury Building in L.A. entrance

Once you step in, though, you’ll find it rich with Victorian architectural details. From the filigree ironwork and coffered ceilings to the Italian marble stairs, Mexican tile, and decorative terra-cotta trim, it’s a work of art.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: This Downtown L.A. attraction is FREE and open to the Public.

Step Into The Bradbury’s Central Court and Atrium

The central court soars to five-stories with an open cage elevator, culminating with an atrium skylight which fills the building with natural light. When constructed, the Bradbury Building laid claim to the largest plate-glass windows in Los Angeles.

Surrounded by a labyrinth of stairs, walkways, and balconies, the central court of L.A.’s Bradbury Building is a cross between artist M.C. Escher’s Relativity and the New Orleans’ French Quarter.

The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - Hollywood superstar and architectural landmark interior
The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - Hollywood superstar and architectural landmark ironwork on marble stairs
Surrounded by a labyrinth of stairs, walkways, and balconies, the central court of L.A.'s Bradbury Building is a cross between artist M.C. Escher's Relativity and the New Orleans' French Quarter. @dtla #bradburybuilding… Click To Tweet
The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - exit and stairway with ironwork
The name “Bradbury” brings to mind author Ray Bradbury, whose science fiction/fantasy books filled my childhood with dystopian and sci-fi classics such as Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and The Illustrated Man.

But the namesake of the Bradbury Building is that of gold-mining millionaire Lewis L. Bradbury, who commissioned a young architect named George H. Wyman to design it.

Interestingly, Wyman was inspired by the science fiction novel, Looking Backwards by Edward Bellamy. The book described “a vast hall full of light received not alone from the windows on all sides but from the dome.” Wyman clearly manifested that vision.

Learn the Origins of A Popular Movie Set

Years later, when the Bradbury Building fell into disrepair, it garnered the attention of Hollywood movie producers.

In addition to being a perfect setting for chases and moody scenes in its decrepit state, the open interior also provided practical benefits: ideal angles for long camera shots, diffused lighting, ample space for lights and equipment, and nearby parking and dining options for staff.

This architectural marvel is perhaps most famous as the movie set for the original Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford.
The Bradbury Building in L.A.: This architectural marvel is perhaps most famous as the movie set for the original Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford. @harrisonfordLA #dtla #losangeles #bradburybuilding #movies #genesis… Click To Tweet
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Look for the original Blade Runner promo poster on the first floor.

The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - Hollywood superstar and architectural landmark filigree interior ironwork
The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - central court interior view to atrium
The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - filigree ironwork and mailbox
The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - interior viewed from first floor landing

Revisit The Bradbury Building Now

The Bradbury Building underwent a complete restoration in 1990. Now, the first floor of the building is the home to the LAPD’s Internal Affairs group and offices and residences occupy the upper levels.

However, visitors are welcome to tour the first floor and follow the staircase up to the first landing. It‘s an incredible attraction for sci-fi fans, movie buffs, and architectural lovers to experience this historic building and pop movie culture icon.

The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - interior stairs and coffered ceiling
The Bradbury Building Los Angeles - exit and marble stairs

Add This Hidden Gem to Your L.A. Itinerary

The Bradbury Building doesn’t take long to see on a self-guided tour, but it’s something you won’t want to miss if you’re exploring Downtown Los Angeles. It’s fun to imagine the movies, television appearances, music videos, and writing inspiration taking place in this magnificent landmark. It truly is Hollywood’s unsung hero!

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you like incredible architecture featured in movie sets, you’ll love the Newport Mansions; Rosecliff Mansion hosted scenes from the movie production of The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio.


BONUS: 12 Film Sets Featuring the Bradbury Building

  1. Blade Runner (1982)
  2. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
  3. The Artist (2011)
  4. Chinatown (1974)
  5. Pay It Forward (2000)
  6. Double Indemnity (1944)
  7. D.O.A. (1949)
  8. Greedy (1994)
  9. Wolf (1994)
  10. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
  11. Bosch (2014-)
  12. The Outer Limits (1963-1965)

Do you recognize the Bradbury Building from any of these movies or shows?

For a comprehensive list of movies and TV series filmed at this Hollywood superstar and architectural landmark in downtown L.A., check out IMDb.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you’re looking for more off-the-beaten-path things to do in L.A., check out my list of 6 Hidden Gems in Greater Los Angeles.

 

This article does not represent a sponsored collaboration between Downtown Los Angeles and Enjoy Travel Life, but even if it were, all opinions expressed on this blog are 100% authentic and my own. For more information about my partnerships, please see the following Disclosure

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

11 thoughts on “Are you Missing Hollywood’s Amazing Unsung Hero?

  • January 8, 2019 at 7:54 pm
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    As a film buff we love to see the site where movies are filmed. I will save this as a reference for our next trip. Thanks for the great reference.

    Reply
  • January 5, 2019 at 1:28 pm
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    Are these buildings built specially got the movie set? What are they used for now?

    Reply
    • January 8, 2019 at 5:46 pm
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      Not at all, Mijia! It’s just an exceptional and unique piece of architecture suited to the silver screen!

      Reply
  • January 4, 2019 at 11:13 pm
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    Along with the culture, water and mountains, the architecture is my favourite thing to look for when travelling. I didn’t realize there was such amazing architecture in L.A.

    Reply
    • January 8, 2019 at 5:47 pm
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      You and I are like-minded on that, Kelly! Who knew in such a “young” city there would be such a find…

      Reply
  • January 4, 2019 at 6:58 pm
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    What a great free attraction in LA. I love hearing about these hidden gems amongst the popular landmarks!

    Reply
    • January 8, 2019 at 5:49 pm
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      I’m glad you enjoyed hearing about the Bradbury Building, Jordin! If you didn’t know the inside scoop, it’s easy to walk right past.

      Reply
  • January 4, 2019 at 5:08 pm
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    What an amazing looking building! I’ve always given LA a miss when in California, but these kinds of hidden gems would definitely entice me to go next time. LAPD Internal Affairs got the best office 🙂

    Reply
  • January 4, 2019 at 9:02 am
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    Wow this place is a hidden gem! We took a tour of Hollywood and never knew about this place. So cool that it was used for so many movies!

    Reply

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