Just like my last visit to Los Angeles I’m staying near Pershing Square, a public plaza spanning an entire city block. I’ve also found it’s a convenient orientation point when I’m not quite sure where something is located in downtown LA.
The square is named after American WWI general John J. Pershing. Though he was a famous general in his day, as far as I can tell he has no direct connection to Los Angeles.
In its current incarnation the square features a mix of boxy and curvy concrete structures, mostly painted in pastel purple and orange. It should come as no surprise this design is the work of the late Ricardo Legorreta, whose designs are notorious for this style and color scheme.
But what surprises me most about Pershing Square is just how similar it is to Union Square back home in San Francisco. Aside from being public squares in California, consider these similarities:
- Both are named to honor wars that have very little to do with their respective locations, let alone the west coast.
- Both are in historic neighborhoods, surrounded by hotels, shops, and restaurants.
- Both were rebuilt on top of underground parking garages in the mid 20th century.
- Both are located downtown on one city block and are about the same size.
- Both have a subway station located located nearby.
Obviously there are many, many differences between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but I think anyone who spends time in both California cities would be surprised by the similarities in their respective downtown squares.