While I’m not as big of a fan of this man as some people are, being born well after the popularity of Westerns was dying down, I would be remiss in acknowledging the contributions Gene Autry made to American Culture.
Not knowing a lot about him, I visited the Autry National Center, located in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park across from the Los Angeles Zoo in early October 2012. Unfortunately being a combination art, history and television museum, many exhibits had “no photography,” signs, OR the light was so bad that the pictures turned out bad.
Gene himself is sitting in the courtyard strumming his guitar while his horse, Champion, looks on.
The museum is filled with artifacts such as this, a real stage coach. The sign says that the varnish used on this stage coach turned black over the years, prompting many to believe it had been in a fire at one point. It was a staple in many local parades through the past decades, until it became too rickety. Restoration experts started to strip the varnish away as the first step to restoring it, and to their surprise found that it was actually ornately painted.
Of course no Western History Museum would be complete without a cactus or two around.
Over all I enjoyed this museum. From the temporary exhibits about 20th Century Women Designers and Hopi Indian Art to the exhibits of famous TV Western Costumes and general Western History exhibits, it was quite informative. I’m willing to bet if I grew up on a bit more of those old Westerns, that I would have died and gone to heaven over the costumes and props.
While a ways away from the rest of Los Angeles tourist areas, Venice is rapidly becoming one of my favorite destinations. There are several decent hotels near Marina Del Rey, including ones that have a great view of the marina and Mother’s Beach.
A few blocks away on Washington Blvd are dozens of great restaurants. Many of which are open early for breakfast/brunch, and don’t close until last call. I have yet to find a bad meal along this street.
Walking west, Washington Crosses the famed Venice Canals, which are a wildlife preserve
Continue even further west, and you come to the Venice Fishing Pier. While not as “cool” as the Santa Monica Pier with it’s amusement park over the water, I think it’s a much nicer pier just to look at the water, watch the surfers, or go fishing.
If you’re up for the walk, the Santa Monica Pier is a ways up the beach path. You’ll walk by muscle beach and a large area of vendors selling beach towels, t-shirts and other touristy geared stuff, all while admiring the nice houses that face the ocean. Some with whimsical touches such as a 12 inch by 18 inch piece of fake grass with a sign “World’s smallest yard” posted under it.