Hollywood Boulevard, Union Station, The Getty—any number of famous sites can come to your mind when you think of Los Angeles. Covering 469 square miles, it’s no surprise that this city possesses an endless queue of attractions. But how do you avoid getting overwhelmed with possibility? What do the locals want you to see? We are so glad to partner with our host council for the ultimate tour guide! Read this blog written by California Humanities describing the landmarks shown in the official 2022 NHC visuals and get inspired for your trip to kinetic California.

Image created by Steven Loscutoff at California Humanities

The National Humanities Conference 2022 banner contains multiple landmarks unique to Los Angeles, the conference host city. Join us for a brief overview of the different elements depicted on the banner, along with links to learn more. See how many you can glimpse in our conference video.

  1. Griffith Observatory
    • Inspired by benefactor Griffith J. Griffith, the Griffith Observatory offers a planetarium, telescopes, exhibits, public talks, access to the famous Hollywood sign, and more. Located in Griffith Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, the Observatory has provided visitors worldwide with chances to observe, learn, and be inspired since 1935. Look for it in a prominent cameo role in Rebel Without a Cause (1955).
  2. Los Angeles Aqueduct – The Cascades
    • The early 20th century growth of Los Angeles was only possible through the city’s (ruthless) importation of water from distant regions. The Cascades are the point where freshwater from the Eastern Sierra enters the basin, following a several hundred-mile journey across the Mojave Desert. Irish immigrant William Mulholland, a self-taught civil engineer, oversaw the construction of an aqueduct between the Owens Valley and Los Angeles that was completed in 1913.
  3.  Walt Disney Concert Hall
    • Walt Disney Concert Hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Designed in a distinctive metal-clad style by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the Philharmonic is known to present high-quality classical music, contemporary music, world music, and jazz. In addition, the Hall is internationally recognized as an architectural landmark, providing one of the world’s most acoustically sophisticated concert halls. It is located on Bunker Hill, surrounded by other notable cultural institutions. The neighborhood was once home to stately Victorian rooming houses and a vibrant residential neighborhood; while they no longer stand because of urban redevelopment, Bunker Hill is now an iconic part of LA’s heart of global business.
  4. The Pacific Coastline
    • California State Route 1, also known as Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), offers impressive views of the coast, cliffs, and beautiful skyline along the ocean. For a Los Angeles County-focused drive, you can begin your trip on Highway 1 in Malibu, then continue to Santa Monica. After a while, the route will take you off the coast to pop around LAX, but you will be back next to the shore for a scenic drive through Manhattan, Hermosa, and Redondo Beaches.
  5. Case Study Houses grids and panels
    • Sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine, between the 1940s and 1960s, Case Study Houses were a specific architectural response to Southern California, and centered the rise of modernism in L.A. at mid-century, defining both a place and an era. They were intended to be relatively affordable, replicable houses for post-World War II family living using new materials and techniques in house construction and were brought to life by architects like Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig, as well as designers Ray and Charles Eames.
  6. Quaoar Moon
    • Quaoar is the name of a creator deity of the Tongva people, native to the area around Los Angeles. According to Tongva tradition, Quaoar sings and dances the world and other deities into existence. The Quaoar Moon, a dwarf planet beyond Neptune, was discovered in 2002 by astronomers Chad Trujillo and Michael Brown, and the name was chosen because Brown’s institution, California Institute of Technology, is located in the Los Angeles Basin, first populated by the Tongva.
  7. San Gabriel Mountain range
    • Los Angeles is bordered by jagged mountains, including the San Gabriel Mountain Range to the north, the city’s last remaining wilderness space. The range has several peaks over 9,000 feet, and is home to mountain lions and bears, as well as endangered species such as the California condor and Nelson’s bighorn sheep. The rugged landscape is home to 600 archaeological sites spanning 8,000 years of human history.
  8. Downtown Los Angeles Skyline
    • LA’s now iconic skyline is a relatively recent defining feature of the city, as building heights were capped at 12 stories by a 1904 ordinance. Built in 1926, LA’s 454-foot art deco style City Hall was long the exception. The iconic structure dominated the cityscape until the mid-1960s, when height restrictions were lifted in reflection of changing aesthetic tastes and advances in construction methods that increased safety and resilience to earthquakes.  
  9.  Eagle Rock
    • Eagle Rock is a neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles, named after a large rock whose shadow resembles an eagle with its wings outstretched. Pulitzer Prize-winner John Steinbeck lived here early in his career, teaching at Occidental College.
  10. Theme Building at LAX
    • The Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), resembling a white flying saucer, is a highly visible example of the mid-century modernism movement called “Googie”. Completed in 1961, it is considered to be a Space Age landmark and a fitting intersection of the city’s reputation for aeronautic, design, architecture, and pop culture innovation.
  11. Santa Monica Pier
    • Initially opened in 1909 simply to carry pipes beyond the breakers, multiple additions over the years turned the pier into a family destination with many attractions, including a Ferris wheel, aquarium, and an original 1920s carousel hippodrome.  It was the inspiration for bandleader Kay Kyser’s 1946 song “When Veronica Plays the Harmonica (On the Pier at Santa Monica).”
  12. Bird of Paradise flowers
    • To celebrate the city’s 171st birthday, Mayor Fletcher Bowron declared the bird of paradise, a tropical plant native to South Africa, as L.A.’s floral emblem in 1952. The Strelitzia reginae is the best-known of the distinctive and dramatic orange flower that grows all over Southern California.
  13. Coral Tree leaves
    • The coral tree (Erythrina caffra), also native to South Africa, is known to be smog resistant and pest free—important in L.A.’s cat’s cradle of freeways! It was declared the city’s official tree by Los Angeles City Council in 1966.
  14. Sixth Street Viaduct Bridge
    • The original Sixth Street Viaduct, constructed in 1932, was one of a set of fourteen historic structures crossing the Los Angeles River. The original bridge acted as a critical transportation link between the neighborhoods of the Arts District on the west side and Boyle Heights on the east side. A replacement viaduct, the largest bridge project in the history of Los Angeles, has just been completed.

Research and blog by California Humanities staff members Cherie Hill, Felicia Kelley, Lucena Lau Valle, and Julie Fry, and conference visuals design by Steven Loscutoff.