Galleries, bookstores, and theater energize this quiet L.A. suburb
You enter Glendale's Brand Park through a Moorish-stylearchway, then continue up a palm-lined drive to a pure whitemansion with minarets and domes. City pioneer Leslie C. Brandcompleted this Saracen fantasy in 1904 and dubbed it El Miradero for its extensive views. The building comes as asurprise in a city not generally known for its exotic flourishes.But it's also a reminder that Glendale has long had a busy andvaried cultural life.
The mansion now houses the Brand Library &Art Center (closed Sun-Mon; 1601 W. Mountain St.; 818/548-2051). Thelibrary's Victorian-style interior contrasts sharply with itsexterior, while an adjacent modern gallery offers changingexhibits. For more art, stop by the downtown Roslin Art Gallery (closed Sun; 111 W. California Ave.; 818/241-0611), whichspecializes in contemporary Armenian artists; the city has thelargest Armenian community outside the country.
Glendale also has a hefty literary pedigree. It was the settingfor James M. Cain's gritty classic Mildred Pierce. Today three outstanding used bookstores areclustered along Brand Boulevard. One favorite is Brand Bookshop (231 N. Brand Blvd.; 818/507-5943), with a huge, thoughtfulselection.
The 1940 streamline moderne marquee of the Alex Theatre (216 N. Brand; 818/243-2539) dominates its downtownsurroundings. The auditorium hosts a family film series and balletand orchestra performances.
Housed in a converted Masonic temple, classical theater company A Noise Within (closed Mon-Tue.; 234 S. Brand; 818/240-0910) regularlygarners good reviews. Upcoming shows include Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (Mar 19-May 16).
Before or after a performance, unwind at a local restaurant.With inverted parasols suspended from the ceiling and a barsalvaged from a demolished Chinatown restaurant, Cinnabar (closed Mon; 933 S. Brand; 818/551-1155) is an evocativesetting for French-Asian fusion dinners. And Damon's Steak House (closed Mon; 317 N. Brand; 818/507-1510) is a tikiwonderland of puffer fish and tropical murals.
WHERE: Glendale is 20 miles north of Los Angeles, off State134 and I-5.
CONTACT: Glendale Chamber ofCommerce, (818) 240-7870.