From cultural anniversaries and new hotels to superstar concerts and blockbuster exhibitions, 2014 was an incredible year of events in Los Angeles. As the countdown to 2015 begins, here’s a look back at some of the top art, culture and music events of 2014.
To kick off 2014, Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena hosted two of the biggest games in college football. On Jan. 1, Michigan State beat Stanford in the official Rose Bowl Game, the 100th anniversary of “The Granddaddy of Them All.” Five days later, the stadium hosted the BCS National Championship Game. Led by 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, No. 1 Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn in the final edition of the Bowl Championship Series. The NCAA is debuting the new College Football Playoff format in the 2014-15 season.
L.A.’s 2014 concert calendar was appropriately launched in January with a half-dozen shows by the Eagles at The Forum in Inglewood. The concerts marked the reopening of the landmark venue after a $100-million renovation. Built in 1967, The Forum hosted countless legendary concerts and was the home arena of the Lakers and Kings before both teams moved to STAPLES Center in 1999. To coincide with the venue’s reopening, a 400-foot diameter replica of the Eagles’ 1976 Hotel California album was installed atop the building’s roof. The giant spinning LP was billed as the world’s largest vinyl record.
The L.A. boutique hotel scene welcomed two notable additions in January. In Downtown L.A., the 182-room Ace Hotel opened in the historic United Artists building. Located on the edge of the Jewelry District, the Ace’s nods to the city’s history included the reopening of the building’s 1,600-seat theatre and the re-illumination of the iconic “Jesus Saves” sign. Modern additions include the hotel’s rooftop bar, LA Chapter restaurant and turntables (with vinyl curated by Amoeba Records) in every room.
The Line Hotel opened in Koreatown at the site of what was originally a 388-room Hyatt hotel built in 1964. The Line features a culinary program helmed by L.A. chef and food truck impresario Roy Choi. The hotel’s dream team of collaborators also includes The Sydell Group, Houston Hospitality, designer Sean Knibb and the art and design collective Poketo.
The end of January marked the official Beverly Hills centennial and the festivities continued through much of the year. Street pole banners were installed in January and in February the city re-dedicated Beverly Gardens Park’s historic Lily Pond. In April the city held its Centennial Independence Day block party on Rodeo Drive. During the summer, five of the city’s most renowned hotels (the Montage, the Beverly Hilton, L’Ermitage, the Peninsula and the Beverly Hills Hotel) redesigned one suite each to commemorate a certain era within the city’s illustrious history.
Downtown’s Grand Central Market (GCM) has represented L.A.’s cultural and culinary diversity since it opened in 1917. The landmark took a big step forward this year with some of its newest tenants, garnering a spot on Bon Appetit magazine’s list of the 10 best new restaurants in America. Following the November 2013 debut of breakfast food sensation Eggslut, Northern California-based Belcampo Meat Co. opened its first L.A. outpost, featuring their noteworthy burgers, at GCM in March. The following month, Wexler’s Deli debuted with house-smoked meats and fish and nods to its forebearers - the Macarthur Park sandwich is a shout-out to the famed Original #19 at Langer’s Deli. In October, Christophe Happillon, the city’s only master ecailler (shellfish master) opened The Oyster Gourmet kiosk. For an in-depth look at the best new GCM vendors, read the dineL.A. guide.
Rock, pop and classical music fans enjoyed superb live shows all year long. In March, the acclaimed Kronos Quartet played UCLA’s Royce Hall for its 40th Anniversary concerts, which included a collaboration with Wilco guitarist (and L.A. resident) Nels Cline. That month also welcomed pioneering German experimentalists Kraftwerk, who performed their iconic 1974 album Autobahn in its entirety at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Billy Joel, whose song “Piano Man” was inspired by his six-month stint at a dive bar near what is now Koreatown, played the Hollywood Bowl in May. In August, Sir Paul McCartney took his band to Dodger Stadium, where the Beatles played their penultimate concert in 1966. In October, the piano (and its player) once again took center stage as Elton John played STAPLES Center. The reunited Fleetwood Mac brought their “On with the Show” tour to The Forum for two shows in November and December.
Photographer Ansel Adams spent much of the 1970s archiving his long career of natural photography, which has often been used for preservationist efforts. In March the Getty Center opened its four-month exhibit In Focus: Ansel Adams, which included much of the work from the archives compiled by the California native, who died in 1984.
Inspired by the "Despicable Me" animated movies, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem and Super Silly Fun Land debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood in April. Part of the theme park’s $1.6-billion expansion, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is a 3D Ultra-HD movie motion-simulator ride that takes guests from the home of super-villain Gru home to his laboratory, through a frantic Minion training mission, and culminates with a Minion dance party. Adjacent to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Super Silly Fun Land re-creates the seaside carnival from the first film. The elaborate kids play zone is a colorfully themed, Minion-inspired area that will delight the whole family.
Opened in 1926, the legendary Route 66 connected Chicago to Los Angeles and became a witness to history and a symbol for America on the move. With Downtown Los Angeles - and later Santa Monica - as the western terminus for the 2,400-mile highway, L.A.’s Autry National Center was an appropriate site for an exhibit that celebrates the cultural significance of the “Mother Road.” Route 66: The Road and the Romance opened in June with more than 250 historic artifacts ranging from road signs and gas pumps to a 1960 Corvette and Jack Kerouac’s original typewritten scroll of his Beat Generation novel On the Road.
There are few signs in the first 45 years of the Los Angeles Kings that point to the team becoming the closest thing to an NHL dynasty. But that’s what the Kings became in June after winning their second Stanley Cup in three years. During their championship run, the Kings became the first team in NHL history to win three game sevens on the road in a single postseason. Defenseman Alec Martinez sent the STAPLES Center crowd into pandemonium after scoring the double-overtime goal against the New York Rangers that secured the Cup.
One of the coolest events of the year took place during the dog days of summer, when the Tall Ships Festival L.A. sailed into the Port of Los Angeles in August. More than a dozen domestic and international tall ships represented the best of maritime beauty at the four-day event. One of the festival highlights was the world’s tallest rubber duck. Created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the 60-foot-tall rubber duck was tethered to a barge and illuminated at night.
L.A.’s City Hall has come a long way from its "Dragnet" days. The landmark building was the backdrop for the two-day Made in America Festival that was held in Grand Park over Labor Day weekend. Organized by Jay-Z, the festival attracted about 35,000 people and featured performances by Kanye West, Iggy Azalea and Imagine Dragons, as well as emerging local hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar.
Hello Kitty was created in Japan in 1974, but the beloved character’s first-ever official convention was hosted at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo. Organized as part of the global icon’s 40th anniversary celebrations, the Hello Kitty Con welcomed thousands of fans from around the world to Downtown L.A. in late October. The four-day event featured seminars, merchandise and exhibits of rare items, including the priceless coin purse that introduced Hello Kitty to the world. Earlier that month, the adjacent Japanese American National Museum opened Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty, the first large-scale Hello Kitty museum retrospective in the United States.
The Music Center celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1964 opening of Memorial Pavilion (later named Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), the first of four venues (including the Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall) that comprise the 22-acre Downtown campus. The event featured performances ranging from the Center Theatre Group to the L.A. Opera orchestra and Edward James Olmos, as well as a tribute to the Academy Awards, which was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from 1969 to 1987.