The Sly Bar Tucked inside the Legendary Bradbury Building

To the uninitiated, the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles may not look like much, but step through its doors and you enter into one of the most fantastical buildings in LA. Standing at five stories tall, the Bradbury’s interior is an atrium with two open cage elevators, and swirling wrought iron that cascades around marble stairs.

Exterior of the Bradbury, a brick building, with "Bradbury" carved above the arched opening.

Exterior of the Bradbury, with a blade style sign reading "Bradbury."

Looking up toward the massive atrium glass roof, the open cage elevator shafts flank either side.

Overall view of the Bradbury, a narrow but open space, with balconies surrounding an opening int he center and staircase at the back.

Over the years I heard contradicting information about the accessibility of the Bradbury, as it is a used office space, but when we heard a bar opened within the iconic building, we were overjoyed, and last weekend we visited with a small group of friends.

If you’ve seen the movie Blade Runner, then you’re already familiar with the incredibly beautiful and unique design of the Bradbury, as its the setting for the film’s climax.

The Bradbury as it appears in Blade Runner. The two elevator shafts are silhouetted by fog behind them.

The Bradbury as it appears in Blade Runner. The skylight allows for a flying, electronic advertisement to be seen.

The Bradbury as it appears in Blade Runner. Shafts of light peek through the skylight shining in the dim open space.

The Bradbury as it appears in Blade Runner. A view of the staircases climbing upward.

The Bradbury as it appears in Blade Runner.

While made famous for film buffs in the 1980s, the Bradbury Building’s story begins near the end of the 19th century with Lewis Bradbury.

A gold mining and real estate millionaire, Bradbury was looking for a way to get his name on a building, like many millionaires continue to do to this day. He decided to just build one, and he first commissioned architect Sumner Hunt. When Bradbury came to see Hunt’s designs, he wasn’t taken with them. On his way out he met George Wyman, a draftsman for Hunt, and out of the blue Bradbury asked him to design the building. Wyman was said to have been caught so off guard to be taking a project from his boss, and felt so unqualified that he turned to his dead brother for answers. Yes, I said dead. Using a writing planchette (see one in this post) Wyman and his wife asked Wyman’s brother if he should take the job or not, to which he responded with “Take Bradbury you will be…” followed by some scribbles. Supposedly if read from another direction it read “successful” while another source says “famous.”

Sadly, Bradbury died on July 15, 1892, not living to see the completion of the ornate building with his name on it, which was finished in 1893. Soon it became home to the offices of lawyers, doctors, insurance agents, real estate agents, transportation companies, as well as retail shops. Retail shops continued including Ross Cutlery, where in 1994 O.J. Simpson purchased the knife used in the murder of Simpson’s ex-wife and friend.

While Bradbury had passed, his family still owned and looked after the building, doing renovations in 1915. But as Art Deco began to take over LA, some of the prominent office tenants would vacate, and it eventually became home to more charitable organizations and non-profits. In 1943 the Bradbury family sold the building to Western Management Corporation, and just a few years later, in 1947 it had a fire, and began to face what would become decades of neglect.

While it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and later in 1977 became a National Historic Landmark, it still didn’t get the attention it deserved until after Blade Runner, when it was purchased by Ira Yellin. Yellin was already present in the area, as he had also taken over the nearby Grand Central Market. In the summer of 2003 it was sold to a Hong Kong investor.

In 2011 it was used in The Artist, which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It’s also one of my favorite films, highlighting the transition between silent film and talkies.

The Bradbury as it appears in The Artist, with two characters talking on the stairs.

The Bradbury as it appears in The Artist, with two characters talking on the stairs.

The Bradbury as it appears in The Artist, with two characters talking on the stairs.

The Bradbury as it appears in The Artist, a character stands on the stairs.

More recently NeueHouse, a private co-working space, opened inside the Bradbury, along with a bar, dubbed The Wyman after the architect. However, the bar is “members only” meaning you have to rent within the co-working space to gain entrance. Then they announced non-members could acquire a day-pass to visit after working hours, and that’s exactly what we did.

Overall view of the bar, which features an mirrored, arched bar back, and three globe light fixtures that hang over.

A massive black and white photograph of Harrison Ford in his Blade Runner costume.

Myself standing in front of the bar, the globe light fixtures hang behind me.

Corner of the bar, which features a marble top, and a globe light fixture hanging above.

The bar is small and intimate, but also incredibly elegant, going for a mix of old Hollywood glam and sleek contemporary aesthetics. Located on the second floor it gives access for visitors to walk around the upper floor and gaze upon the uniqueness of this legendary icon of architecture and film.

Black and white photo of myself standing on the staircase.

Interior of the Bradbury, with the open elevator shaft on the right, and the zig-zag staircase on the right. Black wrought iron makes up railings and balconies in front of light wood paneled walls.

Black and white photo of myself with the zig-zag staircase behind me.

Bradbury Building directory.

Close-up of a wrought iron finial.

Black and white photo of two floors' blaconies.

Myself, wearing a floor length purple gown, standing in front of a frosted glass door reading "Gentlemen" painted on it.

Black and white close-up of swirling wrought iron balcony detail.

Myself standing on the staircase, the opposite staircase visible in the background.

A black, wrought iron cage style elevator shaft reaches toward a central skylight. Open balconies flank the elevator with warm wood walls and ceilings.

Black and white photo of myself standing in front of a frosted glass door reading "Ladies" painted on it.

View of the staircase as it winds its way up toward the skylight.

Myself, wearing a full length purple dress, standing outside the Bradbury Building, a brick building with an arched entryway with dark doors leading inside.

For more information on visiting The Wyman inside the Bradbury Building, please check out this article from Eater Los Angeles. The article does say that non-member passes are complimentary, which is incorrect, they are $5, and require a reservation. Additionally, this pass/reservation format, according to our waitress, will end mid-December, but that Wednesday nights would be open to the public when live music is being performed. Additionally, proof of vaccination and masks are required upon entry, we were informed masks could be removed for photos, in addition of course to eating and drinking.

The Bradbury Building is located at 304 S. Broadway, in Los Angeles. For more detailed information for the Wyman, please read this article from Eater Los Angeles.

What’s Near By?

Cicada Club

Clifton’s Cafeteria

Grand Central Market

Outfit
Dress: Buffalo Exchange
Necklace: Kate Spade
Purse: Gift
Shoes: Re-Mix

Sources
99% Invisible. “This Building Is the Biggest Architectural Movie Star in Los Angeles.” Slate. 15 July 2015. Accessed 30 November 2021.
Barragan, Bianca. “The weird occult origins of Downtown’s famous Bradbury Building.” Curbed Los Angeles, 11 October 2017. Accessed 30 November 2021.
Bradbury Building. Los Angeles Conservancy. Accessed 30 November 2021.
Elliot, Farley. “A Gorgeous New Cocktail Bar Opens Inside Downtown LA’s Historic Bradbury Building.” Eater Los Angeles, 1 November 2021. Accessed 30 November 2021.
Meares, Hadley. “The Bradbury Building offscrean.” Curbed Los Angeles, 22 June 2017. Accessed 1 December 2021.
Vincent, Roger. “Hong Kong Investor With Eye on the Past Acquires Landmark Bradbury Building.” Los Angeles Times, 30 July 2003. Accessed 30 November 2021.

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