Editor’s note: With the opening of the Expo Line’s extension to Santa Monica, locals have a new way to explore neighboring areas. The Daily Press will publish a weekly travelogue about what to eat, see and do near each of the stations along the Expo Line, continuing this week at the LATTC/Ortho Institute stop.
In the past you could’ve called Gary Cypres a hoarder, his massive private assortment of sports memorabilia sitting dormant in a warehouse for the sake of posterity and his own enjoyment.
He has a game-worn Don Drysdale home jersey from 1965, the Hall of Fame pitcher’s first year in with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’s got plenty of hardware, including a World Series trophy from 1981. He even owns a handful of dirt and a ball thrown out upon the 1913 opening of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, where the baseball club used to play.
Now that the longtime collector has made those and thousands of other items available for public viewing, he is perhaps best referred to as a guardian of Los Angeles sports history.
“Through 30 years of collecting,” Cypres says, “I have assembled the most comprehensive collection of Dodger memorabilia known to existence in moveable hands.”
Cypres owns and curates the recently opened Sports Museum of Los Angeles, which is located at 1900 S. Main St., near Washington Boulevard. The museum stands south of the Interstate 10 freeway and about a half-mile northeast of the Expo Line stop at LATTC/Ortho Institute.
It’s an area that some would consider the no-man’s-land between the many destinations near the University of Southern California and the numerous attractions of Downtown Los Angeles. But there’s more here than one might think.
This old neighborhood is home to one campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University, which is accented by the historic Doheny Mansion. Members of the public can make reservations for tours of oil baron Edward Doheny’s former residence, which was part of a gated community of estates in the early 20th century.
Also in the vicinity are Los Angeles Trade Technical College and the Orthopaedic Institute for Children, for which the LATTC/Ortho transit station is named.
When it comes to food, remember that you’re in an area teeming with students. Jacks N Joe (2498 S Figueroa St.) serves pancakes, coffee and other breakfast items from the morning until early afternoon, while Central Kitchen (325-A W. Adams Blvd.) at the Lorenzo student housing complex highlights its selection of salads, sandwiches and pizzas with live acoustic music on Wednesday evenings.
For something a little more adventurous, head northwest from the light-rail stop to 23rd Street Cafe (936 W. 23rd St.), which fuses Mexican, Indian and American fare on options like chicken tikka masala burritos and samosa sandwiches.
But arguably the most intriguing destination near the station is the sports museum, which is open to the public on Saturdays.
A New York native, Cypres has devoted his time (and lots of money) to building up his Dodgers collection in the 32,000-square-foot building. But he has plenty of other keepsakes, including the record-breaking ball from Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, and he recently unveiled a Rams section to coincide with the pro football team’s move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
The museum features uniforms, game-used equipment, scale models, photos and trading cards, among other mementos.
“This is the high temple of sports,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said. “We have many wonderful museums in Los Angeles and the Sports Museum of Los Angeles occupies a place among the best. It is a truly remarkable, one-of-a-kind facility that should be experienced by all Angelenos and anyone visiting our great city.”
Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students with ID and $9 for children ages 5-12. The museum is free for children under 5, active military members and veterans. For more information, visit sportsmuseumla.com, call 888-540-8223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Expo Line now has 19 stations covering 15.2 miles between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. A regular one-way fare is $1.75 and includes two hours of free transfers for riders using a TAP card. A daily pass good for unlimited rides on Metro is $7 and monthly passes are $100. Visit taptogo.net for more information.