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As the hotel prepares to open, a look from the top —almost — of the Wilshire Grand

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Come to the top of the West's reigning* skyscraper with KPCC's John Rabe and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. (*If you count the spire.)

UPDATE 6/22/2017: The Wilshire Grand hotel in downtown LA, the tallest building in the West if you include the spire, opens officially July 2. In April of 2016, Off-Ramp got a sneak peek. Do not look at the photos if you have vertigo. By the way, Hal Bastian, the unofficial mayor of Downtown LA, is billed as the hotel's first paying guest.

Get up early any morning and stand where Wilshire crosses the 110 Freeway, and you'll see a parade of men and women carrying lunch boxes, wearing Carhart and Dickies, steel-toed Red Wings and hard hats, safety glasses and gloves, all them converging on the Wilshire Grand, which is rising inexorably over downtown Los Angeles.

In 10 months, it'll eclipse the U.S. Bank Tower as the highest building west of the Mississippi. Nine hundred fifty people work there every day now; before long it'll be 1,000, skimming drywall, painting, installing fixtures, laying tile and hardwood, checking level and plumb, and — hopefully — measuring twice and cutting once.

The view from the 69th floor of the Wilshire Grand in downtown LA.
John Rabe
The view from the 69th floor of the Wilshire Grand in downtown LA.

And then, when it's done, as Mayor Garcetti told a crowd of workers at the weekly safety meeting Monday, parents will point to the building and tell their kids, "Your mom (or dad) built that."

That's a very Eric Garcetti thing to say, but I can verify that every time we see the U.S. Bank Tower, my crazy father-in-law, who was a carpenter on that skyscraper, does exactly that.

Garcetti says the Wilshire Grand represents 2.669 million man- and woman-hours of construction work, with a total of 11,000 jobs  in the building phase, and 2,000 permanent jobs. "And that's not even counting the city bureaucracy that supports this," he laughs.

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