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The 405
Photograph: Coolcaesar/Wikimedia

The definitive guide to when to say 'the' before LA landmarks

Michael Juliano
Written by
Michael Juliano
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We’re pretty particular about pronunciations in Los Angeles—see: Los Feliz, San Pedro, Sepulveda—but there’s one grammatical argument we’re downright draconian about: “the.” Whether or not you put “the” in front of freeway numbers is enough to reveal whether you’re from here, Northern California or beyond. It’s not always as clear-cut as that, so we decided to set the record straight about when to and not to use “the” before LA landmarks.

Always use "the" before:

The 405 (and other freeways)

We’ll forever agree to disagree with Northern Californians about this: You always put “the” before a freeway number (not so for letters; see PCH).

The Cinefamily

We routinely hear Angelenos omit the article before “Cinefamily”—even the theater’s founder Hadrian Belove refers to it as simply “Cinefamily” in our interview with him. But you can’t argue with the venue’s website, promo material and marquee: it’s “the Cinefamily.”

The El Rey

A runner-up in redundancy only to the La Brea Tar Pits, “the” still certainly belongs before “El Rey”—even the theater’s URL uses “the.”

The Broad Museum

This contemporary art museum still doesn't open for another month so let's get out ahead of it: The Broad (and that rhymes with "ode").

Never use "the" before:

Largo

Maybe it’s the full name—Largo at the Coronet—that convinces some people to precede the theater’s name with “the.” But the next time you see Patton Oswalt perform stand-up, you’re seeing him at Largo, no article necessary.

UCB

You attend a show at UCB but can see a performance by the UCB—that is if you’re lucky enough to catch a set from the improv theater’s co-founders, Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh. With multiple locations now, the venue officially prefers that you say UCB Sunset or UCB Franklin.

Ace Hotel

Pretty much everyone we know calls it “the Ace.” But talk to the people behind Downtown’s favorite boutique hotel and they’re very adamant it’s “Ace Hotel.”

LACMA

Like any acronym art museum, there's no need to say "the" before LACMA. And for the record, it sounds like "lack," not "lock."

PCH

Once you’ve crossed county lines, feel free to call it whatever you’d like—State Route One? Sure, why not.—but here in LA it’s just PCH. You would only use “the” before the full name, Pacific Coast Highway.

OC

The OC?

Do you disagree with anything? Did we forget something big? Let us know in the comments.

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