Los Angeles

Armed with his Appleton's guide to the United States, Michael Portillo arrives in Los Angeles to delight in the 'city of dreams', from its glorious Union Station to its golden beaches and palm-lined boulevards. Like many a Hollywood hopeful before him, Michael heads for the Warner Brothers studio, founded on Sunset Boulevard at the time of his Appleton's, with dreams of stardom ahead. His role as a fearless all-action hero is assured. For the view from the top he takes the Skyslide from the 70th floor of one of LA's tallest buildings before striding out on the Walk of Fame.

At the pioneering 19th-century Union Ice company, Michael discovers how Californians have kept their cool. He sees how ice blocks of titanic proportions are made and brings Christmas to LA with a giant snowmaker. Outside the city, Michael heads for San Marino to visit The Huntington, a cultural and research centre with fine libraries, art galleries and more than a dozen botanical gardens. In the cactus garden, Michael discovers more about the founder, nephew of a railroad baron and himself a pioneer of street cars and trolleys. Michael explores the city's latest initiative to break the legendary rush hour gridlock on Los Angeles freeways - a rail link with seven new stations on the LA metro.

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