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Photos: How cop's eye for detail helped this Angeleno model the city in his kitchen — from Legos




Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
The 62-story Aon Center in downtown Los Angeles is one of many LA landmarks that Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building as part of his Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Jorge Parra Jr. put two different Lego figurines together to create this female mariachi singer. Including a mariachi band was important to Parra in creating a Lego version of Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
A train meant to be Metrolink moves through Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego version of Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
A Lego version of Los Angeles International Airport is the latest addition to Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego Los Angeles. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Jorge Parra Jr. customized a Lego-made street car by placing Metro's Gold Line graphics on it.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
A Lego version of Los Angeles City Hall stands as part of Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego version of LA, which spans about eight by nine feet.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
Twenty-three-year-old Jorge Parra Jr. began working on this Lego version of Los Angeles eight years ago. Parra only takes out his Lego city about once a year. Most of the time it's in storage.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
The 1,018-foot US Bank Tower is one of many Los Angeles landmarks that Jorge Parra Jr. decided to include as part of his Lego version of LA. Parra, who recently graduated from UCLA, hopes to soon make a Lego model of Royce Hall.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
A Lego version of Los Angeles International Airport is the latest addition to Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego Los Angeles. Pictured here is the Encounter Restaurant building at LAX.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
A billboard for the Hollywood Bowl stands as part of Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego version of LA, which spans about eight by nine feet.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC
Jorge Parra Jr. has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. The structures sit in his El Monte home on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 12, 2016. Parra customized Lego pieces by printing small billboards and street signs unique to Los Angeles.
A Lego version of Los Angeles International Airport is the latest addition to Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego Los Angeles.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC


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Los Angeles is always changing, and so is its skyline, a fact Jorge Parra keeps in mind as he engineers his own version of L.A. ... in his kitchen.

Parra's L.A. is made up of about 70,000 Lego pieces, and it takes up about 72-square-feet in his home.

Jorge Parra Jr., 23, has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. Parra has been interested in Legos since childhood. Today, he makes YouTube videos documenting his city.
Jorge Parra Jr., 23, has spent the last 8 years building this Lego version of Los Angeles. Parra has been interested in Legos since childhood. Today, he makes YouTube videos documenting his city.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

“I love skyscrapers and towers,” Jorge says. “I wanted to recreate the skyline – and that’s something that I am still working on. I only have four [skyscrapers] right now and City Hall. I want to expand that to the Ritz-Carlton and the Bank of America Tower. I think those are going to be my next projects.”

His colorful plastic brick model of L.A. already includes the Wilshire Grand Tower, L.A. City Hall, the U.S. Bank Tower, LAX. And, of course, there is even a miniature In-N-Out.

While putting together this Lego version of Los Angeles, Jorge Parra Jr. always wanted to include an In-N-Out Burger. Fittingly, his In-N-Out Burger restaurant is next to his latest addition, the Los Angeles International Airport, just like the one on Sepulveda Boulevard.
While putting together this Lego version of Los Angeles, Jorge Parra Jr. always wanted to include an In-N-Out Burger. Fittingly, his In-N-Out Burger restaurant is next to his latest addition, the Los Angeles International Airport, just like the one on Sepulveda Boulevard.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

When Jorge isn’t working on his Lego L.A. City; he works in the real Los Angeles. 

“I am a police officer with the LAPD,” Jorge says. “As a police officer you focus a lot on detail. You have to be very detail-oriented. It’s a way to release what you do at work. It’s a form of therapy as well.”

Jorge Parra had never seen Lego bricks until he was in second grade when his neighbor received a Lego set for his birthday. After that, Jorge knew exactly what he was going to ask for when his own birthday rolled around. Jorge, now 23, has been collecting ever since. 

He says that he never would have imagined what would become of his collection.

“You can take those bricks, those generic multicolored bricks that everyone knows and go and sculpt something like this,” Jorge says. “These structures that are instantly recognizable to anyone in L.A..”

A Lego version of Los Angeles City Hall stands as part of Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego version of LA, which spans about eight by nine feet.
A Lego version of Los Angeles City Hall stands as part of Jorge Parra Jr.'s Lego version of LA, which spans about eight by nine feet.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

His model isn’t an exact replica, but the iconic elements really paint a picture of the city life.

There's a section that resembles the historic core in downtown, and a beach that has a lot of wacky characters that might remind one of Venice Beach –  I'm looking at you, Lego man with a banana costume.

The characters are everywhere. On one corner a Lego man is selling hot dogs, and a few blocks down, a quartet of Legos are about to play some mariachi music.  

Jorge’s model isn’t on display year-round because it takes up so much space in his home. But he makes an effort to recreate, organize and add new iconic structures to this city once a year for his YouTube channel.

Make sure to listen to the audio to hear Parra reveal where he finds his rare Legos, and to hear the little Metro train that runs through his Los Angeles.