Mother Nature is most ruggedly, thornily savage.
March 14, 2015 1:11 PM   Subscribe

Los Angeles should be buried.
Evergreen oaks were fingering up the creases in the mountainsides, pointing toward the ridgeline forests of bigcone Douglas fir, of knobcone and Coulter pine. The forests had an odd sort of timberline. They went down to it rather than up. Down from the ridges the conifers descended through nine thousand, seven thousand, six thousand feet, stopping roughly at five. The forests abruptly ended—the country below being too dry in summer to sustain tall trees. On down the slopes and all the way to the canyons was a thicket of varied shrubs that changed in character as altitude fell but was everywhere dense enough to stop an army. On its lower levels, it was all green, white, and yellow with buckwheat, burroweed, lotus and sage, deerweed, bindweed, yerba santa. There were wild morning glories, Canterbury bells, tree tobacco, miner’s lettuce. The thicket’s resistance to trespass, while everywhere formidable, stiffened considerably as it evolved upward. There were intertwining mixtures of manzanita, California lilac, scrub oak, chamise. There was buckthorn. There was mountain mahogany. Generally evergreen, the dark slopes were splashed here and there with dodder, its mustard color deepening to rust. Blossoms of the Spanish bayonet stood up like yellow flames. There were lemonade berries (relatives of poison ivy and poison oak). In canyons, there were alders, big-leaf-maple bushes, pug sycamores, and California bay. Whatever and wherever they were, these plants were prickly, thick, and dry, and a good deal tougher than tundra. Those evergreen oaks fingering up the creases in the mountains were known to the Spaniards as chaparros. Riders who worked in the related landscape wore leather overalls open at the back, and called them chaparajos. By extension, this all but impenetrable brush was known as chaparral.

The low stuff, at the buckwheat level, is often called soft chaparral. Up in the tough chamise, closer to the lofty timber, is high chaparral, which is also called hard chaparral. High or low—hard, soft, or mixed—all chaparral has in common an always developing, relentlessly intensifying, vital necessity to burst into flame.
- John McPhee, The New Yorker, 09/1988

Video Documentation of Experiments at the USGS Debris-Flow Flume 1992–2006 (amended to include 2007–2013) - This set of videos presents about 17 hours of footage documenting the 146 experiments conducted at the USGS debris-flow flume from 1992 to 2013.

Geology of the San Gabriel basin (LADPW .PDF)

Two articles from KCET:
Earth, Water, Air, Fire: A Historical look at SoCal's troubled relationship with the four classical elements
&
Rise of the Sierra Madre: A Brief History of the San Gabriel Mountains

Title quote from chapter 13 of John Muir's Steep Trails, The San Gabriel Mountains.
posted by carsonb (54 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
It is beyond comprehension why people are allowed to build there
posted by francesca too at 1:30 PM on March 14, 2015


I'm reminded of Mike Davis' "Let Malibu Burn"
posted by sherief at 1:34 PM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's totally not beyond comprehension, which makes it even more sad.
posted by smidgen at 1:38 PM on March 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, sure. A lot of things should be buried.
posted by thelonius at 1:39 PM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I only recently saw Cadillac Desert (Thanks Blue!) and it was an eye-opener. I knew the development of SoCal was bad, but I had no idea how bad.
posted by localroger at 1:41 PM on March 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


It is beyond comprehension why people are allowed to build there

Mud Fight - No sooner had dams like Devil's Gate been built across canyon mouths, then the county began emplacing other flood- and debris-retention structures into the upper reaches of narrow watersheds. To reach them, they built roads that cut sharply into the loose soil, and behind them came housing developers who paved streets, graded and sliced off hilltops, stair-stepping ever higher into the foothills and canyonlands. This invasive infrastructure has only magnified the volume and rocky rush of debris that, following such conflagrations as the Station Fire, have piled up behind Devil's Gate.
posted by carsonb at 1:44 PM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Because money. : /
posted by Glinn at 1:51 PM on March 14, 2015


Came here to say what sherief did, which is generally that Davis's Ecology of Fear should be added to this list. Including his great review of all the times LA has been destroyed in fictional works.
posted by gusandrews at 2:14 PM on March 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


New Yorkers and Southerners criticizing LA. How unique.

It is beyond comprehension why people are allowed to build there

The Gabrielinos were already living there when Spanish explorers made contact in the 16th Century. So your argument is a bit late.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:18 PM on March 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


The Gabrielinos were already living there when Spanish explorers made contact in the 16th Century. So your argument is a bit late.

The Mud Fight article above actually places the older regional inhabitants outside of the flood/debris areas. Places like Arroyo Seco weren't developed and permanently habitated until much later.
posted by carsonb at 2:30 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry, actually I read that in another piece that I don't believe is linked above....lots of articles about this topic out there.
posted by carsonb at 2:37 PM on March 14, 2015


I know it's more of a literary device, but The San Gabriels barely touch the north east part of the City of Los Angeles.

While the cities mentioned in the piece might be in Los Angeles County, they'd probably appreciate not getting lumped in.
posted by sideshow at 2:48 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Gabrielinos were already living there when Spanish explorers made contact in the 16th Century. So your argument is a bit late.

What a bizarre comment. The Gabrielinos' structures are in no way comparable to the "development" that is occurring today.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:50 PM on March 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Previous raves and critiques here about Los Angeles not withstanding, Los Angeles is one of the most human cities in the world, precisely because its existence is so precarious and fragile.

Born after the required technology had been invented, and before current resource constraints existed. Los Angeles could not have been built before 1900, and would not have been built after 2000. The city has required a sculpting of nature like few others, and it always will. It is not a place that should have 10 million people living in it, which is precisely what makes it so magical.

The geology is unstable. The water resources were inappropriate to begin with, and now are so diminished, there seems to be no solution. Wealth inequality stands at an apex. Across every measure – financial, environmental, social – Los Angeles is Mike Davis' apparition. A dead city living. Without a future, it lives in an endlessly-vibrant present.

It's the city that has been waiting for "the big one" (a mammoth earthquake) as long as two generations of my family have been alive. It's one of the singularly most captivating cities in the world – for the geography is so stunning.

Los Angeles is also one of the prime targets to be disrupted by early climate change. A process that is already five years in – with the drought and strain on water resources. Keeping Los Angeles alive will push technology to its apex as the only solution is solar-powered desalinisation, and that's before considering that the city must be ring-fenced. On the coastal side to prevent the impact of 5M sea level rises, and on the mountain side to prevent the result of a new climate cycle.

As long as Los Angeles survives, Western civilisation in the form of denying nature's power of humanity, and our ability to geologically engineer is winning.
posted by nickrussell at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2015 [27 favorites]


As long as Los Angeles survives, Western civilisation in the form of denying nature's power of humanity, and our ability to geologically engineer is winning.

American exceptionalism isn't made any better when dragged down to city level.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


"The Santa Ana," By Joan Didion
posted by clavdivs at 3:22 PM on March 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


New Yorkers and Southerners criticizing LA. How unique.

I'm an Angeleno (former -- can't afford to live there anymore even if I wanted to) but I'm not going to cry "Smug out of towners! Shut up!" on this one.

Besides, admitting the obvious isn't the same thing as "criticizing." If the mud doesn't eventually bury LA, earthquakes will level it, fire will burn it, all the water will run out, and/or anyone who could have ever afforded to live there without working seven jobs will pack up and leave. I guess the only thing that the piece doesn't acknowledge in its striving to paint a snazzy LA-on-the-edge tale is that, in the new normal of climate change, much the same story could be told about New York City and almost any other coastal city.
posted by blucevalo at 3:26 PM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do enjoy all the B&M about LA, etc. but if you haven't watched any of the debris flow and dam breach videos, that stuff is fascinating too. (direct link to ~6min .mp4)
posted by carsonb at 3:38 PM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I just got back from two weeks in Los Angeles. My second only trip there, and that's because the first 2-day trip was not nearly long enough to appreciate the drug of a city. As an outsider who was only visiting, even I couldn't help getting drunk on city life there. nickrussel's description couldn't be more spot on. Maybe it's should be burned, buried or torn apart by earthquakes but the loss would be an unimaginable blow to mankind.

Or maybe I'm still just basking in the afterglow of my time spent there and the amazing taco trucks.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 3:42 PM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Previous raves and critiques here about Los Angeles not withstanding, Los Angeles is one of the most human cities in the world, precisely because its existence is so precarious and fragile.

Yes. If LA didn't have an imported water supply, it would turn back into desert overnight. It IS a desert, this is basic knowledge for any Angeleno that ever got caught without a jacket on a cold summer night, that's what happens in the desert. And there is that constant subliminal sense of peril from The Big One. If The Big One ever happens, you won't know it, you'll be dead. That's how you know it's The Big One, if it didn't kill you, that wasn't it.

Angelenos understand that the usual social rituals are just a facade, a deliberate distraction from the existential peril posed by nature itself. In the aftermath of The Big One, there will be people who go to their favorite cafe, pick up a chair and table and turn it upright, seat themselves, and wonder why they aren't being served.
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:46 PM on March 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


The chaparral ecosystem of Alta and Baja California is bizarrely underappreciated, which is one reason it has been so vulnerable to human intrusion and overdevelopment. McPhee's description is accurate and lyrical, but nevertheless ends with the most common trope concerning the chaparral: "it's dangerous because it burns". There are dozens of organizations out there promoting conservation and preservation of old-growth forests, redwoods, the Everglades, the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, the high Sierra, compared to a mere handful devoted to the chaparral per se. But I'm biased—I grew up in the chaparral, pretty much literally (my mother used to say, when my brother and I were kids, that she could always tell when we'd been out tromping through the brush, because the minute we entered the house we filled it with the odor of Cleveland sage, possibly the most wonderfully pungent plant in existence), and could never understand the disdain that even other native Californians had for it.

As a thought experiment, imagine that water use for landscape irrigation had never been permitted in Southern California: how many people would live there today? The major attraction of Southern California from the 1880s on was that "anything you plant here will grow"—which at first meant citrus groves and other crops, but from the turn of the 20th century increasingly meant residential homes and neighborhoods. The LA basin before the arrival of Europeans was low scrub and coastal grassland, chaparral from the foothills to the heights, and few trees outside watercourses apart from oaks. The aesthetic downside of the Mediterranean climate (from a European point of view) was that most of the grasses and annuals turn brown for 2/3 of the year. It's a landscape that you have to grow up with, or live with for a long time, to learn to love—unlike the landscape you can create within a decade or two by irrigating, which gets you the simulacrum of anything from tropical rainforest (think Disneyland Adventureland) to Italian villas to English estates (think Bel Air or San Marino). And it's a landscape that is probably on its way back, as the cost—or impossibility—of sustaining the artificial ones becomes ever more apparent.
posted by Creosote at 4:27 PM on March 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


It is beyond comprehension why people are allowed to build there

Liz Angeles is merely an extreme case of the fundamental fact that ALL large cities are basically unlivable, and have been since the days of Ur. Constant work has to be put into a city to keep it habitable, and if it all breaks down, they quickly become ruins.

Still, the important thing it's they are considered more desirable than the alternative. Having lived in both small towns and cities, I agree.
posted by happyroach at 4:42 PM on March 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Do you guys feel the same way about the existence of New Orleans? San Francisco?
posted by Justinian at 4:53 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you guys feel the same way about the existence of New Orleans? San Francisco?

As I said, LA is an outlet, but not that unique.

San Francisco's skyrocketing real estate process and gentrication will probably be solved by the next major earthquake. For a broad enough definition of "solved".

Also, a big chunk of Bay Area, including most of San Jose will be gone in the next century. There's a neat little app that shows how high the water level will be when all the ice melts.
posted by happyroach at 5:03 PM on March 14, 2015


The San Francisco Archipeligo
posted by carsonb at 5:07 PM on March 14, 2015


That's 200 feet of sea level rise. What are we looking at in the next century, 10 inches? So that's slightly different.
posted by Justinian at 5:13 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


New Orleans HAD its "big one" in 2005, and we were damn lucky that you can see hurricanes coming so the death toll was only in the low 4 figures instead of mid 6. But it did destroy about half the housing in the metro area and we're just now getting past that. A lot of the redevelopment was stupid. But we have a freaking awesome levee system now and I suspect NOLA will still be an active city when both Miami and L.A. are more of interest to archealogists.
posted by localroger at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


That seems a dubious prospect to me. Rising sea levels are not nearly as much of a problem for Los Angeles than for many cities. The land slops steadily upwards as you move away from the beach.
posted by Justinian at 6:40 PM on March 14, 2015


Wait, I thought the issue here isn't rising sea levels, but rather running out of water (or catching on fire).
posted by mkim at 7:08 PM on March 14, 2015


Running out of water isn't a problem. We can build a desalination infrastructure, and it will be cheap to run at current (and foreseeable) fossil fuel prices. The Gulf States have shown this is a feasible approach. My guess is that the drought will end before this becomes necessary though. It did last time.

Add in the fact that current voluntary conservation measures have been very effective; per capita use has decreased steadily over 20 years. Mandatory measures would only be more effective.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:29 PM on March 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


See you down in Arizona Bay.

Learn to swim.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:52 PM on March 14, 2015


Other climate change issues notwithstanding, LA is topographically very resistant to sea level rise. Here is the 7 meter rise map, which is beyond current 200 year projections (though I believe actually plausible in under 100 years). You have to go over 13 meters to directly displace more than 2-3% of the Greater Metro Area's population. Look at that same map for NYC and see a chunk of NJ just to the west, far bigger than Manhattan, under water.
posted by chimaera at 9:15 PM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


The geology of the San Gabriel mountains is fascinating stuff. It's a vast and beautiful region within Los Angeles county. But the eager affirmations over the New Yorker title seem pretty absurd. For one, the shifting mountain ranges have very little effect on the vast majority of Los Angeles. It makes good copy, but affects relatively few people or properties. And the idea that people should for some reason never have been allowed to build there is laughable considering the extremely prosperous run it's had. Which would probably be deemed worthwhile even if the whole city were to go extinct next week. As tantalizing a prospect as that may be to so many folks.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:52 PM on March 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Los Angeles is not a desert. We're a Mediterranean climate, which is only present on 3% of land area globally.
posted by ApathyGirl at 10:06 PM on March 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


happyroach: Do you guys feel the same way about the existence of New Orleans? San Francisco?

Quite a bit, yes, at least for San Francisco. The connection is personal: my Kung Fu teacher is from there. He got his master's studying the ecology of some rare insects that lived nowhere but this one little valley just off the bay. That valley's all paved in and developed, now, and it's not even next to the bay anymore.

All of California is basically this narrow little strip of ecologically amazing land tucked between mountains and ocean, with unique species and microclimates and geology all over the place, and with every level surface (and some less-level ones, like in this article) being rapidly converted into sprawl and sprawl and sprawl. It breaks his heart every time he goes back there to visit his mother, how much more Death of Nature has happened, and how much new construction on the graveyards.

I don't want to see LA demolished or go extinct. I want to see the monster contained and rehabilitated.
posted by traveler_ at 10:26 PM on March 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


If LA didn't have an imported water supply, it would turn back into desert overnight. It IS a desert, this is basic knowledge for any Angeleno that ever got caught without a jacket on a cold summer night, that's what happens in the desert.

Ha!

Just yesterday as my wife and I were hiking in the local hills, surrounded by grass up to our shoulders (it's been a little on the rainy side lately), looking up at the walnuts and laurel sumac on the hillside, curtains of green ivy draped from tree to tree, then past a hillside of yellow and purple wildflowers.

And I actually said to her, and I was thinking of comments like yours, which pop up from time to time, "have you ever heard people call LA a 'desert?' That's pretty nutty." We were in agreement as we walked through a tunnelling trellis of vines curling from tree to tree.

We pushed leafy green branches away from our faces while watching carefully for poison oak. Noticing clouds of bees around clusters of tiny white flowers, I said, "I bet there'll be a lot of Catalina cherries this year.

LA is not a desert. It's "basic knowledge" for any Angeleno who pays attention.
posted by univac at 11:28 PM on March 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Now Las Vegas on the other hand - there is a city in the desert that should not exist.
posted by univac at 11:32 PM on March 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


The geology of the San Gabriel mountains is fascinating stuff. It's a vast and beautiful region within Los Angeles county. But the eager affirmations over the New Yorker title seem pretty absurd. For one, the shifting mountain ranges have very little effect on the vast majority of Los Angeles.

Yeah, the entire Island of Manhattan could probably fit, longwise, between the San Gabriels and Downtown Los Angeles. In fact, the mountain range people see when are the main city aren't even the San Grabiels, it's the Santa Monicas.

But, I guess a New Yorker doesn't know where the fuck Duarte, Pasadena, Azuza, Glendora, and Bradbury are (cities that actually do have problems with mud and whatnot), so he has to write about Los Angeles instead.
posted by sideshow at 12:29 AM on March 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


If The Big One ever happens, you won't know it, you'll be dead. That's how you know it's The Big One, if it didn't kill you, that wasn't it.

You have a really distorted sense of the mortality rates of major earthquakes. The Bay Area isn't susceptible to major tsunamis, and the straight earthquake component won't kill that many people.

When people worry about the "Big One" they are worrying that their house might suffer structural damage and get red-tagged, or that they won't be able to buy groceries for a week or two. They're generally not worrying that the entire Bay Area will be wiped out. That's sort of preposterous, to be honest.
posted by ryanrs at 4:21 AM on March 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sea level change is only indirectly the problem for Los Angeles. The big problem is of course the drought, which is probably directly related to climate change in other ways such as the shifting of jet streams.

Desalinization isn't a cure all not just because it's expensive but because even if the hydrocarbons for energy are cheap, burning them contributes to the greenhouse gas problem.

The area might not be a desert, but the ecosystem was never capable of supporting millions of people. The issue isn't so much that there is a city there at all as that there is way the hell too much city there, and anything that pares L.A. down to a sustainable size is likely to be seen as a catastrophe by millions of displaced people, even if it's just economic.

Incidentally, New Orleans has this same problem and one of the biggest post-Katrina failures was the partial redevelopment of areas like New Orleans east and parts of Chalmette which never should have been developed in the first place. Katrina was a golden opportunity to buy everyone out and let those areas return to nature so that they could once again serve as flood reservoirs and storm surge buffers, but nooooo. So nowadays in those places you have house, lot, lot, abandoned house, lot, house repeated thousands of times over and nobody can figure out why infrastructure maintenance and crime are problems.
posted by localroger at 6:15 AM on March 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's nothing unique about Los Angeles. All of human "civilization" is an exercise in denying the inevitable, but I assure you it will all come to an end someday, and all our "progress" and "accomplishments" will be revealed as a waste of effort. We should have given up ten thousand years ago.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:49 AM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well that seems unnecessarily negative.
posted by Justinian at 10:41 AM on March 15, 2015


"memento mori" doesn't necessarily mean "don't bother."
posted by chimaera at 11:01 AM on March 15, 2015


There's nothing unique about Los Angeles.

No, numerous cities of that scale have been abandoned throughout history, and mostly for the same reasons.

Doesn't mean we can't have any cities anywhere, though. Just that we have to make sure we need and can support them.
posted by localroger at 11:13 AM on March 15, 2015


Just yesterday as my wife and I were hiking in the local hills..

Yes, as you have observed, climate may vary with altitude, and the hills and canyons around LA have many microclimates. As the LADPW says,

Los Angeles County is a semiarid region that receives less than fifteen inches of rain per year. Although the County would remain generally dry without the assistance of innovative irrigation systems, some of the surrounding mountainous areas receive more than forty inches of rain per year.

The Los Angeles Basin was always dependent upon irrigation and the water sources were underground streams.

The general definition of a desert is an area that receives less than 10 inches of rainfall annually. But it is a pretty fine distinction between semi-arid and desert when LA's annual precipitation can be well under 10 inches for years at a time. Currently, due to lack of rain water, LA is turning into a desert.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2015


KCET has been doing some amazing journalism lately. So much so that I'm going to become a member again to support it. (I stopped contributing when they dumped PBS.)

Thanks for the post. Though I'm a native Chicagoan, I've lived in LA for 15 years now and love it fiercely. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:02 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


KCET does indeed do great journalism, as others have noted.

Not a desert.
posted by univac at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2015


Now a desert.

"As our 'wet' season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows" [JPL water scientist] Famiglietti writes. "We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too."

Note: science journalism != science.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:54 PM on March 15, 2015


Yeah. The problem isn't people living in Los Angeles. The problem is trying to use California for levels of agriculture that the rainfall can't sustain. Particularly cattle and other animals. That's where efforts should be focused; sustainable agriculture.
posted by Justinian at 9:14 PM on March 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


numerous cities of that scale have been abandoned throughout history
The scale of nearly four million people in 500 square miles, just counting the city proper and not the metro area/satellites/burbs? I'm gonna call "citation needed."
posted by aspersioncast at 9:44 AM on March 16, 2015


You know it's interesting: by digging around with population estimates on Wikipedia I was able to throw some numbers together, and counting generously the greater LA area has about 0.26% of the world's population right now. I (very roughly) calculated the peak-relative-populations of some of the famous destroyed/abandoned/whatever lost cities through history:
  • Memphis — 0.04%
  • Babylon — 0.1%
  • Mohenjo-daro — 0.08%
  • Hattusa — 0.06%
  • Persepolis — 0.05%
  • Leptis Magna — 0.04%
  • Vijayanagara — 0.09%
  • Ctesiphon — 0.1%
  • Ani — 0.03%
  • Tikal — 0.1%
So its abandonment would be bigger than any precedent I could find numbers for, but not radically so, at least not for this definition of "scale".
posted by traveler_ at 1:22 AM on March 17, 2015


I dunno, anywhere from 2.5x to an order of magnitude larger than the next closest example (depending on whether you consider proportion of total population or absolute numbers) seems pretty radical to me.

I'm in the "absolute numbers" camp. I don't see why proportion of the total world population is relevant. What matters is the absolute size of the city.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2015


Absolute numbers are deceiving because without modern technology infrastructure, it's impossible to maintain the population of a modern city like Los Angeles or New York City at all.

I suspect the percent figures are used to give a sense of what the disappearance of the city meant on a global scale and what the missing commerce and refugees meant in the affairs of surrounding areas.
posted by localroger at 3:13 PM on March 17, 2015


Well all numeric yardsticks a person tries to use to compare these things are going to be flawed in some way. By absolute numbers, totally, Earth has never seen a population like we have now, nor cities the sizes we have now. An earthquake that destroyed LA would be historically unprecedented in its enormity.

But absolute numbers really don't reflect the civilization-scale, cultural role of cities. We still talk about the destruction of Persepolis, but if I said an earthquake around the late 2nd millennium would see roughly the same number of people suddenly killed in roughly the same part of the world, you wouldn't know if I was talking about 1968, 1978, 1990, or 2003. I doubt, a thousand years from now, our descendants will think on any of them the same way they'll remember Persepolis.

Like localroger said the relative population numbers were just a way to satisfy my curiosity and ballpark the roles of famous lost cities to their cultures, nations and economies. If I call Los Angeles a civilization-level megacity, and say its sudden destruction in an earthquake, or slow deflation into a string of small villages, would have a tremendous effect on our country and the world—and I do say that—I'll also say that those lost cities I listed above were also civilization-level megacities whose destruction or abandonment are remembered even today. And that they are in this sense on a similar "scale".

I find it intriguing that there might someday be a legend about the famous Lost City of Angels to go with Troy and Babylon.
posted by traveler_ at 2:38 AM on March 18, 2015


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