April 7, 2003 2:42 PM   Subscribe

"Los Angeles is not the city it could have been" An informative and amusing essay on how L.A. went from 'six suburbs in search of a city' to the 'horizontal sublime.' Part of the 3Cities Project.
posted by snez (23 comments total)
I don't know what the ahrb normally does but I can't figure out for the life of me why this five year old project exists (?)

I mean, LA historical architecture?

I guess I'm going to need ever more help on this one that I normally do....
posted by victors at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2003

I, for one, love & welcome posts about Los Angeles, a sorely overlooked topic on Mefi. Nice work, snez. And victors, for your information, L.A., due to it's semi-recent (post automobile) development (well, when compared to most of the big cities in the U.S.) and heavy car culture, has some of the best mimetic architecture (hot dog stands that look like hot dogs, etc) in the world. It's sublime, frankly other big cities could do with more of it.
posted by jonson at 3:26 PM on April 7, 2003

Good link. Thanks.
posted by mrbula at 3:43 PM on April 7, 2003

City of Quartz by Mike Davis is a really interesting history/montage of life in Los Angeles (check out the amazon page too). I spent most of the 90's fascinated by that city, after I lived there from 91-93, all over the area... Whittier, Southgate, Harbor City, Long Beach, Carson, Inglewood, and West LA. Last year I lived in Ventura County for a bit, and while Iloved the fact there was still some unspoiled natural beauty in the area, I missed the thick of things in that crazy city somewhat and found myself visiting often.

Curiously, I first heard the line about "a bunch of suburbs looking for a city center" from a friend who was in Germany at the time.

The best taco stand ever may well be in Culver City.
posted by weston at 3:50 PM on April 7, 2003

Cadillac Desert is also a great book about how the water was essentially stolen from the Owens Valley to feed the city at the turn of the century.
posted by jonah at 3:52 PM on April 7, 2003

p.s. I can't get into the Tito's Tacos hype, but Mao's Kitchen is some of the best Chinese food in town.
posted by jonah at 3:54 PM on April 7, 2003

I don't know if I can help you out victors. To be honest, the age and purpose of the project never crossed my mind. I was reading about the Future City competition (my favorite, Electrolysis, didn't win) and then came across this essay on Blade Runner and the Future City. The Axelrod essay seemed to tie it all together. Plus, I think the illustrations he included are amazing. Thanks everyone for the comments and additional links.

And since I've moved out of California, I've been missing those taco stands.
posted by snez at 4:11 PM on April 7, 2003

p.s. I can't get into the Tito's Tacos hype

jonah, that's nearly heretical. : ) Is it because you know of a better one? Or are tacos and other quasi-latin-american food just ain't your thing?

and if you do know a better taco place, you'd better fess up
posted by namespan at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2003

I work half a mile from Tito's (as does another L.A. mefite) and can attest to the brilliance, but as with many popular L.A. dives (Pink's, Roscoe's) the lines & the long wait sometimes overpower the desire to eat there. For anyone who hasn't been there, Paco's is also a Culver City delight, although more of a restaurant than Tito's.
posted by jonson at 4:25 PM on April 7, 2003

No, I love good tacos, Titos (in my opinion, not shared by most) is gut wrenching crap. I know it's cheap and greasy, but I just don't see the obsession.

Pick any of the places on Pico west of the 405 and you can do alot better in my opinion.

El Compadre on Sunset is pretty hard to beat to name one in Hollywood, and the flaming margaritas go down easy.
posted by jonah at 4:27 PM on April 7, 2003

well, I get the kitschy thing -- I've had 1000s of breakfasts at Farmers Market in my life and god knows I miss the 2pm omelettes and bloody marys at Dupars that used to be on Whilshire -- the one with the red vinyl booth no windows full bar tucked off the side -- but there is actual beauty in this world and LA's version is pretty provincial and parochial for my taste. I tried the "ugly is beautiful" thing and I decided, for me, anyway, "ugly is ugly." I just don't like the city.

That doesn't mean you couldn't do more fpp's on the brilliant under the radar cultural aspects...
posted by victors at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2003

For anyone who's interested in seeing some of Lost Strangeles' weirder nooks and crannies, a copy of L.A. Bizarro is absolutely mandatory.

And for those intrigued by LA's fabulous (and rapidly disappearing) Googie architecture, check out this site.
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:57 PM on April 7, 2003

I mean, LA historical architecture?

Some of these buildings are over 20 years old.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 5:10 PM on April 7, 2003

well, I get the kitschy thing...but there is actual beauty in this world and LA's version is pretty provincial and parochial for my taste. I tried the "ugly is beautiful" thing and I decided, for me, anyway, "ugly is ugly." I just don't like the city.

I'm not so much into giant hot dog shaped stuff and ugly things myself, but there's some very real beauty to be found in buildings, landscaping, and monuments throughought the city. The architecture of the Getty Museum takes precedent for me over that actual art every time I go. I love uptown Whittier, and also wandering up in the hills up above Whittier (go up Painter or Greenleaf, I think, until you can't -- possibly at Broadway or Beverly -- turn right and follow the road). There's the Korean Friendship Bell and the John Anson Ford Theater, too. All kinds of neat old churches.
posted by weston at 5:19 PM on April 7, 2003

agh, these Getty museum people need a ++clue about JPEG compression..
posted by shadow45 at 5:29 PM on April 7, 2003

LA itinerary:

3pm: arrive at burbank
5pm: seder in encino (fake upset stomach)
9pm: slink out the door
10pm: stuffing face with bbq chicken and beer at Babe and Ricky's in South Central
2am: slink back in door in Encino
8am: plug in the Alka Seltzer IV unit
9am: take off from burbank
9:03: "Oh look there's the Getty!"
9:04: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by victors at 5:40 PM on April 7, 2003

I love uptown Whittier

I lived there for 8 years, from junior high on. Nice to see it get some props. Architecturally, it's quite unique by comparison to the other cities that surround it. It's hodge-podge of old Victorian homes and Art Deco public buildings is quite pleasantly set off by beautiful trees and those hills covered with sage and scrub oak. The gigantic pines that line Beverly Blvd. are awe inspiring.

go up Painter or Greenleaf, I think, until you can't -- possibly at Broadway or Beverly -- turn right and follow the road

Beverly becomes Turnbull Canyon Road. Take a drive all the way up to the crest and have a look at all the fabulous estates perched on the tops of the hills just waiting to slide off in the next big rainstorm.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:58 PM on April 7, 2003

I moved from LA a year ago. The thing I miss the most is Tito's Tacos. Yummmm.
posted by owillis at 7:10 PM on April 7, 2003

The Los Angeles Photo Gallery rocks.
posted by namespan at 7:32 PM on April 7, 2003

hills up above Whittier

If that's the place I'm thinking of, you can park along the road there, and I think there's a trail that, after a brief hike, gives you the best damn 360 view of LA I've ever seen. Do it on a clear night -- you can see the lights of Catalina. LA at its best. I don't know about Tito's, though...Give me Tail O' the Pup any day!
posted by drinkcoffee at 7:43 PM on April 7, 2003

I'll have to try this Tito's. Hmmm.... I've been living in LA since '95 and this is the first I've heard of it (kind of proves the original post's point in a diffused, gastrological kind of way)

But if you haven't stopped by Henry's Taco's in North Hollywood, you really should. It's one of the few things I miss about the Valley...
posted by herc at 12:12 AM on April 8, 2003

Tacos Les Bons, a cheapo taco stand, in the old city of Cancun, not far from the main drag, run by a French-Mexican family, blessed by the lord.

Oh yeah.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:25 AM on April 8, 2003

What happened was they bought all the farmer's land from them and rerouted water from Los Angeles into the valley in the middle of a drought. One guy tried to stop them, but this old guy had him killed. That's where I come in.
posted by Hildago at 9:06 PM on April 8, 2003

« Older Invasion Explained   |   Honda's Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments