WATCH: 1970s Los Angeles in full-color glory and shame


Of course, a great many Angelenos would like LA better than they do if they got to live in Gamble House rent-free as Mr. Banham did. (-:

Banham’s take on LA in Four Ecologies is very illuminating, but do bear in mind that his dismissal of downtown LA is (finally, at last!) badly outdated.

After nearly 80 years and billions upon billions of dollars spent attempting to ‘revive’ downtown, the new Adaptive Reuse Ordinance has permitted the office buildings of the old, hollowed-out Historic Core to be converted into yuppie lofts, making it a sort of ‘urban grittiness’ theme park/vertical suburb for expat New Yorkers and others who can’t believe that a city is “real” unless it has tall buildings and the stench of bum urine. (-:

Of course, this doesn’t remake downtown into the Central Business District of a centralized city, as it once (very briefly!) was. Nothing will, those days are gone with the trolleys - but at least it makes it a viable residential neighborhood.

And that influx of new residents has set off a wave of bottom-up privately-financed restoration and improvement which seems to be succeeding at last.

I think that’s the crucial difference in why this wave of ‘revival’ is succeeding where the previous waves - the Civic Center, the underground LA Mall, the Bunker Hill redevelopment, the Music Center, Staples Center, the revived hub-and-spoke rail transit system, etc. - all failed. Those were all top-down government-financed attempts to turn downtown back into the central hub of the city.

That won’t work, because LA is so heavily polycentric. The trolleys created the sprawl, then automobiles made the sprawl polycentric, making the hub-and-spoke trolleys obsolete, and we’ve been that way ever since.

The current wave had a more modest goal - to create a new residential district that takes advantage of all the previous multi-billion-dollar improvements. So now downtown actually has grocery stores and casual cafes and foodie restaurants and even - gasp - a Target store!,

So it has become a fairly livable neighborhood (actually, several fairly livable neighborhoods) with easy access to billions upon billions of dollars worth of amenities thoughtfully provided by previous generations of failed revival attempts. (-:

Which would probably make Reyner Banham love LA even more if he were here to see it today. (-:

i’m pretty sure that’s a david hockney painting on the cover - dude was connected

edit: confirmed -

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