History


The Fresno Drop

Publication:
Date: 
January 19, 2016
How the credit card was invented.

In September 1958, Bank of America began an experiment—one that would have far reaching effects on our lives and on the economy. After careful consideration, they decided to conduct this experiment in Fresno, California. The presumption was that no one was paying much attention to Fresno, so if the plan failed, it wouldn’t get a lot of media attention.

Bank of America sent out 60,000 pieces of mail to people in Fresno. Inside was a little plastic object that has become in equal parts emblematic of opportunity, convenience, and debt.

It was a card offering a $500 line of credit. ...

A Database to Keep Los Angeles From Forgetting Itself

Publication:
Date: 
July 2, 2014
Still a young city by global standards, L.A. has created a model for chronicling its historic resources.

The heritage of a city is often measured by its historic buildings — its cathedrals, its monuments, its ancient structures of stone and clay. For cities like Paris or Rome, with hundreds and thousands of years of history, it’s somewhat obvious which parts of this past must be remembered so that future generations can know the story of their city. But what about newer cities? What’s historic when you measure history in decades rather than centuries?