Los Angeles


The Aesthetic Design of Freeways

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March 1, 2015
A Reading List

A collection of resources exploring the physical design of freeway and highway infrastructure — from the shapes of interchanges to the cinderblock patterns on freeway sound walls. It’s about the way freeways look, the way they appear (or don’t) to the driver and passenger, how they use the land, and how their concrete forms have been sculpted and grafted onto the landscape.

Through a Glass Darkly

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Date: 
July 18, 2013
The Museum of Jurassic Technology views reality through a special lens.

This article was originally published in The Magazine, Issue #21, July 18, 2013.

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It is easy to become disoriented in the Museum of Jurassic Technology. This small museum in Culver City, California, is full of dark hallways, dim nooks, and secluded corners. Its exhibits elicit a sense of dislocation as well. Their meaning can be as hard to discern as the veracity of the objects on display.

Are L.A.'s Transit Plans Too Big for Eric Garcetti?

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November 4, 2013
A New Mayor Inherits the Ambitious Task of Kicking a City’s Car Habit

Here are a few things you probably think you know about Los Angeles: It is a freeway-riddled, car-dependent traffic jam where nobody walks past their driveway. This is the cartoon version of L.A., a cheap shorthand of stereotypes and decades-old perceptions that the city has struggled to shake.

L.A. Confidential

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March 4, 2013
How a City Got Its River Back

There was something both amusing and disheartening to George Wolfe about the fact that the Los Angeles River was not, according to the federal government, technically a river. As the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saw it, the L.A. River was “non-navigable,” meaning the waterway would never float a boat or host swimmers. This meant that it didn’t have to be kept clean like a “real” river, and would be held to a lower standard of environmental protection.

The Convoluted Path to Ending Los Angeles's Mural Ban

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March 22, 2012
How the city is working with artists to revise its rules about murals, art and advertising.

Once regarded as the mural capital of the world, Los Angeles in recent years has lost a good deal of its street art cred. Decades of loose regulation on signs and murals led to some creative law-skirting by outdoor advertising firms, bringing about a string of lawsuits and rule changes – and more lawsuits and more rule changes. The eventual result was an all-out moratorium on new murals.

City officials are now trying to welcome mural artists back with a proposed new ordinance. But this regulation battle still has to deal with the particularly pesky monkey on its back.

L.A.'s Unofficial Late Night Bike Marathon

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March 19, 2012
Bicyclists take advantage of empty streets closed ahead of the L.A. Marathon for a late night ride.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 18, Los Angeles was preparing itself for flooded streets. Rains were expected this night and the morning to come, but the city was more concerned with the 23,000 people who would soon be competing in the 27th annual L.A. Marathon. Five hours before the official start of the race, parking enforcement trucks trolled the city streets to tow away the last remaining cars in the race path.

Creating ‘The Most Bicycle Friendly City in America’ ... In Southern California

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Date: 
January 26, 2012
Long Beach, CA, makes a big investment in bicycle infrastructure.

There have been numerous studies that show how adding a new lane to a freeway or road has the opposite effect than what was intended. Rather than easing congestion (which it does only briefly), the new lane merely creates more room for more cars, and quickily induces even more congestion. This same principle applies to bicycle traffic, though in a slightly different way. Few cities – and even fewer American cities – struggle with bike traffic congestion. Rather, what more and more cities find themselves struggling with is a lack of bike traffic. They want more bicyclists on their streets.

Goodbye Highways

Date: 
February 7, 2017
The carving up of cities by expressways is still a civil rights problem, but it's being solved as an economic one.

Since freeways began slicing through cities in the United States more than 75 years ago, they have carved deep and lasting lines of separation through countless communities. Many of these communities—located in so-called blighted areas—were made up of people of color who were simply pushed aside by the transportation officials building out the nation’s vast network of interstates and urban freeways. In a somewhat surprising speech in March 2016, U.S.

Homefront

Date: 
December 9, 2016
Some of L.A.'s wealthiest philanthropists and foundations are setting their sights on solving the city's most chronic social dilemma -- providing housing for those without it. But even the mega-donors can't tackle the problem on their own.

Los Angeles is one of the wealthiest cities in the world. If it were a country, its roughly $700 billion gross domestic product would rank it amongst the top 20 richest nations. From entertainment to aerospace to technology, the city is replete with high-earning industries and the wealth they create. More than 125,000 millionaires call L.A. home.

Giving in L.A.

Date: 
December 9, 2016
Philanthropy is on the rise, but we have a ways to go to reach pre-recession levels of generosity.

Across Los Angeles County, there are more than 35,000 non profit organizations. Some find homes for pets and some find homes for people. Some prevent sexual and domestic violence and some prevent environmental devastation. Some try to improve the public school system and some try to improve the criminal justice system. Operating at a wide variety of scales, these non-profits are all similar in that they’re attempting to meet a need that’s not otherwise being met, whether from a lack of funding from the public sector or a lack of attention from society in general.