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Old Posted Jul 8, 2010, 3:38 PM
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GaylordWilshire GaylordWilshire is offline
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Originally Posted by LASpaceCadet View Post
I recently finished LA Noir which was pretty interesting. My only complaint is that the dual narratives unravel a bit by the end of the book, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. Inventing Autopia looks interesting, but its going to have to wait until I can pick it up and get to it. (Bohemian LA is just one of many books collecting dust on my bookshelf at the moment.) However, along the same lines, you might enjoy Richard Longstreth’s City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, 1920-1950. I can’t think of any other book that makes better sense of LA’s sprawling landscape. It’s also copiously illustrated with old photos, drawings, and advertisements from the period he writes about.
First Ralphs store, Spring and 6th streets, ca. 1873


Another early Ralphs, just south of the first, ca. 1910

Also excellent (and in similar text/photo layout) is Longstreth's The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-1941 (yep, that's the gripping title). These books are valuable not only for their scholarship, but because they concern buildings more ordinary than those you find in architecture guides (such as Gebhard etc), which cover the city piecemeal and give only a limited sense of L.A.'s evolution. You really are able to understand L.A.'s expansion and commercial innovation with Longstreth--everything you ever wanted to know about Ralphs, for example, which naturally anticipated or followed customers as they filled up new tracts. Also, while it must be said that I'll read anything on the subject of L.A., I think Inventing Autopia is definitely worthwhile.
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