In the new year we plan on taking a tour of LA through Esotouric. This company takes bus tours through LA based on Reyner Banham's love of Los Angeles. Banham's reading of Los Angeles is of a city made of smaller cities. Banham seemed to think that the ecology of the whole is really the set of relationships between the ecologies of the smaller beach cities, inland cities, port/industrial cities, downtown and interstitial suburban tissue.
We've been living back in Los Angeles for the better part of a year. And it is a truism to say that the city is changing. Cities always change. With so much academic text about the networked city and the relationships between its multiple centers, what has been missed is that Los Angeles is beginning to be a unified city.
Sure the Valley is still confronting session, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are their own cities. But today these cities are being meaningfully tied together through two major changes: zoning regulation and the development of the Los Angeles subway system. The city is densifying. The density hawks at city hall are seeing the future of Los Angeles. It is a city that is more dense than ever before.
As residents, when gas went above $4, there was a distinct change. Less cars not more. More bikes. More people emerging from the few subway stops that we have in this city. Downtown things are buzzing during the day. People are out and walking. Grand Central Market is full of residents having their lunches. The first Thursday of every month is Art Walk. These are not new phenomena, but to me they are signifiers that the city might be ready for real change.
Looking at Banham's Map of LA's early railroads, the city hasn't changed much from its recent past. Part of what makes LA interesting is that now as the city is filling in, it might begin to be building up. Density, lets face it, is an exciting problem to have.