Saturday, March 4, 2017

Los Angeles' past and future ... and theatres

Two wonderful essays about Los Angeles that must be shared:

The first appeared in the March 3 Los Angeles Times. Under the guise of talking about the upcoming local election, Thomas Curwen gives us a summation of how Los Angeles has grown over decades and what that growth means to those who live here, and those who want to live here.

I love this line:

Chicago was lucky. San Francisco was lucky. One had a fire, the other an earthquake, each triggering a makeover, allowing each city to rethink its layout and identity.

Dang. We haven't been blessed enough to be destroyed and given the opportunity to rebuild.

Ed Ruscha remembers moving to LA in 1956 and having a neighbor tell him that around 1942, the place was paradise. Paradise!

Find an old man today, and you'll probably hear that in 1980 this place was paradise, says Ruscha. He's so right.

Curwen goes into the tunnel of the Hall of Administration to find records going back a century, showing how neighborhoods were laid out and prized properties designed back then. Los Angeles, where everyone had cars, could afford space for homes with yards, hundreds of them. Thousands of them.

But ... hundreds of thousands of them? Eventually, we hit a limit.


The second story is called "Inside LA STAGE History: Edwin Booth and Child's Grand Opera House," and takes us all the way back to Gold Rush Days and a teenaged Edwin Booth. Who becomes an adult Edwin Booth and saves Robert Lincoln, the son of the president that Booth's brother will assassinate a year later, from falling off a train platform.

Yes, this story is full of exactly the sort of digressions that I love.

But it's mostly about Los Angeles' opera house. This picture was taken shortly before the structure on Main Street was demolished in 1936.