Last January, Los Angeles was reeling from the news of Kobe Bryant’s sudden and tragic death, as well as the deaths of eight others. At the time, it felt like we were marinating in the shock of it all - the unspeakable tragedies of life gone too soon, the knowledge it could have been prevented, and the death of a legend just beginning to build his post-career legacy. A colleague remarked to me that Kobe was “giving us a real LA moment.” Her words resonated with me, and I’ve been mulling over why this statement struck a chord with me. What was it about Kobe’s death that made for an ‘LA moment’?
Forgotten Founder Dr. T. Perceval Gerson believed that in the midst of a "world cataclysm" we should "do something about it, and now."
Dorothy Chandler (1922-1997) was arguably the most powerful woman in Los Angeles during the 1960s - presiding over the city's most elite social circles, and appearing on the cover of Time Magazine in honor of her unprecedented cultural fundraising efforts. Yet, few Angelenos know who she is other than a name on a Music Center building downtown. So why … Continue reading Channeling Dorothy Chandler: Voices From the Past and the Future of Los Angeles
What deserves protection? With every announcement I read about the construction of a new building, new museum, or a park redesign comes my inevitable questions: what was there before? Is there anything worth saving? And how will these new spaces shape L.A. in the 21st century? My latest pondering of these questions has to do with L.A. … Continue reading The Impermanence of LA’s Built Environment?
Outgoing L.A. Deputy Mayor Rick Cole recently remarked that "L.A. is not designed to work." Could he be right? Is L.A. too big for true civic engagement? Or do projects like CicLAvia and the L.A. River Revitalization prove this contention wrong? Before I delve into my opinion regarding this question, let me provide a little context for Cole's remark. … Continue reading Is L.A. Designed to Work?
March 10, 1965: The L.A. City Council votes in favor of a proposal to construct a convention center and exhibit hall in Elysian Park, on 63 acres of the park's most popular play and picnic grounds, which include the recreation lodge and the Avenue of the Palms. At the Council Meeting, retired journalist Grace E. Simons vehemently … Continue reading The Day Angelenos Lost Elysian Park…Almost
The Music Center is…both highly accessible and highly visible, giving Los Angeles a new visual axis….the center is recognized as a milestone in the city’s cultural aspirations….[making the city] a new center of culture that has passed Chicago and is getting ready to challenge New York.  - Time Magazine, 1964 Los Angeles…is a center of … Continue reading The L.A. Music Center Turns 50!
This week's post was written for a guest blog post on American Planning Association-L.A. section's blog, found here. What if the L.A. City Council had followed through with a plan to build a convention center in Elysian Park? What would the park look like today? How would it have affected traffic, especially during baseball season? And what … Continue reading The L.A. Convention Center in Elysian Park? The Importance of Studying ‘Never Built’ Projects
For over 50 years, scholars, educators, historians, and enthusiasts of the North American West gather annually to share the latest findings and approaches to understanding the diverse history of the west as "both a frontier and a region." I had the honor of presenting at the Western History Association 2014 conference in Newport Beach last week, and although … Continue reading L.A.’s Inferiority Complex
The L.A. Music Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season with a number of commemorative events--including a rededication ceremony on October 1st to "celebrate the transformative role of the performing arts center in Los Angeles."  So what does this have to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis? Few people, if any, know that President Kennedy … Continue reading Castro, Kennedy, and Chandler – How the Cuban Missile Crisis stole L.A.’s Big Moment