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Notebook on Cities and Culture S1E5: The City in 2D with Glen Creason

Colin Marshall sits down at the Los Angeles Central Library downtown with Map Librarian Glen Creason, author of Los Angeles in Maps. They discuss the point at which Los Angeles becomes not just a place to live but a subject; riding the old Pacific Electric streetcars that prompted the city to grow so large in the firs place; using maps to see the influence of trains, water, the movies, and oil on the city’s spread, growing up in the “Leave it to Beaver territory” of South Gate; early Los Angeles-boosters selling the city by employing mapmakers’ sleight of hand; downtown’s death in the sixties and seventies, and its more recent revival; learning little but having a lot of fun at UCLA during the Summer of Love; when the city “took a breath and reinvented itself,” Los Angeles’ uniquely dramatic geographical setting; how multiculturalism took hold from the very beginning; what it took to build the Third Street Tunnel; how miracles of civic engineering turned into freeway frustration; the non-disaster of “Carmageddon”; where the water in the Los Angeles River went, and how it remains useful as a navigational aid; the American notion of creating an Eden; whether Los Angeles is, as the posters say, “a world in itself”; former Italian and German communities, and current Indian and Chinese ones; the city’s surprising new walkability; whether the “driver’s paradise” days of twenty minutes to everywhere really happened at all; becoming the Map Librarian serendipitously; Los Angeles’ past of rabbits, gambling ships, and Central Avenue jazz clubs; what happened in Chavez Ravine; how good intentions in Los Angeles’ development have often led to reconsideration; how even longtime Angelenos learn from the ways the constant influx of new Angelenos approach the city; and the endless last rites given to Los Angeles that it never quite needs.

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