Trolley Tracks Once Ran Through the Beaches of Los Angeles

Trolleys once rivaled the crashing surf in the soundscape of Southland beaches. Along much of the Southern California coast from Santa Monica to Redondo and from Long Beach to Newport, a red dot—a distant Pacific Electric car—would appear down the shore. As it neared, the click-clack of the wheels moving over the… » 10/24/14 4:44pm 10/24/14 4:44pm

In 1966, the Angels Landed in Anaheim's Futuristic Baseball Stadium

How could the Angels call any place but Los Angeles their home? After all, the club's name directly referred to the city, and there had been a team named the Los Angeles Angels since the first decade of the 20th Century, when the minor-league Los Angeles Looloos wisely opted for a more dignified nickname. So it's… » 9/05/14 2:33pm 9/05/14 2:33pm

This Giant Searchlight Once Scanned L.A. From the Mountains Above

As twilight faded over Pasadena on September 9, 1894, an artificial sun flickered to life for the first time. High above town in the San Gabriel Mountains stood a wonder of the new electric age: a 60-inch General Electric searchlight, by many accounts the largest in the world. This massive projector first dazzled… » 8/06/14 1:17pm 8/06/14 1:17pm

What if Your Dream Home Had a View of an Oil Derrick?

Its promoters billed it as an exceptional housing tract—buried utility lines, curving concrete roads, and a hilltop site whose ocean views gave the subdivision its name: Monte Mar Vista. With country clubs bordering it on three sides, residents of the so-called "central jewel in a Tiffany setting" could easily play… » 6/25/14 9:00pm 6/25/14 9:00pm

Photos of L.A.'s Most Famous Streets When They Were Dirt Roads

Like some of the very people who drive on them, a few Los Angeles streets have achieved the height of fame. Sunset Boulevard lent its evocative name to Billy Wilder's classic film noir. Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard appears on millions of television screens each New Year's Day as the route of the Rose Parade. And to… » 6/19/14 3:30pm 6/19/14 3:30pm

Did Disneyland's Main Street, USA, Inspire Better Urban Design?

Walt Disney didn't set out to revolutionize urban design when he created Disneyland—that's what his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT, was for. But whereas EPCOT never became anything more than a sort of permanent world's fair, it was Disneyland and especially its Main Street, USA, that ultimately… » 6/18/14 6:00pm 6/18/14 6:00pm

Animated Map Shows How Paved Roads Spread Across L.A. County

Is the L.A. of 2014 driving around on a road network built for the L.A. of the 1980s? That's one conclusion two researchers at Arizona State University draw from their above data visualization, which uses building records from the Los Angeles County Assessor's Office to infer the age of the metropolis' roads. Green… » 6/06/14 6:30pm 6/06/14 6:30pm

L.A.'s 1930s Extension of Wilshire Blvd. Left Urban Scars

The message was clear: Los Angeles was not afraid to reshape its urban form to accommodate the automobile. Over the course of a few months in 1931, workers cleared a wide swath through three dense downtown blocks, demolishing buildings, tearing up foundations, and filling in basements—all to extend an automobile… » 6/06/14 3:00pm 6/06/14 3:00pm

Arriving Soon in Southern California: A New Golden Age of Train Travel

If we really are witnessing the dawn of a "new golden age of train travel," there are few better places to see it take physical form than the Southland. In Orange County, the arches of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, or ARTIC (above), have been rising across the freeway from Angel Stadium. It's… » 6/05/14 2:01pm 6/05/14 2:01pm

Was This Plastic Helmet the 1940s' Solution to Smog?

When smog first descended on Los Angeles as a thick, grey mist in the 1940s, it caught the city unprepared. What were Angelenos—their eyes watery, their breathing labored—to do? Don plastic helmets and walk around in their own private atmospheres, like astronauts on a alien planet? » 5/30/14 4:30pm 5/30/14 4:30pm

Before the Palm, the Pepper Was Southern California's Most Iconic Tree

Today, it's hard to imagine a Southland without palm trees. They line the region's streets, shade its gardens, and appear in establishing shots that fix Los Angeles as a setting. But before the lanky palm conquered the L.A. skyline, another tree played the same metonymic role: the pepper. » 5/29/14 11:00am 5/29/14 11:00am