L.A.'s First Public Transit Used Actual Horse Power

Public transportation was slow to arrive in Los Angeles, a city whose farthest reaches were still accessible by foot in the 1870s. But as the city began to stretch out over the surrounding landscape, some form of regular, wheeled transportation around town became a practical necessity. And in the beginning, horses… » 4/22/14 6:22pm Tuesday 6:22pm

The High-Tech Sensors That Keep Track of L.A.'s Weather

When Dallas Raines or the Times' weather page reports that it was 92 degrees in Los Angeles yesterday, their data likely come from one source: the National Weather Service's downtown Los Angeles station on the University of Southern California (USC) campus. » 4/18/14 4:30pm Friday 4:30pm

The Hollywood Bowl Started as a Natural Amphitheater Named Daisy Dell

From the back benches of the Hollywood Bowl, with the sounds of the Los Angeles Philharmonic floating through the warm air of a summer evening, it might seem hard to believe that this L.A. landmark is anything but a masterpiece of engineering. And to be sure, the venue's iconic band shell, speakers, and other… » 4/16/14 9:00pm 4/16/14 9:00pm

Did Construction Workers Just Unearth L.A.'s Original Aqueduct?

It began as little more than a modest trench in the ground, but its name—Zanja Madre, or Mother Ditch—speaks to the importance of this proto-aqueduct to early Los Angeles. Diverting water from the free-flowing Los Angeles River, the Zanja Madre did indeed rear tiny Los Angeles, founded in 1781 as an agricultural colony … » 4/15/14 9:18pm 4/15/14 9:18pm

Downtown L.A.'s Skyline from the Air: 1940s vs. 2014

Is L.A. flat? With mountains ringing the Southland on three sides—and even bisecting the city of Los Angeles along the Hollywood Hills—"flat" has never been an entirely fair description. But for decades the city's architecture betrayed a commitment to horizontality. While Manhattan and Chicago strained toward the… » 4/14/14 9:09pm 4/14/14 9:09pm

This May Be the First Photograph of Los Angeles

Widely considered the earliest photograph of Los Angeles, the origin story of this image remains something of a mystery. Who took the photo, and when? Though the image and the historical record offer clues, they provide no definitive answers. What we do know is that some day in the late 1850s or early 1860s, a… » 4/08/14 9:30pm 4/08/14 9:30pm

L.A. Once Had Cable Cars (Just Like San Francisco's)

They used to be more than just a San Francisco novelty. In the late 19th century, cable cars were a widely used public transit solution in cities across the United States—including Los Angeles. There, they replaced the city's first generation of streetcars, horsecars, and brought real estate development to previously… » 4/03/14 8:45pm 4/03/14 8:45pm

L.A.'s Interchanges Are Beautiful (If You're Not Stuck in Traffic)

To anyone who's ever endured a maddening, 15-minute crawl through one, freeway interchanges may seem the furthest thing from beauty. But given some psychic distance—and the skilled composition of a photographer—we can indeed appreciate the elegance of these concrete structures. » 4/01/14 10:10pm 4/01/14 10:10pm

They Moved Mountains (And People) To Build L.A.’s Freeways

Carmageddon—it was the nightmare scenario L.A.'s transportation authorities warned of when a construction project shut down a critical stretch of freeway for an entire weekend in July 2011. Gridlock. The glow of brake lights. The overwhelming angst of a city denied its full and unimpeded access to its freeways. In the… » 3/17/14 2:30pm 3/17/14 2:30pm

In the '60s, Disney Almost Built a Ski Resort in Sequoia National Park

Today, Mineral King Valley is a remote hideaway within California's Sequoia National Park, accessible only by foot-trail or a winding, treacherous automobile road. But in the 1960s this mountain paradise of snowmelt streams, white-fir forests, and hulking granite peaks nearly became home to a massive ski resort… » 2/18/14 8:30pm 2/18/14 8:30pm