This photo of Jane Alice Peters, the future Carole Lombard, on the beach with brothers Stuart and Frederic is believed to be from 1916, a year or two after Elizabeth Peters brought her three children west from Fort Wayne, Ind. I have no idea what they were specifically taught in the city's public schools, but there's a very good chance they learned this slogan:
"From Main we Spring to Broadway, then over the Hill to Olive. Oh! Wouldn't it be Grand if we could Hope to pick a Flower at Figueroa?"
What's that all about? It's a mnemonic device to help remember the names of downtown Los Angeles streets (italicized above) from east to west. (Perhaps the best-known of such devices is "Roy G. Biv," which represents the colors of the rainbow -- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.) The phrase was part of Los Angeles lore for the early part of the 20th century, although no one can attribute its creator and until recently, I had never heard of it.
As time went by, such devices became increasingly irrelevant, as the focus of the city shifted from downtown streets to...
...the Los Angeles of the '50s, '60s and '70s, perfectly described in the Burt Bacharach-Hal David song "Do You Know the Way to San Jose": "LA is a great big freeway." That's how southern California remains in public consciousness, particularly to outsiders.
But such perception has become as outmoded as the Los Angeles of a hundred years ago.
Jason Lopata, a land-use consultant trained at Stanford, Oxford and UCLA, has written a fascinating piece on the evolution of the city into a new iteration he labels "Los Angeles 3.0."
He says LA 1.0 was "a monocentric, train and pedestrian city in a fashion similar to many American cities in the era before mass ownership of automobiles." Downtown LA was its monocenter, along the lines of Center City Philadelphia or the Loop in Chicago.
Many have labeled LA 2.0, what it became thanks to freeways and automobiles, as "a series of 'urban villages,' each a self-contained universe, for which what is happening in the village next door is perceived to have little impact on the life of one's own village." Such "villages" include the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, West Los Angeles and the South Bay.
So what of 3.0? Lopata says it includes a semi-return to prominence of downtown, though not quite in the manner of the early 20th century. A Forbes article described what locals call "DTLA" as "America's most colorful neighborhood," saying its 8.6 square miles feature a fascinating array of attractions -- business, residential and cultural (https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottbeyer/2017/04/28/downtown-los-angeles-is-americas-most-colorful-neighborhood/#310107c1887b), such as the 101-year-old Grand Central Market:
Suburban sub-centers such as the Valleys mentioned above will better interact with downtown, thanks to improved public transportation. A decade from now, Los Angeles will host the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the former event for the third time. In 1932, when the Games first came to LA, the area's streetcar system guided global visitors around a relatively small-scale event. In 1984, the only transit mode available was buses. But Metro began rail service in 1990, and thanks to public support of bond referendums, it has steadily grown since. Here's what the system is expected to look like in 2028:
Linking the city's central business and cultural core to outlying areas through rapid mass transit will bring Los Angeles closer following decades of congestion. For example, one will be able to take Metro's Purple Line to the Wilshire/Fairfax station, steps from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on the former site of the May Co. department store:
There will be other changes with LA 3.0, Lopata says. For example, goodbye to the dominance of the automobile/single-family home combo:
"The promise of a nice single-family home on a suburban subdivision, with easy access to economic opportunity via the freeways, was what attracted millions of people to LA for decades. But today traffic is endemic to the region, except for in the very distant exurbs, and owning a single-family home in LA is little more than a fantasy for most, given the exceptionally high prices for such structures across the region."
Thankfully, many millennials "get it," and while they may not like such residential limitations, they've come to at least accept it. Expect many single-family homes to be razed, replaced by more dense multi-family dwellings and small-lot subdivisions.
Lopata's piece makes worthwhile reading for anyone interested in both the past and future of Los Angeles. It's at http://urbanize.la/post/la-urbanized-monograph-la-30?utm_source=pushengage&utm_medium=push_notification&utm_campaign=pushengage.
Many of you may wonder what this entry is doing in a blog ostensibly about classic Hollywood. My answer is that Lombard loved Los Angeles, and had her life not been cut short she almost certainly would have remained in this city for the rest of her days, perhaps welcoming a new millennium with millions of other Angelenos when the 1999 opening of the Staples Center arguably marked the start of the downtown boom. Here's what the city's skyline looked like in 2000: