A Los Angeles Primer

A Los Angeles Primer: LAX

Vast, confusing, punctuated by curiosities neither beautiful nor ugly, and demanding of both endurance and optimism, Los Angeles' airport provides a tempting symbol for the city itself. But why only now has it felt the need to become "world class"?

About the Author

Colin Marshall hosts and produces the podcast Notebook on Cities and Culture. These columns present essays adapted from his book-in-progress, "A Los Angeles Primer: Mastering the Stateless City."
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A Los Angeles Primer: Culver City

A Los Angeles Primer: Culver City

This place "Where Hollywood Movies Are Made" once, indeed, had the bulk of the Los Angeles film production industry. More importantly, to my mind, it also once had the Tokyo 7-7 Co ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Sawtelle, 'Little Osaka'

A Los Angeles Primer: Sawtelle, 'Little Osaka'

When the New Yorker's "far-flung correspondent" Christopher Rand came to Los Angeles in 1964, he based himself in Sawtelle, the quiet "satellite Japanese quarter" which let him obs ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Watts

A Los Angeles Primer: Watts

Since its riots nearly 50 years ago, troubled Watts has drawn the pens Clive James, Jan Morris, Reyner Banham, and Thomas Pynchon. But even these astute observers had to contend wi ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Bunker Hill

A Los Angeles Primer: Bunker Hill

In only 56 years, downtown's Bunker Hill went from the formerly grand but still dignified shambles that housed Arturo Bandini, down-and-out protagonist of John Fante's "Ask the Dus ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Venice

A Los Angeles Primer: Venice

With its cheerful if often decrepit architecture, its highly curated retail, and its famously freakish boardwalk, Venice offers its own version of reality more than do the other co ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Echo Park

A Los Angeles Primer: Echo Park

Angelenos talk about Echo Park as a neighborhood which, over the past half-century, has suffered. But this century's elements of peace and prosperity, not least in the form of bout ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Century City

A Los Angeles Primer: Century City

"Nothing dates faster than people's fantasies about the future," said Robert Hughes of Brazil's midcentury planned capital. He could have said it about Century City, Los Angeles' m ...
A Los Angeles Primer: Chinatown

A Los Angeles Primer: Chinatown

As far out of fashion as dining in the former tourist trap of Chinatown has become, eating a curry beef pie amid the neighborhood's Hello Kitty-filled underground malls and weary c ...
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