72. The unbuilt subway

Symptom: the unbuilt subway that would take riders from the core of downtown west, past an invisible separating line.

That line isn't diagnostic of our unease. Every city is a puzzle of lines through personal geographies. On my own block, I almost never walk on the west side of the street, even if westward is my destination. I'll cross at the end of the block. Why? I don't know. Habit or distrust of the unordinary. Forty feet away for 60 years, and there's the other side of the street, which I know by sight as well as any 1000 feet of suburban street might be known. But I rarely go there.

Not the dividing line "? which could be drawn anywhere, which has been redrawn repeatedly in the city's history "? but the unbuilt subway. The missing subway is symptomatic. It stands for what Los Angeles has not wanted, and it has little to do with public transit. What we do not want is a mingling and hybridization of our geographies. A miscegenation of space.

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The image on this page was made by Flickr user Victoria Bernal. It was used under a Creative Commons license.

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