Did You Know? Fascinating Stories of Subterranean L.A. | KCET
Did You Know? Fascinating Stories of Subterranean L.A.
What lies beneath our Los Angeles feet? What is the connection between our terra firma and all that lies below? What can we learn about both our past and future from looking down instead of up? On Saturday, Nov. 11, USC’s Doheny Library will host “Under L.A.: Subterranean Stories” . The anecdotes you are about to read are some of many that will be explored in the one-day public conference.
Los Angeles appears to be about the surfaces, but it's really about the depths. Geology, infrastructure and mythologies — they all intersect beneath the level of the city's streets. “A city 70 miles square but rarely 70 years deep,” Reyner Banham once described it, but that has proved not quite to represent the place. Or perhaps it's that the place has proved to be a city that we peel back in layers, practical and cultural and scientific, where to immerse becomes the only way to know.
Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning Program
Did you know that beneath Los Angeles there is a tectonic traffic jam? In Southern California, the 800-mile long San Andreas fault has a left bend in it called "The Big Bend." Motion along the San Andreas causes the entire region to be squeezed and every day the Palos Verdes Peninsula inches closer to Mount Wilson. But the ground underneath L.A. doesn't deform like putty, it has shattered like a car windshield hit by a rock. The shattered "crust" underneath Los Angeles is riddled with hundreds of faults where earthquakes can occur.
William F. Deverell, USC Professor of History and Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California & the West
Did you know that an event underground in San Marino convinced the world of the power and utility of remote televised news? In the spring of 1949, a little girl fell into an abandoned water well in an open field in San Marino. Her fate remained unknown for over 48 hours, as first responders and would-be rescuers launched a frenzied effort to free her from far below the earth's surface. Kathy Fiscus died in that well, but the televised images from the site launched television news and became, in effect, the first reality television show in history.
Michael Manville, UCLA Professor of Urban Planning
Walt Disney Concert Hall is an architectural gem on an ostensibly Grand Street, but no one enters the hall from the street. Instead, they enter through it's six-level, 2,188-space underground parking garage, which cost $110 million to build, or about $50,000 per space. The parking structure is an artifact of city laws: the minimum parking requirements that put so much parking around, atop and under our city. L.A.'s zoning said that a soaring symphony hall could not exist without a deep parking structure beneath it. Financially troubled Los Angeles County built the garage — it owns the land beneath Disney Hall — and went into debt to finance it, expecting that parking revenues would repay the borrowed money. But the garage was completed in 1996, and Disney Hall — which suffered its own budget problems — didn’t open until late 2003. During the seven years in between, the county had to subsidize the garage even as it laid off employees. When the Hall finally opened, its lease with the county specified that Disney Hall had to schedule at least 128 concerts each winter season. Why 128? That’s the minimum number of concerts that would generate the parking revenue necessary to pay the debt service on the garage. In its first year, Disney Hall scheduled exactly 128 concerts. Such is the power of parking beneath our feet. The minimum parking requirement led to a minimum concert requirement.
Peter Westwick, USC Assistant Professor of History
Did you know that in the Cold War 1950s, when nuclear fear was driving thousands of Los Angeles residents to build backyard bomb shelters, Southern California was also popularizing the backyard swimming pool? The two trends tapped similar expertise — digging a hole in the ground and lining it with concrete — and local swimming pool builders found a lucrative sideline in the bomb shelter business, adding greatly to the supply of bomb shelters in the L.A. area.
Emily Lindsey, Assistant Curator & Excavation Site Director, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
Under L.A. is an unparalleled record of prehistoric life. Not only do we have the world-renowned La Brea Tar Pits, one of the most important fossil sites on earth, but subterranean L.A. also contains one of the world’s most fossil-rich records of Ice Age oceans. Whales have even been found under downtown!
To learn more about the one-day public conference, “Under L.A.: Subterranean Stories”, and how you can attend, click here.
Don't be afraid to talk to your children. This is the perfect time to talk about the beliefs you hold to be good and to encourage your children to be brave in the face of adversity.
Los Angeles County health and elected officials again highlighted disparities in COVID-19 deaths among black residents today and also warned that a recent uptick in transmission rates could result in a lack of sufficient ICU beds in coming weeks.
From the shoreline to downtown and beyond, thousands of Southland residents came out in force again today in protest of police brutality and in condemnation of the death of George Floyd while being arrested by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
This has been an emotional, powerful and historic week. We wanted to take a moment to share with you—our viewers and supporters—where we stand and what we can offer.
- 1 of 296
- next ›
Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. Its founder, Griffith J. Griffith, donated the land to the city as a public recreation ground for all the people — an ideal that has been challenged over the years.
During World War II, three renowned photographers captured scenes from the Japanese incarceration: outsiders Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams and incarceree Tōyō Miyatake who boldly smuggled in a camera lens to document life from within the camp.
Prohibition may have outlawed liquor, but that didn’t mean the booze stopped flowing. Explore the myths of subterranean Los Angeles, crawl through prohibition-era tunnels, and visit some of the city’s oldest speakeasies.
Although best known for designing the homes of celebrities like Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra, the pioneering African-American architect Paul Revere Williams also contributed to some of the city’ s most recognizable civic structures.
As recently as a century ago, scientists doubted whether the universe extended beyond our own Milky Way — until astronomer Edwin Hubble, working with the world’s most powerful telescope discovered just how vast the universe is.
- 1 of 5
- next ›