Iron Sprawl

Iron Sprawl: How Trolleys Made L.A. a Horizontal City

Although local supplies were scarce, once imported from elsewhere, iron and steel would transform Los Angeles’ urban form. Like many cities, Los Angeles at first used the metals metals to grow vertically. In 1883, Baker Iron Works built the city's first elevator inside the Nadeau Hotel, a machine that freed architects to build high above the reach of stairs. In 1904, the city celebrated the completion of its first "skyscraper" – the 12-story Braly Block at Spring and Fourth, made possible by elevators and steel-frame construction. But ultimately Los Angeles used iron to grow out, not up. The steel rails of trolley lines spawned countless suburbs across Southern California’s coastal plain, encouraging the decentralized sprawl that later became a defining feature of the automobile metropolis.

LA as SubjectA collaboration between the USC Libraries and KCETLink, Lost LA features the member collections of L.A. as Subject, a research alliance dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region.

Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

Wild West

Long before Hollywood imagined the Wild West, Los Angeles was a real frontier town of gunslingers, lynch mobs, and smoke-belching locomotives. This episode examines L.A.'s efforts to reckon with its violent past by examining hanging trees, remnants of vigilant justice; the massacre of eighteen Chinese immigrants that took place in 1871 near what is now Olvera Street; and railroad promotional campaigns that painted a picture of Los Angeles as a verdant paradise.

  • 2018-08-18T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-08-18T11:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Building The Metropolis

Wood, iron, steel, concrete -- these are the materials that gave form to Los Angeles and shaped its identity in the national imagination. This episode also questions the cultural legacy and environmental costs of the city's relentless growth.

  • 2018-08-21T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-08-22T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-08-25T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-08-25T11:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Dream Factory

Los Angeles is often identified with Hollywood, but there's more to the entertainment industry than its facade of movie stars and blockbuster films. This episode explores the career of Lois Weber, a filmmaker who rose to greatness in a nascent film industry that welcomed women into creative leadership positions; as well as a Central Casting Bureau that capitalized on the city's segregated ethnic enclaves when filling background roles.

  • 2018-08-28T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-08-29T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-09-01T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-09-01T11:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Coded Geographies

What if the stories L.A. told about itself relegated you to the margins? This episode explores two underground guidebooks -- The Negro Travelers' Green Book and The Address Book -- that reveal the hidden geographies many Angelenos had to navigate, exposing Los Angeles as a place of coded segregation and resistance.

  • 2018-09-04T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-09-05T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-09-08T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-09-08T11:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Pacific Rim

Americans have long looked at the California shore and seen the end of the continent. Instead, this episode interprets that sandy edge as the beginning of a Pacific world -- one that has long influenced Los Angeles through geology and climate, but also through the transoceanic flows of people, goods, technology and cultural ideas.

  • 2018-09-11T13:30:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2018-09-12T04:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2018-09-15T07:30:00-07:00
    KCETLINK