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How LA became, well, LA -- A Partial Planning History

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Making the fight that "Los Angeles is not Manhattanizing," William Fulton of the School of Planning, Policy and Development at USC lays down the groundwork on what LA was supposed to be and why it never happened in one of the single most informative articles about Los Angeles that we've read in recent months:

In the 1970s, when L.A.'s suburbs began sprouting, the city adopted, in 1974, an innovative general zoning plan that called for high-density development around 38 centers in the city, connected by transit, that would absorb most of the growing population. These centers would allow permanent preservation of the vast fields of single-family houses located between them. The "centers concept," as it was called, was the brainchild of Calvin Hamilton, city planning director from 1964 to 1986. At a time when planning orthodoxy argued that cities had to be "mono-nuclear" -- built around one extremely dense center, like Manhattan -- L.A.'s plan was nothing less than revolutionary. Hamilton's visionary plan acknowledged that L.A. was "poly-nuclear" -- a place with many centers, of varying sizes, all of which had to be strengthened for the city to accommodate new growth.

Why didn't it happen? Well, you know, the usual crap. "Oftentimes, developers had the political juice to build tall buildings wherever they wanted, whether their ideas followed the city plan or not, in large part because of the size of the city's 15 councilmanic districts."

Read: We're 'Pasadena-izing' [LA Times]
More Reading & Download the Original Plan: Back To The Future: The 1970 Los Angeles 'Centers' Concept Plan* [Planetizen]

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*We jumped through the hoops of registering and all that jazz to download the document, but it didn't seem to work. If it worked for anyone else, please let us know!

Photo by Ingorrr via Flickr