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The City: 02/07/08
Although I don't like living in big cities I am fascinated with them. The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century is a collection of essays on the history and culture of Los Angeles.
The City is one of the most serious books I've read in ages. It was nice to exercise the old brain cells again. Topics covered include a brief history of the city, it's architecture, urbanism, transportation policy, loss of agriculture, metropolitan space, urban art, industrial development, racial issues, and homelessness.
My favorite essay in the book is "The Evolution of Transportation Policy in Los Angeles: Images of Past Policies and Future Prospects." It covers the on-going competition between mass transit (rail and bus) and the automobile. At the time that the book was published, Los Angeles had just completed its first round of subway and light rail construction. Since then the Pasadena Gold Line has opened. While the rail lines aren't back to what they once were there is more careful (although bureaucratic) oversight to the system. This essay explains the flaws of the previous rail system and it proposes ways to avoid those problems in the future.