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City Makers: 11/09/10
If you read my review of Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, you know about my abandoned research. Since I was looking for the origins of certain city oriented conventions that we now take for granted, I was eager to find source material. At the same time, UCLA was retrofitting its main library and in the process was culling the shelves. Every so often they'd have a book sale and I'd snatch up any of the older books I could. One of my favorite finds was The City-Makers by Remi A. Nadeau.
The book was first published in 1948. It covers the earliest days of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Nadeau outlines how various economic factors compelled the sprawling growth that's now associated with the Los Angeles basin and neighboring valleys: ranching, mining, railroads and real estate. As the book only covers the 1800s, the entertainment industry isn't included for discussion.
What fascinated me most was the financial influence of Bay Area venture capital. Orange Grove, which later became part of Pasadena, was funded by venture capital from Leland Stanford.
That's something that continues to this day. The projects have changed over the years but they are still being funded by Northern California money. When I was at UCLA we worked in computer labs funded by Silicon Valley money. The Labs had been destroyed in the Northridge earthquake (1994). The caveat to the money was that "new media" which included web design had to be taught. That's how I ended up on my career path.