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Journal of Urban History

http://juh.sagepub.com "Keep The 'L' Out Of Los Angeles": Race, Discourse, and Urban Modernity in 1920s Southern California
Jeremiah B.C. Axelrod Journal of Urban History 2007; 34; 3 DOI: 10.1177/0096144207306614 The online version of this article can be found at: http://juh.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/34/1/3

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KEEP THE L OUT OF LOS ANGELES


Race, Discourse, and Urban Modernity in 1920s Southern California

JEREMIAH B. C. AXELROD
Occidental College

In the spring of 1926 the voters of Los Angeles were asked to decide whether to accept a modern rapid transit system for their metropolis. The referendum campaign, a watershed moment in American urban history, forced citizens to choose whether their rapidly growing city should develop into a centralized conurbation of skyscrapers linked by an extensive transit infrastructure, like New York and Chicago, or become a metropolis dominated by low-density development. Crucially, the campaigncharged with vivid rhetoric and metaphor, mobilized primarily by local newspapersultimately turned on Angelenos conceptions of race and class and on their notions of what cosmopolitan urbanism entailed. By election day, urbanity no longer connoted for Angelenos towering skyscrapers and unlimited progress, but the specter of slums, ghettoes, and darkness, both metaphorical and literal, as Southern Californians chose to abandon Jazz Age modernity for a mythology of whiteness and suburban sunshine. Keywords: elevated; mass transit; urban modernity; sprawl; race

The two images are striking, if by now reassuringly familiar (see Figures 1 and 2). One, a high-contrast photograph, features a lone woman casually surveying a modern urban landscape of tall buildings, which seemingly stretches to the limits of vision. Her high perch (protruding, improbably, from outside the frame into the vertiginous image) affords her a royal perspective over all
AUTHORS NOTE: I thank Professors John Ganim, Jon Wiener, and Alice Fahs for their encouragement and helpful advice on earlier versions of this article. In addition, this article depends entirely on assistance rendered by the librarians at the University of California (UC)Irvine, UCBerkeleys Bancroft Library, the Young Research Library at UCLos Angeles, the USC Regional History Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the Carl A. Kroch Library at Cornell University. Material support for research and writing was provided by the Department of History and School of Humanities at UCIrvine and by the UC Humanities Research Institute. Finally, I thank my parents, Steven and Rise Axelrod, for their unerring editorial advice and for inculcating in me a fascination with the Los Angeles of the past. My warmest thanks are due to my grandfather, Dr. Bernard Axelrod, who unpacked produce alongside his father at the Grand Central Market at Broadway and Third during the time period discussed in this article and who much later established his first medical office in the downtown district. It has been an honor to return, if only virtually, to those days with him.
JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY, Vol. 34 No. 1, November 2007 3-37 DOI: 10.1177/0096144207306614 2007 Sage Publications

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Figure 1: Surveying the Modern Metropolis SOURCE: Los Angeles Record, January 1, 1926, 1:1.

she observes and implies a viewing position elevated even above this cluster of towers. Her demeanor and stance convey the impression that she approves of the spectacle before her gaze. Is she evaluating this urban progress, or is she herself an allegorical figure, representing in attractive form and contemporary attire the very spirit of the modern metropolis around her?1 The second image is far more futuristic and not ambiguous at all. In fact, this sketch is so finely delineated as to appear the work of a draftsman. Aside from the futuristic, stylized glaring sun in the top right corner (and, more

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Figure 2: Lloyd Wrights Plan for a 1,000-Foot Tower in Los Angeles SOURCE: Los Angeles Examiner, November 26, 1926, 2:1.

vaguelyand improbablya similar design in the bottom left), which could have come directly from the science fiction pulps of the era, this image conveys the full aspect of a serious technical schematic. In the center of the frame

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rises a single massive, roughly cruciform skyscraper, surmounted at its rooftop by a series of mooring masts for dirigibles as well as airplane landing strips. Descriptive text boxes sketched into the drawing beside this towering structure direct by arrows the viewers attention to notable features of the building. This graphic narration makes immediately clear that, at forty acres, this is no ordinary skyscraper. Instead, it purports to stretch about 1,000 feet high with 15 times the floor area of the Woolworth Building. As the tallest building of its age, this mammoth tower would house about 150,000 people, the captions proclaim. Within this single megastructure would be situated an entire industrial complex as well as thousands of elevated residential apartments honeycombed into the crenellated central vertical shafts. Despite the density of habitation, each of these myriad interior rooms offers an unobstructed view of [the] surrounding country, allowing panoramic perspective over large portions of the many-branched tower itself as well. Far below, captions note with an engineers precision, the foundations of the exemplary futuristic skyscraper rest on caissons in a reservoir of liquid mud as protection from tornadoes, quakes, etc. This careful attention to architectural detail within the utopian vision betokens the work of an expert delineatoran impression verified by the authors name drawn at the bottom of the frame: He is none other than Lloyd Wright, son of the already legendary builder, and a man who was by this time himself a notable (and usually quite serious) professional architect.2 These two representative imagesone confidently celebrating contemporary metropolitan progress appropriately symbolized by a field of skyscrapers, and the other packed with the imaginative detail of frenetic and enthusiastic urban utopianismlook like so many others emerging from the modern ebullience of New York or Chicago in the Jazz Age. Both pictures, though, were published in newspapers in Los Angeles, a metropolis already by 1926 making a name for itself as a city of bungalows and private automobiles, and not as a modern skyscraper city.3 This reputation for bucolic suburbia was alluring, and it made Los Angeles the fastest growing large city in America during the 1920s, but local boosters wanted their city to overtake San Francisco as the great Pacific metropolis. For many Angelenos, and particularly the business elites situated in the citys downtown core, the existing suburban sprawl in Southern California looked nothing at all like a great metropolis. Since the 1870s, with the first of the famous Chicago towers erected after the destruction of the Great Fire and the iconic Manhattan skyscrapers that followed them, American cities had been reaching skyward. By the 1920s, urban modernity seemed to be defined by the frenetic energy of a cosmopolitan culture of jazz, technology, big business, and the iconic skyscrapers that situated and symbolized all this activity. Los Angeles did have a thriving downtown, distinguished by modest rows of rather solid twelve- and thirteen-story buildings, but this district was no match for the Loop or lower Manhattan in grandeur. Many Angelenos felt that it was

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high time for their city to grow up and to leave its low-density past behind it. How could Los Angeles claim consideration as a great metropolis while presenting to the world such an unimposing, small-town skyline? Yet it was no coincidence that Los Angeles had no true skyscrapers by the mid-1920s. Buildings in the city were limited to 150 feet by law, and the architects of that regulation did not share the skyscraper enthusiasts dreams for the metropolis. In fact, an outspoken and visionary contingent of professional planners, in alliance with a powerful faction of boosters and business leaders who were deeply invested in Southern Californias existing image and lifestyle, rebelled against the dreams of vertical urbanism for Los Angeles. Indeed, they rejected the dominant model of modern city form altogether, arguing that urban densities such as those common in New York and Chicago were fundamentally unsustainable. They felt that these dense, centralized, towering metropolises imposed a terrible burden on the land that inevitably led to inhumane overconcentration and congestion. They wished instead to preserve urban Southern Californias low-density character and its quasi-rural amenities, while allowing continued rapid growth. New ideas in planning and technology would enable the booming region to eschew concentration and density. Los Angeles might, in the process, demonstrate the potential for an entirely new kind of modern city. These sharply opposed visions of modern urbanism came into direct conflict in 1926, when, in an extraordinary referendum, local voters were asked to choose what sort of metropolis they wanted. During the course of a campaign that was waged over several months, abstract notions of urban form were transformed into vivid, clearly opposed visions of modern life. In the process, longstanding coalitions of business leaders, boosters, and professional planners unraveled, leading to one of the bitterest campaigns in the history of the City of the Angels.4 Fought in the pages of the citys six fiercely competitive newspapers, the battle over the future of Los Angeles mobilized political discourse, striking rhetorical images, and shameless yellow journalism to present voters with a stark choice of urban futures. By the time the votes were counted, not only was the fate of the rapidly growing metropolis decided for the remainder of the century, but so too was the shape of twentieth-century urbanism in the country as a whole. It all began with traffic. Since the late 1910s, automotive traffic had been getting worse and worse in Southern California, particularly around the central business district. The flood of cars was playing havoc with the extensive local mass transit system. Both the yellow streetcars of the Los Angeles Railway (LARY) and the longer-haul Pacific Electric (PE) red cars were obliged to share precious street space with these automobiles in the downtown district.5 The crush of motorists was causing the transit companies enormous trouble, both through excessive delays that rippled through the entire transportation system and through catastrophic collisions, which were becoming quite common under the onslaught of an army of novice automobilists. In

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April of 1920, downtown business leaders, led by the owners of the major department stores, induced the city to implement a business-hours parking ban in the central business district. Yet amid great public outrage, including notable parades and demonstrations, the interdiction was lifted within a matter of weeks.6 Not lost on the elites of Southern Californias business community, enviously eyeing eastern counterparts in their glassy towers, was the promise of the vertical city to resolve many of these irksome problems once and for all. Chaotic and frustrating automotive traffic, swirling without discernable pattern or logic, seemed to this newly assertive contingent of would-be modernizers as a particular plague visited upon the city as punishment for its failure to keep pace with the prevailing trends in American urban development. By failing to properly build up its city core, these critics implied, Los Angeles was not simply being inefficient or backward, but self-destructive as well. A spread-out pattern of settlement might suit a provincial community, but it would bring disaster to a major metropolis of a million citizens or more. To support such populations, cities required intensive and elaborate infrastructure systems, making full use of multiple spatial planes. The modern large city required an array of stacked support systems, from subways to elevated roads to airplanes and skyscrapers. Only with this multilayered and dense sort of infrastructure might cities expect to harmonize the potentially conflicting and virtually incalculable movements of so many individuals. This was the promise of the skyscraper cityto dissolve intractable, essential urban frictions by partitioning them into a third dimension. As eastern theorists such as architect Harvey Wiley Corbett and architectural renderer Hugh Ferriss argued, modern cities could solve their problems only by thinking vertically. As Corbett argued in an influential essay in the Architectural Forum, the modern city, like any other living creature, had to continually grow or else it would certainly die: Growth,why is it both necessary and desirable? It is necessary because it is an essential element in the continued vitality of a city. The dead portions of any city are those which are not growingi.e., not increasing in number and bulk of buildings.7 By making use of the practically unlimited frontiers of sky and earth, previously inevitable friction between streams of traffic, each vying for limited and precious surface area, could be made to vanish literally into thin air (see Figure 3).8 The modern metropolis offered the alluring possibility of delivering urbanites from vexing and contentious strife over finite real estate, while at the same time offering an urban form that struck even the jaded observer with awe at the vertical sublime.9 Thus, the eras skyward trend of thought combined a powerful sense of aesthetics and style with undeniable efficiency and modern technocratic rationality. Furthermore, in the eyes of many of the citys business leaders, Los Angeles was going to become more vertical whether it wished to or not. It was merely a matter of time before the regions rapid growth forced the city to rescind its restrictive height limits and allow the metropolis to follow a normal pattern of evolution.

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Figure 3: Hugh Ferrisss Rendering of the Metropolis of Tomorrow SOURCE: Hugh Ferris, The Metropolis of Tomorrow (New York, 1929), 65.

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Figure 4: Booster Dreams of a Skyscraper Corridor SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, April 26, 1926, 5:1. NOTE: At the time of this illustration, Wilshire Boulevard was almost entirely undeveloped.

This was certainly a dream held by those Angelenos eager to develop Wilshire Boulevard. This major eastwest thoroughfare, which was connected through Westlake Park to downtown in the mid-1920s, had been zoned as a residential district. Nevertheless, the new Wilshire Boulevard Development Association, composed almost exclusively of ambitious businessmen, launched a vocal campaign to develop Wilshire Boulevard as the Fifth Avenue of the West.10 Running a series of advertisements in local newspapers (see Figure 4), the Wilshire developers circulated a number of images depicting the road as a high-class commercial corridor, a stately thoroughfare, lined on either side with majestic skyscrapers, as the Examiner enthused.11 If Los Angeles prevented Wilshire from developing into the sort of high-class corridor of hotels and department stores, these ads implied, the city could never command the respect of the nation as a great urban center. The reputation of the city was held to hinge on Los Angeless willingness to transform itself into a modern, vertical metropolis. Perhaps the most articulate local skyscraper enthusiast was Irving Hellman, one of the citys prominent financiers and real estate investors.12 In the mid-1920s, he edited and published in Los Angeles a journal aptly titled The Skyscraper. In the first issue, under the bold heading The Skyscrapers Influence on Municipal Progress, Hellman declared that skyscrapers stand impressively as monuments of principal progress and as strongly reflecting our faith in the citys future.13 The city, he implied, would be judged by Americans in terms of its vertical aspirations. If Los Angeles failed to meet the challenge

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by committing to this preeminent symbol of modern urbanity, it would not only shirk its destiny as a great metropolis, but also undermine its present health. If urban observers secretly suspected that the old western cow town had simply outgrown itself, engorged by transitory migration, Angelenos irrational refusal to modernize would surely confirm that damning assessment. Once again, the reputation and future growth of the city depended on keeping up with the times, and resplendent verticality was the obvious way to do this. This was the sort of rhetoric commonplace in New York and other American cities at this time, but it was certainly a challenge to the status quo prevalent in lowdensity Los Angeles. Yet Hellmans enthusiasm for the skyscraper and for the vertical city form it implies, so typical in the larger national urban context, represented a growing strand of visionary sentiment within respectable circles of Southern California of the 1920s. Although many of the citys boosters were content to ponder the future necessity of change, one of the citys most powerful interests was willing to act immediately to transform the metropolis. For the stalwart local interurban companies, the problem was not one of long-term inevitability but of urgent and immediate necessity. For the LARY and the PE, street traffic was no mere inconvenience. It was indeed a threat to the companies very survival. Despite the remarkable prevalence of automobile ownership and automotive commuting that was so obviously fouling up the citys traffic grid, the majority of Angelenos were still totally reliant on the streetcars to get around town. Yet the railways had suffered terribly throughout the decade from surface street congestion, and they were getting a bad reputation from the frequent grade-crossing collisions as well. By the mid-1920s, the traction companies engineers began to express a note of desperation; major reorientations of the citys traffic infrastructure were becoming absolutely essential if the transit system hoped to avoid total breakdown. After waiting fruitlessly for the citys leaders to act on the problem, the PE decided in 1924 that it had to act on its own, and immediately. Thus, the railway began excavations for what would become the citys first working subway, stretching in its first link about four-fifths of a mile from Hill Street between Fourth and Fifth Streets to a point near First Street and Glendale Boulevard, on the route toward the Westside and Hollywood.14 Thus, unlike the city's official traffic planners, the notoriously stingy street railway system was clearly concerned enough about the severity and seriousness of the traffic problem that it was willing to takeand pay forthe first step in rebuilding the metropoliss transport infrastructure. Once again, the project of partitioning rail traffic into its own vertical plane was seen by engineers, and not just urban visionaries, as the inevitable, exclusive, and necessary solution to a large citys transit problems. Consequently, the so-called Hollywood Subway was presented quite explicitly as a step in the urban modernization of Los Angeles and was planned from the start as the first stage of a much larger system of elevated and submerged rail lines to come.

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The Hollywood Subway was also seen by downtown interests as another step in the inevitable vertical development of their city. As important as the subway in this respect was the downtown station. The PEs downtown terminal was situated at the foundations of a brand-new height-limit commercial building, where elevators could whisk the commuter fortunate enough to be employed at an office in the structure directly to his or her proper floor within seconds of alighting from the subway train.15 This was exactly what skyscraper urban visionaries in Los Angeles were demanding. The speed with which these plans were put into practice lent further encouragement to those enraptured by the promise of verticality. Begun in 1924, excavations on the new subway were finished on November 30, 1925, and the tube opened to great fanfare in 1926. Everything seemed to work; the Subway Terminal Building itself was profitable from the start, and each train saved up to fifteen minutes, thanks to the direct route and lack of interference from automobiles. And this tunnel was not going to be the end. City officials proclaimed that the Hollywood subway would be the seed of a vast subterranean system that would solve Los Angeless travel problems for all times.16 Yet as soon as the ceremonial bottle of ginger ale was smashed against the side of the first subway train, all construction was abruptly halted. It seemed that urban planners had invoked an obscure clause of the city charter stipulating that any major transit improvements be submitted as part of a comprehensive rapid transit plan. The PE had been building its subway on its own initiative, outside of any city plan. But the urban railway had made changes to its extensive system regularly for years without official objection. Why did planners pull the plug on the PE this time? If the vertical sublime metropolis encapsulated the aspirations of many business leaders and boosters, it was anathema to others. The opening of the PE heralded the sort of urban modernization that so captivated the imagination of the age, but the citys professional planners envisioned a very different future for Southern California. Indeed, these men declared their mission was to Dream Dreams and see Visions for their metropolis.17 They had established themselves as one of the nations first official city planning commissions in 1920 with a wide purview to regulate future development of the fast-growing metropolis. They followed up this success by setting up the countrys first regional planning agency in 1924 and, by 1926, they had forged strong ties with a range of political and business leaders throughout the region. They saw themselves as experts and professionals, leading the way to Progressive reform and rational, scientific management of the urban environment. Moreover, these men were not just experts and visionaries, but radicals as well. Led by chief planner Gordon Whitnall, who had come to Southern California from Milwaukee in 1913 to work for the local Socialist Party, Los Angeless planners believed firmly that the modern metropolis, with its skyscrapers and elaborate transportation infrastructures, was totally unsustainable. Congestion, they believed, was the primary affliction of modern cities.

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Population density had led to traffic, blight, disease, crime, and poverty. American cities were growing larger and larger in the first decades of the twentieth century, and that growth was being artificially concentrated into more and more crowded spaces by intensive transportation systems. All trends in urban development seemed to point to this congestion worsening over time as cities evolved ever more complex infrastructures to concentrate their populations. Consequently, when these experts looked up at skyscrapers, they saw not the peak of human progress but instead the depths of human misery. Helpless urbanites were afflicted with tremendous congestion and traffic as thousands of workers concentrated into a single dense downtown block. For Gordon Whitnall and his peers, the modern Jazz Age city was a place of blight and stagnation, not dynamism and excitement; darkness, not light. The cosmopolitanism in which urban boosters reveled instead struck the planning professionals as the sort of dangerous racial mixing that threatened the breakdown of all rational boundaries of legible and proper municipal segregation. The supposedly inevitable growth path of the American city in this era seemed to these Progressives to be both foolish and utterly inhumane. Whitnall and his men intended to break this seemingly natural evolutionary cycle in their own metropolis. They saw the existing far-flung and lowdensity urban form of Los Angeles not just as an alluring image for booster propaganda, but also as a potential model for a new sort of city. Indeed, throughout the later 1910s and into the 1920s, planners gradually nurtured a vision of a decentralized, deconcentrated urbanism for Southern California that might endure even in the face of continued rapid growth. Los Angeles would become a new American metropolis, free of the congestion, density, blight, and class hierarchy that afflicted most other modern cities of the era. For inspiration, Whitnall and his colleagues rejected the hegemonic vision of the vertical city and turned instead to another Socialist visionary, albeit one of an earlier generation and another nation. This was Ebenezer Howard, a modest but earnest and energetic British social thinker who had published an extremely influential tract in 1898 advocating what he termed the garden city. This garden city would be a permanently low-density community, surrounded by a greenbelt, and providing work, recreation, and living space all within walking distance. The community was bounded by its greenbelt, so it could never grow too large to lose its autonomy and its close-knit character or force people to commute into some other city. Indeed, when the garden city filled up, a neighboring one might then appear nearby, also buffered from the original city by a greenbelt that was both pleasant and absolutely off-limits to development. Eventually, a cluster of garden cities would develop, and this configuration would functionally replace the crowded, dense, and impersonal metropolis of the era. Indeed, in Howards view, this garden city cluster might offer many of the amenities of, say, London, without forcing each communitys inhabitants to lose their connection with each other and with their own autonomous neighborhoods.18

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Although clearly utopian, this harmonious Socialist vision had led to the development of several model communities in England, and the idea exerted a powerful influence on these planners of the 1920s far off in Southern California. Los Angeless planners did not accept Howards model entirely. Rather, they saw the concept as a perfect accompaniment to the low-density suburban lifestyle that Los Angeles had long been promoting to the world in its residential districts. In fact, they believed that the solution to the coming crisis in American urbanism lay right before them. As local planner George Damon put it in 1924, The real answer to the problem . . . is not to build big cities, but to plan and create great living districts, made up of comparatively smaller centers of population and industry. Instead of producing tremendous land values at congested centers, our efforts should be directed toward spreading out these values over a large contiguous district.19 Planners asked, why couldnt these existing residential streets of bungalows and single-family homes comprise the bulk of a modern city? More radically, why couldnt business centersor satellite sub-centers, as Damon called thembe dispersed to serve individual, autonomous neighborhoods within a much larger metropolitan region, instead of being concentrated downtown as they almost universally were in this era (and still were in Los Angeles, in fact)? Writing in the early summer of 1926, planner C. A. Dykstra explained the thoughts of his local peers to their colleagues in other American cities through a notable article called Congestion DeLuxeDo We Want It? published in the National Municipal Review: There can be developed in the Los Angeles area a great city population which for the most part lives near its work, has its individual lawns and gardens, finds its market and commercialized recreational facilities right around the corner and which because of these things can develop a neighborhood with all that it means. 20 The dense, confused, congested central business districtthe epicenter of excessive land values, crime, poverty, disease, promiscuous racial mixing, and all the other perceived blights of the modern skyscraper metropolismight eventually become obsolete as anything other than a modest civic center. In its place would come clearly demarcated and relatively self-contained districtsanalogous to Howards garden citieseach hosting its own shops and places of employment to serve neighborhood residents. As Dykstra elaborated in a speech to the Los Angeles City Club that year, the great city of the future will be a harmoniously developed community of local centers and garden cities, a district in which the need for transportation over long distances at a rapid rate will be reduced to a minimum.21 It is perhaps difficult to recognize today, in our postsuburban nation,22 just how radical the planners vision was in the 1920s, but it seemed to them to be a logical and rational means both to preserve the existing low-density, bucolic lifestyle touted by boostersa way of living that seemed so well adapted to the Mediterranean climate and the existing culture of bungalows and beachesand to avoid the pitfalls that were until this point considered

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the inevitable consequences of urban growth. Los Angeles would pioneer a new sort of American urbanism far superior to the dominant vertical model, as Dykstra rhapsodized: Under such conditions city life will not only be tolerable but delightfulinfinitely more desirable and wholesome than the sort induced and superinduced by the artificially stimulated population center which constantly must reach higher and higher into the air for light, air and a chance to see the sun.23 In essence, planners hoped to allow Los Angeles to grow into the sort of major metropolis that it seemed to be very rapidly becoming by 1926 while preserving the clarity, legibility, and social order of the small city it had until recently been.24 Looking deeper, we can interpret many of the planners actions during the preceding decade as fitting with this grand vision. In implementing the nations first modern zoning system, during the 1910s, Whitnall and his staff had worked hard to stabilize and police Los Angeless existing social divisions and hierarchies.25 The City Planning Commission had for a decade relied on the latest scientific techniques and Progressive methods to preserve what planners more generally termed segregation of population.26 Planners used the term widely, as it encapsulated all they aimed to achieve in their battle against urban congestion. Proper segregation of use meant that economic activities were restricted to their most appropriate urban districts. There would be no factories in residential neighborhoods, particularly after a major revision of the citys zoning ordinances in 1925. Innovations in zoning had helped enforce this discipline upon the urban fabric, as the nations first explicit zoning designation requiring single-family residential dwellings had been created in the city. This zoning category helped ensure that outlying suburban neighborhoods would not be transformed into districts of transient apartment dwellers as the city expanded, as had happened in many cities in the East.27 By encouraging far-flung development of bungalows and tracts through the subdivision planning approval processes, planners had hoped to maintain the low-density middle-class character of the region. The majority of Angelenos would be spared from having to live in crowded and unsanitary conditionsunlike their brethren in other modern metropolisesby the active enforcement of regulations that restricted building types and occupants. Instead, they would be guided to settle in the newer outlying suburbs, which, of course, fit perfectly with the efforts of local realtors, boosters, and developers. Meanwhile, older neighborhoods, closer in, would be protected against excessive harm to their value as the city expanded by a bulwark of existing private mechanisms intended to enforce neighborhood homogeneity and stability, such as the ubiquitous residential deed restrictions that bound more than 90 percent of the citys housing stock during the 1920s.28 Thus, zoning control, building codes, and official encouragement of widespread private covenants combined to prevent the flood of newcomersin Los Angeles, largely white migrants from the Midwestfrom being forced into the sort of tenement districts common in other American cities of the era. Through such

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simple measures, combined with natural population growth and the urban restructuring that would inevitably entail, it will be possible, Dykstra proclaimed to the Los Angeles City Club in late 1925, for garden cities to take the place of slums and industrial congestion.29 A side effect of these efforts was that ethnic immigrants and racial minorities were effectively restricted in Los Angeles to a set of increasingly crowded older neighborhoods near the downtown core. These inner-city apartment house districts became more and more inhospitable as the city grew, but, by discouraging the development of apartments outside the core, this inner circle, planners felt, could reasonably be sacrificed for the welfare of the ever largerand ever more far-flungregion as a whole. This was, of course, entirely normal practice for the Progressive Era, where concern for social welfare always bound itself up with obsessive attention to proper and clear racial legibility. Indeed, the partitioning of the metropolitan topography by race and by class had been absolutely critical to the development of American cities in the half-century after the Civil War, and in Southern California great efforts had always been expended to police the boundaries of the separate communities. Thus, under the watchful attention of city planners, rapid urban growth in greater Los Angeles had for years been channeled in ways that intentionally reiterated the existing social order and enforced patterns of population segregation, while freeing most white middle-class Angelenos from the blight of urban congestion even as the city continued to expand.30 Yet now this carefully orchestrated urban order was under threat from two primary sources, as the planners saw it. First, they had inherited a densely packed downtown district, which still hosted the regions business, consumer, and entertainment facilities, and it was being deluged by traffic. In fact, the unprecedented crush of automobile traffic flowing daily from the suburban residential settlements into the central corea dangerous side effect of the planners subdivision strategyheld the potential to severely damage the entire regions economy and pleasant lifestyle. Tracts were growing faster than planners could regulate them, and the planning staff was extremely hard pressed merely to keep pace with the rapid topographical transformations of the decade, let alone promote their own ambitious dreams and visions.31 Worse, the congestion of commuters was forcing downtown business leaders into what planners considered to be a hasty and dangerous action. As these elites sought to protect their interests by promulgating a misguided urban vision for the region, they threatened to force Los Angeles to abandon its lowdensity form in favor of the sort of dense vertical urbanism that so blighted traditional eastern cities. Here, one form of reckless business development tied into aggressive boosterismpromoting Southern California as a place of limitless suburban subdivisionswas encouraging the rise of another even more dangerous one. Hence, the PEs plans posed imminent danger: It is clear from the outset that the PE subway simply did not accord with the local planners visionary

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agenda. The interurban engineers were designing a system that would improve access to the already dense downtown district, further drawing residents to the citys principal congested area and potentially starting the whole metropolis down the familiar path of ever-increasing concentration and crowding. Already, this congested district was clogged by traffic, it jumbled people together willy-nilly, and it seemed to erode all sensible lines of clear segregation. What would happen if new rapid transit systems were built that would further promote the continued development of this chaotic and cluttered central district? Of course, this development was precisely what most downtown businessmen had in mind. Clearly, these two groups of urban leaders were at loggerheads. The radically incompatible visions of modern urbanism held by the city planners and the downtown businessmen were converging into open conflict over the future of the western metropolis. The local business community fractured, and long-standing coalitions of planners and elites were strained, as incompatible engines of metropolitan boosterism ground toward collision. Although the tensions built up silently for years, the big break would finally come in the first months of 1926 over this question of rapid transit modernization. The commercial boosters struck back with alacrity. Enraged that planners had stifled progress on the PE subway, downtown business leaders immediately engaged the services of the engineering firm of R. F. Kelker and Charles De Leuw to provide the city with a comprehensive rapid transit plan. KelkerDe Leuw was a wise choice. The firm was based in Chicago, and it proposed a plan for Los Angeles that sought to transpose rather directly the Loops famous system of elevated railroads onto the landscape of Southern California. KelkerDe Leuw had three years earlier constructed a transportation plan for that city that had, in no uncertain terms, called for the continued vertical development of the Chicago transit system, endorsing an expansion of the citys extensive use of elevated railroads knit into the dense fabric of the Loop. If Los Angeless modernizers hoped their city would follow the developmental model of that protean American metropolis, and if they wished to begin by emulating Chicagos modern transit infrastructure, KelkerDe Leuw was the company to call on. And these commercial elites got exactly what they wanted. Declaring early on the similarities of the two metropolisesIn comparing Los Angeles with other large cities we find the closest analogy in the city of Chicago32the Rapid Transit Plan for the City and County of Los Angeles transposed the earlier Chicago report rather directly onto the topography of spread-out Southern California. Moreover, Kelker, De Leuw, and Company also explicitly endorsed the narrative of urban evolutionary development espoused by downtown boosters. Although the private automobile had been appropriate to Los Angeles when it was a low-density town of purely regional ambitions, the city would now have to take responsibility for its newfound stature and properly grow up: Los Angeles, having passed through various stages of development, has become a metropolitan

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center and now requires rapid transit facilities in its urban area not only to meet present needs but to prepare the city for the growth of future years.33 A proper city required proper infrastructure, and that meant heavy, fixed rapid transit to support a new wave of intensive downtown development. No sooner was this comprehensive plan released than serendipity struck for Los Angeless modernizers. For years the city had anchored its three major steam railroads in three separate terminals, all scattered around the downtown district. And for years the city, backed by the influential Los Angeles Times, had been trying through the courts to coerce these railroads into consolidating their stations in a single location near the old Spanish Plaza to provide easier access for newcomers and, it was hoped, to open the city to further competition from other long-distance rail companies. So now, in 1926, the Southern Pacific, the Santa Fe, and the Union Pacific made a proposal to the city: Drop the lawsuits, and the railroads would connect their existing stations by an elaborate elevated rail system, removing all steam locomotives from the citys streets, all at no cost to the taxpayer. This new infrastructure would totally remove the steam trains from street level, eliminating dozens of dangerous grade crossings. It would efficiently link the stations together and thus improve conditions in the congested downtown district. And to sweeten the deal, the three railroads offered to open this new infrastructure to the PE railway for free, immediately providing Los Angeles with the heart of a modern elevated interurban mass transit system at no public expense.34 Confidently, the president of the Southern Pacific published a two-page spread in the five largest local papers detailing the many traffic improvements that the three railroads could put into place within a mere eighteen months if their plan received official endorsement.35 Thus, simply by dropping the fight for the Plaza terminal, the city could guarantee itself a multilevel rapid transit system making use of overhead structures of modern design.36 To circumvent inevitable planning opposition, the railroads sought to take their plan directly to the voters through a public referendum to be held at a special election that spring.37 Thus, voters were quite plainly asked to decide which vision of urbanism Los Angeles should embrace as it crossed the one million resident mark and thus shot into the league of Americas largest cities. As you might expect, planners did not appreciate this gift or this choice at all, nor did the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper and civic institution of great influence beyond its modest circulation. The Times had for years been pushing for the proposed Union Station located near the Plaza. Now, the booster newspaper, long in close alliance with local planners in its complete and total investment in the vision of a Mediterranean low-density Southern California, picked up the fight against the railroads plan with enthusiasm and would carry it forward in the months to come as Angelenos prepared to cast their votes on these issues in the April 30th referendum.38 As the election campaign unfolded, the railroads appeared totally unprepared for the ferocity of the onslaught launched almost immediately by the

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Figure 5: Miss L.A. Educates Herself (with the Timess Help) about the "L" SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1926, 1:1.

Times toward the Plaza terminal question. The papers attack, which seemed continually to possess the initiative during the long campaign, was carried prominently under a single, incessantly repeated banner: the punning, but more than a little menacing, slogan Keep the L Out of Los Angeles.39

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Figure 6: Times Cartoonist Gale Effectively Recasts the Railroads Gift of Transit Infrastructure as the Selfish Scheme of Railroad Barons to Darken the City under Imposing Elevated Trestles SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, March 10, 1926, 1:1.

The Times began its assault with a series of front-page, right-below-themasthead cartoons ridiculing the railroads and their rapid transit proposals (see Figures 5, 6, and 7). The cartoons focused primarily on the image of the elevated railroad, suggesting that these transit structures would destroy the appearance and lifestyle of Los Angeles. Emphasizing the darkening effect

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Axelrod / KEEP THE L OUT OF LOS ANGELES 21

Figure 7: The Times Evokes Frank Norriss Octopus Looming over the Urban Fabric SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1926, 1:1.

of these trestles, the Times continually raised the specter of a city cast into darkness. It argued that this was a nefarious and self-serving scheme concocted by railroad oligopoliststhe opening wedge of some larger, darker conspiracy to cast gloomy shadows over the bucolic bungalows of sunny Southern California. About the same time, dramatic shots of twisted and shattered steel cars hanging off bent structures in the aftermath of deadly collisions began to

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22 JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY / November 2007

Figure 8: Breaking News: The Times Reported Vividly on Every Elevated Accident in the Country SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1926, 1:1. NOTE: Times reports included those, such as this one from New York in 1923, that had taken place years earlier.

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appear throughout the newspaper as well (see Figure 8). These items appeared on the front page, in the pictorial sections, and elsewhere in the paper.40 It seemed no eastern citys train could have a mishap without it being proclaimed breaking news in the Times. Combining this series of inflammatory political cartoons and graphic pictorials with hard-hitting, illustrated investigative articles on the prospective rapid transit plan, the broadsheet hammered home its message that elevated railroads were dark, noisy, unhealthy, and dangerously accidentprone. Throughout the two weeks leading up to the election itself, the Times featured a daily running series of lengthy illustrated reports from cities that were cursed by their own elevated systems (see Figure 9). Poetic headlines such as Foul Dirt, Darkness and Bedlam Curse of L and New York Pays Piper for Dance that Opened L hit home the message, while the reportage underneath testified that an elevated is a manylegged and roaring steel serpent and should be shunned by all cities for the machination of the devil that it is.41 Chiaroscuro sketches suggesting how an elevated might blight Los Angeles reinforced high-contrast photographs of darkened streets in eastern cities. The paper even resorted to verse to illustrate the horrors of the elevated railroad, such as the Song Of The L, by Harry Bowling, which began:
I am the scourge of citiesI am Satans cynical plan, To crush with his own invention the impotent insect, man My grip is the grip of duress, my voice is the voice of doom, I triumph in grime and clatter, in ugliness, dirt and gloom. Round and about my pillars the thug and the bandit steal, I stifle the cry of the victim with the roar of the clanging wheel; I gather humanitys refuse in a hideous nest of slums, And Dives eats at my table while Lazarus gets the crumbs.42

These allusive and blunt images, heralding a Biblical plague of poverty and inequity brought on by the mass transit system, reinforced the bundle of associations that the Times was attaching not only to the elevated railway, but also to eastern urbanism more broadly. Los Angeless reputation as a middle-class paradise was explicitly threatened by evocations of the inequality of the traditional American metropolis. Thus, discourse about rapid transit consistently raised a powerful underlying Progressive critique of the capitalist metropolis of slums and tenements. Similarly, captions such as Even California Sun Would Balk At This warned readers that the dank scenes before their eyes could be repeated around Los Angeles as well.43 In this way, the Mediterranean mythos of Southern California was mobilized in opposition to the railroads plan, suggesting that Los Angeles had relatively more to lose by the blighting effects of the overhead tracks than other cities did.

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Figure 9: Photo Surveys of Cities Cursed by the L Portrayed Transit Not as Modern and Efficient, but as Blighting and Ominous SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1926, 1:3.

Through this skillful evocation of a tradition of booster imagery, combined with graphic rhetoric of urban decay and poverty, the Times inveighed against all that had previously been glorified in the Jazz Age metropolis. Instead of sublime skyscrapers piercing the clouds, readers were presented with constant reminders of the misery of the depths. Local elevateds, in their headlong swaying flight, were described as dirty, noisy, inartistic, bringing din, gloom, and property loss and foul dirt, darkness, and bedlam to these cursed cities. A Stygian gloom, correspondents testified, permeated the unhealthful atmosphere under an elevated structure, [where] even on the brightest day, it is as twilight. It is a cloud before the sun that never passes.44 In hyperbolic prose, the paper hammered home evocative images of the dispiriting world clustered around the towers foundations.45

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Feebly, the protransit forces tried to recover. A group calling itself the Business Mens Association of Los Angeles began placing large advertisements in local newspapers protesting the railroads case, pleading that Angelenos be fair to industry.46 Their advertisements, though, could not match the Times (itself never known to be unfair to industry) in clear, graphic visuality.47 Haplessly, the pro-elevated lobby protested the Timess slick propaganda, especially the use of arresting, iconic images. Despite their complaints, the elevated was itself now becoming an icona symbol not of Jazz Age urban modernization but of darkness and blight, social inequality, crime, and misery. Before long, rapid transit proponents were reduced to trying to deflect the Timess assaults instead of defending the railroads proposal, insisting, for instance, that The railroads plan does not contemplate elevated structures lengthwise of streets, but along a private right-of-way and through an industrial district, where it would not be objectionable and where it would not result in property damage. It would not be street darkening since it would not run on the streets.48 Evidently, the Times had established its discursive hegemony; advocates of rapid transit were forced to resort to claims that their objectionable and darkening structures would only cast blighting shadows over private property. Faced with the Timess incessant images of blight (places beloved of germs and microbes that defy cleanliness in their dark corners) and din (a nerve-wracking roar, a hollow rumble, insomnia taking auditory form), advocates of the elevateds began to repudiate what had so shortly before been their most cherished marks of urban modernity.49 Clearly, the Times seemed to have struck a nerve in its juxtaposed opposition of Californian sun and air against eastern darkness, steel, grime, and smoke. The newspaper was mobilizing Los Angeless carefully constructed booster imagean image that organ had played no small part in creatingto wage an internal war over the future of the metropolis. Defending the lowdensity pastoralism of Southern California, the Times persistently returned to the specter of the darkening L in its public relations campaign. Clearly, rapid transit plans were being subsumed into the discourse on elevateds, and the overhead railroads were themselves being devoured in a hopeless contest between images of East and West. Dreams of vertical modernity were being crushed by a powerful local rhetoric of pastoral Mediterraneanism. In the end, the gambit that proved, at least temporarily, most effective for the increasingly desperate backers of the railroad plan was a particularly cynical one. Instead of attempting to put forward the advantages of their own ambitious modernization project, rapid transit supporters began instead, by the late stages of the campaign, to attack the Timess cherished Union Station plans. These rail proponents began repeatedly to allude in criticism of the Union Station site to the adjacent Chinese American and Mexican American ghettoes. Asking if the Plaza location offered an attractive and inviting first

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impression for visitors to the city, advertisements by the Business Mens Association played on local prejudices and hatreds. As one spread put it, the truth is that the so-called Plaza union station would face Chinatown, which lies between the Civic Center and the site proposed for the station.50 Here, the depot opponents were mobilizing the anxiety white Angelenos felt during this time about urban illegibility in order to suggest that previously (properly) hidden ethnic districts were now threatening to become prominent and that the all-important boundaries defining racial order in this highly restrictive and segregated metropolis would be overturned by the Union Station plans. Before long, the Examiner, which was always the most aggressive opponent of the Union Station proposal (no doubt because of the Timess support of it), began referring to the envisioned depot simply as the Chinatown Terminal. If there is ever to be a union station, the Hearst paper insisted, let it at least not be located between Chinatown and Little Mexico.51 Continually calling attention to this undesirable location next to Chinatown and Mexican settlements, the Examiner also (rather shamelessly) railed indignantly against the potential destruction of the romantic atmosphere of [the] Plaza.52 In the midst of this apparent contradiction, clearly a potent distinction was being made between the desirable Mission mythology of the old zocalo and the less picturesque actual inhabitants of the area.53 While an actual urban neighborhood was assumed to be a sign of blight and decay, a cheerfully sanitized version of the Spanish-era pueblo was granted to be an urban asset, a sign of historical character and romance, a tourist attraction. Ultimately, though, the discontinuity in racialist discourse on the part of rapid transit backers proved a rhetorical and political error. Backers of the Plaza site soon began to exploit these internal contradictions in a Machiavellian program to neutralize the Examiners charges of racial blurring. One advertisement by the Citizens Union Station Committee, for instance, claimed that the Plaza Terminal will be a monumental gateway to Los Angeles, harmonizing with the Civic Center and historic old Plazacreating in the minds of the newcomer [sic] an everlasting impression of beauty and civic achievement. Not only would the historic Plaza not be destroyed in the building of a Union Depot, the ad reassured readers, to the contrary, this landmark of old Los Angeles will be beautified and perpetuated.54 Yet this co-option of the Mission myth was only the first, most benign, aspect of the neutralization project. If opponents of the Union Station measures had hoped to race-bait the Times, they would soon find that the paper could turn this trick at least as well itself. Thus, after starting with a flood of Mission nostalgia, seamlessly fitting the Plaza site into a long tradition of booster rhetoric,55 the paper launched into a more serious strategy. Starting in mid-April of 1926, the Times began actively to reposition its Plaza Union Station plans as a first step in a larger and, in retrospect, much more sinisterprogram of urban redevelopment. What the paper had in mind was clearly revealed under the heading End of Chinatown. Here, the newspaper recast the terminal as a first step in an ambitious program of ethnic cleansing:

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The Civic Center Plaza depot plans spell the passing of Chinatown and its rookeries into the dim history of early Los Angeles. The steam shovels are now at work in the opening of the new Spring street north of First street. . . . Chinatown is doomed by the march of the greater Los Angeles Civic Center and the Plaza union depot.56

Instantly, the Times figured out how to neutralize the racial associations that Plaza opponents hoped to attach to the new Union Station location. There would be no taint from the Chinatown site because Chinatown would be leveled, wiped entirely from the map. Where the Examiner merely used words, the Times was eager to put bulldozers to work:
Those opposed to a union station at the Plaza have stated that such an edifice should not be built in the midst of Los Angeles Chinatown. . . . With the completion of the Civic Center and the union depot there will be no more Chinatown.57

Here was the blunt edge of Progressive Era reform. Not only would undesirable minorities be cordoned into restricted districts to contain their contagion of maladapted customs and worldviews, but the more visible objectionable zones would be utterly eliminated, permanently sanitizing the new urban core. Where these preterite peoples would be allowed to go in a city that enforced so many restrictions on choice of habitation was left unaddressed in this campaign. In the view of the Times and its supporters, these citizens were simple artifacts of an old Los Angeles that would be left behind. This was an entirely different vision of urban modernization than that proposed by the skyscraper enthusiasts. Here, the citys population itself would be modernized, with no place left for those historic but retrograde peoples who had no place in the new metropolis. Looking back on the entire 1926 election campaign, it is easy to see that in the space of a couple of months opponents of the rapid transit plan had managed to engineer two dramatic discursive shifts. First, they had effectively transformed the transit program of their opponents from an optimistic Jazz Age modernization proposal into a scheme to darken Southern Californias streets with the hideous L. Then they had turned the negative racial associations attributed to their own plans into a justification for wholesale ethnic realignment of entire districts of the city. Instead of being tainted by the racial connotations of its preferred Plaza site, the Times emerged as champion in the cause of racial purity and proper segregation. In this pivotal campaign, which a number of historians have pointed to as a turning point within local thought on matters of rapid transit and downtown development,58 the battle between the planners and modernizers rival visions of the urban future was fought almost exclusively on the field of contemporary understandings of, and anxieties about, the existing city. And these understandings and anxieties were inextricably bound up with ideasand fearsabout race. Within the ideological contexts of 1920s Los Angeles, the vivid evocations of blight and darkness attending the prospective el were obviously,

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from the start, themselves racially coded. The prospect of transforming the sunny and bright city into a much more shadowy, dim onea particularly literal version of what Mike Davis famously referred to as sunshine and noirplayed on white Angelenos contemporary anxieties about the social disruptions of rapid migration.59 In referencing the potential darkening of prominent visible parts of the metropolis, the Times editors certainly knew they would thereby inflame widespread fears about imminent spatial (and racial) miscegenation in the city. Although African Americans constituted only a tiny fraction of the Jazz Age Los Angeles population, blacks have always punched above their demographic weight in the metaphorics of dominant white racial imaginings. Dark streets would certainly suggest dark skins to most Angelenos in this racially hypersensitive era. The explicitly linked evocation of Mexican and Chinese communities within the city further served to collapse all this racist imagery into a ludicrously simple dynamic of paired oppositions: West versus East, white versus black, light versus dark, sun versus shadow, health versus disease, life versus death. The parallel specter of slumlike blight clearly also connoted, even more explicitly, a potential collapse of the citys precious booster image as middleclass metropolis, where every inhabitant might live a carefree existence in his or her own detached home, with a private automobile parked nearby. Despite the mythology, many Angelenos, even in this period of relative prosperity, were extraordinarily insecure in their class positions (a fact reflected in the relative success of the citys Socialist politicians during the previous decade). Contrary to the mythology, most locals did not at this time own their own cars, and many did indeed live in crowded apartment buildings. The alluring prospect of upward social mobility seemed to be potentially endangered by the rapid transit modernization represented in the Timess scare pieces. The ethnically mixed slums and tenements of eastern citiesblighted and darkened by looming overhead tracksquite simply frightened middle-class Angelenos. Whether these people feared that the availability of single-family homes would disappear and that they would themselves be forced into claustrophobic accommodations, or whether they merely felt threatened by the prospective presence of a visible urban underclass, such images indelibly and subversively linked rapid transit in the local imagination not with gleaming skyscrapers, but with violence, miscegenation, and misery. When the polls closed, the final vote was decisive. In fact, it was a watershed for Los Angeles and, as time would tell, for American urban history: A citys populace, by popular decision, turned away from the dominant vertical model of modern urbanism. The decision assured that the future that most Americans expected would not in fact come to pass in Southern California. Instead, something else would have to take its place. What form that future urbanism would take remained far more vague in the years to come, both in Southern California and elsewhere, but the tide was turning nationally against

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the vertical metropolis. The image of dense cities being centers of poverty, blight, and crime began to emerge more strongly in writing about cities. More and more, the futuristic skyscraper city seemed a utopian dream, not an imminent reality. Los Angeles planners must certainly have been pleased by so clear a public ratification of their vision for the metropolis. Equally reassuring must have been the Timess strong defense of the sort of low-density urbanism they were working so hard to preserve. Even more gratifying was the fact that what local planners were preaching at national planning gatherings all decade had finally, by the mid-1920s, begun to resonate within eastern planning circles as well. Perhaps the most dramatic evidence that urban experts within the concentric cities of the East were having doubts about the direction of their continued development was a lively and contentious running battle waged between New Yorkers Henry Curran and that champion of verticality, Harvey Wiley Corbett. In an extended series of exchanges appearing, one after another, in many of the nations most important planning journals, Curran and Corbett debated the future of the concentrated metropolis throughout the second half of 1926 and into 1927. In so doing, they replayed, in very different form, the referendum that had transfixed Southern California in the early spring of 1926. The conflict began in reaction to one of Corbett and Ferrisss ambitious vertical sublime visions of future New York, published in The American City in June of 1926. As a response to that piece, Henry Curran, a lawyer for New Yorks City Club, launched a direct attack on the very cathedrals of the vertical sublime. As The American City, sensing a fight, enthusiastically informed its professional readers, The skyscraper, so generally considered as the hallmark of a real city, is meeting serious opposition in the very metropolis in which it has attained its greatest development and fame.60 Curran, whom the journal described as leading the fight against the skyscraper in New York, declared in an accompanying article that the worst enemy of the American city today is the skyscraper. He then offered a warning to unsuspecting officials in the nations less developed cities:
It is true that in some cities this modern form of monster has not yet increased and multiplied to the point of peril. It is true that in some others, the blow has not yet fallen, though the danger is in sight. But it is also true that in still some other cities, the skyscraper has already become a plague that we may well range alongside our ancient city scourges of cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis and slums.61

In this age where enthusiasm for tall buildings still saturated the culture, such invective could not go unchallenged. Within a few weeks, Corbett responded with a reply of his own, carried in the National Municipal Review. Corbett admitted in the enthusiastically titled Up with the Skyscraper that New York was congested, but he insisted that it was not the fault of the skyscrapers:

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Traffic is bad in New York, but it is worse in other cities where the average building height is far less. Detroit and Los Angeles, for instance. Despite these pragmatic arguments, though, Corbett really wished to make a larger point about urbanity in general. He did this by turning on Henry Currans biological arguments. The city, Corbett hypothesized, is really itself a living thing, and in this stage of its life cycle the tall building must be seen as a necessary feature of its natural anatomy:
You cant kill off the skyscraper, for it would be against nature and progress. . . . Growth is progress. The only way to stop a tree from growing is to kill it. A city is not just a mass of bricks, stones, streets, subways. It is an organic-growing thing, with its inhabitants flowing through its veins like the corpuscles in the blood.62

The development of a city must be allowed to follow its own course, Corbett implied, and in Jazz Age America, that course was toward the vertical. Still undaunted, Curran fired back a final volley. Focusing on Harvey Corbetts own metaphor, the skyscraper critic claimed that there was actually something deeply unnatural about the modern city: We are still a nation of prairies and plains and far mountainsand yet Harvey would have us forego our freedom of motion, and tie ourselves up into a pulsing pretzel of interwoven moles, squirming under the overshadowing masses of his skyscraper brood. Arguing that great concentration would guarantee only blighted living conditions, Curran rebelled against the notion that an entire city could be contained within sheaths of glass and steel. Is, he asked, Harvey really on the level with us when he spins this fairy tale about people being born, living, and dying all within the skyscrapers, each in his own predestined skyscraper? Curran concluded his assault on Corbett, and on the reigning discourses of verticality within the modern metropolis, with a mournful apostrophe for the citys unhappy souls to be saved from what he called the depths of Harveys Inferno, lying far below the heavenly cloud-piercing towers.63 Gradually, even in the height of the Jazz Age, professional planning discourse, backed by Progressive Era concern about the modern citys social ills, began to turn against the vertical model of American urbanism. Although many of the tallest buildings were yet to come, no American city would fulfill Harvey Wiley Corbett and Hugh Ferrisss rapturous vision in the twentieth century. Indeed, with the exception of a few iconic urban districtsManhattan and the Chicago Loop primary among themAmerican skylines would tend to spread outward instead of upward. By the 1950s, with active federal policies in place underwriting suburban sprawl everywhere, it was becoming clear that for all the evocative power still residing in the skyscraper districts of the large cities, postwar American growth would be horizontal, not vertical. In the second half of the century, it would not be the Jazz Age urban model that would dominate, but what could be termed

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a Los Angeles model of metropolitan form, where segregated deconcentration would triumph over cosmopolitan density. Prophetic perhaps was an editorial section of the Los Angeles Express during the height of that pivotal referendum campaign. The Express was generally a much more soft-spoken local newspaper than the triumphantly boosterish Times, Hearsts populist Examiner, or the working-class Record. Yet on the fifth of April, 1926, in the middle of the special election frenzy, that journal shouted at the top of its editorial page: Los Angeles, City of Homes.64 Proceeding to declare that Los Angeles maintains its reputation as a city of homes, the paper championed the dominant single-family, low-density nature of local residential development. More important, just below this selfcongratulatory paean to the status quo, came juxtaposed another descriptive editorial piece. This one, titled The Future City, presented a radically divergent picture of urban settlement:
Combination office and apartment buildings of 80 stories and more, linked together by aerial causeways, with airplane landings on the roofs. . . . To visit a neighbor the inhabitants of one building would step out onto a walk or causeway maybe several hundred feet up in the air, or, going to the roof of their own building, take an airplane and fly to the building they wished to visit.65

Here was the skyscraper urbanism of the Jazz Age metropolis (the site of this vertical sublime vision was, not surprisingly, identified as New York) intruding into the tumult and conflict of a Los Angelesand a nationstill poised at a crossroads between models of urban development. All along, though, the conclusions were preordained. Whether Angelenos fully understood the garden city ideal or not, they were full participants within the discourses engendered by it. Despite the concerted efforts of the citys business elite, the hegemony of low-density, single-family development within the imaginations of Angelenos remained essentially unshaken, and it spread to other Americans as well in the years to come. As the editors of the Express concluded thoughtfully in their account of this city of the future (as well, perhaps, of the future of their own city, as envisioned by downtown modernizers), This is no mere fanciful picture, but actually what men of affairs see for the future, and plan to create with their money. But it isnt inviting. It seems better to have lived in an age of earth dwellers.

NOTES
1. The photograph is impressive, but also a bit deceptive. It catches the buildings on an angle, instead of along the street grid, thus portraying each building on two sides instead of one, making it appear as if there are more structures in the picture than there actually are and making those shown seem larger. This perspectival trick also enhances the apparent size of the buildings by showing their rooflines receding into the background at a rakish downward angle from the particularly eye-catching and sharp leading edges of

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32 JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY / November 2007 the rectangular buildings. The lighting in the shot further accentuates the sharpness of these edges by starkly casting one of the two visible sides of each structure in shadow and the other in light. Furthermore, the cameras position reinforces the impression that the buildings are much taller than they in fact are. The skyscrapers in the foreground are actually only six or seven stories high, whichcombined with the foreshortening effects of the perspectivemakes the second tier of structures seem much taller than their actual twelve- or thirteen-story height. Perhaps most deceptive is that we are actually seeing buildings rise up the side of a hill, making the array of buildings in the background of the shot seem taller and reinforcing the impression given by the entire tableau that the structures rise into the distance. In actuality, the buildings are fairly uniformly of modest (150 feet) heightnot small structures, but certainly not skyscrapers in the sense that the 1,000-foot towers rising in New York or Chicago were at that time. 2. Most well known for his Southern Californian residential architectural projects of later years, F. L. Wright, Jr., had extensive professional experience by 1926, not only through his own commissions, but also from working for his fathers firm and, interestingly, that of the Olmsteds. See Charles Moore, Peter Becker, and Regula Campbell, The City Observed: Los Angeles. A Guide to Its Architecture and Landscapes (New York, 1984), 250. 3. The first image was splashed across the cover of the working-class Los Angeles Records Anniversary Edition, and the second appeared, at about the same time, in the solidly conservative Los Angeles Examiner. 4. Spencer Crump, Ride the Big Red Cars: How Trolleys Helped Build Southern California (Los Angeles, 1962), 165. 5. Of the two, which were only tangentially interconnected during this period, the Los Angeles Railway (LARY) was harder hit. The yellow cars shared the streets with automobiles throughout their entire network. The Pacific Electric (PE), on the other hand, relied on its own rights-of-way in the outlying suburban areas where it dominated. Near its busy downtown hub, however, the PE shared the plight of the LARY, relying on the overburdened local street grid to accommodate its crowded interurban trains. 6. For more on the importance of the automobile in Los Angeless urban transformation during the 1920s, see Martin Wachs, Autos, Transit, and the Sprawl of Los Angeles, Journal of the American Planning Association 50, no. 3 (1984), among other works; Mark Foster, The Decentralization of Los Angeles during the 1920s (PhD dissertation, University of Southern California, 1971); Mark Foster, The Model-T, the Hard Sell, and Los Angeless Urban Growth, Pacific Historical Review 44, no. 4 (1975); Mark Foster, From Streetcar to Superhighway (Philadelphia, 1981); Scott Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile (Berkeley, 1987); Robert Fogelson, Fragmented Metropolis (Berkeley, 1967); Richard Longstreth, City Center to Regional Mall (Cambridge, MA, 1997); and my own Toward Autopia: Envisioning the Modern Metropolis in Jazz Age Southern California (forthcoming publication from University of California Press). 7. Harvey Wiley Corbett, Up with the Skyscraper, National Municipal Review 16, no. 2 (1927): 202. 8. Both Corbett and Ferriss were fully within the mainstream of New York planning thought during the 1920s. Corbett was himself a successful builder of skyscrapers and an innovator behind Manhattans distinctive building set-back zoning laws, and Ferriss, aside from being the greatest architectural renderer of his age, was also the official illustrator for the Regional Plan Association of New York. See Merrill Schleier, The Skyscraper in American Art, 18901931 (New York, 1986); Carol Willis, The Titan City: Forgotten Episodes in American Architecture, Skyline (October 1982); David E. Nye, American Technological Sublime (Cambridge, MA, 1994); and Thomas A. P. van Leeuwen, The Skyward Trend of Thought: The Metaphysics of the American Skyscraper (Cambridge, MA, 1988). 9. Nye notes that the geometrical sublime came to be a dominant way of seeing and understanding the city after the First World War in American Technological Sublime, 100. 10. Longstreth, City Center to Regional Mall, 105. According to Longstreth, the Wilshire Boulevard Development Association also compared the prospective development of their thoroughfare with Chicagos North Michigan Avenue. Implying that Los Angeles could never hope to compete with these modern metropolises without an equivalent skyscraper corridor, members of the Association hoped to tie the economic health of the city to their cause. See, for instance, Urge Wilshire as L.A.s Fifth Avenue, Herald, April 6, 1926, 1:13. 11. Artery Seen as Busy Hub by Backers, Examiner, April 25, 1926, 4:2. In a rare show of unanimity, the rival Times joined the Examiner in admiring speculations about the prospects for imposing business and apartment buildings along the boulevard. Here, the Times was actually quoting Loren C. Barton of the Wilshire Boulevard Development Association. See Urges Yes Votes for Zone Plan, Times, April 29, 1926, 2:3.

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Axelrod / KEEP THE L OUT OF LOS ANGELES 33 12. Longstreth, City Center to Regional Mall, 21. 13. Irving Hellman, The Skyscrapers Influence on Municipal Progress, The Skyscraper 1, no. 2 (1925): 6. 14. Crump, Ride the Big Red Cars, 151. 15. Crump, Ride the Big Red Cars, 152. 16. Crump, Ride the Big Red Cars, 15152. A measure of the confidence in future subway expansion is the statement D. W. Pontius, president of the PE, made at the opening of the Hollywood tunnel: Los Angeles will have more subways. They are the logical answer to traffic congestion, rapid transit of passengers, grade crossing menaces and other problems which face transportation officials across the country. The bore of the PE is the first in Los Angeles. Its use, ultimately, will become a habit. . . . Others are sure to come. See P.E. Subway Stimulates Commuter Travel, Examiner, March 28, 1926, 2:16. 17. Quoted in Robert Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis, 24849. 18. Ebenezer Howard, Garden Cities of To-morrow (London, 1902). 19. George A. Damon, Relation of the Motor Bus to Other Methods of Transportation (paper presented at the Sixteenth National Conference on City Planning, Philadelphia, April 1924), 80. 20. C. A. Dykstra, Congestion DeLuxeDo We Want It? National Municipal Review 15, no. 7 (1926): 398. 21. C. A. Dykstra, Report on Rapid Transit, City Club Bulletin, January 30, 1926, 4. 22. Rob Kling, Spencer Olin, and Mark Poster, The Emergence of Postsuburbia: An Introduction, in Postsuburban California (Berkeley, 1991), 6. 23. Dykstra, Congestion DeLuxe, 398. 24. Kevin Lynch emphasizes the importance of urban legibility to all urbanites. The concept would have particular importance for Progressive Era urban planning professionals. See Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City (Cambridge, MA, 1960). 25. Zoning had been introduced in California as early as the 1870s. In the 1910s and 1920s, a new wave of scientific zoning hit Americas cities; for an excellent brief summary of this early use, see Sam Bass Warner, The Urban Wilderness (Berkeley: University of CA Press, 1995), 2829. Los Angeles was a pioneer in this effort, as the first major city in the country to enact a zoning ordinance, a law that is now accepted by many urban historians as the beginning of modern zoning in the United States, preceding the better known New York statute by eight years. See Mansel G. Blackford, The Lost Dream: Businessmen and City Planning on the Pacific Coast, 18901920 (Columbus, OH: State University Press, 1993), 92. Indeed, in 1908 the City of Los Angeles adopted two ordinances dividing the city into residential and industrial zones, seeking thereby to keep industry out of residential areas, according to Mel Scott, Metropolitan Los Angeles: One Community (Los Angeles: The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, 1949), 37. Robert M. Glendinning cites the date (most commonly identified by scholars) of 1909 for the birth of zoning in the region. His article Zoning: Past, Present and Future in the influential 1941 planning manifesto Los Angeles: Preface to a Master Plan also notes that zoning efforts in the state of California date back to 1861. See George W. Robbins and L. Deming Tilton, eds., Los Angeles: Preface to a Master Plan (Los Angeles: Pacific Southwest Academy, 1941). Mark Foster, alone among historians, claims in his dissertation, The Decentralization of Los Angeles During the 1920s, that Los Angeless City Council enacted the first zoning ordinance in 1904 (p. 229). He gets this date, however, from the citys own planning history: Philip J. Ouellet, City Planning in Los Angeles: A History (Los Angeles: Department of City Planning, 1964). Whatever the date of the citys first zoning attempts, it was clearly not until the 1920s that zoning in Southern California was actually enacted with the degree of precision, sophistication, and thoroughness for which professional expert planners called. After 1920, the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and the County Regional Planning Commission began programs of comprehensive city and regional zoning, modeled after the refined zoning ordinance enacted by New York Citys planners in 1916 (Scott, Metropolitan Los Angeles, 86). 26. See M. Christine Boyer, Dreaming the Rational City: The Myth of American City Planning (Cambridge, MA, 1983). 27. Prior to the new zoning ordinances, developers had actually favored multiunit construction, as they saw such buildings to be more profitable to sell. See Leonard Pitt and Dale Pitt, Los Angeles, A to Z (Berkeley, 1997), 57071. 28. Pitt and Pitt, Los Angeles, A to Z, 209. 29. The Open Forum, City Club Bulletin 8, no. 435 (1925): 4. 30. See Foster, The Decentralization of Los Angeles during the 1920s; James McFarline Ervin, The Participation of the Negro in the Community Life of Los Angeles (MA thesis, University of Southern California, 1931); Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Black Angelenos: The Afro-American in Los Angeles, 18501950

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34 JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY / November 2007 (Los Angeles, 1988); and J. Max Bond, The Negro in Los Angeles (PhD dissertation, University of Southern California, 1972). 31. Planners, of course, had no real short-term solution to the downtown traffic crisis. In the long term, the automobile seemed more of a solution than a problem. For their dream of a deconcentrated Southern Californiareally a cluster of quasi-autonomous garden citiesto work, people would need to be able to easily travel to their local business districts, and there was no indication that Angelenos would be willing to walk several miles to run an errand or even go to work. Here is where the metropoliss great problemthe proliferation of automobilescould be transformed into a benefit. With the private car, families could easily be able to transact their business near their home, and, because the automobile was flexible, these businesses could now be located anywhere within a few miles of the residential areas. There would be, these planners believed, no longer any real logistical need for a centralized downtown for an entire metropolitan region, as there had been in an earlier rail-bound age, as citizens would no longer be tied to these centralizing mass transit routes. Now they could move freely about their own home districts for their everyday needs, thus eliminating the need to travel downtown for everyday tasks. Gone too would be both onerous and lengthy commutes and the traffic congestion these unnecessary trips inevitably produce. As Dykstra wrote in 1926, The great city of the future will be a harmoniously developed community of local centers and garden cities, a district in which the need for transportation over long distances at a rapid rate will be reduced to a minimum. Thus, the inherent technological flexibility of the private automobile would do the planners work for them, almost automatically. If the city were prevented from making the mistakes of American metropolises of the East, then, over time, the downtown central business district would simply wither away and with it would go the problem of congestionof both automobiles and population. See Dykstra, Report on Rapid Transit. 32. R. F. Kelker, Jr., and C. F. De Leuw, Report and Recommendations on a Comprehensive Rapid Transit Plan for the City and County of Los Angeles (Chicago, 1925), 25. 33. Kelker and De Leuw, Report and Recommendations, 89. 34. See Marshall Stimson, The Battle for a Union Station at Los Angeles, Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly 21, no. 1 (1939). 35. This advertisement appeared in the newspapers on the following dates: Record, January 16, 1926, 67; Times, January 17, 1926, 1:1213; Examiner, January 17, 1926, 1:67; and Herald, January 18, 1926, 1:89. 36. William Sproule, Every Dot a Grade Crossing, Times, January 17, 1926, 1:13. 37. Although the proposal to abandon the official Union Station plan and instead accept the railroads offer was the core of the urban modernization special election ballot, there were actually two other related measures put before the voters in the election. One was a proposal to lift the long-standing city building height limit to allow the construction of the metropoliss first skyscraper, an ultramodern new City Hall which was heralded by downtown interests as the first of many such tall buildings. The second was to override the restrictive residential zoning city planners had earlier imposed on Wilshire Boulevard. Thus, all these interconnected measures amounted to a referendum on the future of Los Angeles and Southern California for the remainder of the twentieth century. For a detailed discussion of these other measures and how they intersected the Union Station debate, see my Toward Autopia, chap. 4. 38. A number of historians, such as Spencer Crump and Scott Bottles, echo the Timess own assertion that the newspaper stood alone against the other local dailies in its opposition to the carriers rapid transit plan. See, for instance, Straw Vote on Depot Question, Times, February 26, 1926, 2:2; Crump, Ride the Big Red Cars, 16566; and Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile, 139. Actually, the situation was a bit more complex. The Examiner, which had a greater circulation than its rivals, certainly opposed Chandlers Times at every step. The working-class Record, which did denounce the Plaza site as Harrys Onion Station or Harrys Plaza Scheme, nevertheless expressed considerable ambivalence about terminal unification (Record Recommendations, Record, April 29, 1926, 9). Although it made clear that it had no objection to a union station per se and went so far as to state explicitly its endorsement of such beautification efforts in principle, it certainly did not approve of the specific Plaza site, which it saw as a Chandler-inspired real estate speculation plot. Even more split was the Herald, which ultimately refused to take any position on the Plaza question. The Evening Express did run a number of mildly critical articles about the Union Station plan, but at the time of the election ran only timid and ambivalent editorials. Despite this variety of press opinion, all papers except the Examiner became less and less enthusiastic about the rapid transit plan as the election progressedthis undoubtedly reflects the effectiveness of the Timess vigorous opposition campaign.

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Axelrod / KEEP THE L OUT OF LOS ANGELES 35 39. These attacks were accompanied by advertisements (placed in all the major papers, but particularly in the Times) by an organization calling itself the Anti-Elevated Association of Los Angeles. Spots such as these continued the assault on the elevated railroads through ominous descriptions of the offending structures and by juxtaposing cartoons of bucolic bungalows with dark steel monstrosities. 40. For a few examples of these train wrecks, see Keep the L Out of Los Angeles, Times, March 29, 1926, 1:1; W. A. Lyon, City Warned by Expert of Menace in L Plan, Times, April 25, 1926, 1:12; and J. P. Gallagher, Experts Call Building of L Tragic Error, Times, April 18, 1926, 1:3. Occasionally, the paper would feature photos of various elevated railway accidents around the nation without commentaryin the photogravure section, for instance, or as a simple dispatchassuming that, by this point, readers would be able on their own to connect these horrors to the contemporary campaign. See Cause of Car Plunge Still Unfixed, Times, March 23, 1926, 1:8; and Luckily, No One Was Killed . . . , Times, April 29, 1926, 1:12. 41. W. A. Lyon, Foul Dirt, Darkness and Bedlam Curse of L, Times, April 23, 1926, 1:12. This series amounted to something of a travelogue, as the paper reported sequentially from Chicago, on the 14th through 18th of April (J. P. Gallagher, Elevated Held Curse to Progress of Chicago, Times, April 14, 1926, 1:1+; J. P. Gallagher, Chicago Takes Up Gage in Opposition to L Railroad, Times, April 15, 1926, 1:1+; J. P. Gallagher, Elevated Railroad Magnate Condemns Chicago L, Joins in Fight to Provide Subway, Times, April 16, 1926, 1:1+; J. P. Gallagher, Experts Calls Building of L Tragic Error, Times, April 18, 1926, 1:1+); followed by Boston, on the 19th and 20th (Just What This L Means, Times, April 19, 1926, 1:1+; Values Fall Due to L, Times, April 20, 1926, 1:1+); New York City, from the 21st through the 25th (W. A. Lyon, New York Pays Piper for Dance that Opened L, Times, April 21, 1926, 1:1+; W. A. Lyon, Property Values Soar When New York City Street Bans L, Times, April 22, 1926, 1:12; W. A. Lyon, Foul Dirt, Darkness and Bedlam Curse of L; W. A. Lyon, Effect of New York L on Health Disastrous, Times, April 24, 1926, 1:12; W. A. Lyon, City Warned by Expert of Menace in L Plan, Times, April 25, 1926, 1:12); and finally Philadelphia, on the 26th of the month (Carroll Shelton, Philadelphia Bans L as Dirty, Noisy, Inartistic, Times, April 26, 1926, 1:12). 42. Harry Bowling, The Song of the L, Times, April 29, 1926, 2:4. The allusion to the beggar Lazarus and the wealthy Dives, referencing the New Testament Book of Luke (16:1931), testified to the impression that the elevated was a blight on the poor in service of the wealthy and the elite. 43. Lyon, Effect of New York L on Health Disastrous. Reference to the sun was a common theme in these articles. Headlines such as The Sun Shines BrightBut Not In This Street continually reinforced the association between vertical urbanism and shadowy darkness. This discourse was particularly effective in Southern California, but it borrows its imagery from sources that originated in the East. Matthew Hale Smiths Sunshine and Shadow in New York (New York, 1868), an expos revealing the contrast between the mansions of New Yorks wealthy and the squalor of the Five Points district, is an early example of this sort of discourse and visual language. 44. Lyon, Foul Dirt, Darkness and Bedlam Curse of L. Local celebrity radio evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson returned from a trip abroad during the campaign and was immediately recruited by the Times to spread the gospel of the anti-el crusade. Sermonizing that Los Angeles was a place of refuge for people seeking peace, quiet and comfort, McPherson earnestly suggested that these refugees had fled to Southern California precisely to escape the noise, dirt, unsightliness, gloom and danger of the elevateds. This city on a hill should not, she asserted, be defiled by the elevated, thereby destroy[ing] the sacredness of the place and turning it into a pit of poisonous pestilence. See Evangelist Is Against Elevateds, Times, April 29, 1926, 2:1. 45. Although ardently opposed to the elevated railway plan, the Timesalways an aggressive booster was not opposed to urban expansion in general, nor even to some isolated skyscraper development. Rather, the paper wished to balance a businesslike ambition for metropolitan progress against its historic investment in Mediterraneanism. 46. Advertisement by local business leaders, Times, April 14, 1926, 1:8. 47. The railroad plan backers were so visually inept that they ran one advertisement that actually reprinted several of the Timess most effective drawings, claiming rather plaintively as a caption that these cartoons misrepresent facts. Consistently, the railroads ads emphasized extended blocks of text where the Times struck back with clear, easily legible images. In a sense, then, the railroad backers ads reinforced the message of their opponents, presenting a public image that was cluttered, dark, and blocky. See Examiner, April 29, 1926, 1:9. 48. Business Mens Association of Los Angeles, In the Spirit of Fair Play, Record, March 12, 1926, 13. 49. Lyon, Foul Dirt, Darkness and Bedlam Curse of L.

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36 JOURNAL OF URBAN HISTORY / November 2007 50. The Election Arguments, Record, April 26, 1926, 10. 51. Plaza Depot, Examiner, April 20, 1926, 2:20. Some alternate shorthand references included Depot in Chinese District or simply Chinatown site. See Depot in Chinese District, or No More Grade Crossings? Examiner, April 12, 1926, 2:16; and Sane View of Plaza Plan by Citys Traffic Experts, Examiner, April 24, 1926, 2:16. At the same time, in an article in the same paper City Councilman Ralph Criswell also drew attention to earlierbut rejectedefforts to have the city accept a large area in the old Chinatown district as a site for a great passenger terminal. See Criswell Calls Plaza Terminal Unnecessary, Examiner, March 29, 1926, 1:5. Meanwhile, the Business Mens Association began referring to the Plaza Terminal in the same wayas the Chinatown property, as one advertisement put it. This was clearly a calculated campaign to solidify the association of the Union Station with the ethnic district. See Fabrications vs. Facts, Times, April 28, 1926, 2:8. 52. Plaza Plan, Ignoring P.E., Reveals Its Fatal Weakness, Examiner, April 26, 1926, 2:7. 53. Many opponents of the Union Station suggested in a similar vein that the Plaza site was no longer central to the city. It represented the metropoliss hazy past, when the city needed to put forward a more modern and dynamic impression of itself to visitors. The city was growing during the 1920s toward the south and southwest, toward the sea as one commentator put it and ought not to look back toward the old heart of the Spanish town. See Finance Head Raps Station on Plaza Site, Examiner, January 21, 1926, 1:6. Modernization of Los Angeles required not just rapid transit facilities, but also an abandonment of an antiquated urban atmosphere: Hotels, high-class shops and theaters in this city have long since moved south of Fourth street and are rapidly proceeding south and west. . . . The Plaza is to Los Angeles what the Battery is to New York. Once more, Southern California needed to get in line with other major metropolises of the Jazz Age; it could not afford to cling to a murky past, no matter how romantic. See Expert Opposes Union Station at Plaza, Examiner, February 21, 1926, 2:15. 54. Citizens Union Station Committee, Keep The Elevateds Out! Examiner, April 28, 1926, 1:14. 55. The Times rarely wasted an opportunity to express its appreciation of the historical core of the city, often in florid terms: The departed glory of the historic Plaza and its ancient mission is to be returned and indelibly fixed and combined with the glory of the present and promise of the future. So the charm and romance of the old days are to be commingled with the achievements of the present and the visions of the future. Typically Angeleno. In other articles, the paper presented the Plaza in the context of urban renewal. Focusing on the proximity of the site to the new Civic Center complex (including the new City Hall), the construction program now became one of beautification: Many people are under the impression that a union station in the Plaza area will damage or destroy the historic Plaza and the old Plaza Church. Nothing could be farther from the fact. The Civic Center plan not only will not molest the old church and park but will beautify and perpetuate it as the center of the citys most imposing group of buildings. The old center of the city would now form a magnificent setting of great public buildings, representing the progress American civilization had made in Los Angeles. Juxtaposed to the quaint structures of the Spanish era would stand the modern edifices of the twentieth century. The Plaza would remain, but remade as a purified recreational landmark. In effect, the Union Station project would complete a process that had progressed all century to remake the old district as a romantic tourist destination, a shrine to a vague Mediterranean heritage long passed by. See, respectively, Magnificent Los Angeles Civic Center in the Making: Steam Shovels Clear Way for Downtown Beauty Spot, Times, April 18, 1926, 2: 1; J. P. Gallagher, Union Depot Marks Era, Times, April 27, 1926, 2:1; and Complete Our Civic Center by Voting Yes on Propositions 8-9, Times, April 28, 1926, 2:1. 56. Magnificent Los Angeles Civic Center. 57. People Vs. Railroads, Union Station Issue, Times, April 20, 1926, 2:2. 58. For example, see Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile. 59. Of course, Davis generally uses this rhetorical pair as a lens through which to analyze historiography on the city as a whole and comment on the larger resonances and limitations of the Mediterranean city myth. See Chapter 1 in Mike Davis, City of Quartz (New York, 1992), 1598. 60. Is the Skyscraper Doomed? National Municipal Review 15, no. 8 (1926): 438. 61. The Skyscraper, National Municipal Review 16, no. 1 (1927): 1. 62. Corbett, Up with the Skyscraper, 101. 63. Henry H. Curran, The Skyscraper Does Cause Congestion: Major Curran Comes Back At Mr. Corbett, National Municipal Review 16, no. 4 (1927): 234. 64. Los Angeles, City of Homes, Evening Express, April 5, 1926, 14. 65. The Future City, Evening Express, April 5, 1926, 14.

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Axelrod / KEEP THE L OUT OF LOS ANGELES 37

Jeremiah B. C. Axelrod is an adjunct assistant professor of history at Occidental College. After receiving his doctorate at the University of CaliforniaIrvine in 2001, he served as Kevin Starr Fellow in California History at the University of California Humanities Research Institute. His publications include Toward Autopia: Envisioning the Modern Metropolis in Jazz Age Southern California, forthcoming in 2008 from the University of California Press; several articles; book chapters in Stories of World War Two (Vrije Universiteit Press, 2006) and City Sites: Multimedia Essays on New York and Chicago, 1870s1930 (University of Birmingham Press, 2000); and several dozen film reviews. A textbook, A Theory Toolkit, is forthcoming from W. W. Norton.

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