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Old 07-01-2012, 04:13 PM
 
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This may seem like a dumb question - but I'm curious why, historically, downtown LA developed where it did (several miles inland) as opposed to along the water where Santa Monica/Venice are. It seems like if Downtown LA was near the water, like in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. it would be more attractive and the city would perhaps be more centralized - radiating out from that area.

I'm wondering what factors (geographic, social, development patterns, etc.) caused Downtown LA to develop where it did, if anyone knows. Thanks.
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:50 PM
 
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Can't drink salt water.
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Old 07-01-2012, 04:59 PM
 
Location: Declezville, CA
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Because that's where the original pueblo was founded, which itself was founded on the site of the Tongvan village of Yang-na. It was on a rise next to the river with easy access to drinking water and a navigable waterway to the Pacific. Keep in mind that much of the land close to shore back then was marshy/swampy, not suitable for dwellings. (La Cienega de las Ranas)
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Old 07-01-2012, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Earth
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If Los Angeles hadn't been the city that annexed other cities in the county and a coastal city had been the city which dominated the county, then its downtown would have been on the coast.

This would have been unlikely because there was no natural port on the coast of what became L.A. county.
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Old 07-01-2012, 05:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orzo View Post
This may seem like a dumb question - but I'm curious why, historically, downtown LA developed where it did (several miles inland) as opposed to along the water where Santa Monica/Venice are. It seems like if Downtown LA was near the water, like in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. it would be more attractive and the city would perhaps be more centralized - radiating out from that area.

I'm wondering what factors (geographic, social, development patterns, etc.) caused Downtown LA to develop where it did, if anyone knows. Thanks.
Downtown LA developed where the spanish pueblo, Los Angeles developed. El Pueblo/Olvera street is of course a glimpse into the original village. As part of the El Camino Real transportation route that connected the old missions. Los Angeles was by the river where the early settlers could get fresh water.

San Francisco became the big city first, partly because of the Gold Rush (an era well before cars), and the Bay is an enclosed harbored area where a port could develop, but San Franciscos flat land available for shipping and industry was limited compared the growing LA basin. But the mudflats that became the port required a lot more earth moving, but thats basically where Long Beach developed.

Cities become what they are because of the local regional, and national geography that sets on a specific trajectory.

LA grew up to multi-centered from the very beginning. The geographic variety that where movies could be set anywhere in the world, with the natural sunshine made it the logical spot for the movie industry to relocate to from New York. Even when LA had the most extensive public transit system, the Pacific Electric line it was spread out.

In fact here is a kicker! About the most counter-intuitive idea ever. Public transit in the case of LA, actually made it MORE spread out and decentralized. Think about it. Before cars, how could people live farther from where they worked? streetcars. So, LA became mulicentered and spread out because of its specific industries and because of a highly extensive streetcar system.

Also, keep in mind that many world class cities develop away from a coast.

If you are interested in learning more, the natural history museum in LA will be having a major exhibit on the natural and cultural history of the LA region this coming December.

In the case of Chicago, railroads became more important than water shipping, even though Chicago was at a strategic point for water transport too, but all its industry took place on the rivers, leaving the lakefront for non-industrial uses. Chicagos lakefront was too shallow for effective shipping, but it made it possible to fill in and create artificial shoreline for the parks.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:04 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Like Tex?Il and Fontucky said, downtown LA's location is the direct result of Spanish colonial settlement patterns. Look up town planning under the Law of the Indies and you will see.

Laws of the Indies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 07-01-2012, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tex?Il? View Post
LA grew up to multi-centered from the very beginning. The geographic variety that where movies could be set anywhere in the world, with the natural sunshine made it the logical spot for the movie industry to relocate to from New York.
The popularity of westerns and the Patents Trust issue which drove independent producers out of New York made the industry setting up shop in California extremely likely.

The Patents Trust, in brief, was a cartel of production companies led by Thomas Edison, who insisted they had the exclusive rights to make movies in the US. They were based in New York and New Jersey. Westerns were the most popular type of movie in silent days ; the US film industry's domination of world markets in large part had to do with Westerns.

The Bay Area has just as much geographic variety (if not more so) and there was some early film production in the East Bay but the Patents Trust issue drove the early, largely immigrant, independent producers who would become the first moguls south. San Francisco contained the west coast offices of the big east coast law firms who were connected to Thomas Edison and other members of the Patents Trust. Thus, the Bay Area became out of the question.

Santa Barbara and Long Beach were rivals to L.A. in film production once production came to Southern California. However the industry early on became centered in L.A. - first in Echo Park, then in Hollywood, and subsequently in the San Fernando Valley and West Side.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:22 PM
 
Location: Pasadena, CA
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Why Downtown Isn't In Long Beach (Hint: Pirates) - Urban Planning - Curbed LA

Downtown LA's location makes perfect sense.

Quote:
It seems like if Downtown LA was near the water, like in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. it would be more attractive and the city would perhaps be more centralized - radiating out from that area.
No, it wouldn't.

LA's greatest strength is its polycentric nature, anyways.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:07 PM
 
Location: San Antonio Texas
11,431 posts, read 16,884,138 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orzo View Post
This may seem like a dumb question - but I'm curious why, historically, downtown LA developed where it did (several miles inland) as opposed to along the water where Santa Monica/Venice are. It seems like if Downtown LA was near the water, like in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, etc. it would be more attractive and the city would perhaps be more centralized - radiating out from that area.

I'm wondering what factors (geographic, social, development patterns, etc.) caused Downtown LA to develop where it did, if anyone knows. Thanks.

Wouldn't the flow of the Los angeles river have something to do with it? The early settlers needed a water source to sustain life. When you travel to the early Spanish missions located throughout the State, they are always found inland and near a water source.
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Old 07-02-2012, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wehotex View Post
Wouldn't the flow of the Los angeles river have something to do with it? The early settlers needed a water source to sustain life. When you travel to the early Spanish missions located throughout the State, they are always found inland and near a water source.
Yes, according to the "Law of the Indies" all spanish colonial settlements (like downtown LA) had to be inland (to avoid priates) and near a source of water (the LA River). This is all made clear in the link posted by Munchitup.
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