Thick, multilane freeways bridge the neighborhoods that used to be one great expanse of arid wilderness. Inglewood, a black enclave with middle class pride, sits on the west end of I-10. The freeway carries a sizable stream of traffic eastward to San Gabriel Valley. Beige strip malls remain the predominant expression of quotidian architecture, but there's no subtle transition in the top-heavy signs: Chinese characters pop, bright red against the sterile blank. Epitomized by these ethnoburbs—its population growing, migrating, blending—the city of Los Angeles boasts a variegated palette of groups and subgroups, but it is never one. Often strange partnerships arise from a common goal—make money, live life—between groups that are presumably foreign to one another. LA might seem put together by million hands with no head, but underneath the jenga-esque shape, the glue that holds it together proves to be surprisingly strong. The city has never collapsed, at least so far. The game carries on.
The “missing” center of the city has long been forgotten. No single architect has been attributed to the early periods. Its birth remains a myth. It kind of just happened. The amoeba-like metabolism (i.e. encircling and swallowing) led to the haphazard boundaries and lack of public transportation. Navigating through this unruly land is a challenge. Hence, the metallic prostheses—the faster, indefatigable limbs we don every day to be in places.
Look around, and you’ll see where we wash them, fuel them, and store them overnight. They are precious. They sustain lives; they sustain the city.