In 1920, as its population began to explode, Los Angeles was a largely pastoral city of bungalows and palm trees. Thirty years later, choked with smog and traffic, the city had become synonymous with urban sprawl and unplanned growth. Yet Los Angeles was anything but unplanned, as Jeremiah B.C. Axelrod reveals in this compelling, visually oriented history of the metropolis during its formative years. In a deft mix of cultural and intellectual history that brilliantly illuminates the profound relationship between imagination and place, Inventing Autopia shows how the clash of irreconcilable utopian visions and dreams resulted in the invention of an unforeseen new form of urbanism—sprawling, illegible, fractured—that would reshape not only Southern California but much of the nation in the years to come.
List of Illustrations
Introduction. Looking toward Autopia
Prologue. A City at Does not Move
1. “Los Angeles Is not the City It Could Have Been”
2. Paradise Misplaced
3. Imagining the Metropolis in a Modern Age
4. Modern Los Angeles
5. Metropolis at a Crossroads
6. Gardens and Cities
Epilogue. A City at Moves
Conclusion. “to Dream Dreams and See visions”
Jeremiah B.C. Axelrod is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Program in Cultural Studies at Occidental College.
"Flat-out one of the most interesting books I've read in years. To say that a book about California might rank with Kevin Starr's Americans and the California Dream or Mike Davis' City of Quartz is dangerously high praise, but I think Axelrod's book may someday be in that league."—John Ganim, University of California, Riverside
"Inventing Autopia thoughtfully weaves together planning and policy history with cultural history to great effect. It is sure to change our understanding of the ways in which Los Angeles not only grew and developed but envisioned itself in the era."—William Deverell, author of Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past
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