27. January 2005 · Comments Off on The Big Dig · Categories: General

I have just watched a Discovery Science Channel show about Boston’s subway – “The Big Dig”. And I can’t help but relate this to the equally disruptive and expensive Red Line subway in Los Angeles. It’s a marvelous thing for what it is. But it hardly goes anywhere. And, damn, it’s been expensive.

But this seems to be the play these days. Here in Greater Los Angeles, when we found out our downtown was worn out, we just built another one further west, as well as about twenty others. And when those were worn out, we just built more: Further west, in the case of LA. North, in the case of Long Beach, South, in the case of Riverside, and first south, then north, and then south again, in the case of Santa Ana.

But a funny thing happened in the late ’70s: the liberal mass-planners decried that we weren’t going to abandon our central cities. And they put forth the holy paradigm that billions must be spent to “save” them.

Well, frankly, it’s working. At least from what I can see. Central LA, and the Near West Side are evolving into some near-homogeneous semblance to Orange County and The Valley, And, by virtue of the San Diego Freeway, the Far West Side has always been something like Orange County and The Valley, save for the UCLA influence (read art-house theaters).

But is this vastly expensive urban restoration, to the alter of homogeneity, really a good thing? I’m not so sure. I recall riding my bicycle, in the late ’60s, to (among places like Van Nuys and South Central) Dana Point, Laguna Beach, and San Juan Capistrano. Back then, all those communities had a distinct personality. Nowadays, it’s all just part of the big San-San (actually Tij-San) megalopolis.

But the course of history has seen some bright spots: the Harlem Renaissance, or Lawndale in Chicago. But the liberal homogenization machine has always reached out to crush them. It must stop.

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