Urban Fold

Understanding the Freeways of L.A.

In the latest installment of a year-long series about Los Angeles-focused books, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne reads the 1981 book "L.A. Freeway: An Appreciative Essay," by David Brodsly.

"For most of "L.A. Freeway," Brodsly maintains a scholarly detachment in examining how various freeways were planned and paid for. But occasionally he drifts into Banhamesque reverie. ("Driving the freeway can create a rare, and distinctly urban, moment of joy when the car drives well, the freeway is uncrowded, and there is a good song on the radio.") And at several points he directly takes on the relationship between freeways and L.A.'s civic character.

Brodsly argues that the freeway system has radically "democratized transportation" in Southern California. He quotes an essay from the New York Times magazine making the case that in Los Angeles "the freeway allows you to create your own life. Your community is formed not by geography or community but by common interests."

He also looks at the alienation and separation freeway travel creates, and how that has affected the culture of the city.

Full Story: Reading L.A.: David Brodsly's 'L.A. Freeway'

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