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Behind the Scenes of Los Angeles

<p>In this travelogue, <em>Dwell</em> tours the often-overlooked infrastructure that keeps the metropolis of Los Angeles running.</p>
May 10, 2008, 1pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"Los Angeles is a polarizing city. To some it is a paradise of beautiful beaches, buxom bodies, Beverly Hills, and the world's most pimped-out cars-–a place where you, too, could be discovered, your name in lights, your star forever embedded in the Walk of Fame. To others, it is a glimpse of the apocalypse, one of the forecourts of hell, with its race riots, air pollution, earthquakes, wildfires, and overwhelming extremes of stupidity. Los Angeles is the kind of place some people refuse even to visit."

"Let's put that argument aside and look instead at L.A.'s edges-–not its countercultural hot spots, but the post-industrial voids and internal peripheries that let the city function. For instance, where does L.A. get its water? What about electricity? What about all the sand, gravel, and concrete that went into those thous-ands of freeways, parking lots, and roads? How does such a chaotic and sprawling city actually work? And where does all its trash go?"

"'In order to understand the bigger picture of Los Angeles,' explains Coolidge, 'you have to understand how the city flows in and out of its regional landscape. These are the places that run the city; they're the places that make L.A. what it is. They're places we've constructed so that other, perhaps more minor, activities can occur here. Once you understand how they operate-–how they form a system, how they consort and are connected-–these places do have a beauty to them.'"

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Published on Thursday, May 1, 2008 in Dwell
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