Issue 516 to

The Benefits of Big

On a recent visit to Los Angeles, SPUR discovers the benefits — and challenges — of living in a county that encompasses over 4,000 square miles.

Los Angeles differs from the Bay Area in many ways, but one of the biggest differences is its sheer physical size. San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose — the three central cities of the Bay Area — could all fit inside Los Angeles’ city limits with nearly 190 square miles to spare. And the County of Los Angeles is the most populous in the nation, home to roughly 9.8 million people.What does this mean for Los Angeles as an urban place? Our visit revealed that one of the best things about the size of Los Angeles is that it allows for experimentation.

Transit, Transformed

Architecture critic Reyner Banham once quipped that he'd "learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original." Today, he'd ride light rail instead.

Yes, L.A. may be notoriously auto-dependent, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any American city doing so many transit projects in so little time.

A New Course for the L.A. River

Plans are in the works to transform what many think of as a concrete ditch into a sustainable, cultural resource for the region.

Channelized and diked for nearly its entire 51-mile length, the Los Angeles River has appeared in numerous Hollywood action scenes as a wide, dry concrete ditch not resembling a river at all. On our recent study trip to L.A., SPUR learned about long-term plans to restore the river as the centerpiece of a cross-town greenway that offers new open space, recreation and natural habitat in the dozens of communities along the river’s course.