Lost City/Found Stories

REALLY NICE crowd last night for our “conversation.” Traffic delayed me (of course) so I wasn’t feeling so warm about L.A. when I arrived. Two- hour drives that should only take 45-minutes can do that to you. But that feeling slid off as soon as we started.

Unfortunately, I left the camera in the car, so, sadly, didn’t shoot my own images.

Above, is an image via the Los Angeles Public Library photo files of the Los Angeles City Directory circa 1927, an artifact that R.C. brought along last night (his a later version) and asked folks to gather round and take a look. It was a formal listing of Angelenos — enumerating their address, trades, professions etc. Just about everyone walked by with a story and then turned the pages and ran their fingers down the tiny type, looking for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. People told stories about their own lost L.A. as well. In a way it was very much like people brought their scrapbooks with them — little memories tossed out as they streamed by the table afterward.

They say L.A. is a “young” city, but there were many people in attendance who boasted 3rd and 4th generation roots.
Vivd stories that re-animated old neighborhoods drew new maps. A retold story of Los Angeles in their own words.

Below is a quote from an L.A. Weekly piece about the about the book:

Going back to the subject of lost neighborhoods, [Ry] Cooder notes, “I don’t know any place as susceptible to this as Los Angeles. You can go away for two weeks or five days. When you come back, it’s ‘Where did that corner go? Where did that tree go?'”

The Bunker Hill of yesteryear (see video below), where some of his stories are set, remains a particular source of sadness for Cooder, who rues its 1955 destruction to this day.

“Not one day goes by that I don’t regret this and despise the people who did it: hate them, hate them, hate them,” he grouses. “I’ve had people in the city government admit to me personally that it was a mistake. We could have revitalized it, fixed it up, and money could have been made. What do you have now? These hideous half-empty office buildings. Does anyone want that? No. That goddamned Westin hotel down there — it’s a monstrosity.”


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