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Suburbanization: Sprawl & New Built Environments

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Shawn Schwaller

on 5 October 2017

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Transcript of Suburbanization: Sprawl & New Built Environments

Images of Urban Sprawl/Suburbanization
Landscape of Suburbia
The Suburban Frontier
A New Frontier
Welcomed Alternative to Urban Living
Best of Both Worlds
“West San Fernando Valley Explodes,” Los Angeles Times, March 1960
"The lure of 'sunshine and opportunities' continued to draw people westward, with the 'station wagon' replacing the 'covered wagon' of an earlier time."
- Kirse Granat May in
Golden State, Golden Youth: The California Image in Popular Culture, 1955-1966
Commecial for a 1963 Plymouth Fury Station Wagon
Agricultural Land in Greater L.A., 1940s-1960s
Over 50% of Ag. plowed under
Change in Built Environment
Advertisement for Lakewood, 1950s
Lakewood, Calif.
17,500 homes built, 1949-1952
Urban Sprawl
New Concept in the 1950s
Calif., Pop. 1940-1965
6.9-18.5 million
L.A. County Pop., 1940-1960
2.7-6 million
L.A. Pop, 1940-1970
1.5-6 million
African American Pop., L.A., 1940-1970
Latino/a Pop., L.A., 1940s-1950s
Downtown Los Angeles, 1950s
San Fernando Valley before and during suburbanization
Lakewood, 1950s
Los Angeles, 1950s
Map of Greater L.A., 1915
Source: http://www.bigmapblog.com/2011/map-of-los-angeles-and-the-san-gabriel-mountains-1915/
Feb. 1951 Ad in "Westways"
July 1951 Ad in "Westways"
Aug. 1951 Ad in "Westways"
Sept. 1950 Ad in "Westways"
Aug. 1950 Ad in "Westways"
July 1956 Ad in "Westways"
“…flying from Los Angeles to San Bernardino…the traveler can see a legion of bulldozers gnawing into the last reaming tract of green between the two cities, and from San Bernardino another legion of bulldozers gnawing westward.”
- Sociologist William Whyte – one of the first people to use the term “urban sprawl,” 1958
“Millions of newcomers were once drawn to the Los Angeles area by the promise of homes and orchards soaking in sunshine at the foot of snow peaked mountains. Postcards and orange crate labels advertised this idyllic image to the world for decades, and unlike so much else about the region, it was not entirely fake. Even at the end of the Second World War, metropolitan Los Angeles still possessed inestimable scenic capital [but]...one of the nation’s most emblematic landscapes - the visual magnet that had attracted hundreds of thousands of immigrants to California – was systematically eradicated.”
- Mike Davis, California historian from the article “How Eden Lost It’s Garden”
Promotional photograph for Lakewood, 1950s
Suburban Living
Great Depression and WWII
Cold War Anxieties
Urban Realities
a) Disinvestment in Urban Centers
b) Increase in Ethnic/Racial Diversity
c) Crime and Congestion
Westchester (West L.A.), 1950s
Middle-Class California
Grew dramatically, 1950s & 1960s
Unemployment Rate, 1950s
Never above 5%
California's Living in Suburbs, 1950s
30% (Nat. Avg. was 14%)
Suburban Homes
More Open Floor Plans
Private Spaces
T.V. Ownership in U.S., 1947-1954
a) 14,000-32 million
b) 90% of American Homes, 1960
c) Hollywood Industry
Backyard Recreation/House Parties
Ad for Simi Valley, Los Angeles Times, June, 1962
Sunset Magazine, Apr., 1962
Ad for Privacy Fence, Sunset Magazine, April 1961
L.A. Mayor Sam Yorty and his family in their backyard (Cover of "Los Angeles" magazine, June 1962
a) Barbequing
b) Swimming Pools (Calif. was home to 40% of private pools in 1960)
Suburbanization: Sprawl & New Built Environments
Ad for Pacific Telephone in Sunset Magazine, April 1961
House floor-plans from a Sunset Magazine article, September, 1944
Floor-plans provided in a Sunset Magazine article which illustrated ways to maintain privacy on a narrow lot
From the "Better Homes & Garden Barbeque Book," 1959
Video Tutorial for Backyard Barbequing, 1950
Montgomery Wards advertisement that featured California, early 1960s
- Kirse Granat May in her 2002 text
Golden State, Golden Youth: The California Image in Popular Culture, 1955-1966
“…real estate developers advertised the ‘California living’ concept to young baby boom families, a lifestyle focused on patios, barbecues, and swimming pools.”
Green Yards
Promotional Picture for Lakewood Plaza (Long Beach), 1950s
Promotional Picture for Lakewood Plaza (Long Beach), 1950s
Stock image of suburban backyard, 1950s
Traditional Gender Roles
Howard Miller Westinghouse/War Production Board
poster, 1942
The Dark Side of Sprawl
Ideal "Good Life"
New Divisions and Contests for Space
Sorting Out Along Racial/Ethnic & Class Lines
Environmental Issues
Cars and Traffic
Reg. Vehicles in L.A. County, 1910s-1965
- 400,000-2.5 million
- 22% of Vehicles in Calif. (1965)
Highway Tax Revenue, 1950s-1960s
- L.A. County accounted for over 50%
Greater L.A. Freeway System, 1950-1955
- Increased in size by 4 times in size
What did you find interesting?
Traffic on L.A. Freeways, 1950s
New Term in Postwar L.A.
Growth of Industry
a) Greater L.A. 2nd Largest Industrial Center in U.S. by 1950
Rise of Autos/Other Vehicles
Trash Incinerators
a) No Anti-Smog Measures Until Late 1960s-1970s
Downtown L.A., mid-1950s
Smog on the Hollywood Freeway, mid-1950s
Hollywood Freeway Postcard, 1950s
Smog in L.A., mid-1950s
UCLA researchers demonstrate a new anti-smog device developed for automobiles
USC researchers testing a protective helmet and suit designed to help Southern Californians cope with the smog
Smog in L.A., mid-1950s
"Millions have poured into the new promised land over the past several years, seeking a better place to live and a better place to raise a family – a vine covered cottage on a few acres, a near-perfect climate, a convertible and a fabulous playground of mountains, desert and a seashore. What do they have instead? Sunshine and sweeping vistas obscured by smog that burns the eyes and chokes the lungs."
- Kevin Lynch author of
The Image of the City
, 1960
Video clip about smog in L.A., 1970s
United Airlines Travel Poster, 1960
Residential Segregation
Racial Covenants
a) O.C., West L.A., San Fern Valley, I.E.
Federal Home Loans
a) $120 Billion at National Level (only 2% to nonwhites)
"It emphasized [a promotional brochure for Lakewood] to potential buyers the use of racial and residential restrictions that ensured Lakewood's standing as a '100% American Family Community.' Lakewood's sales staff refused to accept applications from black families, steering them toward the expanding black neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles. Still, Lakewood's inhabitants varied across religious, class, and regional lines. Jews, Catholics, Okies, engineers, janitors, aircraft plant workers, and their families all found Lakewood amenable to their pursuit of the suburban good life, but their many differences did not preclude their entry into a suburb reserved for whites only."
- Eric Avila in
Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight
(2004), 42-43
"The HOLC's assessment of Los Angeles neighborhoods, for example, demonstrates how race factored into government calculations of urban property values. Los Angeles neighborhoods 'highly protected by deed restrictions and those where the 'population is homogeneous were always accorded an A rating, while neighborhoods with 'first grade qualifications yet within a short distance 'forth grade contamination' areas were assigned a B rating. The C neighborhoods in Los Angeles evinced indication[s] of infiltration of Jewish families' or sheltered a 'few Mexicans and Japs.' Invariably, neighborhoods that sheltered even a few black families received a D rating and were redlined."
- Eric Avila, in
Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight
(2004), 35
“…Dr. Vincent A. Mark of Santa Ana [African American] filed suit in 1961 against the Santa Ana Board of Realtors and a private development corporation after they refused to sell him a home."

“An African American woman, the first African American schoolteachers in the Magnolia School District, was forced to quit one year later [early 1960s] because she could not obtain housing.”
- Lisa McGirr in Suburban Warriors (2001), 44
End of De Jure Housing Segregation
Rumford Fair Housing Act, 1963
a) Outlawed Racial (and Other Forms) of Discrimination (Housing)
Proposition 14, 1964
a) Reversed Rumford Act
b) 65% Voter Approval

"California voters approved Proposition 14 in 1964, and it was supported by a two-to-one majority in Orange County. Although white suburban Californians thus enjoyed a momentary reprieve from the threat of racial diversity, the California State Supreme Court nullified the proposition that same year, declaring it unconstitutional, and thus gave California conservatives such as Ronald Reagan another issue with which to mobilize white suburban voters, who felt, in Reagan’s words, that…"
- Eric Avila in
Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight
(2004), 49
“if an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes [sic] or others in selling or renting his house he has a right to do so.”
- Ronald Reagan
"San Fernando Valley" by Bing Crosby (1943)
Sears Ad in
The Register
(Santa Ana), July 1960
Sunset Magazine
, April 1967
, May 1961
Sunset Magazine
, April 1964
Sunset Magazine
, May 1968
Sunset Magazine
, September, 1967
Orange County State College under construction, 1960
Cal State Fullerton
Orange County State College under construction, 1963
November 1965, Sunset
Angel Stadium
Man selling fresh clean desert air for 50 cents a balloonfull in front of Loew's State Theatre in Los Angeles, Oct. 22, 1954.
L.A.'s Smoggy Past, in Photos
Nathan Masters, March 17, 2011 KCET
Anti-smog protest, Los Angeles, 1955
Full transcript