Suburban development is often considered synymous with enhanced personal mobility, single-family housing, and life-cycle homogeneity. According to this view, individual suburbs are residence-only enclaves, isolated commuter-sheds for a managerial and mercantile elite. Magnetic Los Angeles challenges this common vision of the expanding, twentieth-century city as the sprawling product of dispersion without planning, lacking any discernable order. Greg Hise argues that the twentieth-century metropolitan region is the product of conscious planning--by policy makers, industrialists, design professionals, community builders, and homebuyers--in direct response to political and ecomic conditions of the 1920s and the Depression, the defense emergency, and the immediate postwar years. Hise explains how New Deal housing policies and the wartime location of manufacturing spurred the growth of satellite communities on the urban fringe. Here large-scale builders adopted and implemented formal principles and construction practices drawn from environmental reform, regional planning, and the garden city movement. The book has three aims. First, it places the history of city building in southern California in a national context. Second, it explains the changing form of American cities during the twentieth century using Los Angeles as a primary case study. Where other accounts focus exclusively on housing and home building, this book reveals a significant rearrangement of urban functions, the concomitant dispersion of industry and commerce. The third, most ambitious, intention is to uncover and interpret the imaginative structures residents and scholars have devised for understanding American cities and thereby contribute to a reframing of current debates in urban theory. Hise has written a fascinating history of L.A. and the thought process behind its developments. He deflates the myth that this megalopolis grew without rhyme or reason. --Jack Kyser, Los Angeles Times Book Review Greg Hise has t only reconceived the history of Los Angeles. He has fundamentally revised the history of the twentieth-century American metropolis. This book combines extensive original research with a fresh reading of the American planning tradition to yield an important new understanding of the growth of the American city. --Robert Fishman, Rutgers University
Greg Hise is an associate professor of urban history in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at the University of Southern California and is coeditor of Rethinking Los Angeles.
Winner of Society of Architectural Historians Spiro Kostof Award 2000 (United States).