Porous Powers Create Los Angeles’s Character

1284 words - 6 pages

Title: Porous powers create Los Angeles’s character

Los Angeles is a young city usually portrayed as a unique place that it captures the essence of a multi-ecological setting bringing the ocean, the skyscraper, and the happiest place on earth under one rooftop. Under this successful marketing pitch, the city has become one of the world’s biggest metropolises. However, the city is in the middle of the desert, and has insufficient natural resources to sustain life. As McWilliams said “Man has made it what it is” (pg.183).
This diverse complex metropolis has had many rulers, but all of them have something in common, they have wealth, or they have control over scarce resources, a required ...view middle of the document...

The city started with crime justified by “the greatest good for the greatest number”. Farmers in the Owens Valley may not have received fair value for their water rights. According to the movie “Chinatown”, thousands of inches of water were dumped into the sewer system from reservoirs and storage dams creating an artificial water famine. The elite few, the ruling class, bought out most of the San Fernando Valley land for cheap, brought the water to San Fernando instead to City of LA, sold it and made fortune. The water made the economy going. Just these elite few people had control over the water resource, had the power to dictate the city, while continue consuming at the expense of Ovens Valley.
Contrary, in the ridings of City of Quartz, David illustrates that the city is fragmented because of the different people with power that try to access the scarce resources. The chapter starts with a powerful quote of Chandler, “There is no power structure here- only people who think they are it” (pg.101), which means the cities power structure is fragmented, as well as contradictory. He says that the power is definitely not organized, but lies in the hands of the “great constellations” of private capital. Power in L.A. for much of its history leaks, new comers often found ways to embed themselves into the political structure and their wealth imposes itself upon the community. He starts with the Otis-Chandler dynasty stating that it was “the most centralized power structure” for a long period of time. However, over the years lost their power structure, due to the increasing competitiveness brought by the Jewish and Democratic people looking for hierarchy of power. LA’s Jewish population secured power early in its history, eventually sharing it with new Irish arrivals. The Downtown has tried to keep power centralized, but the rapidly increasing population in the 1950’s and “changing modes of land speculation”, that often determined who held political power, made power in the city to became more complicated. There was a struggle of power between the Elite Jews in the Westside and Downtown. With the constructional and modernization boom, Century City and Orange County have become increasingly influential. Later, the “internationalization of class formation” led to an influx of wealth by Asian businessmen, many Japanese, along with large-scale migrations of other middle class Asian people to be a “major player” in politics. Contrary to earlier development of the city, Davis point out that today, Los Angeles is such a large, porous city so there is no more elite that can control the city.
This power pouring made the city what it is today, made its history, and filtered at the same time. “Golden Land” portrays Los Angeles as a place without...

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