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Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Metropolitan Los Angeles (Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ) Paperback – June 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Series: Pittsburgh Hist Urban Environ
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (June 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822959399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822959397
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #509,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Since ancient times, great cities have been shaped by their environments.  But cities have also exacted their price.  In these astute and very necessary essays, leading experts who are also good writers tackle important questions regarding the origins, rise, present circumstances and future sustainability of the second largest metropolitan region in the nation. No one can understand the City of Angels and its attendant communities without reference to this pioneering book.”
—Kevin Starr, University Professor and Professor of History, University of Southern California, Author, Americans and the California Dream series


"A powerful and compelling insight into how the greater Los Angeles area from prehistory to the present has succeeded, failed, and compromised at environmental sustainability."
—Norris Hundley, UCLA


"The collection offers a strong arguement for the continued relevance and vitality of serious writing about Los Angeles, and of promise for the editor's enterprise in urban environmental history."
--Historical Geography

From the Back Cover

Most people equate Los Angeles with smog, sprawl, forty suburbs in search of a city-the great "what-not-to-do" of twentieth-century city building. But there's much more to LA's story than this shallow stereotype. History shows that Los Angeles was intensely, ubiquitously planned. The consequences of that planning-the environmental history of urbanism--is one place to turn for the more complex lessons LA has to offer.

Working forward from ancient times and ancient ecologies to the very recent past, Land of Sunshine is a fascinating exploration of the environmental history of greater Los Angeles. Rather than rehearsing a litany of errors or insults against nature, rather than decrying the lost opportunities of "roads not taken," these essays, by nineteen leading geologists, ecologists, and historians, instead consider the changing dynamics both of the city and of nature.
In the nineteenth century, for example, "density" was considered an evil, and reformers struggled mightily to move the working poor out to areas where better sanitation and flowers and parks "made life seem worth the living."

We now call that vision "sprawl," and we struggle just as much to bring middle-class people back into the core of American cities. There's nothing natural, or inevitable, about such turns of events. It's only by paying very close attention to the ways metropolitan nature has been constructed and construed that meaningful lessons can be drawn. History matters.

So here are the plants and animals of the Los Angeles basin, its rivers and watersheds. Here are the landscapes of fact and fantasy, the historical actors, events, and circumstances that have proved transformative over and over again. The result is a nuanced and rich portrait of Los Angeles that will serve planners, communities, and environmentalists as they look to the past for clues, if not blueprints, for enhancing the quality and viability of cities.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Los Angeles has long been equated with smog and urban sprawl, but there's more to its development story and problems than meets the eye, as William Deverell and Greg Hise explore in Land Of Sunshine: An Environmental History Of Metropolitan Los Angeles. From earliest times and old ecologies of the area to modern times, Land Of Sunshine provides a different environmental history of greater Los Angeles, providing essays by nineteen leading geologists, ecologists, and historians on the changing perceptions of density, environmental reform, and urban design standards. Urban planning readers, in particular, will welcome these essays lending insight into metropolitan Los Angeles' development influences.
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