Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

David Ulin on LA at Wilshire Rotary

David L. Ulin speaking at the Wilshire Rotary this week
Author David L. Ulin speaking on Los Angeles street life at the Wilshire Rotary this week

“Los Angeles is a ‘private life city’ on the edge of becoming a ‘street life city,'” observed author David L. Ulin to members of the Wilshire Rotary, who gathered at the historic Ebell of Los Angeles earlier this week.

Ulin spoke about themes prominent in his latest book, “Sidewalking; Coming to Terms with Los Angeles,” a rumination about the oddness of walking in Los Angeles and his revelations about not being a native Angeleno and coming to appreciate LA for its patchwork of neighborhoods.  His poetic and thought-provoking perspective resonated with the local Rotarians, many of whom were born and raised in the neighborhood and are among the City’s biggest boosters.

A native New Yorker, Ulin started writing about Los Angeles in the 1980s and moved here in 1991. He was the book editor at the Los Angeles Times from 2005-2015, during which he witnessed the transition of the city’s urban core as it once again came alive with new residents, services such as grocery stores, and an active street life that didn’t end at 5 pm.

Los Angeles has important cultural life like every other city, observed Ulin. But unlike, say, New York or San Francisco, the discourse here, he said, takes place in private homes with large backyards, and not on the street in cafes or public spaces. But Ulin sees a shift happening, spurred by increasing public transportation and with downtown as a metaphor for the whole city.

“Once the freeways were built, they created the suburban sprawl in of the post World War II era,” he said.  “But the suburbs were inside the city.”

“The City is in a moment of transition and the classic LA identity of never engaging with the public street is evaporating.” But, he adds, “the car culture isn’t going away. LA has to come up with its own model.”

Los Angeles is a huge place and our nascent public transit system is just starting to knit us together, Ulin explained. He said he hopes that increasing public transit options will force us to consciously engage in the city and develop a system of choices.

“This is the story of LA at this moment,” he concluded.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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