Manufacturing Suburbs: Building Work and Home on the Metropolitan Fringe

By Robert Lewis | Go to book overview

9
“Nature’s Workshop”
Industry and Urban Expansion in
Southern California, 1900–1950

GREG HISE

The industrialization of [Los Angeles] was not unwelcome; in fact, it was to a
considerable extent deliberately planned and cultivated.

—John Parke Young, quoted in G. Robbins and L. Tilton, Los Angeles:
Preface to a Master Plan
(Los Angeles, 1941), 61.

In 1949 a journalist visiting Los Angeles on assignment for Fortune magazine drove a four-mile, west-to-east transect along 190th Street. Beginning in Redondo Beach, the writer passed through Torrance, the city of Los Angeles, Carson, and out into unincorporated county land, observing a “truck farm landscape with acres of new factories.” Factories sprouting in farmland, a common trope, played off readers’ conceptions of Los Angeles as both a place of agricultural abundance and the great boom city of the twentieth century. These widely shared notions of southern California provided the counterpoint for this reporter’s understated assessment of the city: “The most remarkable thing is that in the Los Angeles of 1949, [190th street] is utterly unre-

Reprinted with minor revisions from Greg Hise, “ ‘Nature’s Workshop’: Industry and Urban Expansion in Southern California, 1900–1950,” Journal of Historical Geography 27 (2001): 74–92, by permission of the publisher Academic Press.

-178-

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