A Modest, Magnificent Exhibition Of Our City’s History

You’re probably not like me and are able to cope with the scope of the massively collaborative and on-going Pacific Standard Time exhibitions that fall under the ambitious region-wide initiative’s banner. Me, not so much. With so many institutions involved, I suffer from something of a paralysis when trying to decide whether I should go to the Getty or the Hammer  or LACMA or wherever. Case in point: I literally became immobile when I just now went to the Pacific Standard Time website and a banner popped up that told me there are 42 events taking place right this moment of 10:28AM — and that may even include a Big Gulp Cup retrospective at my local 7-11.

A few weeks ago I did manage to brush my intimidation aside and pay a first-time visit to MOCA to see the cool exhibition of Weegee’s Hollywood period photographs, but — pardon the digression — then I wandered around the museum’s permanent exhibit and found this piece of crap stuck to the wall, which reinforced both my abject disdain for “contemporary art” and my urge to punish whoever curated it with an extended indian-burn session to the forearm of his or her choosing.

Detail from the 1938 Kirkman-Harriman map depicting Los Angeles County in 1860.

So instead of getting all wound up trying to eenie-meanie-miney-mo to which big box the next I’d go, instead I brought along my inner map geek and together we ventured yesterday to the first floor galleries of the Central Library downtown where I spent an extended segment of the afternoon marveling at the selection of kick-ass cartography displayed as part of  its “As The City Grew: Historical Maps of Los Angeles” exhibit.

The 34 maps arrayed go back to the mid-1800s and offer an awesome and up-close glimpse back into our city as it was and as it became. Unlike the aforementioned contemporary bullshit I encountered, some of the maps are true and intricate works of art, and I would highly recommend paying them a visit whether you just find yourself in the library’s vicinity or are in between far better-decided visits than mine to the myriad Pacific Standard Time venues.

WHERE: Los Angeles Public Library, Central Branch, 630 W. 5th St, 90071
WHEN: Through November 4, 2012
COST: Free

4 Replies to “A Modest, Magnificent Exhibition Of Our City’s History”

  1. BTW, many of the maps in this exhibit are available online in the Maps Collection at LAPL’s Visual Collections page: http://digital.lapl.org/.

    The exhibit is still worth a visit, IMO, because the online copies don’t have all the detail of a close-up, in-person view. But the online collection is a great resource.

    1. Further to that, many of the maps in this exhibit can be found in the exceptional “Los Angeles in Maps” book by Glen Creason, LAPL’s map librarian. But as LA MapNerd indicated there’s no substitution for seeing the actual intricate things up-close.

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