I think LA would pretty much be a perfect city if it weren’t for the cars and the air quality (I work in Chatsworth–cough, cough). So Matt Logue’s Empty LA (via Urban Daddy) comes across like porn to me–something approaching post-apocalyptic porn, admittedly, but I am pretty sympathetic to the “hell is other people” school of thought so there you go. Logue’s vision of LA’s streets and beaches emptied of people and cars and all signs of life is exhilarating and kind of terrifying. The book comes in cloth and paper, in two format sizes–13 x 11 and 10 x 8. It’s marvelous.
On the other end of the fantasy LA spectrum are the amazing panoramic photos of ca. 1899 downtown LA–Bunker Hill–posted on Shorpy (see Chris Conkle’s comment for specifics about location) It’s an amazing testimony to this city’s ability to shed its skin. LA is a city that razes and rebuilds. While this opens us for the inevitable “why can’t we be more like San Francisco” criticism that we deny our history, at the same time, it’s part of the fantastic optimism (denial of reality even) of a verdant city in the middle of a desert, populated with folks who come here to recreate themselves. LA is where America arrived at the end of the imperative to “go west.” With no more frontier, we level and recreate this city over and over again.