Old LA Diorama

Old LA Diorama, Natural History Museum - Los Angeles, California

Old LA Diorama, Natural History Museum – Los Angeles, California

This is another display in the “Becoming Los Angeles” exhibit that I mentioned yesterday. This picture gives the scope of this diorama, and the picture below shows some of the details. What you can tell is how modest the city of Los Angeles was about 90 years ago. The tall white tower towards the center is city hall, which is still around today.

Old LA Diorama, Natural History Museum - Los Angeles, California

I’m guessing most people prefer the wildlife dioramas. But not me. Perhaps because of my interest in architecture and cities, I just love these kinds of displays. I spend a good deal of time looking at it.

I think most of us underestimate the amount of change in big cities. Los Angeles in the 1930s looks like a backwater compared to New York City. Yes, New York is still bigger now, but the gap is a lot less. Forty years ago, Austin was a small college town. There were only a handful of modern skyscrapers. The boom in the 1980s and after the 2000s has utterly transformed downtown. The suburban sprawl now stretches far and wide.

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4 thoughts on “Old LA Diorama

  1. Looks like the diorama reflects LA after Standard Oil wiped out the streetcars and other passenger rail service. I wonder how the city would have developed if things had gone the other way.

    1. I think the diorama isn’t detailed enough to show them. I don’t remember the exact date of the diorama, but I think it’s from the 1930s.

      Doing some research, it appears the last of the LA trollies where removed in 1963. Though many of the lines where converted to buses in the 1940s and 1950s.

      It’s too bad they were removed.

      Here’s an article on the conspiracy theory of GM/Oil interests killing the trollies.

      1. Thanks for the reference to the Curbed article. Just goes to show how history can vary depending the perspective of the historian, I guess. My wife completed a master’s degree in public administration at the University of San Francisco in the late 1990s. At that time, what may now considered urban myth was seen as fact. Times change, viewpoints shift.

      2. Who knows if the Curbed article is correct too. Interesting looking at history and the interpretations of it.

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