Unearthing L.A.’s Improvised Past

In a City That Constantly Builds Over Itself, You Can Still Find the Last Century in Certain Light and Certain Pockets

by Lynell George

For some time now, I’ve been thinking and talking about Los Angeles in the past tense. Not in a nostalgic way—rather, my memory of place had become an overlay, filtering the way I see and move through the here-and-now city.

Vanished landmarks are still active points on my personal map of the city where I was born and raised—touchstones I remember from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. That old Westside bookstore with the sleeping cats and sagging shelves? It’s still there in my imagination, waiting for me to …

More In: Los Angeles history

My Supermarket Doesn’t Love Me

Grocery Stores Are in My Blood, Which Is Why I Was Crushed by the Changes at My Ralphs in Sherman Oaks

I have a life-long affinity for markets. Before I was born and then when I was a small child, mom-and-pop grocery stores supported all my relatives. My paternal grandfather owned …

The Murder That Made Us Celebrity-Obsessed

In 1922, the Mysterious Death of Director William Desmond Taylor Sparked America's Hunger for Scandal

I was 9 years old when I first learned about the murder of 1920s movie director William Desmond Taylor. Taylor’s killing was one of several scandals—others included the “Fatty” Arbuckle …

Griffith Park Taught Me to Love Life in L.A.

Its Hills Are Plagued by Forest Fires. The Traffic on Weekends Is Brutal. And Forget Teaching Your Kid to Ride a Bike There. But Otherwise, It's Sublime.

If there’s anything in Los Angeles that remains inexpensive and underrated, it’s Griffith Park.

I’ve experienced a few area codes around here. After growing up in the 818, high schooling …

L.A., Where the World Convalesces

Today, It’s Chinese Health Tourists. A Century Ago, It Was American Consumptives Coming for the Sunshine.

The historical record is full of such stories: He moved to Los Angeles “for health reasons.” She relocated to Southern California “for her health.” Booster rhymes of the late 19th …

Last Call at the Cat & Fiddle

Remembering Lazy Sundays at a British Pub That Became a Hollywood Icon

Los Angeles is not a city known for dwelling on the past. So if a restaurant or bar can last more than 10 years, it’s automatically designated as a “local …