Privatized Leisure

L.A. as Ode to Perfect Climate, for Some

In the early twenty-first century, Americans are concerned about the prospect of global climate change. But climate itself is not a new national preoccupation. Americans have long focused on climate as a determinant of success, whether for a single farm or an entire region. Nineteenth-century Americans believed that climate directly influenced human health. They argued about whether the far West was a desert or a garden, and whether “rain would follow the plow.”

One striking example of how climate and climatic perceptions could shape history is Los Angeles. It is difficult …