Urban Studies Paper


I have attached all the readings that are the references needed for this assignment. The videos can be watched on YouTube (I sent you a picture of each video). Please read the instructions on the file I uploaded. Thank you

WEEK SIX (7/4 – 7/10)



“Building Blade Runner” by Norman Klein from The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory (PDF file can be found below and so can the link to the opening scene of Blade Runner — to provide the proper context)

“Film Noir and the Hidden Violence of Transportation in Los Angeles” by Paul Mason Fotsch, pgs. 93-118 from Watching the Traffic Go By: Transportation and Isolation in Urban America (PDF can be found below)

“A Planning Ordinance Injects New Life into Historic Downtown” pgs. 253-263 in Planning Los Angeles

“Community Benefits, Negotiations, and (In)Justice” pgs. 272-278 in Planning Los Angeles

“What the Economic Tide Left Behind” pgs. 285-291 in Planning Los Angeles


1. Blade Runner (Opening scene to provide context for the Klein piece above. Link below.)

2. After reading the Fotsch piece, take a look at the two film clips below. One is from Double Indemnity and the other is from Sunset Boulevard.


There is nothing special to consider for this week. I felt it appropriate to juxtapose the topic of economic development and all of its supporting visions with those given to us by the spectacle of modern cinema. Los Angeles is a city of the moving image and that movement can be understood as much on city street and freeways as it can in its rapidly changing built spaces.



Since you have an entire book to finish reading (McWilliams) and review, I’ll keep this weekly essay an easy one. For this week’s essay there are two parts:

Part 1: Using the Bernstein, Haas, and Redfearn pieces from Planning Los Angeles, carefully explain what economic development can look like in L.A. including the policies that foster it, the actors (individuals, organizational, governmental, corporate, etc.) who create it, how it might be negotiated, and who might lose when the economic tide goes “back out.”

Part 2: Using the Fotsch and Klein pieces, explain how films like Blade Runner (see the YouTube link to the film’s introduction below), Double Indemnity, and Sunset Boulevardprovide for us another window through which to view the City of Los Angeles.

*DO NOT forget that your final assignment, a complete review of Carey McWilliams’ Southern California: An Island on the Land, is due by the end of WEEK 6. Please read the entire book if you intend to complete this assignment. If you intend to bypass the reading and post a review cobbled together from other online reviews I will gladly provide you with zero points. I want to see your writing only. That means your reflection on the book only after you’ve read the entire thing. Make sense? Enjoy it. It’s a great book. Considered one of the best books ever written about a city. I have a shelf filled with books about LA and I must say that it surely is the best.



Essay Question Week Six

Part 1

            Economic development in the Los Angeles City has largely occurred as a result of immaculate planning by the team charged with coming up with economic development plans. Credible economic development arises from effectiveness in planning and policy. The Los Angeles (LA) County Economic Development has been largely responsible for planning and pushing for the implementation of policies that lead to economic growth. One of the major areas that have spurred economic development in Lost Angeles is the expansion of the transit system through building of highways and the introduction electric trains. For a long period, LA has been hit with a car culture that has presented the nation’s worst traffic. This has prompted the city leaders to create plans through public participation that would help in solving the transportation problem (Haas 275). Favorable policies have resulted in an extended period of investment in public transportation that will lead to the transformation of how the Los Angelinos work, live, and play. The transformation of the public transit system will make LA be the infrastructure capital of the world, thus spurring its economic development.


            Through the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles is investing in transit-oriented development that would result in the expansion of the rail system to double the current size (Redfearn 21). The investment in high speed rail would lead to the transformation of LA in terms of economic development. Policies and plans need to be developed that would lead to the evolvement of the traditional stations into more compact urban spaces. The Metro is also exploring the development of mixed use, high-density walkable developments that would reduce the overreliance on cars (Redfearn 286). These developments have the potential of improving the lives of families of people living in Los Angeles.

            Development has also been achieved through investment in new modern skyscrapers alongside the historical downtown buildings. The improvement of downtown Los Angeles has been made possible by the implementation of Adaptive Reuse Ordinance (ARO) policy that has helped in clearing away the obstacles that previously existed in the repurposing of dozens of historical structures (Bernstein 253). The buildings have now been put into proper use instead of being left to lie vacant. The city planners are also adopting the vertical development, especially in downtown, to allow for maximum utilization of small spaces that are available. The modern building would help push economic development through establishment of new businesses in the downtown.

            Lastly, it is important to keep the economic tide upwards to prevent a reversal of the gains that have already been made. In case of an economic breakdown, individuals, corporates, and government would lose. Individuals will lose through increased cost of living and unemployment cases. The corporates would lose through reduced revenue from sales that would lead to eventual closures. The government would lose through reduced taxes by the corporates due to low sales revenue as well as closure of some businesses.

Part 2

            The City of Los Angeles is one of the most populous US cities. It also has an increasing overreliance on automobiles as a form of transport. People prefer to use their own private vehicles as opposed to public transport vehicles due to the convenience that they provide. It is therefore a common thing to see traffic snarl ups on the Los Angeles roads due to increased interdependence on private automobiles (Klein 14). Every person strives to have his/her own vehicle as it is considered the lifeline of Los Angeles. The residential estates in Los Angeles City are spread around the town. Los Angeles is built horizontally as opposed to vertical development that is the norm in most cities, for example Chicago. This horizontal expansion has resulted in the town spreading out from the downtown. The horizontal development has also contributed to the increased use of automobiles for convenience. The exclusivity and privacy of the city is however exposed differently when viewed from the lens of the movies “Blade Runner” “Double Indemnity” and “Sunset Boulevard.”


            The movies display the increased reliance on automobiles in the city of Los Angeles. People want to have vehicles at all costs because it is the dominant form of locomotion. Use of automobiles makes more land accessible to transportation. Cars are the drivers of the economy of the city. People move from their homes to their places of work using the automobiles. The street cars are not convenient because they do not provide transport to the whole city of Los Angeles (Fotsch 97). Crippling private transport would thus have economic downturns. It is on this basis that the town planners have concentrated most of their efforts on improving transport through constructions of freeways to avoid traffic snarl ups. The importance of automobiles is revealed in the movie “Sunset Boulevard” where a man, Gillis, is forced to edit the work of a former actor, Norma Desmond, so that she can return to the screens. Gillis is running away from repossession agents who want to take his car because he is unable to make repayments. The importance of the car is here emphasized through the willingness of Gillis to break away from the community in an effort to preserve his vehicle. Cars have become an important and a dear part of life that no one wants to lose theirs.

            The movies also indicate the power that is created by automobiles. Individuals are given privacy from which they can engage in criminal activities. Using automobiles, individuals are able to engage in criminal activities unnoticed. Cars can be used to hide crimes. When people plan the murder of others, automobiles offer better privacy than public space. Gangs could also participate in criminal activities then use automobiles to escape from the scenes of crime. The use of automobiles by gangs to conduct criminal activities is revealed in the movie “Blade Runner”. Besides, the privacy offered by automobiles is contrasted with the use of public transportation in the movie “Double Indemnity”. Neff Murders Mr. Dietrichson from the privacy of an automobile but is unable to dispose it secretly on the train.  The dangers of automobiles are revealed in the movie “Double Indemnity” where a car speeds down the streets while avoiding several accidents along the way. The movie is used to portray the thrill and dangers of moving forward that are being powered by technology.

            The films thus portray the interdependence of the people of Los Angeles on automobiles to execute bot the right things as well as hide instances of crime. The automobiles provide privacy that is not experienced in public spaces. Criminal therefore take advantage of the privacy to engage in criminal activities while being aided by automobiles. The films also reveal the importance of automobile on the economy of Los Angeles city. In fact, the use of automobiles has created a community of Los Angeles as people are able to connect using the increased mobility provided by the automobiles.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Ken. “A Planning Ordinance Injects New Life into Historic Downtown” pgs 253-263. In Planning Los Angeles. Print.

Fotsch, Paul Mason. Watching the traffic go by: Transportation and isolation in urban America. St. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2007. Web.

Haas, Gilda. “Community Benefits, Negotiations, and (In)Justice” pgs. 272-278 in Planning Los Angeles. Print.

Klein, Norman M. The history of forgetting: Los Angeles and the erasure of memory. Verso, 1997.Print.

Redfearn, Christian. “What the Economic Tide Left Behind” pgs. 285-291 in Planning Los Angeles.Print.

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