Times’ Surprise: New Interactive Series on L.A.’s Boulevards

There’s a change happening on Los Angeles’ streets.

Hawthorne quizes Jan Perry at the American Institute of Architects' mayoral forum earlier this year.

It’s hardly news to Streetsbloggers that Los Angeles’ transportation and development patterns have changed a lot in the past decades, or even just the past couple of years.  But when I looked down at the newspaper stand in a North Hollywood coffee shop yesterday, the Los Angeles Times top story caught me by surprise.  Written by Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, “Atlantic on the Move” launched a new series examining Los Angeles’ Boulevards and how they’ve changed and are changing.

Hawthorne writes:

The boulevard, in fact, is where the Los Angeles of the immediate future is taking shape. No longer a mere corridor to move cars, it is where L.A. is trying on a fully post-suburban identity for the first time, building denser residential neighborhoods and adding new amenities for cyclists and pedestrians.

In the process, the city is beginning to shed its reputation as a place where the automobile is king — or at least where its reign goes unchallenged. Cities across the U.S. followed L.A.’s car-crazy lead in the postwar era. This time around we might provide a more enlightened example: how to retrofit a massive region for a future that is less auto-centric.

In addition to the written articles, available on both the website and print editions; the online edition features an interactive map of Atlantic Avenue with video features on Atlantic Avenue and several of the top attractions of the twenty five miles of Boulevard that connect Alhambra to Long Beach.  The map and videos are exclusive to the Times’ website.  This is the first time since the hey-day of the Bottleneck Blog in 2008 that the Times is embracing the Internet medium as a place to do something different than publish articles for the print edition and news that isn’t important enough for the print edition.

While Hawthorne is one of the most respected architecture writers in the country, before he joined the Times in 2004 he wrote at Slate and Metropolis Magazine, this series could be a ground breaking one.  Never before has the charecter of Los Angeles’ streets been the focus of such a series, and never before has the Times focused so clearly on the impact of street design on urban life.

“Atlantic on the Move” sets the bar high for future pieces on L.A.’s changing Boulevards.  ”Sunset Boulevard” is next.  We can’t wait.