By Phillip Henderson
Some years ago, I picked up the book The Reluctant Metropolis, by William Fulton. Fulton describes in this very engaging history the way politics and power dynamics shaped the modern era of the Los Angeles megalopolis. I grew up just down the road from downtown LA, in what was once the fruit trees and farmland of Orange County. I had often read about how metropolitan LA had sprung up over the course of the twentieth century. But as a person who arrived as a youth in the late 1970s, LA had always seemed a fully formed place, traffic, pollution, movie stars and all. What Fulton's book made me realize for the first time was that LA, and in a larger sense the world, was being shaped right under my nose. In fact, LA hadn't been the static, fully formed place that I'd experienced in my youth. Many of the key factors that embody the current version of LA, from water policies, to demography, to tax and education policy, were slowly and imperceptibly (to me) being shaped and developed during that time.