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Forum 411, Issue 2

We Are L.A.?

Other than its eponymous pyrotechnic bird, Phoenix has not been a city of deep myth. Only a handful of movies have been set here. The closest thing to a signature song is about a guy driving away from L.A., musing on what his lost love will be doing “by the time I get to Phoenix.”

Yet, Phoenix and L.A. have such apparent shared heritage: Huge water projects, real estate developers, parking lots, palm trees, and faux Spanish architecture. Our city seems so obviously the younger sister of a Hollywood starlet that comparison and emulation are inevitable.

The Phoenix/L.A. conceit is deep-seated, chronic, and nearly always offered as something to avoid. Phoenix, a city often accused of having no identity, certainly has long known what it doesn't want to be. What is it we are so afraid of? All big cities have mixed images, but the über-negative view of Los Angeles is grounded in three attributes – smog, congestion, and sprawl.

These problems and the comparisons between Phoenix and L.A. are examined in the second issue of Forum 411.

Presented by Westcor.


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Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University
School of Public Affairs | College of Public Programs
Mail Code: 4220, 411 North Central Avenue, Suite 900, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-0692
Phone: 602-496-0900 Fax: 602-496-0964