January 19th, 2015 by John Jackson
Los Angeles in Maps by Glen Creason, Map Librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library, is a cartographic exploration of the city of Los Angeles and its environs from mid-nineteenth century to the present using over 70 maps from public and private collections. It is an essential resource for Whittier College students researching the historical development of Los Angeles – its land, infrastructure, industries, communities, and sense of place – as well as any student generally interested in urban growth.
The first third of the book focuses on the growth of central L.A. and the annexation of surrounding communities. The latter part examines maps that illustrate specific aspects of twentieth century urban growth including water, transit and railways, tourism, and even includes such gems as the 1975 Goez Map Guide to the Murals of East Lost Angeles (p. 176) and the 1987 Literary Map of Los Angeles (p. 178). It includes fire insurance atlases like the Dakin Atlas, which shows the plaza around the original Chinatown (what is now Union Station) and details not only sources of water for each block, but also the use of each building (using quaint terms like “Ill fame,” “Opium Joint,” and “Sal.” for saloon).
Almost every other page contains a beautifully reproduced image of a historic Los Angeles map alongside Cleason’s fluid and lively contextual notes. Additional contributions by Dydia DeLyser, Joe Linton, William J. Warren, and Morgan P. Yates introduce how the mapping of Los Angeles adapted to the influences of tourism, the L.A. river, homes of the stars, and the automobile.
You can find Los Angeles in Maps in the Atlas section on the first floor of Wardman Library. Additional information on L.A. maps is available at the LAPL website (see also the YouTube video below). Students interested in this topic should also check out Derek Hayes’s Historical Atlas of California and his Historic Atlas of the American West.