Thursday, June 17, 2010

6th street + spring street, downtown (II)

I'm endlessly fascinated by Downtown LA. It teems with life during the weekday; at night and on weekends, it becomes a zombie-filled ghost town worthy of a level design from Left 4 Dead. It is crowded with buildings but at the same time overbuilt for cars — a paradox that leaves it neither here (is it a city?) or there (is it a suburb?). The photo above shows what Angelenos would consider a "small" street at only five cars wide. A similarly-sized street in New York City, by contrast, would be considered a major conduit. 8th Ave, for instance, is as wide as the street above because it borders crowd magnets like Madison Square Garden and Penn Station — makes sense, right? But that's New York City, which has a variety of street sizes befitting local use: one-lane roads for residential neighborhoods, and larger arteries for heavily trafficked areas. In Los Angeles, on the other hand, every street behaves as if it were a regional conduit regardless of actual, boots-on-the-ground use. The city becomes merely a place to pass through, not a destination unto itself, leaving only the roar of traffic and the crazed bellowing of its down-and-out street denizens echoing off its walls. See it narrowed!

Friday, June 4, 2010

friday favorites: power line-free streets

The wonderfully-named Don Quiposte takes streets in Santos, Brazil and re-imagines them without all those unsightly power lines. Her results are quite satisfying, like clearing cobwebs or untangling a big mess of computer cables at home.

From her profile:
Don Quiposte is an urban activist with the impossible mission of finishing with the electric postes of Santos- Brazil and other cities. Her motto is Impossible is Nothing.

Visualizations like hers do a great job of showing the real priorities of a street's design (is it a place for living? Or an electrical conduit?). More photos and commentary at Don Quiposte.

press log: quesabesde

Hooray! It's always nice to get a mention in one of my favorite blogs — Quesabesde, a camera geek blog, re-posted my how-to video. From the article:
El hombre que estrechaba calles. No, no se trata del poder de un nuevo superhéroe… a menos que el dominio de Photoshop sea considerado como tal.

press log: adobe blogs

Nice little re-post of my how-to video by Adobe's John Nack.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

wilshire corridor

I like to think of Wilshire Corridor as LA's own sort of Upper East Side Park Avenue, with its long stretch of luxury condo high-rises catering to the older wealthy. I can even imagine Eloise traipsing along, au pair in pursuit, on her way from Westwood to Beverly Hills. But as with all things Los Angeles, this east coast facsimile has a unique west coast twist: eight lanes of heart-pumping traffic careening up and down its hilly curves at a blistering 55mph. (Try it on a 125cc scooter, and it's even more hair-raising.) The usual paradox is there: heavenly towers with names promising old world grandeur ("The Wilshire Marquis", or the more pastoral "Carlyle on Wilshire") located right alongside what is practically a freeway. Me + the wife looked here once for an apartment, and could not get past the constant echo of traffic, double-paned windows be damned.

The toughest paradox about Wilshire Corridor's sheer speed is the impact is has on its residents, many of whom are older. Nowhere on Wilshire is pleasant to walk along, and the Corridor is no exception. So they take to their Lexuses and Jags instead, tentatively nosing them into the automotive stream before gunning it to catch up with the fast flow. The result is a desolate but beautifully manicured towerscape reminiscent of those pearly retirement enclaves in Florida: waiting rooms for those next in line for ascention, cordoned off from the rest of the living. See it narrowed!

press log: boing boing

Featured by guest blogger Bill Barol, former senior writer at Newsweek and contibutor to The New Yorker, Time, Slate, and elsewhere. He blogs at True/Slant and Pix365.

About the Photographer

Los Angeles, CA, United States
Writer, designer, and urban planning geek.

Got a location idea or photo submission? Send it to I'll post it to the blog or even run out to shoot it myself.


Other sites by David Yoon
Personal site

Kindred Spirits
Tom Baker, LA Without Cars
James Howard Kunstler

Nicola Yoon Design
SIFT Angeles


All content © David Yoon and Narrow Streets: Los Angeles.