The New Freedom
Los Angeles 1920- : bureaucracy, racism, and automobiles
Our Great Urban Conglomerations offer to the mass of people who inhabit them an illusively wide range of choices, whether of a way of life or of work among a diversity of social institutions. A high level of choice has always been a peculiar attraction of cities, and the wealthy have long flocked to them to enjoy the stimulation of variety and the satisfactions of freedom of personal expression. Even in colonial times the planters of South Carolina built town houses in Charleston, and mill owners and mining czars moved to New York and Chicago to escape the constrictions of the towns in which they had founded their fortunes. For the masses, however, whether white-collar or blue-, urban life was always severely constrained by long working hours, tight schedules of time and commutation, and the strict conformity required to hold a steady job, advance a career, or belong in a "nice" neighborhood. As a nation we have not yet traveled far from these conditions, and the blacks and the poor still struggle within this old framework to be admitted to the freedom of our cities. These are the unique qualities and terrible failures of our urban areas. Nevertheless in many basic structures of today's cities there is the potential of a range of personal choices and social freedoms for all city dwellers if we would only extend the paths of freedom that our urban system has been creating.
In brief, since 1920 the basic technology, transportation, urban markets, business institutions, and land-use structures of the growing
national network of cities have all expanded by means of successive inventions and investments until the entire elaborate modern urban complex has begun to reveal an increased potentiality for personal and social choices. The automobile did not by any means initiate the suburbanization of the American city, but it did enable suburbanization to take on a new low-density, multicentered form. Neither did the truck build the nation's manufacturing belts, but by lengthening the distance of cheap short-haul freight traffic it did enable the manufacturing belts to be reorganized into the far-flung communication regions we now identify as megalopolises. The corporation was very much a product of the nineteenth century, but its lusty growth in the soil of national urban markets brought decentralization with it, thereby placing more authority and autonomy in the hands of some of its employees. The turn of the national economy toward services from production began with the introduction of machine manufacture, but in our own time the proliferation of urban services has promoted and sustained a giant middle class without forcing it into a single role of corporate bureaucracy.
During the past half century these extensions from the past have mired our society in a series of contradictions and confusions which we must now come to understand if we are to find policies that will enable us to realize humane solutions. Every component of the forces that bear upon the American urban system, as well as the system itself, harbors twin potentials—for mass repression or for the expansion of popular freedoms. Science and technology can be directed toward war and manipulation or toward services for everyday living; the multiple ways of modern transportation can be either an escape route for the affluent or a means of expanding everyone's horizons; the service economy can be directed toward world domination or toward everyday human needs; the national network of cities can be linked only to the enrichment of local business and political elites or can become the foundation for broadened employment and equalized living standards; the reach and complexity of urban markets can be tied only to private profit or can provision a universal public; private and public corporations can be instruments for bureaucratic control or levers to release personal and group autonomy; the abundant land of the megalopolis can be restricted to the present unequal contest between the classes and races or can become the site of humane physical environments. Our history shows that the capacity of the American urban system for war production, private profit, and inequality, and for the ignoring and infliction of
deprivation and suffering is seemingly limitless and certainly enduring. What is new in our time is the enlarged potential of the system to promote the freedom of all the groups within it.
The trend toward the institutionalization of science and technology, well begun in the nineteenth century, has matured in full corporate form in the years since 1920. Private business has sponsored laboratories, universities have established science and engineering faculties, the federal government has financed and carried out massive scientific and technical investigations. This institutionalized effort, bolstered by motives of commercial profit, the conquest of diseases, and military competition, has produced an extraordinary acceleration of the preceding century's discoveries and inventions. Direct communication by telephone had been the previous era's only supplement to the indirect transmission of messages by letter, telegraph, photograph, newspaper, magazine, and book. Now mass-communication modes followed one upon the other, first movies, then radio, and finally television. Three complete transportation systems—the automobile, the airplane, and the pipeline—were added to the familiar rail and water networks. Mechanization matured into a harvest of small specialized tools from electric drills to oscilloscopes, while factory machinery grew in size and complexity to embrace complicated multistage production. Sophisticated machines capable of limited self-correction, often guided by computers, carried out automated sequences of manufacturing and processing. White-collar work, formerly geared to pens and pencils, typewriters, adding machines, and filing cabinets, was mechanized by the computer and by a host of machines for printing and sorting, copying and recording, and mailing. To serve production needs, science and technology created materials of every conceivable kind from metals and plastics to drugs and compounds. Atomic power, a whole new energy system, came into being.
So overwhelming was the power and scope of the expanding knowledge and technical achievement in the United States and other advanced countries that nature itself came to be approached as a man-made artifact. Just as a building stands or falls at the whim of human decisions, so now a lake persisted or became a swamp, a plant or animal species multiplied or died out, depending upon the fiat of man. Nor did man himself escape the reach of scientific enterprise. The social sciences
(especially macroeconomics, market and opinion research, and group and individual psychology) have subjected all levels of society to systematic management and have placed human life under the threat of manipulation.
Yet in the onrush of science and technology each set of tools, each product or technique, held within it recurrent possibilities for a conflict between autonomy and control, centralization and decentralization, personalization and standardization. For example, the making of an automobile required great precision and heavy investment for complicated mass production. As a result the auto worker was habitually subjected to degrading discipline and a stultifying simplification of his tasks. The dignity and independence implicit in the worker's pride in his suburban home were radically contradicted by his working conditions. Similarly the freedom he experienced in his daily drives through the city, for shopping and visits to friends, found no counterpart in the exigencies of his job.
Radio has imposed a form of tyranny in its national propagation of politically manipulated news programs and commercial advertisements, but it also has been an important medium of expression and communication for special publics who make and consume classical music, rock music, black culture, and Bible evangelism. Computerized cost accounting and inventory control have served both to draw decision-making from branch sales offices and factories to the central office and to allow greater branch autonomy. The computer's ability to keep track of complex information and to monitor a multiplicity of distinct programs enables the home office to decentralize decision-making with the assurance that it can keep track of what is happening in its diversified undertakings. Finally, the new social sciences have shown that they are powerful at all levels of society. They can subdue business cycles that formerly scourged all highly developed countries, or they can provide the rationale for the grossly inequitable manipulation of economies; they can enhance the productivity of small groups of workers or mitigate the stresses of racially torn schools and housing projects; they can relieve the mental suffering of individuals. Yet the conflicts of the uses of science and technology pervade the social sciences as well. The question returns and returns of whether social science will become the servant of centralized national government and private and public corporations
and be turned to the control of society, or will nourish the autonomy of small groups and promote individual freedom and happiness.
The elaboration of the new transportation system was the most direct instrument for the multiplication of men's choices. Automobiles allowed rural migrants seeking jobs in the city to keep in touch with the countryside and the folks back home, freed urban workers from the necessity of living next to their factories or in central city slums, and gave businessmen an unprecedented choice of locations and complementary services. Production and marketing could devise numberless combinations of diverse services and suppliers and use them within and between the metropolitan regions. Key improvements in transportation lay along two quite different paths. The first set of improvements was directed to lengthening the range of short-haul traffic; the second multiplied the modes of long-haul traffic so that long-distance shipping reflected more specific adaptations to products and passengers than had former all-purpose rail systems and hence were capable of a higher degree of efficiency.
The change in the costs of short-haul transportation was probably the single most important factor to influence the dispersal of job locations within the modem metropolis. Intracity freight movement had formerly been dependent on men and boys who carried parcels in handcarts or on horse-drawn wagons, and its slow pace and high costs had restricted business users of freight service to rail locations in the manufacturing sectors or near the central terminals of the inner city. Small firms were crowded around a downtown post office or inner-city freight yard; more expansive firms with a steady traffic in whole carloads of material could and did settle on spur tracks in the outer rail sectors.
Slowly the truck and automobile loosened and broke these constraints. In the first thirty years of the twentieth century the motor truck, with its obvious advantages in speed and cost over horse teams, was introduced. Although it offered a more efficient alternative to the railroad, the truck did not as yet alter existing rail patterns, because its full realization awaited highway improvements. It is true that during the twenties streets on the periphery of the metropolises were paved and intercity roads improved by the U.S. Route system. Had not the Great Depression intervened just then, a pronounced outward industrial movement would doubtless have got under way in the thirties. As it was,
dispersion awaited the building of war plants on the fringes and the postwar manufacturing and housing boom.
By 1948, when wartime shortages trod been overcome and the United States had returned briefly to a civilian economy, the truck and automobile did at last free many firms from traditional central locations. Trucks of all sizes could move up to a third of the load of a standard railroad car quickly and cheaply to any destination within a hundred and fifty miles. Overnight trucking service could serve points from two hundred and fifty to three hundred miles apart, and since the perfecting of diesel trucks in the fifties the ranges for both daytime and overnight hauls has been lengthening. Thus a location on any major highway became an excellent departure or terminal point for any except the heaviest freight users, such as lumber mills, foundries, and sugar refineries. At the same time, the widespread private ownership of automobiles released all but the lowest-paid third of the work force from dependence on the streetcar and rapid-transit lines, which were still running radially from suburbs to downtown. Like the freight, workers could now travel in their own cars in any direction through or beyond the metropolis. The result since World War II has been a steady and substantial outmigration of firms and, even more significant, the placing of new enterprises wholly outside the bounds of the central core of each metropolis.
In old cities like Boston, the circumferential highway, built around the fringes of the city and designed to tie together the roads radiating out from the center, has become the axis of industrial growth. In fast-growing cities like Los Angeles, fingers of manufacturing crept out for thirty and forty miles from the old central core. The original industrial development there had taken place at a close knot of rail lines in the southeast sector of the city. As the metropolis became a major national manufacturing region, freeways paralleled the old rail network, and industry stretched farther and farther in every direction to create employment opportunities all over the city.
Despite the advances in transportation, firms that required the most immediate complementary interaction remained at the core. The metropolitan center has retained the firms that depend upon transient eddies
of fashion, such as the garment trade, publishers, and art dealers. The center has also been partially rebuilt with office towers to house the headquarters and regional offices of the great corporations that need the traditional cluster of bankers, lawyers, and accountants and the more recent public-relations and advertising firms. But the downtown has failed to capture even a majority of the office and commercial growth of the metropolis. Some stores have followed their customers to the suburbs; others have found that office routine, sales, and professional services can be performed as effectively in suburban shopping centers as in the urban confines.
The benefits accruing from the changing patterns of work locations were obvious and substantial. With the improvement of metropolitan highways, immense tracts of industrial and residential land opened for use and the cost of urban sites fell. Employer and employee alike gained over their 1920 condition. The employer could easily purchase from and sell to firms within a radius of fifty to four hundred and fifty miles of the megalopolis, and he could furnish or obtain daily service within a fifty-mile radius of the metropolis itself. Similarly the employee found an extensive range of jobs inside the fifty-mile radius, and he could live almost anywhere within the metropolis and still take advantage of the widened job market.
In terms of the physical form of the city, this freedom from spatial restrictions offered an unprecedented array of urban arrangements for all degrees of population density. The highway interchange could support areas crowded with row houses, factories, and apartment and office towers, which could yet be wholly encircled by forests or fields; suburban streets and freeways could sustain a uniform spread of houses and lawns and tree-lined streets, interspersed with shopping strips or centers and industrial parks. Unfortunately, for reasons having to do in large part with organization of the land and real-estate market, the great variations in urban design that might have been feasible under the transportation revolution have not been fully exploited in America.
The principal drawback of the evolving pattern lay in its entrance fee: private ownership of a car. Young people, old people, poor people could gain access to metropolitan jobs only by means of a private
automobile or through a car pool. In the homes of low-wage and unskilled workers, a decent income can be earned only when two members of the family work. For the wife, the finding and reaching of jobs, often widely scattered in the metropolis, has proved extremely difficult. Transport networks have tended strongly to reinforce racial segregation in employment and housing by confining the poor, especially poor women, to a depressed inner-city labor market. In the core of most cities the old 1870-1920 public transportation system is still maintained; at the core too are the decaying slums that still house the black and white poor. Here manufacturers can find a large reservoir of low-skilled workers. As a result a cycle of underpaying jobs, constricted transport, and ghetto living has settled upon many of our old metropolises. In New York City proper, manufacturing wages fell behind those of Birmingham, Alabama; elsewhere the women and the old and the poor await the perfection of a public transportation system that, by imitating the highway patterns of today's diffused metropolis, will let them participate in the society as full-fledged members.
Advances in long-haul transportation over the past fifty years have reinforced the nationalizing accomplishments of the earlier rail lines, which the new systems supplement. In the exploitation of natural resources, oil and gas pipelines bring cheap fuel to cities thousands of miles from the Oklahoma and Texas wells in a volume that railroad freight could never have handled. Improvements in the Midwestern river system have revived barge traffic in coal, grain, cement, and other bulk commodities so that the old Ohio-Mississippi route is again functioning as a carrier of cheap resources as it did before the Civil War.
Since World War II the long-haul truck has combined with air freight to sustain the national manufacturing economy by moving small quantities of goods quickly and inexpensively. Parts for a broken machine, a tub of a particular chemical, a broken instrument being returned to its manufacturer for repair—all these can be shipped between the most important centers in the nation in a matter of hours. Long-haul truck service supplements air freight by allowing firms with less than full rail carloads to ship materials and semifinished goods directly from one factory to another within a day or two and to do it
more cheaply and with greater dispatch than on the railroad's old circuitous less-than-carload routing. Altogether, the addition of truck and airplane facilities and the more specialized barge and pipeline service to the old rail network has meant a burgeoning of the paths and volume of American traffic. Goods move swiftly and cheaply within the cities of the old manufacturing belts of the Northeast and Midwest and within the new southern California region. Moreover, despite the long distances involved, shipments travel easily back and forth between the manufacturing regions and the growing metropolises of the South and West. The transcontinental production of aerospace components, especially in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Texas, and California, has been an outstanding example of present possibilities.
The proliferation of technology and transportation has strongly influenced both the national economy and its network of cities. The continued application of science and technology to agriculture and mining has brought an increasingly dramatic decline in employment in that sector of the economy and a concomitant strong outmigration from the rural United States. The sheer productivity of mechanized manufacture, despite the multiplication of products and the vast increase in the volume of factory-made goods for producers and consumers, has allowed the ratio of the labor force engaged in that sector to fall slightly too. Trade, services, transportation, and government have become the hallmarks of today's economy because two-thirds of the labor force is engaged in these activities. Science, technology, and transportation have made possible the service and military economy that now obtains.
The changing focus of the national economy has meant a corresponding adjustment in the network of cities. Urbanization in general was encouraged because the growing trade-service-transport-government activities were themselves the specialties of cities. Thus the population of the United States, North and South, East and West, grew increasingly metropolitanized. Ports and trading centers, on both coasts and along the Great Lakes and in the South, prospered in particular. If we measure the size of cities solely in terms of the inhabitants within their formal political boundaries, Houston rose to be the nation's sixth most populous city, Dallas the eighth, and San Antonio passed Boston and St. Louis, while the size of Memphis, New Orleans, Seattle, and Phoenix each exceeded that of Pittsburgh—the archetypical city of the former
era of the industrial metropolis. The simple tabulation of the size of cities according to their political boundaries highlights the importance of the new trading cities (Table 1, page 70), since their growth countered the outmigration of population from old core cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston. By these additions to the list of cities of metropolitan size, the category was able just to maintain the same proportionate share of the nation's population from 1920 to 1970. Beyond serving as a general encouragement to urbanization, the new economy instilled vigor into the small cities and towns—places of 2,500 to 249,999 inhabitants. These were the building blocks of the new economy, and their share of the population rose to 52.4 percent (Table 1, page 70). Such cities and towns were found everywhere in the nation and made up the constituent elements of the 243 Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas classified by the census. Some like Arlington and Richardson (Dallas), Hollywood (Miami), Mesa (Phoenix), Overland Park and Independence (Kansas City), and Bloomington (Minneapolis-St. Paul) contributed to the metropolitanization of the West, Midwest, and South. Others were beneficiaries of the continued growth of the basic manufacturing regions of the nation: Orange and Garden Grove (Los Angeles), Joliet and Oak Lawn (Chicago), Warren and Livonia (Detroit), Kettering (Dayton), Framingham (Boston), Norwalk, Piscataway, and Bay Shore (New York), Willingboro (Philadelphia), Catonsville (Baltimore), and Silver Spring (Washington).
The complexity of manufacturing in the new economy was compatible with the dispersal of urban population from old central cities, but at the same time it fostered a concentration of population within large multicity regions. Thus the old manufacturing belts of the Northeast and Midwest, and the new one in southern California, prospered as the urbanized manufacturing regions of the United States. The major trend in manufacturing locations since 1920 has been to seek sites near
the final markets for consumer goods and to search out effective placement in the midst of regions where producers' goods can be bought and sold easily. Both trends favored the old manufacturing belts because these were huge agglomerations of individual consumers and also buyers and sellers of producers' goods. The mass migration to southern California and the succession of wars since 1941 have transformed that region into another such belt. The diffusion of population and enterprise within these three regions has altered their former patterns of mill town and industrial metropolis established in the railroad era. The megalopolis, a gigantic continuous band of urbanized territory with towns, cities, and metropolises embedded within it, is the emergent urban manifestation of the new economy and new transportation. The Boston-New York-Washington megalopolis has functioned at least since 1950 as a regional city; the Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Detroit-Chicago megalopolis seems to be a recrudescence of the old Midwestern manufacturing belt but in a form that favors growth along the path of the region's largest metropolises; while the third, stretching from San Diego through Los Angeles to San Francisco, has become recognizable as a growing entity only in the last decade. The megalopolises are of about equal length. Each of them extends 454 to 470 miles, and all of them are abundantly provided with transportation. They are in every case industrially diversified and encompass thousands of specialized firms so that the benefits of complementarity obtain for almost any economic enterprise, from steel mills to toy manufacture, throughout the regions.
The channeling of national metropolitan growth into the formation of the three megalopolises has had two effects upon the organization of urban business: first, corporate enterprise has expanded and altered its management form; second, the service economy has nurtured an enormous class of urban professionals and small businessmen—retailers, furniture dealers, doctors, lawyers, insurance agents, and every kind of home and business service establishment. Both developments contain possibilities for a more humane urban society and equally for the further concentration of power exercised for the benefit of a minority.
The large corporation, as it added more products and services and reached ever farther afield for customers, was forced to abandon its
traditional centralized, departmentalized form. Instead it adopted various adjustments that resulted in a general way in a hierarchy where a central office of staff executives assessed and assisted a series of semi-autonomous divisions. This decentralized, divisional structure owed its origins to a management crisis of the 1920s. In the four cases that have been studied in detail (General Motors, Du Pont, Standard Oil of New Jersey, and Sears, Roebuck) a growing diversity of operations finally broke the centralized form. General Motors made many different models of cars—unlike Ford with its Model T—and also turned out refrigerators, electrical equipment, and an extensive line of parts and accessories. Du Pont branched out in the first years of the century from gunpowder and blasting materials into chemicals and paints. Standard Oil of New Jersey undertook international oil prospecting, oil transport, and refining, along with the domestic and foreign marketing of a full range of petroleum products from automobile gasolines to fuel oils and the old staple, kerosene. Sears, Roebuck, already a profitable mail-order house, in 1925 established a national chain of retail outlets to offset declining sales and to reach out to the growing suburban markets.
In each case diversity of operations brought financial losses and crises in management. In each case the solution proved to be reorganization of management in such a way as to break up departmental structure. Before this time the vice-president of each central office had concentrated on one major phase of the business—production, sales, development, or finance—and the day-to-day decisions had originated with him and his staff in the central office. The crisis in management arose when these executives could not distribute the flow of products among the departments, when production poured out more items than the sales force had orders for, when the executives, oriented each to his own specialty, could no longer intelligently allocate staff and capital among the departments.
The multidivisional structure instituted in the big diversified corporations during the 1920s assigned the central office to staff service for the entire corporation but relieved it of everyday decisions, which were now passed down to divisional heads. Each division—at Du Pont, divisions were respectively responsible for paint, dyestuffs, explosives, films, and so on—had a general manager to supervise production, sales,
and personnel. The central office evaluated the success of each division in relation to the others, either granting increased budgets or cutting back an operation on the basis of its individual performance as it related to prospects for the entire corporation. The staff of the central office also conducted studies in market research, engineering, and design, and in its own accounting department it strove to assure the prosperity of the complete enterprise. If the performance of one division showed low profits, the central staff either closed out the operation or stepped in to reorganize it. In short, the role of the central office resembled that of an investment banking house, placing corporate capital as best it could among the divisions or using accumulated profits to purchase related independent firms and thereby to add more products or even divisions to the undertaking. For its part each division, its partial autonomy assured by an annual budget, was free to purchase materials wherever it could find them and was no longer restricted to contracts made by a central purchasing office. It could assemble its own sales force, locate plants and warehouses, and until the arrival of national industry-wide unions could make its own terms with local labor.
In the United States, World War II initiated an almost uninterrupted thirty years of intensive demand for industrial products. That war and the succeeding wars in Korea and Vietnam stimulated arms production while the government policy of cold-war military rivalry with the Soviet Union and China spurred naval, air, and space research and weapons production on a scale of wartime magnitude. During the same years the elaboration of science and technology in the United States, Europe, and Japan brought forth a steady stream of consumer products, such as tape recorders, dishwashers, gasoline lawn mowers, paints, and drugs. The combination of both domestic and foreign military and consumer demand encouraged corporations to diversify by taking up additional sales regions and new products, and in time this always meant the adoption of a decentralized form of operation.
Today's business structure reflects these historical solutions. The strength of the corporate form as an institution for managing accumulated capital is attested by the sheer gigantism of American corporate enterprise. The smallest corporation on Fortune's 1971 annual list of the nation's five hundred largest had 7,850 employees, the largest were as big as nineteenth-century cities: General Motors had 696,000 em-
ployees, Ford Motor Company 432,000, General Electric 397,000, International Business Machines 269,000, Standard Oil of New Jersey 143,000. Among the retail chains, Sears had 359,000 employees, A&P 120,000; American Telephone and Telegraph employed 773,000; Consolidated Edison, the electric monopoly for New York City and nearby New York counties, 23,726; the Southern Pacific Company had grown to 42,000, United Airlines to 66,000, the Prudential Life Insurance Company to 59,000, the Bank of America to 36,000, the First National City Bank to 37,000. Such immense institutions could be managed only by committees and decentralized forms of governance.
Decentralization today takes a number of forms. The semiautonomous divisional style of the 1920s is favored by the new conglomerates, which are aggregations of capital assembled by a team of central-office executives who seek to purchase independent businesses for profitable investment. If the newly acquired business proves to be well managed, its executives continue their work as an autonomous division of the conglomerate. This is true for instance, of Litton Industries of Beverly Hills, California, a firm that began in 1954 in electronics and now deals in typewriters, calculators, office furniture and equipment, surgical instruments, X-ray machines, motion-picture cameras, and automatic revenue-collecting machines, and also operates paper mills, printing plants, and Great Lakes shipping lines. It manages its diverse affairs through fifty separate divisions, each largely autonomous.
The reach to the ultimate consumer has meant market-oriented decentralization for manufacturing firms as well as for retailers. The goal of management has been to adjust production to sales as closely as possible and thereby to reduce losses sustained by the accumulation of unwanted and slow-moving inventories. Abundant long-haul transportation enabled manufacturing firms to maintain specialized production plants, each located for its specialty's best advantage, where components could be manufactured and then assembled into the final product near the final markets. Cheap intracity transportation encouraged such a strategy; one sales-warehousing-assembly plant could serve an entire metropolis or a cluster of them. Thus a famous brand of St. Louis beer no longer travels by refrigerator car from a single brewery to scattered urban markets but is brewed in Tampa, Newark, Houston, and Los
Angeles and marketed regionally from these points. Chevrolets are assembled at Arlington (Texas), Baltimore (Maryland), Doraville (Georgia), Janesville (Wisconsin), Leeds and St. Louis (Missouri), South Gate and Van Nuys (California), North Tarrytown (New York), Willow Run (Michigan), and Wilmington (Delaware). Here, then, were some of the multitude of plants and offices that have sought suburban locations since World War II. Retail chains like Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward have evolved a commercial style that they call metropolitan management. A metropolis like Los Angeles may have a dozen retail stores belonging to one of these chains, each store located in a regional shopping center. The sheer volume of Los Angeles sales, as well as the peculiarities of that particular market as opposed to the Chicago or New York demands, justified the establishment of a metropolitan management team responsible for operations in that area. For general merchandising, unlike the distribution and sales of a limited range of products like automobiles or beer, the metropolis has proved to be a more feasible unit than the sprawling megalopolis.
In these cases of decentralization it is easy to see how a measure of public responsibility could be introduced into the national corporate structure. The special interests of the metropolis or megalopolis in employment, plant, office, and store location, and the need of workers and managers for autonomy, could be expressed in management committees of public officials and employees without disrupting the efficiency of the corporation since the current dispersal of the company mirrors the structure of the national network of cities. Other recent management forms, however, are less easy to accommodate to urban requirements.
The huge scale involved in the production of aircraft and of military needs, power plants, and the complexity of other large contracts has moved some firms toward project management, in which teams of engineers and executives are formed around a particular job. They seek the contract and coordinate the work of design and production divisions and other departments of the parent company with outside firms who become subcontractors. Sometimes called "matrix management" because the men responsible for the single contract are given budgets and authority that cut across the lines of regular organization structure in the corporation, this form reintroduces centralized power into all branches
of industrial enterprise. Though the device is effective (indeed insisted upon by the U.S. Air Force, which wants a single group to call upon for each major contract), it creates frequent conflicts within the firms that use it. It also promotes urban and regional irresponsibility. Once the contract is secured, the project is insulated from all concern for such issues as working conditions within the offices and plants either of the parent company or of its subcontractors, and these become problems solely of divisional and departmental managers. The project is freed from concern for local employment or for the ecological consequences of the aircraft, power stations, or factory complexes it builds, since the project team's task is directed only to getting the job done. A consequent social irresponsibility is spreading throughout American corporations.
On a smaller scale, makers of highly competitive mass consumer products are using product managers to take charge of a single item, like Procter and Gamble's Crest toothpaste. Also, venture teams of designers, engineers, and marketing specialists are being formed to search for and test new avenues for the investment of a corporation's accumulated capital. As in the project, the venture team is not responsible to the division, the department, or a geographical area but only to the national headquarters, where the criterion is profit alone.
The outcome of five decades of these contradictory decentralized and centralized business trends is a mixture of benefit and condemnation for the urban worker and city dweller. Thanks to the sheer growth of big business, industrial work, which in the preceding century was the scene of the most unrestrained exploitation of workers, has now become bureaucratized. Planned production, market power, and manipulation even out the employment season for corporate workers so that they can be reasonably sure of an approximate yearly income. National unions, such as the United Auto Workers, represent their members as they confront the giant corporations in conflicts over wages, local plant discipline, mechanization, and working conditions. The countervailing union power, however, suffers all the problems of responsibility that confront its corporate adversary. The key issues revolve around working conditions in the individual plants, and they find their expression in the union locals. In recent years large national and international unions have proved cumbersome and inadequate to negotiate these issues for their
members. Strikes that have been settled to the satisfaction of the central union office and the corporate headquarters have dragged on for weeks and months in scattered plants around the country. Moreover, most unions have been reluctant to enter in a positive way into the decisions of plant location and production design and prefer to content themselves with a responsive role, approving or disapproving each individual innovative machine or job description. Yet the high level of modern technology offers many alternative paths to efficient production. The assembly line is not the only way to make cars, cut meat, or assemble TV sets. Although no group or institution in the nation, the megalopolis, or the metropolis takes as its charge the establishment of more humane working conditions, the riots and strikes of the past and the boredom, absenteeism, and local union rebellions of the present repeatedly emphasize that working conditions are and always have been one of the three or four determinants of the quality of urban life.
White-collar workers, although not usually unionized, have profited most from the trends of the economy over the past half century. Opportunities abounded as white-collar jobs rapidly increased. Large-scale production and sales required more and more research, engineering, cost accounting, advertising, and promotion, and the white-collar force has accordingly advanced at a reasonably regular pace in the nation's corporate bureaucracies. Scientific management, especially for middle management, has also come to the aid of the white-collar worker. Social scientists have demonstrated that when decisions must be made in an environment of rapid change, efficiency is promoted by individual and group autonomy, open communications from those lower in status to those above, and a general climate of trust and cooperation. Modern business thrives in situations of rapid change, and management jobs have accordingly multiplied, much to the pleasure and profit of the middle-class city dwellers who work in them. The problem for the city and the society as a whole has been that these benign and inherently more pleasurable working roles have not been extended more widely. Bureaucratic routine and mechanized production are the rule for most tasks in American business and government, and they are successful after their fashion. Autonomous, responsible white- and blue-collar
work for nonmanagers will not become generally available until the masses of office and factory workers insist upon it. In fact, so long as Americans regard their working hours as an unavoidably unpleasant period by which they purchase evening and weekend pleasures, they will not find the civility and autonomy in their jobs that they insist upon in their leisure and home environments. One need only contemplate the human impairment and cultural poverty of a large industrial city like Detroit to appreciate the enormous costs of our present methods of doing business.
The disadvantages of today's style are notorious. Although our plants, offices, and schools may be less harsh than their predecessors, more uniform and equitable in their treatment of people, less authoritarian and more temperate, a fog of boredom tinged with resentment fills the factories, salesrooms, and offices of the metropolis. Much work is dull routine. Much work in sales and supervision consists of selling one's own personality and manipulating those of others. Indeed, some of the new findings in social science have been used to manipulate employees for the benefit of management. Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Systems, for instance, is currently using T-groups, a technique of social psychology, as a means of reducing payrolls. In the factory, close tolerances and repetitive tasks make for ceaseless discipline without the compensating psychological release that might be provided by control over one's pace or by self-determination through one's craft. Everywhere there is an acceptance of real personal powerlessness and a dependence upon the pecking order of bureaucratically defined jobs. Sociologists speak of the alienation of the modern American; radio and television trumpet the fun culture. The advertising and market manipulation that ensures the corporate worker's position seeks also to alleviate his alienation by urging him to deaden his complaints in repeated consumerism.
Like the bureaucracies that have preceded our own—the Vatican, the Manchu society, and France under Louis XIV—our corporate society has come under attack for its seamless irresponsibility. By a
balance of internal conflicts among vice-presidents, division managers, and unions, the corporation grows and adapts to its surroundings. But, guided as it is by the profit motive, it is helpless to control itself for purposes other than its own growth. The automobile chokes the air of the cities, numerous products are dangerous to health, the very processes of modern industry and agriculture poison the rivers and seas of the world. In trying to combat the evils of such irresponsible self-serving, regulatory government agencies have mushroomed throughout the twentieth century. In the nineteenth century the development of the private railroad corporation was soon followed by the creation of state railway boards and the Interstate Commerce Commission. Yet over the years bargaining between bureaucrats and corporate lawyers, coupled with the shifting of personnel back and forth between industry and government, has softened regulation. Both industry and government have accommodated themselves to the sharing of power and to a common limitation on outside responsibility.
Just as Americans have failed to make full use of the flexibility of the dispersed metropolis, so they have failed to realize the social opportunities of the corporate society. The modern corporation has all the organized power necessary for the democratic and socially responsible organization of its enterprise. The capacity of the central staff to control accounting, planning, engineering, product design, market research, and capital allocation demonstrates that our society could manage the whole range of planned production. The successful splitting of the centralized firm into semiautonomous divisions suggests that the worst features of mindless uniformity could be overcome by giving more divisional authority to workers and regions where the corporation operates. In the last half century, while the corporations have been maturing, the missing element has been the urge on the part of citizens to make the private corporations public. Yet it seems clear that if we are to regain control of our society we must find ways to make our corporations into public enterprises.
Underlying the whole issue of the relationship between private corporations and urban life runs the unanswered question of legitimacy. What are the legitimate goals of these ubiquitous institutions and to whom should they be held responsible? Hitherto Americans have subscribed to the belief that the function of private enterprises was to make money for their managers and investors. Over the years unions and
government regulations have defined limits within which this activity should take place, yet neither unions nor government agencies deny that profit is the ultimate justification for corporate endeavor. Corporations are now too important to society to be allowed to continue in this limited direction; profit should be but one test of their effectiveness. So long as profit remains the ultimate measure of achievement, the products and services of corporations will fail to build a humane society because they will take on only those tasks in the society which are profitable and will indeed rush toward those that are most profitable to the exclusion of essential considerations. Thus in the midst of urban racism, poverty, and neglect, unemployment, housing shortages, malfunctioning education and health services, world starvation, and a host of other social ills which call out for attention, General Mills has decided that its future prosperity lies in developing a line of games and hobbies. The decision may be logical enough, given the company's past organization, present talents, and the likelihood of a large middle-class market, but it hardly sets in motion an activity to which society at the moment needs to devote its managerial talent or inherited capital. So it is down through the list of corporate contributions to our consumer society. Most products are harmless, and each of them is useful and satisfying in its own way, yet the sum of all the new cosmetics, cake mixes, lawn foods, appliances, home and office furnishings, and sports cars constitutes a vast misapplication of human resources and accumulated capital. The high but extremely uneven standard of living which the corporations have helped to create represents—like the corporations themselves—an appalling default in bringing about the humane and inclusive urban society that might be appearing.
The already large class of professionals and small businessmen has expanded with the rising standard of living, and the shift of the economy into retailing and services has helped to screen private corporations from public notice. For example, in metropolitan Los Angeles in 1967 there were 801,000 proprietors and employees engaged in operating small shops and services: lumber companies, hardware stores, groceries, restaurants, gasoline stations, clothing, furniture and appliance and drug stores, motels and laundromats, dry cleaners, travel and real-estate agencies, bowling alleys, and so forth. The same year, 982,000 persons were engaged in manufacturing enterprises, but they were laboring in establishments with an average of fifty-two employees, while the re-
tailers were working in establishments that averaged 7.3 and the service people five. In other words, besides the highly organized manufacturing workers in the modern metropolis stands a group of workers, almost as numerous, who follow the working patterns of the early nineteenth-century city. This modern petty-bourgeois class is deeply antisocialist, and it regards all social regulation and control as a threat to its personal and economic freedom. As C. Wright Mills observed some years ago, this class of professionals and businessmen defends the managers of large plants and offices in the local chambers of commerce and before local government agencies. It uncritically supports the use of public money for the assistance of business as a boon to prosperity and progress, obstructing all efforts toward local and regional planning which might deny a firm its desires. As a class it opposes national economic planning unless it takes the form of public works, tax write-offs, and subsidies. Thus today's urban business institutions present an ugly paradox—the corporate form holds a real potential for successful public ownership or public management, while the growing retail and service sector continues in the mold of the ideology of the early nineteenth century. The corporation is susceptible to dedication to public goals; but the second group, although it could be a key element in a revived localism, is opposed to every effort to make public goals the aim of successful economic enterprise.
The form of the corporation has always been and will continue to be determined by the ways in which the society and the economy are developing. We stand at a moment of unique opportunity. If strong steps are not taken now to socialize these institutions, it seems probable that the personnel of government and private management will merge into interlocking bureaucracies placed beyond the reach of democratic supervision. Such at least is the tendency today; it is the meaning of the outcry against the military-industrial complex and the reason for the frustration of consumer and ecological reforms. If we fail to socialize soon we will have lost, through foolish devotion to our cherished myth of private property, a historic opportunity to gain social responsibility for and democratic control of the building of our society and its cities.
The Megalopolis: 1920-
Los Angeles, city of war material, swimming pools, and smog, wonderfully exemplifies the urban consequences stemming from the change in structure of the national economy and its institutions. It is par excellence a city of the past half century. In 1920 the city proper had grown to be the tenth largest in the nation, about the same size as Pittsburgh (Los Angeles, 577,000; Pittsburgh, 588,000), and its metropolitan population had reached almost a million. Thanks largely to the prosperity and land rush of the twenties, the metropolitan area sustained a population of 2,785,000 on the eve of World War II, and the wartime infusion of business and workers raised this figure to 9,475,000 in 1970. Today Los Angeles is the second largest cluster of population and the third largest manufacturing center in the United States (Chicago Consolidated Statistical Area 7,612,000; New York CSA 16,179,000). It has now become the economic capital of the Pacific and the Southwest, the heart of the fast-growing San Diego-San Francisco megalopolis.
Like all great American cities, Los Angeles grew not by accretion of economic functions taken from other cities but by being geographically located in the center of new developments. Chicago rose with the settlement of the Midwest, Los Angeles with the waves of migration to California and the Southwest. Moreover, new resources and industries fired its growth. The railroads, the prairie farms, the forests of Michigan and Wisconsin, and Lake Superior ore had made Chicago a center for transportation, food processing, lumber, steel, and machinery. Similarly oil, a warm sunny climate, and the airlines made Los Angeles the capital of petroleum refining, of the national distribution of fruit and vegetables, and of movies, as well as the focal point of the nation's aircraft, aerospace, and war-research industries. Migrants added banks, stores, and residentiary industries of all kinds, and the local specialties encouraged complementary industries, until by the fifties the city was functioning as
The Automobile Metropolis
72. Downtown Los Angeles Freeway Circuit, 1970. Because of the speed and ease of automobile travel, a conventional retailing, office, and manufacturing core became but one center in a network of scattered concentrations. California Division of Highways, District VII
73. Looking Toward the Downtown from the Convention Center, Los Angeles, 1971. As in all American cities, the new corporate office towers symbolize the increasing bureaucratization of the urban economy and provide the dynamic element in the refashioning of old city cores into more narrowly specialized office and government centers. Mason Dooley
74. Raymond Avenue, Los Angeles, 1971. The near-universal cultural goal of a city of private homes shaped the potential of the automobile into the reality of Los Angeles. Mason Dooley
75. Stone Canyon, Sherman Oaks, 1970. Although Los Angeles' housing styles have been widely copied, the informal garden characteristic of California modern has generally been employed to intensify the inward-turning, private-family orientation of traditional American urban housing styles. Mason Dooley
76. Japanese-Americans Awaiting Removal to Concentration Camps, Los Angeles, 1942. The special contribution of Californians to American white racism was their fear of and hostility to Orientals. Wartime panic and xenophobia climaxed decades of earlier discrimination. Today's legacy is a precedent which threatens every American's civil liberties, and the permanent loss of a lively Japanese component in the culture of the metropolis. Library of Congress
77. Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, 1971. The trickle-down housing market in the Mexican-American east side. The low density of typical twentieth-century Los Angeles building has saved the city from the worst sanitary and overcrowding effects of earlier styles of slum housing. Mason Dooley
Elements of Growth
78. Main Street, Los Angeles, ca. 1875. Los Angeles began like all American cities with a shopkeepers' street of drygoods stores, livery stables, saloons, and hotels. View from the Plaza south toward the present downtown core. The Santa Ana Freeway now crosses Main Street beyond the first intersection. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
79. "Parking Lot" at Long Beach, 1905. The first of Los Angeles' special assets was its climate, but the cost of a horse and carriage for a time preserved urban recreation spaces for exclusive middle-class use. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
80. Streetcar Beach, Long Beach, ca. 1920. Street railways brought mass commercial exploitation of the Pacific shore, partially overcome by the subsequent extensive development of public automobile access beaches. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
81. William Fox Studio, Western Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 1927. Continuous sunshine drew the new movie industry from its earlier metropolitan New York locations. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
82. Del Rey Oil Fields, Los Angeles, 1930. The oil boom of the twenties added a second impetus to the city's growth, starting it on its path to industrial diversification. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
83. Ford Assembly Plant, Long Beach, 1929. With the take-off of Los Angeles in the twenties, growth begat growth, and national firms began to locate regional plants in the metropolis. Historical Collections, Security Pacific National Bank
84. Union Pacific Industrial Area, Vernon, 1924. Modern zoning laws intensified the rail orientation of American urban industry by specifying such land for factories only. In Los Angeles old rail alignments continue to function as the skeleton for industrial expansion. Historical Collections, Security Pacific National Bank
85. The earlier railroad-sponsored industrial development has reached in our own time the ultimate form of a planned satellite city. Here 35 miles from the downtown, developers have laid out a 4,000-acre tract with 350 firms and multiple transportation service: the San Diego and Newport freeways, Orange County airport, and a spur of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. The Irvine Company
86. Hill and 9th Streets, Downtown Los Angeles, 1924. Far more dispersed than its predecessors, the central cluster grew until World War II in the conventional form of a multipurpose, retail, office, government, theater, hotel, wholesaling, and manufacturing center. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
87. Republic and New High Streets, Los Angeles, ca. 1925. As in all cities, the immigrant quarters appeared at the fringe of the downtown. Here, the Mexicans have taken over shops and houses abandoned by their Yankee predecessors. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
88. Beginnings of the Civic Center, Los Angeles, 1940. Since the early twentieth century, huge and expensive government buildings were deemed to foster citizenship and heightened civic pride. Los Angeles refashioned its downtown with arid malls and colossal government offices, monuments to bureaucratization. The first stage: City Hall, 1927 (left), U.S. Court House, 1937 (right). History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
89. A Quarter of a Mile from City Hall, Los Angeles, 1936. Mexican-American slum housing at the industrial fringe of the downtown. Library of Congress
90. Brand Boulevard, Glendale, ca. 1926. Typical suburban subcenter eight miles from the downtown with the Pacific Electric Railway's "big red cars" stopped on the main street. Until left-turning automobiles clogged the streets and grade crossings, a 1,200-mile electric interurban system enabled Los Angeles to function as a single suburbanized, low-density, multicentered metropolis. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
91. Manchester Avenue and Santa Ana Freeway, Anaheim, 1965. Shopping centers with big stores and specialty shops, service roads, and freeways have solved automobile traffic circulation problems, but fail as social institutions because private developers cannot profitably offer low-rent space. California Division of Highways, District VII
92. Westwood Village, Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, ca. 1965. Wilshire (lower left to right) connects a line of high-income settlements running from the old downtown through Hollywood and Beverly Hills to Santa Monica. A continuous downtown, it is lined with stores and parking lots and at intervals with specialized apartments and office subcenters. Here is the University of California node (upper center); note the large proportion of street and parking area. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Spence Air Photo
93. Working-class Housing, 55th and Alameda Streets, Los Angeles, ca. 1930. Relative cheapening of land brought by the automobile meant a slight enlargement of the most inexpensive house lots, a bit more open than
comparable rapid-transit-and-street-railway-dominated Chicago and New York mass housing. Historical Collections, Security Pacific National Bank
94. Yards in Colon Street, Wilmington, 1945. The extra increment of land allowed working-class housing to age well. Garages could be converted into rentals and still meet minimum sanitary and fire safety standards; garden fragments could survive even in the lowest-income neighborhoods. Mason Dooley
95. Whittier Boulevard near Atlantic Boulevard, East Los Angeles, 1924. Subdividers continued to follow the standard American grid street and rectangular house lot practice used to parcel out the nation's land since the westward movement began. Historical Collections, Security Pacific National Bank
96. Whittier Boulevard, Belvedere, ca. 1924. Main street became the endless shopping strip. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
97. San Vicente Boulevard at Crescent Heights, Los Angeles, 1929. The prosperous middle class fared little better than the mass at the hands of private real-estate developers. Expensive houses, in English cottage, Spanish and American colonial styles, crowded the small rectangular lots. History Division, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
98. Sunset and Beverly Boulevards, Beverly Hills, 1924. Only the wealthy benefited from the garden potential of southern California suburbs: hill sites, large grid lots adapted to streets following contours of the land, small parks and extensive street plantings preceded the luxury-home buyer. County of Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission, Spence Air Photo
99. Court, 1st Street, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, 1971. The only useful innovation of Los Angeles urban architecture was the mutiple-family courtyard. It began as a mean small-apartment barracks set in a U shape along a single walk, filling an entire rectangular lot. This primitive practice continues today in the cheapest motor courts. Mason Dooley
100. Court, Pinafore Street, Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles, 1971. Since World War II middle-income families have been attracted to an expanded court design, now often in a hollow square, two and three stories high, requiring several rectangular house lots. Peripheral parking, central garden and swimming pool are standard amenities, a kind of apartment design that overcomes both the social isolation and parking problems of the more land-conserving apartment blocks of Eastern cities. Mason Dooley
101. Apartment Towers, Avenue of the Stars, Century City, Los Angeles, 1971. In marked contrast to the courts, which will decay humanely, Los Angeles developers erect on expensive and fashionable land luxury apartment towers, which maximize isolation of tenant from tenant, and tenants from the surrounding city. In half a century, when today's mortgages are paid off, the city as a whole will inherit heavy social costs as these structures decay into the worst kind of slum rookeries. Mason Dooley
a widely diversified metropolis given over to manufacturing, commerce, service, and war production.
During the twenties and thirties, irrigated agriculture, oil discoveries, the motion-picture boom, and waves of Midwestern and Texan migrants seeking a pleasant place to live and work swelled the city's size. Oil revenues in part financed the construction of an ocean port at Long Beach, and favorable rail connections to the Southwest and the East (the city lies a few miles closer to Chicago than San Francisco does) made Los Angeles a preferred site for warehouses and branch plants of national corporations. During the twenties, for example, both Ford and Goodyear built Pacific plants there, and many other firms followed suit. But the city was handicapped by the circumstance that its factories were some two thousand miles from the western edge of the Midwestern manufacturing belt at St. Louis. Therefore the sectors of the metropolitan economy devoted to general machinery and metalworking—sectors of vital importance to a fully elaborated industrial region—did not develop during these years. Los Angeles in 1940, for all its impressive size, was not yet committed to manufacturing.
Thirty years of almost continuous hot and cold wars ended this anomaly. Tremendous aircraft orders from the federal government not only caused that particular industry to shoot ahead, but federal sponsorship of aerospace research and all sorts of war material fostered supportive manufacturing, until today the city is the only fully diversified manufacturing region outside the belts of the Northeast and Midwest. To be sure, Los Angeles still has its agricultural, aircraft, electronic, and movie specialties, just as Chicago still concentrates on steel, machinery, and printing and New York on garments, leather, printing, electrical equipment, and national offices, but since the 1950s a full range of complementarities has been available in Los Angeles to boost further expansion.
Three special characteristics of the Los Angeles metropolis stand out by comparison with the earlier examples of New York and Chicago:
its high degree of spatial freedom, its potential for a more equitable and inclusive class and racial society, and its growth in response to deliberate federal programs.
The land-use and transportation structure of Los Angeles gives glimpses of a more humane environment than we have yet enjoyed. The special factor of the city's social geography is its low density of settlement, the ease and scope of movement of the overwhelming proportion of its citizens, and its comparative lack of domination by a single downtown area. It has thus escaped the rigid core, sector, and ring structure of business and residential occupation that tyrannized the industrial metropolis and from which older cities are only now beginning to extricate themselves. Los Angeles is an amorphous metropolis, and vast tracts of it have a rather uniform low-density settlement of five to twenty-four persons per acre. Along the Pacific in the Santa Monica and Long Beach areas and in a crescent of housing from Santa Monica through Beverly Hills to the old core city there are apartment houses and multiple-dwelling neighborhoods that resemble those in Chicago or New York. Also scattered through the metropolis, especially along its shopping strips, stand many of the motel-like courts that are the contemporary slum-tenement style of the American city; but the single-family dwelling has long been the glory of Los Angeles and the expression of its design for living. Sixty-four percent of all its occupied housing in 1967 was given over to single-family dwelling units.
The plan for a metropolis composed of single-family houses did not emerge from the drawing boards of freeway engineers; their constructions followed an already entrenched preference of the Angelenos. During the twenties three social factors had converged to establish the Los Angeles plan: the cultural preference of Americans for detached private homes, the need to supply water for burgeoning land development, and the sheer pleasure and freedom bestowed by the automobile.
Three out of four of the army of migrants who came into southern California during the early part of the twentieth century were white native-born Americans from the cities to the east and from the farms and small towns of the Midwest. City dwellers and farmers alike brought with them an ingrained tradition of the single-family house as
the measure of a home and of Main Street or suburbia as the measure of satisfactory living. The American has often had to share his housing with others—in rented rooms, in two-family houses, in tenements of three, six, or more flats—but given the opportunity he has customarily sought a house of his own. Moreover, just as in the case of Chicago's middle class, in the Los Angeles region no thirst for the big-city life of skyscrapers, restaurants, and theaters has tempted him to sacrifice the privacy of a tree-shaded lawn and garden for apartment luxury or for the urban habits of the nineteenth-century inhabitants of European or American industrial cities. In sum, people came to southern California seeking a warm, sunlit, home-town city.
To provide these amenities in the first decades of the twentieth century in the face of the aridity of Los Angeles, residential property carried high land-preparation costs and so had to be developed in tracts of considerable size. An expensive water supply had to be meshed with public transportation to a degree unheard-of in the modest subdivisions common in Eastern cities. Speculators capitalized on the situation by building a wide-range complex of electric interurban streetcars. They hoped that their initial investment in lines that stretched from twenty to thirty-five miles out from the downtown area would be justified by massive profits from future land development and ensuing heavy traffic on their routes. Los Angeles in 1920, compared to other cities of the period, was extraordinarily extended into large-scale suburban development.
The automotive boom of the twenties carried these trends toward diffusion to modern proportions. The general ownership of automobiles and their use in commuting allowed developers to open up smaller tracts beyond walking distance from the interurbans. When these lines began to lose money from competition with automobiles and when traffic jams in downtown Los Angeles became intolerable, the municipality called for the construction of a rapid-transit system to alleviate traffic, revitalize the street railways, and save the downtown. Other cities had voted for subways in the twenties, but Los Angeles did not follow the precedents; its citizens voted down the proposals. Their city was so new and open that they had no image before them of a desirable downtown, and they had no habit of listening to the appeals of downtown business leaders.
Then, too, their tradition told them that happiness lay in another style of life.
During the Great Depression the public transportation system cut back its service, and after World War II the interurban lines closed down; today the public bus lines handle a small volume of passengers—400,000 fewer than in 1939. Without the discipline of street railways, commerce drained from the core city to spread out along strips of land like Wilshire Boulevard. Suburban towns like Glendale and Pasadena established their own downtowns, and suburban shopping centers and office clusters have sprung up to form a multicentered metropolis.
The key decision in the determination of the spatial freedom of its residents came in 1939, when the Los Angeles Freeway plans were settled into a multicentered pattern. A failing public transit, serious traffic jams, and a new state statute that permitted construction of limited-access highways had prompted the City of Los Angeles to commission still another study of its transportation problems. The Works Progress Administration of the federal government carried out a traffic census, and on the basis of these findings the City of Los Angeles Transportation and Engineering Board made its recommendations; freeways would be the solution to the region's traffic difficulties. The unusual multicity and multicounty membership of the advisory board may have accounted for its metropolitan orientation. Besides Los Angeles officials, representatives from such scattered places as Glendale, Beverly Hills, Redondo Beach, Huntington Beach, Whittier, Pasadena, and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys sat on the board. The 1939 plan called for limited-access express highways to be laid out in the form of a giant grid, which would be capable of carrying automobile traffic both into and out of the overcrowded Los Angeles central business district and would guide it across the city without the necessity of its going through the downtown area. The principal justification for this plan was the board's recognition of the already highly dispersed character of the region. Many of its alignments were to follow the much-traveled state highways that crisscrossed the area. The report may well have reflected too the politics of the Transportation Board itself. Although no record survives of its discussions, it seems highly probable that the members
from the more distant areas would not have accepted the conventional hub-and-wheel design that was at this time being proposed for old American single-core cities, since such a plan would have drawn business away from their own centers. The board did expect, however, that Los Angeles would eventually grow to be a conventional single-centered city and that in time commuter railroads and subways would be required.
The 1939 proposal for freeways derives its historical importance from the fact that it was subsequently adopted and adapted in a succession of plans and projects. The first undertakings, begun in 1940 with the Pasadena Freeway, all converged on the downtown (the Hollywood, San Bernardino, Santa Aria, and Harbor Freeways), thereby beginning a radial scheme for serving the downtown, but wartime and postwar planning studies continued to repeat the basic grid strategy of the 1939 report. Then in 1956, when the federal government passed its Interstate Highway law, the California legislature set up a committee to establish routes for the state. The routes that were then adopted incorporated the 1939 proposal for a grid system of metropolitan freeways, and many such highways have been built in the ensuing years. The grid is still being extended at its outer margins in order to keep up with the spread of the metropolis, and it is being added to at the center to relieve traffic congestion further, but for many years now Los Angeles has enjoyed a transportation system that permits its residents to move swiftly from subcenter to subcenter over the entire region without having to go through the downtown or any lesser center.
The social consequences of the multicentered, low-density metropolitan region are manifold and are important to our urban future. First and foremost was the increase in the job choices offered the urban resi-
dent. In 1967 there were three automobiles for every seven persons in the Los Angeles region; 41 percent of the households had access to one vehicle, 44 percent had access to two or more vehicles, and only 15 percent of the households lacked a car. Such a distribution of automobiles and freeways gives the Los Angeles employee the widest choice of job opportunities ever possible in an American city. An hour's drive from any point in the region makes hundreds of possible employers accessible. A man can live in the San Fernando Valley and work in the old industrial sector of southeast Los Angeles, or he can commute from the old core-city neighborhoods to the new steel mills at Fontana. These are extreme commuting distances, to be sure, but recent studies show that blue-collar workers in particular are crisscrossing the whole area in search of the best jobs. In the past urban workers were pinned down to living next to their mills, or they purchased their economic freedom by commuting from crowded core-city working-class and slum districts along the radial lines of the streetcar system. These journeys were long, the cars crowded and slow, and transfers and waits in the cold and wet often necessary. Such trials cannot be compared with the ease of an hour's run today in a private car or car pool. In Los Angeles most commuters go directly from their home to the company parking lot, and the majority travel alone; more than 70 percent of all weekday automobile trips are taken by a single driver.
To this economic freedom must be added the social advantages that have accrued to the Los Angeles public. The greater number of car trips are not work-related at all but are undertaken for social or recreational purposes or for shopping. Thus scattered friends and relatives, long shopping strips and outlying shopping centers, the Pacific beaches, and national parks are all within easy reach of most families. At the same time the city is able to grow by continuing to build in its low-density popular single-family or low-rise apartment-court style.
Like all American cities, the Los Angeles automobile metropolis does not extend its amenities equally to all its residents but reinforces sharp differences governed by class and race. Boyle Heights, an early twentieth-century neighborhood in East Los Angeles, offers some of the attractions of small-town life to its Mexican-American residents. Watts
and the black ghetto have many of the same features. Yet the poor, lacking cars and perhaps also fearful of their reception in other parts of the metropolis, do not travel over large sections of the region as residents of the San Fernando Valley might do. Women and old people especially suffer from a dearth of cars. The women thus lack access to jobs that would boost family income, and to essential shopping and health services. For the men, transportation doesn't seem to be the problem. Once they find employment they seem to be able to purchase cars on time.
The solution to the disadvantaged position of those without cars is neither difficult nor expensive, but like all our cities Los Angeles remains heedless of the needs and suffering of its poor, its blacks, its Mexican Americans, and its old people. After the Watts riot the transportation problems of the poor were made plain, and the state of California, with federal funding, set up a demonstration project in southeast Los Angeles to attempt to deal with the problem. A social science team intervened in behalf of the poor in several ways. They became the spokesmen of the neighborhoods before the bus companies; they waged campaigns to have route maps printed and distributed and to persuade the companies to post the schedules at the bus stops. They discovered that the last bus might leave a factory's gates a few minutes before the men finished their daily shifts; they discovered routes that could be instituted or altered to reflect the commuting habits of the residents. It seems clear from the findings of this team that the cost cutting of private and public bus companies should be monitored in every city by a political agency representing the transportation interests of those outside the circle of the automobile world. The altering of existing public transportation, however, was not sufficient. The women needed short runs along shopping strips and to shopping centers and they needed long trips in every direction to reach scattered job sites. To this end the experiment rented buses for some new regular routes and also used station wagons and cars for a kind of metropolitan taxi service
to jobs at such widely dispersed destinations as Lockheed in Burbank, Douglas Aircraft at Long Beach, Torrence, and Santa Monica, American Electric at La Mirada, and Sergent-Fletcher in El Monte. The cost of these services was high, but could have been much reduced if established permanently. The demonstration project was a success, but in 1971, when the funds were gone, predictably the grant by the federal government was not renewed and the service closed down.
Judging from this experience, a few millions of dollars a year spent in maintaining an agency to represent the carless and offer its own flexible small-bus service would redress the worst of the access problems attendant on Los Angeles' unequal distribution of family income. To be sure, those without cars are the ones who suffer most from low wages, from job discrimination against women, old people, blacks, and the ill-educated, and from regional and national callousness toward the unemployed and the underemployed, but even a modest effort would be far more useful to the poor than the currently fashionable enthusiasm for rail lines. Railroads by their very nature offer high-volume service only along their own narrow strip. Los Angeles is neither a linear nor a radial city; it is a multicentered city that calls for multidestination public transportation.
Finally, although Los Angeles does not have the problem of choking traffic jams and hard-to-reach areas like those of New York, it does have a serious air-pollution problem. In view of the enormous investment and great social success of the freeways, it seems foolish not to try to eliminate the smog in similar terms. Surely the technology of the moon era is capable of manufacturing low-emission engines as an alternative to the present disgraceful pollution created by Los Angeles' 4.5 million automobiles.
Since all of the metropolises and the three megalopolises of the United States are growing into the form of Los Angeles, it is important that we understand the social potential of this diffuse layout of building. The open character of Los Angeles has resulted in a land-use structure more favorable for the achievement of racial and class justice than any that has so far existed in any large American city. This structure is only a potential for justice, however, and remains far from realization.
Los Angeles is no better than most cities when it comes to racial discrimination, segregation, and disadvantages for its poor. The county
population is 10.8 percent black, 13.5 percent of Spanish surname. The isolation of blacks is almost as extreme as in Chicago. The Mexican Americans are less rigidly segregated from the Anglo Americans than are the blacks, but nonetheless they are highly segregated. When the frustration of the black community exploded with the Watts riots of 1965, a national chain reaction was set in motion, and since that time there have been a number of Mexican-American riots expressing the conflicts of another disadvantaged community. All the hostility and failings of our society, so fully documented in 1968 by the Kerner Commission and in other reports, are part of Los Angeles as well. But if it wishes to build a more inclusive society, it has a special advantage in the availability of land for redevelopment and in abundant fringe land for new construction. The prerequisite for making good use of the land in terms of its society is a commitment by the national government and the Los Angeles public and its officials to make a decent house and neighborhood open to every resident. With such a commitment, new housing can become the framework for an inclusive urban society, rejecting the city's present mechanism for class, racial, and ethnic segregation.
The original low density of Los Angeles' construction has saved it from mortgaging its future. Its built-up areas are not so crammed with structures that new construction in old areas brings serious dislocation of present residents, as is the case in Chicago or New York. There is vacant land all over the Los Angeles region. This land is in the form of weedy lots and unused spaces, some large enough for development in their own right, some requiring some demolition of adjacent houses. If public agencies were to build on five-acre tracts they would find land, either vacant or sparsely occupied, by the hundreds of parcels all over the city. Such land is ideal for the design and construction of low-rise apartments, two-family housing, and town houses. In other words, existing styles of housing could become the basis for a massive public housing program that would not disrupt the physical fabric of the city. Federal programs for land clearance, housing, and rent subsidies allow such housing to be offered today to the fourth of the Los Angeles population who cannot afford decent housing at present prices. Such
federal programs, however, would have to be so funded as to allow for a large-scale and sustained undertaking.
At least three important social consequences would be derived from such a small-parcel program. First, the chronic shortage of low-income housing would be relieved. Second, the abundance of scattered sites would enable blacks, Mexican Americans, and the poor to choose to settle either near their present neighborhoods or in new distant sections of the city. The degree of social pioneering undertaken by any family would be according to their own choice and would not depend on the decision of public authorities. Third, the five-acre tracts would have to be designed to fit into the styles prevailing in their environs or else face strong local opposition. Perhaps this requirement that design attain at least the levels of popular taste would save the projects from the degradation of some of the philanthropic architectural styles that now stigmatize public housing.
At its fringes the Los Angeles freeway brings large tracts of vacant land within the reach of commuters. This same situation prevails in the Eastern and Midwestern megalopolis and all metropolises. Here publicly sponsored or managed new towns of 50,000 to 200,000 residents could be used as a device for increasing the residential options of black and low-income families. The key advantage of the new-town concept, or entire-city building scheme, over the conventional suburban subdivision lies in its coordination of public facilities with employment and housing. The new town can be built around industries to provide jobs for a range of skills and classes. The schools and health services can be built in the beginning so that the residents do not create unnecessary conflict by overloading small local community services. Finally, because these would be large projects, the social engineering of building at all class levels would become feasible. Los Angeles is currently building a beautiful new town at Irvine. Its extent is 53,000 acres, and it will ultimately hold 430,000 inhabitants. It has jobs, recreation, an airport, and community facilities laid out in such a way that the native California land form is undisturbed. It is a brilliant example of the advantage of large-scale new-town development over the spread of subdivisions. Despite all this, Irvine is a social scandal—an all-white, upper-middle-class enclave. It is exactly the sort of project that at once shows the high
potential of the new metropolis and its bigoted, class-bound failure to realize that potential.
Finally, Los Angeles should be understood as an outstanding example of regional and national planning. Its port at Long Beach, its interstate water-supply system, and its national parks and forests are excellent examples of well-designed and coordinated large-scale planning. Its war-stimulated growth is of interest precisely because it demonstrates an important but as yet little exercised capability of the federal government to influence the prosperity of a metropolitan region. The Los Angeles experience shows that we have depressed cities and depressed regions only because we have chosen to let them go unattended.
Several principles governing a successful national urban policy can be derived from the federal sponsorship in Los Angeles. First, federal orders for products and services, direct intervention in the construction of plants, and long-term aid in the building of water and electric facilities encouraged and sustained its growth. In the case of huge aircraft orders and the subsequent erection of aircraft plants with federal funds, the investment helped an industry that had already taken root to settle in more firmly. The additional contracts in the fields of aerospace and war material were instrumental in bringing the blossoming electronics industry into the city from the East.
Second, the magnitude of orders and assistance exceeded any later federal attempts to foster business in depressed areas through favored purchasing, small-business loans, and Office of Economic Opportunity programs. Aside from the money spent for war material, tools were being forged here for a national policy directed to urban growth and regional employment guidance, but our low-key use of these tools and our compulsion to tie them to the Congressional pork barrel have rendered them ineffective.
Third, the federal infusion of capital into the area continued over a long period—at least thirty years—without serious interruption, so that the war specialties of Los Angeles have been consistently nourished.
Fourth, the Los Angeles case showed that special institutions could be used to upgrade a regional labor force that had been neither particularly skilled nor outstandingly intelligent. The government sponsored here the foundation of nonprofit research and development corpora-
tions, such as RAND and the Systems Development Corporation, to supplement the educational and research capabilities of the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and the University of California. These additional institutions, by attracting scientists and engineers to the region, did much to accelerate the city's movement into higher levels of technology, and at a pace more rapid than would have prevailed if the city had depended only upon its universities and the technical staffs of resident aircraft and electronic concerns. In the Boston metropolitan region, similar paramilitary institutions helped raise the level of a management and labor force formerly connected to the dragging textile industry, and it seems probable that the Houston Manned Spacecraft Center will have the same effect in Texas. These instances suggest that the federal government could create research and service institutions for civilians as a device to upgrade the industries and labor forces of such places as Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, and New York.
Fifth and finally, the federal investment in Los Angeles, moved by an unconscious planning wisdom, supplemented and stimulated an existing trend. There was no effort to reverse the path of popular migration or to go against the locational trends of the economy as might have been the case in such places as Appalachia or East St. Louis, Illinois. It is obvious that to roll with the economy, to relieve temporary distress, and to help people to move is a prerequisite for national urban programs.
What the federal effort in Los Angeles lacked was self-conscious dedication. The United States has the tools to plan its regional and national urban growth through the twin job-awarding devices of the giant corporation and the federal budget. Since World War II the magnitude of the corporate and federal effort has in large measure determined the national location of jobs; it has designated the industries and places where jobs would be plentiful and where they would be sparse. The depressed condition of the core of New York City is a casualty of the federal and corporate concentration on war just as surely as the prosperity of Los Angeles is its hero. If we are to mitigate the appalling human waste and suffering of our cities, both institutions must be made
to act as self-conscious agents of urban reordering. The federal government must follow European examples by adopting a carefully considered, politically viable policy for urban growth so that the modernization of our cities and our economy can go forward more humanely; the corporations must be socialized to the point at which they can be held accountable for the public consequences of their behavior. Like the legitimate demands for decent work, comfortable housing, and an open inclusive society, the promise of today's economy and its cities will not be realized unless the American public demands that government and business serve the goals of a humane society.