Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


1970s Los Angeles via Reyner Banham

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

Travel back in time with architecture critic Reyner Banham in this BBC documentary on Google Videos. (A feature-length documentary on Google, what do you know?). This British author of Los Angeles: The Architecture for Four Ecologies shares his love for Los Angeles, in an hour that goes by quickly.

It's a strange pleasure to see so many familiar Los Angeles sights rendered in 1970s Kodachrome. Watch out for sights of Los Angeles freeways (seemingly not as clogged as today), the Watts Towers (8 min. mark), Miracle Mile (17:52) and even the Pacific Electric Railroad in full form (19:10). Banham even takes us inside Pasedena's Gamble House (23:28), where he was fortunate enough to live in as a USC professor. Lucky him!

Though Banham does seem to have a fascination for LA highways (given the obvious relish he has while driving), he also concludes that should LA ever decide to shut down the freeways, we'll be all right. How prescient of him!

He says, "when the smog doom descends and private cars are banned from the streets, quite a lot of craftily placed citizens will be able to switch over to being pedestrians and feel no pain."

In true Hollywood fashion, Banham ends the docu riding off into the LA sunset (or what he calls, "the greatest exit line any city could ever have.") Yes, I do believe you love LA, Mr. Banham.


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