one of the first buildings that impressed me in l.a was (and is) the cement plant on the corner of la brea and romaine.
years. and years. ago i remember driving past it and thinking…
whoa, there’s a huge amazing cement plant in the middle of hollywood. huh. that’s interesting.
i assumed that as gentrification proceeded apace in l.a that the cement would go the way of everything else interesting that’s obliterated in the crushing tide of gentrification.
but then 5 years later it was still there.
and then 10 years later it was still there.
and then 15 years later it was still there.
and now, 20 years later, it’s still there.
leading me to conclude that the crushing tide of gentrification in hollywood is actually more like a weird ripple, barely affecting most of the weirdness of hollywood (like, say, cement plants).
i mean, can you imagine a giant cement plant in the middle of london or new york or paris? no. and i’m assuming that the citizens of london, new york, and paris are pretty happy to not look out their windows and see giant cement plants as they’re eating their respective fancy foodstuffs.
but in a very odd way i see the presence of a giant cement plant in the middle of hollywood as being testament to the weird urban health of l.a. not by any conventional criteria or metrics, but rather from a perspective of cheap land enabling people to do whatever they feel like doing.
a cement plant in any other big western city would’ve long ago been turned into something big and fancy, as real estate in every other big western (and eastern) cities is super pricey. but l.a is, as i’ve mentioned before, surprisingly cheap in lots and lots of places.
if you want to rent a big space in new york in which to start a studio or a business you would need a dumptruck full of money. if you want to rent a big space in hollywood in which to start a studio or a business you just need whatever you can get out of the atm that day (ok, i’m exaggerating. sort of).
oh, and in addition to cement plants being testament to the health of a city they’re also really photogenic and great. even david lynch agrees with me