The city…does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls.
– Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, 1972
LOS ANGELES – the urban area that ends abruptly at the Pacific in the West and dissipates into the desert in the East – is a city of erasure and transformations, of leveling and layering. Once a capital of aerospace, automobile and petrochemical production, Greater Los Angeles is now a series of company towns with no company, its manufacturing plants replaced by shopping malls and housing developments. Here, history is quickly forgotten in favor of the new, the city constantly reforged to serve changing political, social and economic impulses. With this forgetting, the effects of industrialization and deindustrialization are obscured, creating a landscape that eludes interpretation.
Industrial Los Angeles attempts to break down this resistance to interpretation by uncovering those impulses that have formed and continue to impact the city. In a series of photographic essays, this project mines the built environment for signs of industrial production, both past and present. Through this excavation, a hidden city is revealed, its ruins razed, but its presence still lingering: as Industrial Los Angeles materializes, history becomes untethered from the past, its imprint now visible in the landscape, giving new meaning to what we see.
Industrial Los Angeles was created and designed by Elleni Sclavenitis.
Left: Photo Index of West End of L.A. Basin, August 1979, Teledyne Geotronics, Long Beach, CA