Summer 2017

We exist at a time in the United States that engenders great concern over how ourleaders will defi ne “progress” and “growth” in our cities. For much of the 2nd half of the20th century, urbanists have been focused on making space available to people,advocating for more inclusive and equitable public spaces for all. In Los Angeles, newcivic spaces such as Grand Park, Tongva Park, Vista Hermosa, the Los Angeles RiverMasterplan, and Pershing Square Renew all seek to connect the urban fabric of the cityand, in doing so, connect to all populations.

This trajectory of opening up spaces to become more public, more inclusive, and moredemocratic faces an uncertain future. A renewed rhetoric of nationalism and exclusionquestions who has a right to the city. In the city, the front line of our democracy lies inour freely accessible spaces. As urbanists, we need to continue to advocate fordynamic, open, and engaging public realms.
In this issue of the L.A. Forum Newsletter we are exploring the defi nition of publicspace in Los Angeles today. In order to best advocate for expanding our public realm,we need to better understand the complex network of public spaces in Los Angeles. Inaddition to normative models of public space (parks, plazas, and gardens), Los Angelestoday exemplifi es a public realm that is both symbolic and tangible. Many of theseplaces are technically semi-public, yet have engrained themselves into communitiesand become vital parts of the cultural life of the city. This blurring of public and privateopens up further complexity over how these spaces are controlled, regulated, andprotected.

In a city where developers become political actors, the users of the city often fi ndthemselves in a powerless situation. However, it is the everyday Angelinos of the citythat generate the cultural vitality and currency of contemporary Los Angeles. With thisnewsletter, we will begin to explore some of these questions, in the hope of starting abroader conversation of the future of public space in Los Angeles.

Design by Robyn Baker
This publication is made possible in part by a grant from City of Los Angeles
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