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Saving Los Angeles From Becoming a Third-World City

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Many of America's cities are in the crapper thanks to years of policy that's favored suburbs and sprawl, writes The New York Times' architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff. But with a city guy in the Oval Office, and billions being pumped into urban centers, this trend is reversible and opportunity especially lies in four cities: New Orleans, Buffalo, New York City's Bronx borough, and LA. Ouroussoff acknowledges our city has fared better than most (our booming population has been spared from natural disasters), but our limited transit network and our lack of green space threaten the livability of LA, and if unchecked, could turn the city into a North American Cairo. But a "citywide plan that anchored Los Angeles along two major axes – the green river and the asphalt boulevard – could save it from becoming a third world city," writes Ouroussoff, a former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times.

---Specifically, Ouroussoff wants the ambitious plan to re-green the LA River to move forward. Returning part of the concrete bed to its natural state would grant park space to diverse communities from the Valley to Long Beach. Councilman Ed Reyes told Ouroussoff that $100 million could get the plan jump-started at least near downtown.

---Public transit needs a shot in the arm; most important is getting a train under Wilshire Boulevard that connects our cultural institutions (the Wiltern, LACMA, the Hammer, and Eli Broad's new museum at Wilshire and Santa Monica). Concentrating public transit and culture on Wilshire could give LA the center its always been searching for.

--Also, in a nice shout-out, Ouroussoff acknowledges that LA "has the most talented cluster of architects practicing anywhere in the United States."
· Reinventing America's Cities [NY Times]