The enterprising blogger at Diserio.com has put together a semi-scientific ranking of the world's best skylines, ranking Los Angeles at number 34--behind such smaller US cities as Chicago (2), San Francisco (14), Seattle (10), Pittsburgh (16) and, um, Minneapolis (33). The system references a lot of building information available on respectable web sites and generates rankings based on seven categories: 1) Visual Vertical Impact Index, 2) Height, 3) Density, 4) Style, 5) Feats, 6) Unique, and 7) Geography. However, the popular narrative about Los Angeles seems to have influenced the final results--the website's Los Angeles-specific page speculates about why LA's skyline "pales compared to that of cities which are similar in size," with the following outsider's take on LA: "The building restrictions due to earthquake fears are a part of the issue, but urban sprawl is at the heart of the matter."
Those things are perhaps partly true, but San Francisco has earthquakes, and apparently our neighbors to the north have still managed to do something right. If anything, the LA skyline is lacking because of regulations that require a helicopter landing pad on the top of every tall building--that's what's made our skyscrapers so stubby and flat. (Meanwhile, we've already seen how much emptier it might look without the work of the Community Redevelopment Agency.)
Then there is the small fact that the website's data is a bit out of date--all the pictures on the page lack a certain Coca-Cola-emblazoned AEG-owned building. The Ritz/JW Marriott building at LA Live tops out at 203 meters, making it the eleventh tallest building in Los Angeles. But Diserio.com says that "[LA] has 10 buildings over 200 m, none of which were buil[t] after 1991."
That being said, most people endowed with eyesight aren't going to say that LA's skyline rivals those of New York or Chicago, but there is something to be said for being able to stand outside to admire the skyline, even in the "winter" or whatever they have going on in Minneapolis right now.
· Top 15 Skylines of the World [diserio.com]
· You've Got Stub, LA: Should City Change Its Skyline? [Curbed LA]
· What the Downtown LA Skyline Would Look Like Without the Community Redevelopment Agency of LA [Curbed LA]