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A video primer on the unique, shimmery light of Los Angeles

Revisiting a 1998 The New Yorker essay all about LA’s glow

In 1994, The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Weschler was in New York, watching the O.J. Simpson chase on TV with his daughter. A Van Nuys native turned East Coast transplant, Weschler was transfixed not by the slow-speed car chase but by the gorgeous Los Angeles light that illuminated it, “the late-afternoon light of Los Angeles—golden pink off the bay through the smog and onto the palm fronds,” he later wrote.

In 1998, The New Yorker published Weschler’s essay on LA’s uniquely beautiful light. It was the light that drew early Hollywood studios and arguably distinguishes changing seasons for Angelenos.

The piece, titled “L.A. Glows,” included input from “people who spend their lives in the light:” painter David Hockney, the pilot who flew a news helicopter over the O.J. Simpson chase, Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, and a scientist from CalTech.

Earlier this month, Weschler revisited his classic essay in a video for The New Yorker, checking in with a few sources. The character of the light in LA has changed a little over the years because there’s less pollution, explains a CalTech scientist. But as a flyover with the O.J.-chase helicopter pilot, Zoey Tur, shows the city’s signature glow is still something to behold. “The soul of the place is that light,” says Weschler.