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CRF Blog » Blog Archive » For Sunset, a new dawn

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For Sunset, a new dawn

by Bill Hayes

In For Sunset, a new dawn, Los Angeles Times architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne explores one of L.A.’s most famous streets.

Conventional wisdom has it that the way to understand Sunset Boulevard, the most glamorous street in Los Angeles, is by following it from east to west.

That’s how Sunset grew from its origins in the 1780s as a cattle trail branching out from the pueblo where L.A. was born. Even the boulevard’s name suggests you’re supposed to travel it that way, finishing up at the ocean just as the sun does.

So what’s to be gained by heading in the opposite direction, looking at Sunset from west to east?

For starters, that route offers a way to explore an intriguing notion: that the key to deciphering contemporary Los Angeles is to focus not on growth and expansion, those building blocks of 20th century Southern California, but instead all the ways in which the city is doubling back on itself and getting denser.

And if you really want a gauge of 21st century Los Angeles, you’ll have to look all the way to the eastern end of the boulevard, where Sunset becomes Cesar E. Chavez Avenue and — as it cuts through Boyle Heights — provides a surprising model for the L.A. boulevard of the future. [more]