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Art: Photography

A City of Fakes: A History of Themed Environments in Los Angeles


Saturday Feb 2, 2013 (2pm)


Los Angeles Public Library: Central Library

630 W 5th St





Photo Friends says…

 Most cities build monuments out of stone. Los Angeles builds them out of fantasies. From backlots to theme parks, L.A. has long been a city of imaginary worlds. There are Mayan temples that show movies, cruise liners that bottle Coca-Cola, and Babylonian palaces that manufacture tires.

  Pictured below is a gem from the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) Photo Collection: an interior view of Clifton’s Pacific Seas cafeteria taken by Lucille Stewart, c. 1945. Located at 618 S. Olive Street, the Pacific Seas was one of the legendary Clifton's Cafeterias (only the Brookdale location on Broadway remains). Clifford Clinton, founder of the Clifton’s chain, first opened the Cafeteria of the Golden Rule at this location in 1931. In 1939, it was redecorated in a Polynesian motif with an illuminated waterfall for an exterior facade and an interior full of grottoes, huts, and neon palm trees. The restaurant closed in 1960 and was later razed.    Join Zed Adams and Eric Lynxwiler as they chronicle the history of L.A.’s most distinctive contribution to 20th century architecture and design: the themed environment. Drawing upon the photo collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, they offer a guided tour through the history of Angelenos living, working, and playing in a city of fakes.   Urban anthropologist J. Eric Lynxwiler is the co-author of “Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles” and “Knott’s Preserved: From Boysenberry to Theme Park, The History Of Knott’s Berry Farm.”  Neon enthusiasts may know Eric as the affable host of the memorable Neon Cruise for the Museum of Neon Art while downtown LA preservationists know him as an LA Conservancy docent for the Broadway Theater district. Zed Adams is an assistant professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City.  He is currently writing a book, "On the Genealogy of Color," which explores how shifts in our concept of color have led to shifts in how we think about perceptual experience – and subjectivity more generally.  This talk is part of a larger study of the ways in which New York City and Los Angeles – in architecture, design, fiction, and film – represent two radically opposed possibilities for 20th century American life.