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Los Angeles history enters 'The Third LA' era, critic says

File photo: The downtown Los Angeles skyline.
File photo: The downtown Los Angeles skyline.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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Los Angeles has undergone plenty of changes in the last few decades, so much so that we may be entering a new era in the city's history. 

This is the theory of Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the L.A. Times, and he calls this new era "The Third L.A.," which is also the title of a series of public lectures and reports Hawthorne is producing over the next few months. Southern California Public Radio will co-present these events with Occidental College.

Hawthorne says we are well in the throes of The Third L.A., which he says took hold in the 2000s.

"The city has really been negotiating a pretty major shift in its civic personality, trying to move past its dependence on the car, we’re building apartments instead of single-family houses, we’re building train lines, finally, instead of freeways," he said.

He began to talk with Occidental College President John Veitch about how to publicly discuss this shift.

"I think people have a real desire to understand it better and talk about it, and get a sense of really what’s happening. The more I thought about it, and the more I read into the history of L.A., it became clear that there's a little bit more to the story, it’s not just a transition from one L.A. to another. And in fact, there have been three really distinct phases of the city's modern development," Hawthorne said.