Sunday, May 29, 2011

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Los Angeles is a city in a desert.  It's easy to lose sight of that fact.  Given the context, however, it's pretty easy to see that, in such a place, Water and Power are pretty much synonymous.  Years ago I thoroughly enjoyed a book called Rivers in the Desert, which is an historical account of the land-and-water-rights grab perpetrated on the people of the Owens Valley, and subsequent development of the aqueducts by William Mulholland.

I am rather sympathetic to Mulholland, inasmuch as he was a self-trained, uneducated man, who eventually achieved tremendous feats in the area of hydraulic engineering and civic infrastructure.  Of course, the above mentioned land grab was an abhorrent violation of the property rights of the people of the Owens Valley, and I don't mean to diminish that.  But I digress.

Sometime in the '50s and/or '60's the LADWP built a lot of really nice looking modernist facilities all around town.  The iconic DWP Headquarters was built around this time, but there were also a number of substations and the like constructed, that have a coherent visual identity all their own.  Said identity includes smooth concrete walls, thin stacked modern brickwork, and bronze lettering set off of the face of the building on posts.  If you do a google image search under DWP station, or DWP substation, or DWP distributing station, you can see a few examples (although I was disappointed that there weren't more.  I should get out there and take more snaps of these).  Some are more modern, some are more neo-traditional, but almost all of them share the bronze lettering in common.

If you pass by just at the right time of day, you get this:

or this:

or even this:
One of the lovely things about Los Angeles is that, even for all the smog, we do have fabulous light.  *sigh*

1 comment:

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