Archives for Los Angeles



Parking Is Hell: A Freakonomics Radio Rebroadcast


This week’s podcast is a rebroadcast of our episode called “Parking Is Hell.” (You can subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)

The episode begins with Stephen Dubner talking to parking guru Donald Shoup, a professor of urban planning at UCLA and author of the landmark book The High Cost of Free Parking. In a famous Times op-ed, Shoup argued that as much as one-third of urban congestion is caused by people cruising for curb parking. Read More »



The Free Harbor Fight: Transportation Meets Chinatown

Unlike its natural rivals—San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle—Los Angeles is a rotten place for a port. But that hasn’t stopped the city known for inventing and reinventing itself from becoming the busiest container traffic hub in the US. The story of how L.A. transformed itself into one of the world’s great shipping centers is rife with corruption, power politics, double-dealing, bribery, and betrayal. It’s a story that could only have dripped from the pen of one of the city’s Hollywood hacks–if it weren’t true.

Despite its worldwide association with sand and surf, Los Angeles began life as an inland community. Its original port was at San Pedro, roughly 25 miles to the south. But San Pedro had been cursed by nature. There was no shelter from waves and wind; it was far too shallow to accommodate shipping; and its bottom was mudflats, making construction of heavy piers or breakwaters difficult. Bringing cargo ashore meant transferring it to longboats from ships anchored several miles out at sea, rowing it ashore, and then hauling it by hand across a rocky beach and up a steep slope. The only alternative to this difficult operation was to beach the ship, an even more challenging undertaking. Writing in his 1834 account of his time as a sailor on a ship plying the California coast, Two Years Before the Mast: And Twenty-Four Years After, Charles Henry Dana called San Pedro a “hated… thoroughly detested spot.” Read More »



UCLA’s Crime Fighting Mathematicians

A team of mathematicians at UCLA have created an algorithm that can identify with relative accuracy which Los Angeles gang is responsible for an unsolved crime. When tested against cases with a known culprit, the mathematicians could correctly list the gang rivalry involved (out of the three most likely rivalries) about 80 percent of the time. Of these options, they ranked the responsible gang first about 50 percent of the time.

To develop their technique, the mathematicians studied a combination of solved and unsolved gang crimes throughout East L.A. over ten years. Explaining the process, author Andrea Bertozzi, director of applied mathematics at UCLA, says:

If police believe a crime might have been committed by one of seven or eight rival gangs, our method would look at recent historical events in the area and compute probabilities as to which of these gangs are most likely to have committed crime.

Read More »



Touring Gangland

A group of civic activists in Los Angeles plans to start giving “Gang Tours” — taking busloads of tourists through some of the most dangerous parts of the city — in hopes of “sensitizing people, connecting them to the reality of what’s on the ground.” Read More »



What’s Your Walk Score?

Here’s a website worth checking out if you own a good pair of shoes and don’t mind using them once in a while. It’s called Walk Score and it gauges the pedestrian-friendliness of locations. Type in any address or pair of cross streets in the U.S. (or Europe for that matter), and the site maps the area and plots the nearby recreational, commercial, cultural, and social amenities. Even better, for the quantitatively inclined, it assigns each location a walk score on a 0 to 100 scale. Read More »



Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Driving and Delay

Time to bring the quiz to a close. We’ve seen in past posts that, by the standards of U.S. cities, Los Angeles is not sprawling, has a fairly extensive transit system, and is decidedly light on freeways. The smog situation has vastly improved. The final two stereotypes await. Read More »



Another View of Los Angeles

Eric Morris has been busting Los Angeles transportation myths with his L.A.: Fact or Fiction posts lately, which may have changed the way you view the City of Angels. Photographer Mathieu Young brings us yet another view of Los Angeles, via GOOD magazine. Young took a 20 mile walk around the city, snapping photos of […] Read More »



Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Transit

Photo: ceeb Inside a Los Angeles bus. In the last posts, we learned that Los Angeles is not a poster child for sprawl, that the air has gotten a lot cleaner, and that the freeway network is surprisingly small given the region’s enormous population. What about the charge that Los Angeles’s mass-transit system is underdeveloped […] Read More »