Photographs by Martin H. Krieger
June 2003 – August 2003
The Blocks and Streets
I am grateful for the support provided by the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation. – MK
On The Other Side of the River
When Los Angeles is the topic of conversation people invariably talk about either sunshine, citrus, and surf or freeways, sprawl, air pollution, and immigration. Industry, production, and ancillary activities such as warehousing do not figure prominently in our conception of the city. Yet manufacturing has been essential to Southern California’s growth from the late nineteenth century to the present. Initial production was in vinticulture, citriculture and then corporate agriculture with its attendant boxes and cans, cold storage, and pipes for irrigation, all of which was produced locally. Agriculture was first supplemented and eventually surpassed by extractive industries such as oil and its refining (with associated storage and transshipment), automobile assembly (and the production of tires, glass, and a host of components), cinema, aviation (and after the Second World War, aerospace), and consumer products (such as garments and specialty foods). As this chronology suggests, greater Los Angeles has had and continues to have one of the more diverse manufacturing economies in the United States. The federal census of manufactures has ranked the region second to fifth in a host of industrial sectors from the 1920s forward.
Today Los Angeles leads the nation in the number of manufacturing jobs and greater Los Angeles is the production center for the world’s sixth largest economy, the state of California. You would never know this from histories of industrial development or from studies of industrial architecture and industrial landscapes. These accounts are fixed in cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and New York. Think of Henry Ford’s assembly line (and Charles Sheeler’s photographs of River Rouge), Frederick Winslow Taylor’s time-and-motion studies (an analysis of photographic evidence), and the rise of corporations (with their skyscraping headquarters dominating images of a Central Business District). In Los Angeles, industry for local markets and for export has been largely invisible to residents and tourists and has remained largely invisible to the present. When, every decade or so, manufacturing has been included in the Southern California scene, it is presented as a revelation rather than as a historical formation.
Martin Krieger has set out to change the way we think and talk about Los Angeles. His photographs of the city’s industrial districts reveal the complexity of a landscape developed over time; the layering of property ownership, investment capital, building construction, and land use policies; the cycling through of firms, workers, and goods. His images allow us to study places we pass by each day yet rarely stop to analyze. There are blocks like Clarence, Anderson, Lamar, and Lacy on both sides of the Los Angeles River and throughout the city and Krieger is documenting these industrial neighborhoods systematically. At first glance there may be little of interest in the seemingly modest blocks “On the Other Side of the River.” However, as we make our way around the blocks represented in these photographs we come to recognize their typicality. It dawns on us then just how ubiquitous these places are. By the final panel we come to see industrial neighborhoods as the basic building block for twentieth century Los Angeles. At that moment we begin to consider the citys development in an utterly new way.
Greg Hise, Associate Professor of Urban History
Industrial Neighborhoods in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is perhaps the leading industrial city in the United States. Manufacturing, basic industry, resource extraction (for example, oil), construction, etc., pervade the urban landscape. Yet the region is renowned for its dispersed residential fabric, little recognized for its less than glamorous industries interwoven with those residential areas. There is lots more than entertainment, aerospace, agriculture, and services. Moreover, we might say that, uniquely in the United States, Los Angeles grew up as an industrial powerhouse with the coming of the Second Industrial Revolution of about 1900a revolution fueled by electricity, chemical industries, and thermodynamics and continuous rather than batch processes.
I want to document the industrial structure of Los Angeles, much as, say, William Christenberry documents the rural life of Alabama. As for Christenberry, what is most indicative are the everyday ordinary buildings and environments, the ubiquity and variety of those buildings, their particular detail and realization. That detail is allover, so that what is at the edge of the negative is as likely to be as significant as what is at the center.
What has been called the Industrial Revolution usually refers to the introduction of farm machinery, and of steam power and automatic (sometimes water-) powered machinery for mass production. It is generally acknowledged that the transformation of manufacturing led to a reordering of the spaces where people lived, urbanization becoming more prevalent, wage labor in factories becoming more the norm. In time there evolved a dispersed residential fabric intermixed with industrial. A Second Industrial Revolution (say, 1870-1920) was occasioned by developments in chemistrybulk chemicals, specialty chemicals, the manufacture of iron and steel, dyes and medicines, thermodynamics, continuous (vs. batch) processingand the development of electrical power. Again there were profound implications for urbanization: Electrical power allowed for smaller firms located closer to consumers of their products. Continuous processing allowed for much larger enterprises, whose scale and scope were of a new order.
Los Angeles’ location in the western part of the United States meant that some of its industries were protected from distant competition. Its distinctive climate and agriculture meant that some industries were especially suited to the Southern California locale. But, in general, we might expect that the generic forces of the Second Industrial Revolution operated here. In any case, Los Angeles is now a cumulative layering of artifacts and built environments from each of the Revolutions, as well as much more recent influences of information, aviation, and entertainment.
Notionally, we might say that the First Industrial Revolution emptied the rural areas, while the Second Industrial Revolution led to the dense and complex cities we now have. I would argue that the “industrial neighborhood” is a product of the Second Industrial Revolution, streets and blocks of industry intermixed, sometimes interdigitated with residential areas for the workers in those factories. They could walk to work, or eventually take a streetcar to work. Industrial neighborhoods are heterogeneous, in the design of the various sites and buildings, in the interdigitation of residence and factory (sometimes the factory was there first, sometimes the residences there were torn down to make room for a factory but the adjacent residences continued to be occupied). Often, the external form of factory had little directly to do with its actual internal functioningbuildings were readily adaptable (internally), and new industries often occupied old buildings. What we see is what there was, redone, modified, torn down and built differently, repurposeda palimpsest. (MK)