This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

What Los Angeles was like *back in the day*

I lived in the Los Angeles area for a while, and it's a wonderful place for people who are interested in history. And to me, that's mostly because the history seems to be hidden, or more often, forgotten. So, when I've met people who used the expression *back in the day*, I have to brace myself for the type of rant that usually indicates that they have no idea of the history. You know, *back in the day*, before Los Angeles was *ruined*...

Really, I can't blame people for not seeing anything but freeways and donuts shops in LA. Los Angeles hasn't gone out its way to point out what the area looked like just a few generations ago. And for good reason. It was pretty awful.

The best place to start to see Los Angeles *back in the day* is to go visit the La Brea tar pits. No, I don't mean go into the museum. Walk around the property. The land there has been *preserved* to show how it had originally looked. And I don't mean back in the ice age, just back before people cleaned it all up. Boggy and filled with nasty, gooey tar. Take a look at your shoes when you're through walking around. And notice the nasty smell. Would anyone want to live somewhere like that? Apparently a few people did, and imagined if they could get it all under control, other people would want to move there, too. They were successful.

Take a look at the names - *La Brea* means the tar. *La Cienega*, in spite of the attempts to make it sound more cheerful, just means a swamp. Yeah, the Chamber of Commerce would call it a *natural, marshy area*. People who lived there when it looked like that just saw a place that was gonna need a whole lot of cleanup to be a decent place to live. That they accomplished it so well is quite a testament to their foresight. And that they never mentioned again that the ground was an oily mush was just good real estate practice.
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