Book

Hazardous Metropolis

Jared Orsi

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238503
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930087 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238503.001.0001
Hazardous Metropolis

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Although better known for its sunny skies, Los Angeles suffers from devastating flooding. This book explores a fascinating and little-known chapter in the city's history—the spectacular failures to control floods that occurred throughout the twentieth century. Despite the city's 114 debris dams, five flood control basins, and nearly 500 miles of paved river channels, Southern Californians have discovered that technologically engineered solutions to flooding are just as disaster-prone as natural waterways. This history unravels the strange and often hazardous ways that engineering, politics, and nature have come together in Los Angeles to determine the flow of water. It advances a new paradigm—the urban ecosystem—for understanding the city's complex and unpredictable waterways and other issues that are sure to play a large role in future planning. As the book traces the flow of water from sky to sea, it brings together many disparate and intriguing pieces of the story, including local and national politics, the little-known San Gabriel Dam fiasco, the phenomenal growth of Los Angeles, and, finally, the influence of environmentalism.

Keywords: Los Angeles; flooding; engineering; urban ecosystem; local politics; national politics; San Gabriel Dam fiasco; environmentalism

Book.  289 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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