Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Those beautiful L.A. freeways

" . . . the freeway system in its totality is now a single comprehensible place, a coherent state of mind, a complete way of life."

That was Reyner Banham in his classic study of Los Angeles,
The Architecture of Four Ecologies (see link to the right), published in 1971. (Can it really be that long ago?) An Englishman by birth and Londoner by adoption, Banham said that he learned to drive so that he could read Los Angeles in the original. "Autopia," or the L.A. freeway system, is one of the four "ecologies" that he felt defined the city.

Recently I ran across a wonderful and wacky video of L.A. freeways, circa 2000, shot and compiled by YouTube user 101not5 (aka Mark Furqueron), with an appropriately electronic 1970s soundtrack featuring Kraftwerk's car-centric anthem "Autobahn."

"Interchanges," posted with permission from YouTube user 101not5

What I love about this video, aside from the sun-bleached L.A. colors, is the consistent pace it induces—the restless and relentless pace of Los Angeles. Banham, who died in 1988, would have wholeheartedly approved. By the way, the engaging 1972 BBC documentary Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles be viewed online here.

One last word from the master: "You can build a city any shape you like, as long as it works."


  1. Wow, thanks for pointing to that Reyner Banham video. I had no idea that documentary existed! I love that book, my wife has a copy from the original printing.