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Firebugs: Mike Davis — Build it in Southern California's foothills, and it will burn.
The Incendiary Other: Mike Davis — The 1993 Malibu firestorms opened a Pandora's box of fear.
Metropolitan Dubai and the Rise of Architectural Fantasy
Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
When The Rivers Ran Dry — Mike Davis
Up Above: The Geography of Suburban Sprawl in Southern California’s Antelope Valley
Blockology: An Offbeat Walking Guide to Lower Manhattan
Up Above: The Geography of Suburban Sprawl
You are invited to participate in a public discussion about the Antelope Valley at our Antelope Valley discussion board
FEW METROPOLITAN AREAS IN THE WORLD sprawl as notoriously as Los Angeles, a city whose population mushroomed in the post-World War II era. In those decades, residential development transformed the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys from agricultural land to seas of single-family homes. Frequently, these homes collected around the burgeoning aerospace industrys new factories. The baby boom generations newly-migrated parents [note 1] settled all across Southern California, lured by the regions abounding single-family homes. By the time that population surge abated somewhat in the 1970s, the urbanized Los Angeles region was well-known for its huge area. Southern California experienced another prodigious burst of population in the 1980s. Under the pressure of millions of new inhabitants, the limits of the metropolis were pushedand once again they gave way. One of the most geographically isolated boom communities to arise on the Los Angeles metropolitan fringe in the 1980s is the Antelope Valley.
Situated in northern Los Angeles County in the western Mojave Desert, the Antelope Valley experienced phenomenal growth in the past decade as it assumed the role of a Los Angeles Basin commuter suburb. Once a rural farming community, then a military aerospace hub, the Antelope Valley was radically transformed in the 1980s by its newly-struck relation to Los Angeles. In acquiring thousands of new residents, the Antelope Valley found its economy tethered to distant income sources. At the same time, the Valleys suburban development, so distant from an urban center, generated a plethora of unforeseenand unwantedaftermaths. With this transformation came shifts in the physical environment, the economic base, and the regional character of the Antelope Valley. In many ways, these shifts brought about a greater likeness to Los Angeles urban milieuthat space and condition which the Valleys residents call down below. Not surprisingly, few inhabitants welcome the resemblance to the Los Angeles metropolis.
Through a considered study of civic and historic documents, demographic data, reportage, and personal interviews and observations, I will assess the Antelope Valleys recent transformation. I will begin with the Valleys physical setting and note the environmental hazards faced by people in Southern Californias high Mojave desert. I will trace the Valleys Anglo-American occupation from the 19th century to the present, and consider how unbridled promotion of the region created an expectation ofand thus unquestioning receptivity torapid growth. I will give particular emphasis to the boom of the 1980s, and will detail the myriad impacts the last decades growth had on rearranging the regions geography and its relation to Los Angeles.
Furthermore, I will attempt to place the Antelope Valley into a broader societal context. Since the region boomed most recently as a commuter suburb to the Los Angeles Basin, it is reasonable to ask what lessons can be gleaned, and what lessons are still unlearned, from this newest layer of suburban sprawl. Finally, I wish to consider what some of the alternatives to suburban sprawl might be, and what structures need to change to bring alternate forms of growth into being. From the position of an expatriate nativized Los Angeleno, I hope to shed light on these and other issues as they pertain to that place up abovethe Antelope Valley of Southern California.
© Matthew Jalbert 19952007. Written to fulfill the senior thesis requirement, University of California at Berkeley Department of Geography. Thesis advisor: Michael Johns, Associate Professor. | Contact
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