How 3 Angelenos were instrumental in the sudden growth of LA

In the early 1900s, a city suddenly sprouted up, like an unlikely weed, out of the bare desert of Southern California. Only a couple of decades earlier, LA had been a typical little Western town: just a few thousand people, unpaved roads, a sky-high murder rate, sheep and chickens wandering all over. But by April 1928, a beautiful new City Hall opened for business. Los Angeles had grown to be the fifth largest city in the country. In a new book, author Gary Krist argues that those decades of intense growth were made possible by three iconic Angelenos: Engineer William Mulholland, movie director DW Griffith, and charismatic evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.

Santa Monica Boulevard, while still an idea. Courtesy of
Security Pacific National Bank Collection/Los Angeles Public Library. 

The founders of United Artists: DW Griffith, Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin,
and Douglas Fairbanks (front row). Courtesy of Library of Congress.




  • Gary Krist - author of “The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles” - @garykrist