Urban History

Research Article

Industry, political alliances and the regulation of urban space in Los Angeles


a1 Department of History, University of Nevada Las Vegas, John S. Wright Hall (B-313), 4505 S. Maryland Pkway, Box 455020, Las Vegas, NV 89154- 5020, USA


The formation of industrial districts and the role that development played in shaping the pattern of American cities has become a standard for urban history. This has not been the case for Los Angeles. Despite its centrality for a metropolitan economy that has led California for a century and that today leads the nation in manufacturing employment, scholars and pundits have overlooked production in favour of consumption. Little is known about how firms, business associations and city officials created space for industry during the late nineteenth century when manufacturers' locational decisions contributed to spatial concentration in the city's core. A case study of the Cudahy Packing Company reveals why such sites were favoured, how a sectoral-specific district emerged and the processes through which Angelenos transformed a Yankee pueblo into an industrial city. Two factors, the local state's enablement of manufacturing via policy and regulation and the use of industrialization as an immigrant removal strategy, emerge as significant. Neither has been prominent in the literature on the growth of Los Angeles while the latter, the linking of race-ethnicity with land use, has been less prominent in prior studies of industrial districts.


* The author is indebted to Bill Baer, William Deverell, David Igler, Martin Krieger, Margaret Levenstein, Robert Lewis and Mark Wild for their critical reviews and encouragement. Phil Ethington and two readers provided particularly insightful queries that guided revisions of this article and will shape the larger project from which it is drawn. Stephanie Frank and Todd Gish assisted with the research. Research support from the Huntington Library and the Lusk Center for Real Estate (USC) made the writing possible.