How Eden Lost Its Garden Chapter two of Ecology of Fear is titled “How Eden Lost Its Garden”, and discusses the various social and political reasons behind drastic changes to the landscape of Los Angeles during the twentieth century. The first section, called “The Underproduction of Public Space”, begins by discussing the belief in the 1930’s that there was a severe lack of public parks, amounts that did not meet tourists’ expectations for when they came to Southern California. Population and build levels had been growing rapidly, but developers ignored the pleas for more parks and recreation.
The eventual lack was due to speculation or excessive and inflated land prices. Olmsted wanted to create “greenbelts” to both look good and have functionality. The next section of the chapter discusses the killing of the LA River. There was a desire and need for flood control, and people also thought that this would create jobs during the depression era. The army corps of engineers was given the go-ahead to change the river into a series of sewers and flood control devices, and in the same period the Santa Monica Bay was nearly wiped out as well by dumping of sewage and irrigation.
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Next, “Battle of the Valley” discusses the creation of an alternate urbanism with medium density groups of bungalows and garden apartments. The Channel Heights Project was seen as the model democratic community that could be the answer to post war housing needs. San Fernando Valley was to be the first battlefield for old landscape versus new development. Government housing eventually destroyed the agricultural periphery. “Greening the Urban Desert” starts by discussing how citrus orchards were being bulldozed and subdivided at a rapid pace.
Los Angeles was also beginning to be buried by roads, and this eventually brought up the desire for more green in the city. The idea that people came up with was a sort of modern wilderness, where they would increase the trees and foliage within the urban environment. Suburban expansion eventually devoured the entire landscape, as the geographical size of Los Angeles expanded at a rate far exceeding the population growth. Finally, “The Last Landscape” discusses the widening of Highway 126, which was widely opposed by those owning land in question.