How Los Angeles Erased Hills From Its Urban Core

Nathan Masters, writing at Southland:

In 1912, Los Angeles considered an audacious plan to reshape its topography. A group calling itself the Bunker Hill Razing and Regrading Association proposed to pump water from the Pacific Ocean, pipe it 20 miles to the city center, and spray the seawater through high-pressure jets against a ridge of hills to the immediate northwest of downtown Los Angeles. In all, the project would sluice away some 20 million cubic yards of shale and sandstone that residents knew as Bunker and Fort Moore hills.

Ultimately dismissed as impractical, the association’s plan was only the first of several schemes to erase the hills from the city’s landscape. In the late 1920s, before the Great Depression intervened, the city came close to adopting another plan by C.C. Bigelow, a mining baron well-versed in the art of hydraulicking.

Think of how different LA would look today if it still had those hills. Never underestimate the power of topography in shaping a city’s character.

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