Los Angeles Ranks as a Cultural Wasteland?

Los Angeles Ranks as a Cultural Wasteland?
John Sittner/Flickr

Los Angeles has a bad reputation when it comes to high culture. Sure, we attract Hollywood hopefuls who put in more time at the gym than at the library. But we think our rep is mostly undeserved.

We have world-class dining, theater, art and music (Gustavo Dudamel!). Our own take on L.A.'s reputation is usually this: We're not New York. No other city is New York. So stop comparing everything to New York. It's a unique place. So is Los Angeles.

See also: 5 Times the East Coast Media Got L.A. Dead Wrong

But real estate website this week looked at the number of "cultural venues" in the largest American cities and compared that figure to each urban population:

In other words, when you consider our massive size, just how culturally inclined is Los Angeles?

L.A. is the second largest city in the nation. We have 3,884,307 residents, according to the U.S. Census. (We think a better number, one more comparable to New York City, which doubles as a county, is L.A. County's population of 10,017,068.)

PropertyShark says the number of cultural venues in L.A., including museums, libraries, theaters, parks, stadiums and more, is a "remarkable" 774.

But considering our whopping population, we have only one "cultural location" for every 5,210 people, according to the site. That put us in 17th place on this list of "Top 20 U.S. Cities for Culture."

We were beat by No. 16 San Francisco, even though that city has only 161 cultural venues. It has a surprisingly small population, too: 837,442 — smaller than San Diego. (The Bay Area, on the other hand, is a whopper, with 6,783,760 people.) 

That adds up to one venue for every 5,130 people in San Francisco, PropertyShark says.

See also: Fear and Loathing of Los Angeles: Let Them Keep Hating. We Know Better.

New York, the reigning king of culture in America's imagination, ranked only 13th because it has one venue for every 3.096 people, according to the site.

Smaller cities tended to do better in this ranking. Seattle topped the list with one venue for every 354 people. It had a whopping 1,890 venues, according to the report. 

Indianapolis came in second with one location for every 705 people. Its sheer number of 1,184 venues still beat L.A.'s.

Miami came in third with one cultural venue for every 958 people.

L.A., of course, is still the coolest place around, period. We're not sure that could ever be reflected by a count of institutions unless, of course, neighborhoods, galleries and coffee shops inside Venice, Koreatown and Echo Park could be considered "cultural venues."

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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