It's a little painful to hear out-of-towners say L.A. has no center.
Sure, we're part of a sprawling urban region, Southern California, that's bigger in both geography and population than many countries. And yes, SoCal is an collection of cities. Some — San Diego, Santa Ana, Long Beach — are their own metropolises. But …
… the city of L.A. certainly has a core, with some of the densest neighborhoods west of the Mississippi river thriving just west of downtown. It's a point made recently in award-winning research by USC graduate Samuel Krueger:
For his thesis at the Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST) master's program at USC Dornsife College this year Krueger mapped out the city according to the density of amenities including “entertainment, full-service restaurants, hotels and motels, trendy hangouts, and high culture.”
The result is essentially a heat map of such density, and it shows a contiguous urban core along that Krueger calls the “The Wilshire/Santa Monica Corridor.”
Indeed, we've always felt that L.A.'s version of Manhattan is on this urban isle of a basin, from Santa Monica to Boyle Heights, from South L.A. to the Hollywood Hills.
Krueger told USC Dornsife's Michelle Salzman:
On an emotional level, I get tired of people saying that L.A. is not a real city, so I wanted to show that it has a center just like any other city does.
The map shows density hot-spots in Hollywood, Koreatown and downtown. Krueger used tested his thesis on New York and Chicago to ensure that expected central density would result, which it did.
His work, “Delimiting the Postmodern Urban Center: An Analysis of Urban Amenity Clusters in Los Angeles,” won the UNIGIS International Association's 2012 Academic Excellence Award.
He told Salzman:
To me, geography is kind of like noting the obvious and writing it down. I think we can all see the center that I identified.