Lotusland? Iowa by the Sea? 100 Suburbs in Search of a City? Los Angeles may be a beautiful place, a green, fertile basin sweeping from the ocean to the impossibly steep crags of the mountains, but the energy of this metropolis comes neither from its unspectacular port nor from a wealth of natural resources, but from the vitality of its people — 4 million and counting within the city alone. It is the people of Los Angeles and its intertwined suburbs who discovered the expansion of the universe, built the airplanes that won World War II, conquered the Martian landscape and perfected movies, rock ’n’ roll and duck-sausage pizza.

This issue aims less to commemorate L.A.’s most powerful and beautiful people, though there are certainly powerful and beautiful people profiled here, than to celebrate the incredible range of its citizens, up-and-comers as well as hardened survivors, the unknown as well as the famous, the enclaves covered by Us magazine and subsets more likely to see print in the Japanese daily Rafu Shimpo. Think of the best parties you’ve been to — the ones where you discover that the raven-haired beauty across the room actually runs the mayor’s powerful Board of Public Works, that the unassuming farmers-market guy grows the vegetables served at some of the best restaurants in the world, that the TV star’s true passion is photography and that the 93-year-old dude in suspenders next to him has been called the greatest photographer of modern architecture.

Consider this issue an invitation to the party — one where you will discover that the city we actually live in is even more interesting than the one it plays on TV.

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