Geography 100gm: Los Angeles and the American Dream

Los Angeles (and more generally the Southern California region) has long been the quintessential destination for migrants in search of the American Dream. In the late 19th century, promoters heralded Southern California as a salubrious Mediterranean haven. From then until well after World War II, massive numbers of American flocked to Los Angeles, especially from the Midwest, lured by images of mild weather, citrus groves, and cheap land. Although some sought stardom in Hollywood or riches from the oil fields, most aspired to basic elements of the American Dream; a good job and a home of one's own. All along, people were coming from other countries as well; but their numbers have increased dramatically in recent decades. They too are in search of some version of the American Dream. Ironically, the place sold to millions as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow experiences earthquakes, floods, landslides, and fires. Further, many Angelenos found not the American Dream but instead racism, unemployment, and poverty. This geographical course focuses on Los Angeles, in both its mythical and realized social and physical forms. Alternative perspectives are utilized, drawing concepts from historical and physical geography as well as from economic and social geography.

Concurrent enrollment: WRIT 140
Fulfills GE Category VI and Diversity.