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Running in Los Angeles: the City of Angels

An Olympic city world-famous for its Hollywood film industry, Los Angeles is also one of the richest cities in the world, and the second-largest city in the USA after New York. A sprawling, cosmopolitan megalopolis, sometimes fantasized about, sometimes disparaged, the City of Angels embodies the American dream, and with it, its disillusions...

En marchant ou en courant dans les rues de Los Angeles, vous entrapercevrez peut-être les célèbres lettres Hollywood, perchées sur la colline surplombant le quartier du même nom.
The Hollywood Hill

“Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town!”

This prayer, addressed to the city, is uttered by Arturo Bandini, main protagonist of the novel "Ask the Dust", and double of its author, John Fante. Both Italian immigrants who arrived in Los Angeles in the '30s, the writer and his character sing in this work of the frenzy of a city with an elusive, tumultuous nature, over which their desires for success, money and happiness come to frolic or collide.

Almost a century later, Los Angeles continues to be dreamed of, sung about and admired, despite the social and cultural realities it faces. But where does this almost magical aura come from? To decipher this unique city, discover its most emblematic neighborhoods and their history, on foot or on the run!

History and urbanism

Los Angeles is characterized by horizontal urban planning, taking the form of a juxtaposition of neighborhoods spread out anarchically over an area of more than 100 km2, with no real central district. This particular morphology has its origins in the city's history, and more specifically, in the arrival of Anglo-Saxon Protestant populations. Determined to set themselves apart from the Spanish-speaking community in the historic heart of the city, they bought former ranches and transformed them into housing estates, built as public transport developed. In keeping with their pastoral ideals, these new residents created low-density neighborhoods with spacious domestic spaces close to nature, setting up a logic of unlimited urban growth. During the 20th century, the city's urbanization continued apace, spurred in particular by the inauguration of the Southern Pacific in 1876, and later by the automobile.

Today, the city's urban area is home to almost 19 million people, including 4 million in the Los Angeles municipality.

Vue aérienne de Los Angeles
Aerial view of Los Angeles

A Sun Belt city, Los Angeles boasts a pleasant and attractive living environment. Situated between the ocean and the mountains, it offers a wide variety of landscapes and natural spaces, but has few tourist attractions to speak of. It does, however, boast a number of renowned cultural institutions, including the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Getty Center and the Huntington Library, as well as exceptional buildings such as the antique-looking Los Angeles Central Library, Union Central and the Griffith Observatory, an example of Art Deco overlooking the city and frequently used as a film location. Beyond its architectural heritage, Los Angeles' culture has been forged around the audiovisual and music industries, as evidenced by the number of theaters, concert halls, art galleries and cinemas dotted around the city.

Hollywood, the dream machine

Los Angeles' reputation is intimately linked to the history of the American film industry. Its heart is in Hollywood, one of the city's 29 neighborhoods. From Paramount to Warner Bros to Universal Pictures, all the major film studios that have shaped the country's audiovisual landscape are present. Built at the dawn of the 20th century, the empire today embodies the symbol of the United States' cultural identity, and remains one of the main vectors for its worldwide distribution.

Born in New York, American cinema got off to a shaky start among European migrant communities, but it was in California that it became a myth, when producers, attracted by the East Coast's sunny climate, diverse landscapes and cheap land, decided to set up shop. They were soon followed by directors, writers and scriptwriters, all seduced by the call of this Eldorado whose fertile soil held the promise of inspiration and success. Actors were emerging from anonymity: this was the era of the first movie stars, such as Charlie Chaplin. Financing and marketing became the cornerstones of this new system based on the commercialization of art, quickly elevated to the status of entertainment. And the rest is history...

Lors de votre balade, passez voir les studios de cinéma dans le célèbre quartier d'Hollywood
Universal Studio, Hollywwod

To find out more about the history of cinema, take advantage of the recent opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the first museum of its kind in the country, just a few miles south of Hollywood.

Los angeles, a city of contrasts

Lors de votre balade dans le centre de Los Angeles vous traverserez peut-être des rues habitées par des s.d.f
Row of tents, Downtown Los Angeles

Far from the gigantism of Hollywood hill letters, there's a city of many facets and neighborhoods....

A city of opportunity and success, Los Angeles is a paradoxical object of fascination, just like the neighborhoods and cities that make it up. Downtown Los Angeles, the city's historic and financial center, is populated by skyscrapers, art galleries and shopping malls, but is also home to the largest homeless community in the United States, housed just a few hundred meters from the corporate headquarters.

The wealth and luxury of the Beverly Hills and West Hollywood districts, home to the iconic Rodeo Drive stores and the famous Walk of Fame, have made the city famous. But its legend is just as much rooted in the bohemian, artistic culture of Venice, the warm atmosphere of Malibu's beaches and the violence of South Los Angeles' gang wars.

Run, walk or cycle with JOOKS, from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica Beach!

Find all the Los Angeles city routes and over 1300 others on the JOOKS app.

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