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Blue City of the Fallen Angels

For most of the twentieth century, writes urbanist Joel Kotkin, the city of Los Angeles was the bright and shining beacon of American optimism.  These days it’s a haunting harbinger of a much tougher future: more Blade Runner than Oz.

[I]n the new century, Los Angeles has begun to fade, and it can’t blame its sorry condition on the recent recession. The unemployment rate is one of the highest among the nation’s largest urban areas. Streets are potholed. Businesses and residents are fleeing. In virtually every category of urban success, from migration of educated workers to growth of airport travel, Los Angeles lags behind not only such fast-growth regions as Dallas, Houston, and Raleigh-Durham, but also historical rivals like New York.

Perhaps worst of all is the perception, both here and elsewhere, that Los Angeles no longer matters as much as it once did. “I’ve traveled the world, and there was once a great mystique about L.A., but it’s gone,” says Robert Hertzberg, a former mayoral candidate and onetime speaker of the California State Assembly. “And I look at the leadership, and it’s gone. No one much cares.”

Could that last line be the epitaph for American greatness, and not just for Los Angeles?

From City JournalRead it all.

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