Abstract: Municipal Enterprise in Los Angeles, 1890-1930

Greg Hise


Few scholars have studied industrialization in Los Angeles. Those who have examined the formation of a robust metropolitan economy attribute this to boosters who strove to attract investment capital and firms and to advance the interests of business within civic affairs. Promoters succeeded at representing the "Southland" as an American Mediterranean and a workingman's arcadia. Their hype masked the fact that industrial growth relied on support from a local state. Scholars' reliance on promotional literature has meant that municipal enterprise remains obscure to the present. Municipal officials managed industrial development with offers of land and access to resources; by drafting policies, amending ordinances, and passing regulation favorable to production enterprises; by defining, organizing, and regulating land markets through zoning. When local officials weighed how and when to deploy the city's capital they acted as investors betting on future growth. Court proceedings, municipal contracts, and city leases record