Los Angeles, California

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January 21, 2009

Though Los Angeles offers Lindsay Lohan sightings at Pinkberry and addresses on L.Ron Hubbard Way, Dwell explores a different side of the city with land use interpreter Matthew Coolidge.

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  The Hyperion Treatment Plant is the largest and oldest wastewater treatment plant in Los Angeles. It can process as much as 850 million gallons of waste each day. When it was constructed in 1894, on the beaches of El Segundo, it simply discharged raw sewage directly into the sea—–today, thankfully, it performs full waste treatment.
    The Hyperion Treatment Plant is the largest and oldest wastewater treatment plant in Los Angeles. It can process as much as 850 million gallons of waste each day. When it was constructed in 1894, on the beaches of El Segundo, it simply discharged raw sewage directly into the sea—–today, thankfully, it performs full waste treatment.
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  Covering more square miles than Rhode Island, greater Los Angeles is not always bathed in perfect sunshine. Here, the towers of downtown are lost in haze.
    Covering more square miles than Rhode Island, greater Los Angeles is not always bathed in perfect sunshine. Here, the towers of downtown are lost in haze.
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  The new headquarters for Caltrans, by local starchitect Thom Mayne, frames the most sci-fi seating area in town with strange angles of light and material.
    The new headquarters for Caltrans, by local starchitect Thom Mayne, frames the most sci-fi seating area in town with strange angles of light and material.
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  Taken on their own, as sculptures in concrete, the region’s freeways are an unappreciated source of beauty, an experiential artwork you can drive on.
    Taken on their own, as sculptures in concrete, the region’s freeways are an unappreciated source of beauty, an experiential artwork you can drive on.
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  One Wilshire is what’s called a telco hotel: The majority of its rooms are full of hard drives and cables, hosting information for global businesses.
    One Wilshire is what’s called a telco hotel: The majority of its rooms are full of hard drives and cables, hosting information for global businesses.
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  These cell phone masts atop Mt. Wilson, northeast of Pasadena, are the region’s major relay point for police, fire, and civilian communications.
    These cell phone masts atop Mt. Wilson, northeast of Pasadena, are the region’s major relay point for police, fire, and civilian communications.
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  Sea Launch is a converted oil rig. Its surreal new role is to launch private satellites into space from the equatorial Pacific.
    Sea Launch is a converted oil rig. Its surreal new role is to launch private satellites into space from the equatorial Pacific.
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  The Baldwin Hills, in Culver City, offer a glimpse of L.A. as it used to be: covered in pumping jacks and hoping for oil. The Hills are now a popular film location.
    The Baldwin Hills, in Culver City, offer a glimpse of L.A. as it used to be: covered in pumping jacks and hoping for oil. The Hills are now a popular film location.
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  A glimpse of gravel pit workings.
    A glimpse of gravel pit workings.
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  The Puente Hills Landfill is the largest active landfill in the United States. Its buried and rotting garbage produces methane gas, which is harvested by large pipes.
    The Puente Hills Landfill is the largest active landfill in the United States. Its buried and rotting garbage produces methane gas, which is harvested by large pipes.
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  The Cascades are a registered State Histor-ical Landmark. They are where the 338-mile Owens River Aqueduct terminates, bringing fresh water to L.A. The aqueduct’s construction, which finished in 1913, is a fascinating—–and murky—–tale of government corruption and outright theft. It was made famous by the film Chinatown. Owens Valley residents, watching their water disappear into pipes bound for Los Angeles, successfully sued the city. Some of their water began returning in late 2006.
    The Cascades are a registered State Histor-ical Landmark. They are where the 338-mile Owens River Aqueduct terminates, bringing fresh water to L.A. The aqueduct’s construction, which finished in 1913, is a fascinating—–and murky—–tale of government corruption and outright theft. It was made famous by the film Chinatown. Owens Valley residents, watching their water disappear into pipes bound for Los Angeles, successfully sued the city. Some of their water began returning in late 2006.
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  An exterior detail of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. The house was designed for the daughter of local oil magnate William Barnsdall in 1921.
    An exterior detail of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House. The house was designed for the daughter of local oil magnate William Barnsdall in 1921.
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