Sunday, June 8, 2014

Growth of the Los Angeles Roadway Network 1888-2010

LA roadway network

Growth of the Los Angeles Roadway Network from Mikhail Chester on Vimeo.

This animation shows in 43 seconds how Los Angeles evolved over a period of 122 years.

There is something oddly compelling (to me, anyway) at these animations of the changes of cities and their surroundings over time. It's like watching ants build their anthill or something, the dumb, almost random way in which massive achievements are made.

So, previously, we've seen animations of the growth of shopping malls, of the spread of Walmarts across the country, of the rise of London - heck, this is a field where you could take just about anything over time and make an animation out of it. And you know what? More and more, that's exactly what people are doing.

The full title of this animation, "Growth of the Los Angeles Roadway Network 1888-2010," struck me as a bit weird because it reminded me of a funky science fiction novel by Edward Bellamy, a nineteenth-century socialist (hmmm, my English teacher never mentioned the Socialist part) that we were forced to read. It was entitled "Looking Backward, 2000–1887." I know, the dates are a little different, but it's that idea of actually seeing in graphical form how things actually did change over a time period that someone like Bellamy could only imagine (and imagine quite well, I might add, being a Socialist back might not have been so bad) which just seems - weird. Sorry, I just don't have a better word than that. Weird.

I know, there isn't another soul in the world who would think a developing road network is of such metaphysical interest, and nobody studies that novel in school anymore anyway (right?). But if you're from LA, you might find this interesting, especially the portion that shows development over the last few decades.

LA roadway network

From the webpage:
Growth of the Los Angeles Roadway network from 1900 to present. Roadway colors represent decade of construction where green is the oldest and red is the newest. Additional project information is available at
The analysis was developed by Andrew Fraser ( and Dr. Mikhail Chester ( at Arizona State University.


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