When one thinks of Los Angeles, usually the first thing that come to mind include visions of Hollywood, a star studded sidewalk, a warm beach filled with beautiful people, or maybe even the hostile urban landscape of South Central. True, these things do exist in the Los Angeles city limits, but all too often, the more normal, subdued portions of the city are left out of the grand vision that most people think up. Often times, the general picture of Los Angeles completely disregards the San Fernando Valley to the north of Hollywood, a portion of LA that dwarfs the Los Angeles one would find south of the Hollywood Hills.
Once a vast fertile valley occupied by mostly farmers, the valley is now home to a mostly suburban sprawl dotted by businesses and main streets which mirror aspects of the more easily recognized Los Angeles. Grids of single family homes and cul-de-sacs reach for miles, creating a suburban sprawl that by most definitions works in direct contrast to what most would assimilate to Los Angeles or Hollywood. There are no beaches here, no upscale bars or restaurants. No flashing lights guiding you towards risqué’ night clubs, no stars’ handprints in the sidewalk.
And yet, the valley still retains a spirit of Los Angeles tucked into its intersection strip-malls and child-friendly neighborhoods. As soon as you think you’ve left LA all together, one could spot a medical marijuana dispensary, a little film developing booth standing idle in one of thousand parking lots. And still, like the rest of LA county, however suburban and family friendly the neighborhood may seem, it is still ruled by the necessity of having a car to get from place to place. No walkable grocery store in sight, no schoolyard down the block, it is almost as if the suburban grid is yet another mythological construct to make residents believe they are living outside of city limits. However, the indicators are still very much present. The four lane arterial road, endless parking lot wastelands, a billboard for 1-800-Get-Thin, and the ominous smog reaching its dirty hand out over the grid of ranch style family housing reminding its residents that they are, in fact, still in Los Angeles.