Focusing on the World War I era, this article examines Harry Chandler’s Los Angeles Times and William Randolph Hearst’s Los Angeles Examiner. It argues that these two rival newspapers urged a particular urban identity for Los Angeles during World War I. If Los Angeles was to become the capital of the American West, the papers demanded that real and rhetorical barriers be constructed to protect the city from a dual Japanese-Mexican menace. While federal officials viewed the border as a line to be maintained, Chandler and Hearst feared it. Los Angeles needed to be a borderlands fortress. After the war, the two newspapers ably transitioned into an editorial style that privileged progress over preparedness. This paper reveals that the contested narrative of progress, based in transnational concerns, was crucial to the city’s early and ultimate development.

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