Modern Los Angeles and Southern California emerged through the utilization and development of its coastal estuaries and wetlands, which became possible only at the turn of the twentieth century with the advent of new industrial machinery. The interaction between technology and environment in turn shaped city makers’ and residents’ vision of possibility, opportunity, and urgency as they looked out from Los Angeles to a changing West, nation, and world. While historians are familiar with the political and social conflict and cultural shifts that propelled Los Angeles and Southern California’s development as a metropolis, this article proposes that the region’s development is also due to the interplay of land and water, of mud and machine, and of transforming human perceptions of distance and connection.

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