Immigration and Urban History Seminar "A Successful Integrated Development for the Central City": Constructing the Los Angeles Music Center, 1954-1967 24 April 2012.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:15PM Andrea Thabet, University of California, Santa Barbara Comment: Samuel Zipp, Brown University

When the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opened in December 1964, it solidified the image of Los Angeles as a first class city of growing national importance. The Pavilion was the first of a three-building theater and music complex constructed in the heart of downtown Los Angeles atop Bunker Hill and anchoring the city’s reconstructed Civic Center Mall. The Music Center’s other buildings, the Mark Taper Forum and the Howard Ahmanson Theater, opened in 1967 to similar fanfare. 

This research makes two important and related contributions to the standard narratives on postwar urban renewal and cultural institution building. First, it highlights a momentous yet under-analyzed shift in federal urban policy between 1949 and the 1954 Federal Housing Act. Second, the Music Center’s construction illuminates the role of urban policy in crafting cultural spaces in the United States after World War II. Situated at the nexus of urban history, cultural history, and policy history, this research looks beyond the traditional topics of housing and economic growth to frame a new set of questions about the ways in which cultural construction came to fruition through urban renewal policy.