Issuu on Google+

THE

GRID

IS

THE

PLAN

ABOVE

THE

EARTH


INTRODUCTION: This book is a contemplative study inspired by John Cage’s 4:33. The photographs were taken during a silent walk down the suburban streets of Gardena in the South Bay region of Los Angeles. The photos explore how the city grid effects our lives, and are accomanied by excepts from D.J. Waldie’s Holy Land: A Suburban Memior.


THE

GRID

IS

THE

PLAN

ABOVE

THE

EARTH.


I T I S A C O M PA S S O F P O S S I B I L I T I E S .


In 1949, three developers bought 3,500 acres of Southern California farmland. They planned to build something that was not exactly a city.

other magazines. The developors bound enlargements in a handsome presentation book. I have several pages from one of the copies.

In 1950, before the work of roughing the foundations and pouring concrete began, the three men hired a young photographer with a single-engine plane to document their achievement from the air.

The photographs celebrate house frames precise as cells in a hive and stucco walls fragile as an unearthed bone.


The photographer flew when the foundations of the first houses were poured. He flew again when the framing was done, and later, when the roofers were nearly finished. He flew over the shell of the shopping center that explains this and many other California suburbs. Some of the photographs appeared in Fortune and

T H E P H OTO G R A P H S C E L E B R AT E H O U S E F R A M E S

P R E C I S E AS C E L L S I N A H I V E A N D ST U CCO WA L L S

F R AG I L E AS A N U N E A R T H E D B O N E .

S E E N F R O M A B OV E , T H E G R I D I S B E AU T I F U L A N D T E R R I B L E .


After work at a city hall, I walk home on straight, flat sidewalks. Their lines converge ahead of me into a confusion of trees and lawns.

T H E S I D E WA L K I S F O U R F E E T W I D E . THE STREET IS FORTY FEET WIDE.


The strip oflawn betweenthe street and sidewalkis seven feet.

The setback from curb to house is twenty feet.

This pattern-of asphalt, grass, concrete, grass-is as regular as any thought of God’s.


Chevron’s real estate division decided to auction off the street names in it new subdivision as a fund raiser for the YMCA.

The street is a cul-de-sac at the border of the city. There are

Several city council members bid successfully for a street name of their own. One city official paid to have a street named after his daughter. I paid $200 to have a street named after my family.

eighteen houses on the dead-end street.

The houses there are more than double the size of mine.


B E H I N D T H E M , B E YO N D A H I G H C I N D E R - B L O C K WA L L


I S A T R A I L E R P A R K B U I LT O N A L A N D F I L L


IN THE CITY OF LONG BEACH.


Beginning in the 1850s in America, city planners and architects sought to domesticate the condition of working people by setting their houses in a landscape. The houses of working people would have a lawn and garden, to soften the view.

I have a yard service mow my lawn twice a month. I replant my front garden twice a year, with spring and winter annuals. Most of my neighbors do the same,

though not all. No one spends much time in their front yard, except the young husbands and wives of new families. They mow and edge their own lawns.

The city does not compel owners to mow their lawns regularly. But if they don’t, their neighbors complain to city hall.


THE HOUSES WOULD BE SMALL,

B E C A U S E E X T E N D E D FA M I L I E S W O U L D NO LONGER LIVE WITH THEM.


A MACHINIST COULD BUY ONE.

T H E S M A L L H O U S E S W O U L D B E A F F O R D A B L E , S O T H AT E V E N

L I V I N G I N T H E M W O U L D , H O W E V E R , R E Q U I R E O R D E R LY L I V E S .


When I walk to work, I walk through a vista that is almost one continuous garden and lawn,


BROKEN

EVERY

FIFTY

FEET

BY

A

CONCRETE

D R I V E WAY.


S C A N T H E G R I D TO L E A R N M O R E ABOUT THIS PROJECT A N D T H E H I S TO RY O F G A R D E N A



The Grid is the Plan Above the Earth