Passage #469: 5 September 2018

Property Values

Bubbles and their bursts aside, the monetary value of a house tends to, as we know, trend upward. But there are other values that accrue to properties over time. For the inhabitants, there are memories, experiences, and the simple comfort of familiarity, a groundedness, the things that transform a house into a home. And, as time stretches on, if the house persists beyond a private, domestic timeframe into a historical one, it can acquire a public memory as well, become a civic site, a monument, a talisman for conjuring a prior event or moment.

The values of money and memory have often been in conflict in this region. Los Angeles has generally been blinded by its sunny future of financial speculation, paving over its past and moving onward. Some of this is natural; a city cannot exist behind glass, like a museum. But a city without memory is equally artificial, less a city than a movie set, new but temporary, thin.

But the Greater Los Angeles area is a also big place, with vast spaces of shifting priorities and fortunes. And sometimes it is precisely through forgetting and devaluing that a site may persist. This week on the ride, we visit (or at least pass by) one such place and marvel at the strange convergence of histories and values it embodies.

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