Reinventing Los Angeles

From Urban and Industrial Environments

Reinventing Los Angeles

Nature and Community in the Global City

By Robert Gottlieb

Describes how water politics, cars and freeways, and immigration and globalization have shaped Los Angeles, and how innovative social movements are working to make a more livable and sustainable city.





Describes how water politics, cars and freeways, and immigration and globalization have shaped Los Angeles, and how innovative social movements are working to make a more livable and sustainable city.

Los Angeles—the place without a sense of place, famous for sprawl and overdevelopment and defined by its car-clogged freeways—might seem inhospitable to ideas about connecting with nature and community. But in Reinventing Los Angeles, educator and activist Robert Gottlieb describes how imaginative and innovative social movements have coalesced around the issues of water development, cars and freeways, and land use, to create a more livable and sustainable city. Gottlieb traces the emergence of Los Angeles as a global city in the twentieth century and describes its continuing evolution today. He examines the powerful influences of immigration and economic globalization as they intersect with changes in the politics of water, transportation, and land use, and illustrates each of these core concerns with an account of grass roots and activist responses: efforts to reenvision the concrete-bound, fenced-off Los Angeles River as a natural resource; “Arroyofest,” the closing of the Pasadena Freeway for a Sunday of walking and bike riding; and immigrants' initiatives to create urban gardens and connect with their countries of origin. Reinventing Los Angeles is a unique blend of personal narrative (Gottlieb himself participated in several of the grass roots actions described in the book) and historical and theoretical discussion. It provides a road map for a new environmentalism of everyday life, demonstrating the opportunities for renewal in a global city.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262072878 440 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 26 photos


$31.00 T ISBN: 9780262572439 440 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 26 photos


  • [Gottlieb's] richly informative book is really about flow of resources, people, historyand about how we all need to put our hands into that urban stream as participants directing community, a word he sensibly makes very nearly synonymous with environment.


  • No complaining diatribe, this book proffers solutions and heralds successful programs already in place...Gottlieb dissects and discusses origins, failures, successes, and future ramifications of nature, community, water, transportation, migration, and globalization in the city in a way that is neither preachy nor accusatory, but informative andI dare sayinspiring.

    Society & Architectural Historians News


  • Robert Gottlieb reminds us that cities, and the political actors within them, can and do change. Los Angeles came of age by shoving nature around. But in these early years of the 21st century, grassroots and community action hint that the environmental future of the city and region may not be so dire. Written by a scholar/activist who has been at the center of much of the recent excitement, this book is a scholarly report, a celebration, and a further call to action.

    William Deverell

    Department of History and Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, University of Southern California.

  • Bob Gottlieb is an organizer extraordinaire, a practical visionary and a tactical genius. When Friends of the Los Angeles River partnered with Occidental College for a year's worth of collaborative events, one of the great pleasures for me was working with Bob, who has an astonishing ability to work not just a system but all kinds of systems for the public good. Alot of people make fun of the idealism of the late 60's but Gottlieb is one of those whose idealism has only been sharpened and refined by the ensuing years and made more effective. Everybody who reads this book will be inspired to make their community, their city, andthe world into a better place, I promise.

    Lewis MacAdams

    Friends of the Los Angeles River

  • Robert Gottlieb has long been a pioneer in redefining environmentalism, turning ideas into action, and forging coalitions in the often murky atmosphere of Los Angeles. This book offers a timely account of the promising work in the City of Angels to forge a political movement that integrates social, economic, and environmental health.

    Jennifer Price

    author of Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America