Destination 2017: Los Angeles

The traffic sucks, the people are shallow and the whole place is going to fall into the ocean. These are the criticisms that have dogged Los Angeles since before mammoths grazed the 405. And it’s all true, but an incomplete truth: If you go looking for it, sure, you’ll find it. (In the case of earthquakes, they’ll find you, but most Californians accept eventual destruction as the price of living the dream.) So, Angelenos will say, choose your routes and your friends carefully, and you’ll find a leisurely energetic, dynamically stable, supermassive small town. Paradoxes abound. While Los Angeles is not for everybody, everybody, in some way or another, lives in it.

We’ve all been shaped by LA’s industries: fashion, aerospace, science and, of course, entertainment, which more than any other factor controls the perception of the city. But when you see how many tourists trudge down the actually quite grim Walk of Fame, you understand why that impression is often negative.

Even for longtime residents like native-born Chris Rico, now the director of innovation for the nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, LA once seemed like it could only sing the one song. “It used to be the case that Hollywood sucked all of the oxygen out of the room,” he says. “That was the perception, even though there was always aerospace and bioscience.” Everyone thought of Los Angeles as a monoculture. “What business do you work in? ‘The Business.’”

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