Three idiosyncratic little books about the L.A. area

Three idiosyncratic books about L.A. area focus on plane crashes, transportation and Silver Lake neighborhood

Who knew that there are 450 airplane crash sites around Los Angeles?

It takes a certain kind of specialized obsession to dig into that kind of history, which is what G. Pat Macha has done. In 1963, while working as a camp counselor, he stumbled across a plane wreck in the San Bernardino Mountains. Ever since, he has explored the history and geography of planes that have crashed in the L.A. area.

"Unlike roadside vehicle accidents, which are quickly cleaned up and forgotten, aircraft wreck sites in remote locations remain largely undisturbed in deep canyons, hidden in forests, overgrown in the chaparral or widely scattered in small parts across vacant desert landscapes where few people venture," Macha writes in "Historic Aircraft Wrecks of Los Angeles County" (The History Press: 144 pp, $19.99).

It's one of three new books from the History Press, which publishes tidy photo history books, it seems, of almost every corner pharmacy in America. In fact, since 2004, the company has published close to 2,000 books; more than 100 are about California.

And still they come. With the obvious landmarks and neighborhoods taken, the books reflect increasingly niche interests.

Often written by amateur historians, the books tend to emphasize photos over text. Less so for "Hidden History of Transportation in Los Angeles" (The History Press: 240 pp., $19.99) by Charles P. Hobbs, a librarian with an interest in public transportation. The book follows the history of bus lines in Los Angeles, with a few detours into other transportation methods, including a propeller-driven monorail and a downtown elevated people-mover.

"Silver Lake Chronicles" (The History Press: 160 pp., $19.99) by Michael Locke with Vincent Brook is a typical neighborhood history book, the kind that mixes family photos with historic black-and-white views of near-empty hillsides sprinkled with houses. Silver Lake, now a haven for affluent hipsters, was home to some of the early silent film production houses, so the book includes 1920s-era bathing beauties and fallen star Fatty Arbuckle. And also famed preacher Aimee Semple McPherson, who could arguably belong to Echo Park -- but there is no Echo Park book. Yet.

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