The view from 30,000 feet

"An amazing triumph of will, engineering and greed, the horizontal version of New York's skyline, with its own kind of power and beauty, framed by the mountains and ocean."

— Joel Kotkin

Irvine senior fellow, New America Foundation


"At night it's a science-fiction wonderland. It feels like some huge, endless, lit-up computer grid with all kinds of magical possibilities. I also think that what you see out the window reflects you and your state of mind. You ask yourself: 'Am I really ready for this?' "

— Tim Street-Porter



"When the captain yells out, 'Final descent,' the first thing I do is push the shade up and take a look. I'm always glad to be home. Then I look for the Compton courthouse. When I see that building — which I have been to so many times — then I know where everything else is. That's my landmark. I look for Staples Center and downtown. I check out the traffic on the 405.

"When you're flying over the suburbs, everybody's got a swimming pool. Then the ghetto, as you're getting closer to the airport, you see these blue patches but they're not pools, they're blue tarps for roofs that leak or they're tents for killing termites and roaches, right?

"It's the best city in America and everybody knows it. People come here and they never leave. Some because they're happy here, some because they came chasing a dream and ended up homeless.

"Me, I love it to death."

— The Game



"History. Aspirations achieved and thwarted. The commonplace, the place where love and hope is found. I see the only place I know well enough that it matters."

— D.J. Waldie



"Our paean to Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison: lighted perimeters of right-angled property, full of people and their stories."

— William Deverell

professor of history at USC


"When I fly into LAX, I sit on the right side of the plane so I can see downtown, and I feel I'm at home. I'm always amazed how big the city is, especially at night. It's a sea of light."

— Wolfgang Puck

chef and restaurateur


"A sprawling mass of humanity on one hand, and on the other, home. I've always felt a visceral sense of being home when I make that flight."

— Becky M. Nicolaides

associate professor of history and urban studies and planning, UC San Diego


"The more important question to ask is, 'Who lives here and how do we treat each other?' We treat each other better than New Yorkers treat each other ….New Yorkers are a bunch of goddamn snobs, and you can quote me. In L.A., it's a very free society, very open society, very creative society."

— Ray Bradbury



"I see an incredibly complex structure that represents a place that is very confusing to visit but wonderful to live in."

— Esa-Pekka Salonen

music director of the

Los Angeles Philharmonic


"That sun! About to extinguish itself in the azure. Low, golden rays backlighting the City of Angels / City of Night. Eventide at the end of the continent — the end point of Western Civilization — and I'm diving in from 35,000 feet, coming hard from the Big Apple into the Big Orange, and it's all golden. And out of the corner of my eye, nose pressed against the window-seat glass, I can just barely glimpse the fluttering wings and amorphous forms of Spanish angels hovering over their city. And I am flying into the sun. Home!"

— Ray Manzarek

keyboardist for the Doors