Before it Changes…….


Curbed LA recently published a photo essay by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin, “An Ode to the Valley Before it Changes” featuring images of grass growing through concrete and defunct gas stations in parts of the San Fernando Valley. It’s a type of setting I have long adored and sought out.

Photo by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin.
Photo by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin.

Mr. Boyd-Bouldin writes, “The Valley neighborhoods I encounter still vibrate with an authenticity that I took for granted in the past and that have all but disappeared from the rest of the city I love. I am doubtful the Valley will always look this way as the pace of redevelopment picks up around it.”


Here are some my photographs of Van Nuys, taken with a different eye and intent.

14640-victory
14640 Victory Bl.

Should one yearn for authenticity and places that have not changed or improved in 50 years, a person might travel down Victory Boulevard between Kester and Hazeltine, where the buildings are 1950s shops and 1960s office buildings converted to vacancy, pot shop, and bail bonds. The Coalition to Preserve LA would no doubt approve of the frozen in 1966 retardation of Van Nuys where “greedy developers” have not come in and built anything on the scale of The Grove. Here preservation, in the form of economic impoverishment has worked wonders.

van-nuys-branch-library

Should one desire a great example of failed urban planning from the 1960s, one might walk amongst the sleeping homeless gathered in front of the police station, next to the library, behind the Valley Municipal Building, on that mall of nothingness surrounded by the Superior Court and the small statues sitting in pools of pee.

Van Nuys is full of the real, the urban, the forgotten, the abandoned, the neglected and the ugly. We have blocks and blocks of empty buildings, empty parking lots, and shuttered retail stores awaiting tenants, investment, customers, renters and buyers.

14547 Gilmore
14547 Gilmore-why not a beer garden or a garden?

There are no parking problems along Van Nuys Boulevard because nobody shops here. There are plenty of parking spaces in big asphalt spaces on Gilmore west of the “downtown” where Matthews Shoe Repair shut down, and other buildings, with tens of thousands of square feet of space, awaiting the next boom.

Matthews Shoe Repair-CLOSED
Matthews Shoe Repair-CLOSED

This is Van Nuys. I’ve been writing and photographing it for over ten years. I show it as it is. Or I try to.

Van Nuys, CA 90401 Built: 1929 Owners: Shraga Agam, Shulamit Agam
Van Nuys, CA 90401-a slum property owned by a wealthy Encino businessman.
Built: 1929
Owners: Shraga Agam, Shulamit Agam
Van Nuys, CA
Van Nuys, CA-why not a cool burger spot? Why not?

And I welcome change, provided it’s done with some architectural integrity and it’s not just the result of shlock hucksters and con-men throwing up the next slum.

But I would live with change, I’d welcome it, if it made my neighborhood safer, more prosperous and livelier.

 

One thought on “Before it Changes…….

  1. The photographer of the Curbed L.A. photo essay writes that he is doubtful the Valley “will always look this way as the pace of redevelopment picks up around it.” If only! Especially in Van Nuys. You make a good point on all the work that needs to be done to get Van Nuys(and the Boulevard especially)alive and kicking again. Change IS welcome, if it is done right, as you say.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s