Cos (cos) wrote,

Los Angeles time machine

My first impression of Los Angeles was not so good. We were on a several-week camping trip when I was about 9, starting in San Francisco, then to Wyoming and Utah and Arizona, and finishing up in southern California. I remember my first sight of LA, driving down from the mountains (we were probably coming in via I-15 through San Bernardino, though I don't remember): A vast sea of dark gray smog, out to the distant ocean, with tall buildings poking up above it here and there.

In Los Angeles, you couldn't really see the sky like in other places. It was lighter above, and grew steadily darker the further down you looked, a smooth gradient to gray well before the buildings hiding the horizon.

We saw the sunset from Disneyland one or two evenings, a beatiful orange sky I'd never seen before - really orange, solid orange, a thick band covering much of the sky. During the day, the sun was a diffuse focus of brilliant light spread out larger than a harvest moon.

I didn't go back to southern California until 2003, almost a quarter century later. California had made great strides on air quality in the years since. The pollution capitals of the US had mostly moved to Texas by then, and the sky in Los Angeles was unexceptional, just the sky like in most other cities I've been to.

Today, I took a flight from San Diego to Boston by way of Los Angeles, and got a view of the city from 25 or more years ago, for several minutes as we approached the airport. When we got out of the plane, I saw that same gradient sky, and that same sun. We left before sunset; I wonder if it's as orange as it was back then.

P.S. Glad to be back in Boston, where the air is cold but breathable. Although our plane waited over 50min after landing before they had an open gate for us and I'm waiting for my bags but missed the T. Yay for dreams_of_wings coming to pick me up.

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