Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Teaching the American Twenties: Exploring the Decade through Literature and Art


The Dream Factory

Los Angeles: Making and Protecting the Image

Boosters energetically promoted the city of Los Angeles in the first decades of the twentieth century in attempts to lure tourists, new residents, and investment dollars. Real estate agents focused on the nearly constant warmth of the Southern California climate, and they portrayed attractive city streets, beautiful spacious homes, well-kept gardens, and bountiful citrus farms as the norm in the city and its surrounding areas. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce used the phrase "Los Angeles—Nature's Workshop" to promote the city as a place filled with natural beauty that fostered good health.

Ultimately, postcards and booster publications coming out of Los Angeles relied on mass-produced and widely distributed images of a relatively small set of actual neighborhoods, homes, gardens, and orange groves that were deemed "typical" as part of promotional efforts. Events like relatively small outbreaks of smallpox and pneumonic plague in 1924 threatened the image of Los Angeles that had been disseminated throughout the rest of the nation. Boosters had to redouble their efforts to promote the city in their wake.

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Travel ad from <em>Vanity Fair</em>, November 1928
Travel ad from Vanity Fair, November 1928
Vanity Fair

This travel ad from the November 1928 issue of Vanity Fair promotes California as a sun-filled holiday destination.

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