LA Looks to Regain Its Position as Epicenter of Aerospace Enterprise

Before SpaceX, SoCal was already looking to the sky.

Southern California may be famous for spotting stars, but a different kind of star search originated here decades ago. Los Angeles and its surrounding areas was once considered “a sprawling high-tech nexus on the Pacific Rim,” according to historian Peter Westwick, although that reputation decreased as both the Cold War and Space Race declined.  But it’s that recent history that positions SpaceX and the Mojave Air and Space Port as leaders of a regional revival.

“Like fossils hidden in the sand,” says The Atlantic, “this previous, sky-bound version of LA may be hard to spot, but even its most well-disguised traces are still detectable. In the neighborhoods near LAX, streets bear names such as Jack Northrop Avenue and Rocket Road. At the corner of Wilshire and Fairfax, across from where the Los Angeles County Museum of Art now stands, Cecil B. DeMille ran an airport among the surrounding oil wells. In Playa Vista, a dense neighborhood of new-urbanist condominiums has popped up on land once owned by the eccentric aerospace innovator Howard Hughes. There, Hughes’s design teams built experimental aircraft, including the Spruce Goose, in surroundings now more idyllic than military-industrial. The titanic hangar in which Hughes’s wooden superplane was assembled is now surrounded by pedestrian paths and leased by Google. Across the street, another Hughes hangar still stands, converted into a YouTube production studio. These airfields and hangars, filled with the ghosts of spy planes past, slumbered as LA’s celebrity associations took center stage.”

You can read more about LA’s aerospace past and promising future here.

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