Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Waterworks : L.A. Is Indebted to Water for Its Transformation From a Semidesert Small Town, But There Are Surprisingly Few Fountains That Celebrate It

September 05, 1993|LEON WHITESON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Water is the soul of the Southland. Without it, the vast metropolis would have remained a small town lost in a semidesert, instead of a good, green place rich, first in orchards and now in lawns and gardens.

Given this truth, it's surprising that water is so seldom publicly celebrated. Despite the Mediterranean style of much of our architecture, we boast few of the glorious public fountains that grace the plazas of Spanish or Italian cities. Along our boulevards we seldom find the splash and sparkle of running water cooling the ear and refreshing the eye on a summer's day.

This is a great pity, for water adds a vital element to the urban landscape. Water flows softly and soothes the nerves in hot, dry streets choked with traffic and lined with the hard surfaces of buildings mile after mile. The elemental quality of flowing water, which ever since the first image of the Garden of Eden has stood for the renewal of the spirit, comes as a deep relief to every man or woman who has to negotiate the urban scene.

"In the deserts of the heart/Let the healing fountain start," wrote the poet W. H. Auden. In the examples illustrated here, healing water provides delight in the heart of our urban desert.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|