“So Many People Have Gone There Seeking The ‘Good Life’ That Every Year It Gets Harder And Harder To Find”

"California has absorbed some eight million people since 1950." (Image by Matthew Field.)

In the 1965 Pageant magazine article, “The 450-Square-Mile Parking Lot,” Hunter S. Thompson (who hadn’t yet begun using the middle initial) looked up at the sunny Los Angeles sky and saw it falling, with the county becoming overcrowded and choked with exhaust. In retrospect, of course, it all seems quaint. The opening:

“If you count yourself in that legion who’ve been ‘thinking’ for years about moving to California–and especially to the Los Angeles area in Southern California–you’d better get your plans into high gear pretty soon, or forget it. Because the Golden State is getting crowded. So many people have gone there seeking the ‘good life’ that every year it gets harder and harder to find.

California has absorbed some eight million people since 1950, and even state officials have admitted that the population boom is becoming a very mixed blessing, especially as concerns schools, highways, welfare, and recreational facilities–all fields in which California ranks ahead of most other states. Yet the soaring population continues to outstrip all efforts to accommodate it. Sacramento, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay area are growing like mushrooms, but the hub of the boom is and always has been Los Angeles, the king city of what is now the nation’s most populous state.” (Thanks to The Electric Typewriter.)


Starkly different views of 1965 L.A.: The Farmers Market and the Watts Riots.