December 28, 2021

LA Revelations 4 -Vancouverism in Los Angeles

This I did not expect.  Driving down La Cienega Boulevard at night, a block of lights in the distance rose above the treeline.  Way above, like nothing else in this part of the city.   It turned out to be a newly opened 30-storey residential apartment building – Cumulus.

How did this get here!?


I saw the tower complex the next day from the platform of the Expo (E) Line, waiting for the trip downtown:


Vancouverism had apparently come to Los Angeles.  Cumulus checked off the boxes:  Highrise tower with six-storey podium.  Glassy facade in pastel blue.  Mixed-use residential with street retail.  Built on an underused commercial site at a major intersection.  Next to a rapid-transit station.

And it wasn’t the only new development I’d find as I travelled along Metro Rail.  TOD – transit-oriented development – had returned to LA.

You probably know the story of early Los Angeles as one of the first streetcar cities: LARY for the Yellow Cars on the local tram routes; Pacific Electric for the Red Cars on the interurban lines – both fabled in silent films and motordom conspiracies (see Roger Rabbit et al.)


Then came the freeways.  And finally a century later, those rights-of-way had light-rail lines squeezed in – but by now on some of the less attractive options for transit-oriented development and still set in auto-dependent motordom without much change on anything adjacent except commuter parking lots.

The Blue Line to Long Beach was the first light-rail line in 1990.  Three decades later, the dismal suburban/industrial fabric remains largely unchanged.


But in 2016, something did change.  As we’ll see in the next post on LA Revelations.


Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


  1. Vancouverism” is a term used to describe a particular urban planning and architectural style associated with the city of Vancouver, Canada. This style of urban development has gained recognition for its focus on creating vibrant, livable, and sustainable urban environments.

Subscribe to Viewpoint Vancouver

Get breaking news and fresh views, direct to your inbox.

Join 7,301 other subscribers

Show your Support

Check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more – or, make a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles