Los Angeles, famed for its TV and music industries, vibrant culture, and never-ending sunlight, just established a new travel record. It hosted an estimated 42.5 million domestic tourists and 7.5 million overseas visitors in 2018, setting a new record of 50 million visits. However, not every visitor seemed to be as taken by The City of Angels. This story is written by a European who was visiting LA and the US for the first time, shed light on the city’s less-than-ideal side. Read the story and what are your thoughts on this.
I’m visiting LA (and the USA in general) for the first time, as I’m attending a scientific conference this week. Honestly? I’m shocked. I did not expect this. Let me start with some positive things. Americans are remarkably friendly. Many people go out of their way for you and try to help you out if you need help with something. I’ve already had numerous kind, warm conversations that felt very honest.
Many young people are progressive, want a better world and are doing volunteering work for the community. And it is awesome that interesting museums like the museum for contemporary art and The Broad can be visited for free. There is not a single reason for art to be inaccessible for the underprivileged, and LA gets that. The Last Bookstore is great and the food is extraordinary. I really enjoyed the Central Market Square. Definitely hit me up with more tips, I’m sure there is a lot of great stuff to do.
But it’s not all positive. Not at all. My hotel is in Downtown LA (the Intercontinental). I cannot count the people with psychosis that I’ve seen the last couple of days. Talking with themselves in the mirror, being very unpredictable in behavior. Drunk and high people. So many homeless and poor people. Five, six tents under each bridge. Two cops were touching a guy with their feet to see if he was dead or just sleeping. Trash, feces and piss everywhere. I thought it was a good idea to take the metro to Santa Monica and return with the last one, so I wouldn’t have to take the car.
But in the metro, several people were looking at me like they were assessing if they could rob me. Women were harassed verbally and looked with glassy eyes in order not to provoke anyone. I’ve never felt this unsafe in my life, although I’m 26 and I’ve visited over 30 countries of which many were low- or middle income countries. I’m not sure if it is a good idea to wander alone through the streets of Downtown LA at night.
Meanwhile, the streets are full of +100k$ cars. I cannot grasp the staggering inequality in this country and how racially structured it is. Where is the government? And where is their f**king responsibility? As if a government can only exist of police officers. This is the result of deliberate choices, masked as incompetence. The show must go on and taxes must remain low. At all costs, it seems. In the back of my mind, the USA was quite similar to Europe. But this does not seem to be the case. It feels like a different world to me, one that feels a bit dystopian. I’ve never experienced these things on such a scale, and it feels like politicians have never prioritized it. There is no equality at all, and some human lives seem to be worthless. It hurts me, if I’m honest.
How did it come this far? Are these problems specific to LA or does this provide me with a good image of other large American cities? Did it get worse last years? Is it better in other neighborhoods? How can this be solved?