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Despite decades of flagrant political and fiscal mismanagement, the cities along California’s coast have flourished. Even with the looming threat of unpaid liabilities to civil servants’ unions, an unrelenting drought, and a wave of homelessness that has swept down upon San Francisco and Los Angeles like the zombie apocalypse, nothing seemed to stop the push to develop more and more. The jeremiads against gentrification have grown louder and more desperate every year as, in L.A., more formerly poor and minority-dominated neighborhoods saw craft beer shops and vegan bakeries open among the 99¢ stores and check-cashing outlets. Nowhere was more symbolic of the success that Downtown L.A. itself: At the start of the millennium, the city’s historic and financial core was a ghost town after 6 P.M. and on weekends, its streets becoming eerie canyon of shuttered storefronts devoid even of the homeless.
By 2010, the area had begun roaring to life with trendy bars and restaurants, and retailers looking to project a certain bleeding-edge cool began locating there. By the start of 2020, Vans and Nike’s Jumpman brand had built flagship stores on the historic Broadway corridor, while Apple was underway transforming the Tower Theater into one of its new lifestyle concept destinations.More