You may have heard of SurveyLA, the cooperative effort between the Getty Conservation Institute and the City of Los Angeles to document each and every block of giant Los Angeles for its architectural, social, historical, racial, and cultural references. What you may not know is that the survey has been in full swing for several years, with paid staff walking the streets of this vast city recording each and every plot, including your home and mine, in the largest test case of an electronic database that documents an entire city.
The computer survey database used by staff to collect data is called Arches. It was created after important archeological sites, museums and buildings were blasted away during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. With no record of what stood before the devastation, the Getty created the Arches database program, which is now being utilized in Los Angeles to record the fabric of the city of Los Angeles. Why? As the SurveyLA website shares:
The goal was simple: to create a baseline of information so that historic preservation decisions could be made proactively instead of reactively. When all the stakeholders know what resources are out there up front, land use decisions become better informed and more efficient, and the community has a better chance of protecting those places that foster a sense of place and connect us with the past.
The PBS Newshour did an interview with some of the teams behind Survey LA as they explore Hancock Park and record architectural and historical details of the neighborhood.
Office of Historic Resources: Survey LA