When we moved to Los Angeles in 2001, we immediately bought the tried and true Gebhard architecture guide, but the book that really caught our eye and informed our view of our adopted hometown was this one. It would make sense that a Sea Rancher's view of the megalopolis in which we lived would resonate so strongly.
First edition, 1984.
Charles Moore's classic is in turn knowledgeable, warm, witty, and slightly irreverent. Moore's genius was his ability to tie the disparate built environments of Los Angeles into a coherent whole. We read with pleasure the miniature essays that comprise his entries on subjects as varied as Disneyland, Riverside's Mission Inn, the Gamble House, and downtown Los Angeles. While still a practical guide, Moore's work approaches literature.