I could not think of a single square in LA. In contrast, I could think of six squares in Boston off the top of my head (Kendall Square, Harvard Square, Central Square, Porter Square, Inman Square, Davis Square). And actually, technically none of those are even in Boston proper, but are in Cambridge and Somerville areas in the very narrow environs I used to frequent. Boston probably has even more squares.
I could also think of squares in pretty much every other American city or town I’d lived in, even the small ones.
My friend hypothesized that LA’s lack of squares might have to do with the geography here—LA roads work around hills and valleys and freeways and often lack well-laid-out right angles—and that maybe the lack of places that fit the geometry of a square resulted in us not using the word “square,” even for places which function like squares. I wondered if it could also have something to do with the sprawl, if LA is so wide and scattered that no place seems central enough to a neighborhood to deserve to be called a square. Or maybe LA lacks the drive for community the other cities work for, and therefore urban planning has not included as many squares.
Hmm. It fascinates me, the way we use language. The different names we call things.
Well, I did just do a Google search and it turns out LA does have a few squares, including Pershing Square which I knew of but had forgotten about. Still, considering what a huge city this is, LA doesn’t seem to like squares all that much. I’m tempted to do a square-per-square-mile or square-per-capita study just to see if I’m right about this . . .
(And now I feel this post is getting decidedly silly. What can I say, sometimes I wonder about things!)