The L.A. Alphabet: A New Way to Transform the City

Google Street View galvanized this artist to create an emotive blueprint of South L.A.

“The more I looked at the L.A. street view images, the more I realized they were a bit too close to home,” says artist Kevin Stitt. Though he’s known as the founder of the Los Angeles Art Beat, he says he was always drawn towards the street-level imagery captured by Google Street View. And the images he found drew him so much that he decided to create his own version of street art, of sorts, to draw people’s eyes along the same path, a series of maps he calls The L.A. Alphabet. His project centers around the Alphabet of the Los Angeles River and the historic downtown district where it runs, the “Big L,” and it’s all created by using Street View images in combination with the artist’s own, high-resolution maps. “In the past two years I’ve been really starting to explore the idea of working with Google Street View,” he says.

Street View’s power to transform and to alter perception has made its way into some of the most iconic, iconic works by artists all over the world in such varied mediums as paintings, sketches, animations, sculptures and even fashion. The same ubiquity of Google Street View is transforming how we perceive the city we live in. It’s what makes it such a powerful tool. Street View has made the city much more dynamic, and while it has come a long way, one thing has been left out: the L.A. Alphabet.

As a kid, Kevin Stitt would get home from school, pick up his phone and start looking at the photos on the screen. The camera would snap pictures of people, and his goal was to draw on them. He says he made pictures of things he saw as he walked around to and from school on his way to and from classes, and he also made little drawings with chalk dust or crayons on the sidewalk he walked past in order to capture the details of

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