There's more to this fabled metropolis than film and fortune, says Christopher Beanland.

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The English architectural critic and writer Reyner Banham said Los Angeles "makes nonsense of history and breaks all the rules". There is nowhere like this sprawling, sleazy, exciting and sometimes frustrating town, where the car is king and distances between sights are eye-watering (a rush-hour trip from Venice to downtown can take almost two hours).

LA has soul. It's a city like a country, with millions of new immigrants and dreamers from around the world trying to make it in the movies or in life.