Entertainment Centers and the Quest for Transformation in the Periphery

Document Type


Publication Date





The core of the entertainment industry in almost every urban area across the globe is by historical evolution or deliberate public policy lodged in the city center. Times Square in New York and the West End of London are the most iconic of these centers, but entertainment has evolved into new sports arena formats such as Amsterdam ArenA and L.A. Live. Some of these centers develop in the core of cities, yet others evolve on the periphery of a center city. In this quest for transformation, we ask, can contemporary entertainment-oriented transformative projects create “place” and are some locations better suited for such projects? In this paper, we explain how concentrated entertainment centers develop in the United States through the interplay of public policy and market economics, we present a typology for organizing different entertainment clusters, and through a case study of L.A. Live! we demonstrate how Los Angeles created an entertainment district from scratch on the downtown periphery. We argue that these projects can deliver on the promise of transformation with the right conditions and resources nurtured by local planning cultures and favorable markets. We further suggest that the downtown periphery in central cities is well suited for such entertinament-driven intiatives. The dispersal or concentration of entertainment brings nuance to the “urban periphery” conversation where the periphery is not distinct or separate from the urban; rather, the idea of “urban peripheries” encapsulates those places that fall “within” and “outside” traditional conceptions of the urban boundary.