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'Forget It, Jake, It's Chinatown': California's Historic Drought Has Cinematic Feel

Jack Nicholson portrays a private investigator in Los Angeles in the 1930's, endangered when a seemingly routine case uncovers the private scandals of the city's leading family, in "Chinatown." 1974 photo. (CBS Television Network via AP)
Jack Nicholson portrays a private investigator in Los Angeles in the 1930's, endangered when a seemingly routine case uncovers the private scandals of the city's leading family, in "Chinatown." 1974 photo. (CBS Television Network via AP)

The photos and stories of California’s historic drought seem cinematic because they are. The 1974 film “Chinatown” involves a fictional Los Angeles mayor making the case for building an aqueduct to bring water from farm areas to Los Angeles, to supply water for people to move to the city.

Kevin Starr, history professor at the University of Southern California, says comparing the present-day drought to the California of “Chinatown” is especially apt.

Guest

  • Kevin Starr, professor of history at the University of Southern California.

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