Sunshine and nature: California as a beacon of better health
Since the mid-19th century, the idea of California has lured many waves of migrants. Here, writer and editor Lyra Kilston explores a less examined attraction: the region’s promise of better health. From ailing families seeking a miracle climate cure to iconoclasts and dropouts pursuing a remedy to societal corruption, the abundance of sunshine and untamed nature around the small but growing Los Angeles area offered them refuge and inspiration.
In the wild west of medical practice, eclectic nature-cure treatments gained popularity. The source for this trend can be traced to the mountains and cold-water springs of Europe, where early sanatoriums were built to offer the natural cures of sun, air, water and diet; this sanatorium architecture was exported to the West Coast from Central Europe, and began to impact other types of building.
Sun Seekers: The Cure of California constitutes the second volume of The Illustrated America (following 2016's Old Glory), Atelier Éditions’ ongoing series excavating America’s cultural past.
Lyra Kilston is a writer and editor focused on architecture, history, design and urbanism. Her work has appeared in Artforum, Los Angeles Review of Books, Time, Wired and Hyperallergic, among other publications. She was on the curatorial team of Overdrive: LA Constructs the Future, 1940–1990, exhibited at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the National Building Museum.