The story of America, since the arrival of Europeans on the continent, has always been in part about people leaving their homes to get away from prosecution or to find a better life. In other words America has always also been a concept that defined itself through a collective dream of the people arriving in the new world.
After the East coast had been settled, the reasons that had motivated people to leave for a new continent still existed and so a drive for the west began with new dreams and hopes of gold rushes and unowned land (although of course it was owned by the natives). When the west coast was finally reached and settled as well there was no more land left to explore, on which the dreams of settlers and immigrants could have been projected.
In retrospect the inception of Hollywood or a city like L.A. in general, which draws most of its water out of the neighboring state of Arizona, could been seen as a final breaking of the wave. With no more room left to the west and hence no more unknown land for people to dream about, industries where founded to continue giving people a canvas onto which they could project their dreams of another world, which would be theirs to claim.
Improbable places like William Randolph Hearst’s St. Donat’s Castle – also known as Xanadu from Citizen Kane – came into existence, as well as the original Disneyland. Both of which are manifestations of fantasy worlds that sprung from the minds of singular men. Many places can be found along the west coast like Las Vegas or Palm Springs, which in all logic should not exist – Built in the desert and sustained only by streams of water coming from other places through huge pipelines, making them more mirage-like than real.
It would therefore seem that the dream never really stopped and is making up some substantial part of the American culture until today.
About the author
Jan – I am a computer scientist from Germany with family in the States. Therefore I have a special relationship with the American culture and the English language.