The Hardcore Archival Research Behind 'L.A. Noire'

How Rockstar Games recreated 1940s Los Angeles using countless photographs and maps for their latest video game blockbuster

LANoire-Post.jpg

L.A. Noire was released last month to rave reviews. The hotly anticipated detective game set in 1940s Los Angeles is the latest blockbuster from Rockstar Games of Grand Theft Auto fame. What sets L.A. Noire apart from its forebears -- aside from its next-level narrativity -- is the realism of its mid-century southern California setting.

The historical accuracy didn't come easy, as Nathan Masters explains on the KCET website. Works Progress Administration maps housed at the University of Southern California were consulted to build an accurate street map. Aerial photographs from the stunning Spence Air Photo Collection at the University of California, Los Angeles added the third-dimension. Countless street-level photos from the Whittington and Los Angeles Examiner collections contributed their own small details.

For those of us who love these old collections, it's wonderful to see them brought to life with a big budget. Now, I'd love to see Rockstar release the model of the city for remixing and study. It costs them nothing and students of L.A. history could have a beautiful sandbox to learn in.

Image: L.A. Noire.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In