“The Elements of Utopia”: Nina Leen in California, 1945

From The Morning News:

California’s population growth was one of defining trends of 20th-century America. From 1900 to 1950 the population increased 500%, going from two million to ten million. Then things really exploded, and by the year 2000 the state’s population had climbed to 34 million, making California the most populous state in America. People have been lured west for a variety of reasons, from the gold rush to Hollywood dreams, but beyond riches and fame there has been also the promise of the sunny California lifestyle, one captured by LIFE staff photographer Nina Leen in a piece that ran in the Oct. 22, 1945 issue.

The unreservedly enthusiastic thirteen-page essay was titled “The California Way of Life,” and it’s not hard to imagine that the article affected some readers the way news of gold in Sutter’s Mill did in the 1800s. The story began with these words, which could have come from a state tourist brochure:

Californians live in a land where the sun shines 355 days a year, where the thermometer seldom falls below 46 degrees, and where towering mountains and endless beaches flank a countryside of incredible fertility. Against the background of these unique natural advantages, Californians have evolved a unique way of life which is physically the most comfortable and attractive way of life enjoyed in any region in the U.S.

It’s worth noting that this story came out just a few short months after the end of World War II, a time when readers might thirst for a new beginning. (The issue also included a story an another feel-good imagination-tickler: “victory lingerie.”)

More here.