When two New York baseball teams, the Dodgers and the Giants, moved west six decades ago, their ancient cross-town rivalry merged into the equally intense – and equally long – competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco for economic, cultural and, of course, political dominance of California.
As the second half of this year’s baseball season began, the Los Angeles Dodgers were sitting on the best record in the major leagues while the San Francisco Giants, despite winning three World Series titles in this decade, had the second worst.
The Giants might not be doing well this year, but the San Francisco Bay Area’s technology-centered economy is, by any measure, red-hot and not only far surpassing the Los Angeles region’s lackluster economic performance but also, in effect, propping up the entire state.
How Los Angeles wound up eating the Bay Area’s dust, at least in economic terms, is a tale of civic and political decisions, demographic circumstance and even global politics. And with the two regions accounting for most of the state’s population and the economic output that makes it a global powerhouse, whether the stark differences widen or narrow will have a huge impact as California meanders further into the 21st century.
First, a few numbers to illustrate the whopping economic differential: