In California too it was the less affluent areas that had them but still they made for a nice coverage better than a bare spot piled with junk. We had tree nurseries out in California and most of the Palms were juveniles. No one really had any babies, people want their trees now! When they redid the Railway Station in San Diego large Palms were brought in, thing is back in the 1940's there were Palms already! They were removed but with a change in attitude in railway travel there they are making the area again a very pleasant spot to be. Los Angeles Station always had courtyards where you could go and sit, Bird of Paradise, Ficus, and other flowering plants are there. Even during the decline of rail service the station and its plant life was attended to but not so much as now a days, its good to see this. The freeways out there are in many parts are landscaped, it is nice but I'd rather see light rail trams running and tear up the concrete and go to small safe electric vehicles--smart cars for city mobility. It could be done but Big Oil and politicians will fight anything like that. Its all about money--as usual and how much they can steal from the electorate.
Balboa park is awesome plus many guys go there and sun themselves--nice scenery no matter what!
You have rekindled my interest in plants. Moving to Michigan literally killed it for me, a lot of Hardwoods and Junipers, few really true ornamental plants plus nothing here gives off an aroma when it blooms. I miss that very much. Bonsai would be nice to get into but our nurseries around here don't really get into it. It would be nice to have a Greenhouse but energy costs here and the weather make it a very expensive proposition. The best anyone does around here is to grow Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and maybe some Peas or Beans or Corn. Everyone has these in their gardens so there is no shortage of such.
In California that is the way our subdivisions were laid out. California is very landscape conscious. I know I appreciate even more since it isn't done here, too much snow and you have to have a place to put it. Now the big thing here is to put in brick sidewalks, come Winter the water seeps down the cracks and will push them up making for an unbalanced walk way, still they do it. A few new suburban areas here are getting some landscaping but mostly it is trees and brush that is around and people are left on their own to plant, sometimes with disaster results! Everyone has their own idea of what looks good and then there are some who just don't care. This in my opinion is not a pretty area but rather dull and boring, the houses are much the same, the house across the street from me is plain bone ugly but it is 60 years old as is my house, they didn't build here to be pretty just functional. Any place that has Winter and a depressed economy is the same through out the eastern U.S., unless your local economy is going good not much happens and that include upgrading the looks--too expensive and cities can't afford it anymore. Some our Parks are closed because of such.
Call me a wussy then, I don't need 300 horsepower or 300 miles an hour, just an Auto that has a good heater and runs well and easy to maintain. I don't need an ego booster or call attention to myself, know me not my car.