" The History of Los Angeles - California"
Los Angeles, known as "L.A." or the "City of Angels", is the largest city in the state of California and the second-largest in the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850—five months before California achieved statehood—and is the county seat of Los Angeles County. As of the 2005 U.S. Census estimate, the city had a population of 3.8 million and is the core cultural and economic center of the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana metropolitan area, with a population of 12.9
million. Los Angeles is one of the world's most important centers of culture, science, technology, international trade, and higher education. It has also hosted two Olympic Games—in 1932 and 1984—and is home to numerous world-renowned institutions of a broad range of professional and cultural fields. In addition, the city is arguably the world's leading producer of popular entertainment—such as motion pictures, television, and recorded music—which forms the base of its international fame and global status.
Los Angeles is also one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world. People have long been attracted to the world-class city for its balmy weather, unique and vibrant lifestyle, laid-back energy, Pacific Rim Gateway status, and the hope of realizing the "American Dream."
The Los Angeles coastal area was inhabited by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños), Chumash, and earlier Native American peoples for thousands of years. The Spanish arrived in 1542, when Juan Cabrillo visited the area. In 1769, Gaspar de Portolà led an expedition across southern California with Franciscan Padres Junípero Serra and Juan Crespi. Father Crespi had picked out a site along the river for a mission, but in 1771 Father Serra had the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel built near Whittier Narrows. After a 1776 flood, the mission was moved to its present site in San Gabriel. The Mission Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles was established on September 4, 1781 by a group of 46 Mexican settlers who had set out from the San Gabriel mission to establish a settlement along the banks of the Porciúncula River. The new governor of California, Felip de Neve, recommended to the viceroy in Mexico that the site be developed into a pueblo (town). The area was duly named "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula," ("The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the River Porciúncula"). It remained a small ranch town for decades, but by 1820 the population had increased to about 650 residents, making it the largest civilian community in Spanish California. Today the outline of the Pueblo is preserved in a historic monument familiarly called Olvera Street.
Mexico's independence from Spain was achieved in 1821, but the greatest change took place in present-day Montebello after the Battle of Rio San Gabriel in 1847, when Americans took control of the fledgling city. Americans solidified control over the city after they flooded into California during the Gold Rush and secured the subsequent admission of California into the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1850.
Railroads arrived when the Southern Pacific completed its line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil was discovered in 1892, and by 1923 Los Angeles was supplying one-quarter of the world's petroleum. Even more important to the city's growth was water. In 1913, William Mulholland completed the aqueduct that assured the city's growth. Starting in 1915, the City of Los Angeles started annexation of dozens of neighboring communities without water supplies of their own. A largely fictionalized account of the Owens Valley Water War can be found in the 1974 motion picture Chinatown.
In the 1920s the motion picture and aviation industries both flocked to Los Angeles and helped to further develop it. Los Angeles is also known to be the home of the first HMO, Ross-Loos Medical Group, 1929 is considered to be the first Health Maintenance Organization in the United States. The city was the proud host of the 1932 Summer Olympics and along with it the development of Baldwin Hills, the original Olympic Village. World War II brought new growth and prosperity to the city, although many of its Japanese-American residents were transported to internment camps for the duration of the war. This period also saw the arrival of the German exiles, who included such notables as Thomas Mann, Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht and Lion Feuchtwanger. The postwar years saw an even greater boom as urban sprawl expanded into the San Fernando Valley.
The Watts riots in 1965 showed the nation the deep racial divisions that the city faced. The ARPANET (the Internet's ancestor) was born in Los Angeles. In 1969, the first ARPANET transmission was sent from UCLA to SRI in Menlo Park. The XXIII Olympiad was successfully hosted in Los Angeles in 1984. The city was once again tested by the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake and by a city-wide vote on San Fernando Valley and Hollywood secession that was defeated in 2002. Now, urban redevelopment and gentrification have been taking place at a furious pace in various parts of the city, most notably Downtown, which is poised to be the home of many more cultural and entertainment institutions than ever before.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 498.3 square miles (1,290.6 km²)—469.1 square miles (1,214.9 km²) of it is land and 29.2 square miles (75.7 km²) of it is water. The total area is 5.86% water. The extreme north-south distance is 44 miles (71 km), the extreme east-west distance is 29 miles (47 km), and the length of the city boundary is 342 miles (550 km). The land area is the 9th largest in the Continental United States (excluding Juneau, Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii). The highest point in Los Angeles is Sister Elsie Peak (5,080 feet) at the far reaches of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, part of Mt. Lukens. The Los Angeles River is a largely seasonal river flowing through the city, with headwaters in the San Fernando Valley. Its length is almost entirely lined in concrete.
The Los Angeles area is remarkably rich in native plant species. With its beaches, dunes, wetlands, hills, mountains, and rivers, the area contains a number of important biological communities. The largest area is coastal sage scrub, which covers the hillsides in combustible chaparral. Native plants include: California poppy, matilija poppy, toyon, coast live oak, giant wild rye grass, and hundreds of others. Unfortunately, many native species are so rare as to be endangered, such as the Los Angeles sunflower. There are many exotic flowers and flowering trees that are blooming year-round, with subtle colors, including the jacaranda, hibiscus, phlox, bougainvillea, coral tree blossoms and bird of paradise. If there were no city here, flower-growing could still flourish as an industry, as it does in Lompoc. Wisteria has been known to grow to house-lot size, and in Descanso Gardens there are forests of camellia trees. Orchids require special attention in this Mediterranean climate.
Like most areas of California, Los Angeles is subject to earthquakes, due to its proximity to the San Andreas Fault, as well as to the smaller San Jacinto and Banning faults in southern California. The most recent major earthquake was the 1994 Northridge earthquake, which was centered in the northern San Fernando Valley. Coming less than two years after the 1992 riots, the Northridge earthquake was an emotional shock to Southern Californians, and caused physical damage totaling billions of dollars. Other major earthquakes in the Los Angeles area include the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, and the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. Nevertheless, most earthquakes are relatively minor. Many residents of Los Angeles feel one or two minor earthquakes per year, which do little or no damage. Imperceptible quakes are detected by seismometers on a daily basis.
The city is divided into many neighborhoods, many of which were towns that were annexed by the growing city. There are also several independent cities in and around Los Angeles, but they are popularly grouped with the city of Los Angeles, either due to being completely engulfed as enclaves by Los Angeles, or lying within its immediate vicinity. Generally, the city is divided into the following areas: Downtown L.A., East L.A., South Los Angeles, the South Bay/Harbor, Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire (or Mid City), the Westside (which includes West Los Angeles as well as the cities of Santa Monica and West Hollywood), and the San Fernando Valley. Recently in the last ten years, "Eastside" has appeared as a new designation to contrast with the more traditional "Westside" description (though many Angelenos reject the term as a trendy East Coast import). Some well-known communities of Los Angeles include Venice Beach, the Downtown financial district, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Hancock Park, Koreatown, and the extremely affluent areas of Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Hollywood Hills, Pacific Palisades, Holmby Hills, and Brentwood to name a few.
The city is situated in a Mediterranean climate or subtropical zone, experiencing mild, reasonably wet winters and warm to hot, mildly humid summers. Generally the weather is dry in all seasons, but can be relatively cold in the winter. Breezes from the Pacific Ocean tend to keep the beach communities of the Los Angeles area cooler in summer and warmer in winter than those further inland, and summer temperatures can sometimes vary by as much as 25 °F warmer in the inland communities compared to that of the coastal communities. The coastal communities of Los Angeles are commonly affected by a phenomenon known as a 'marine layer', a dense cloud cover caused by the proximity of the ocean, that helps keep the temperatures cooler throughout the year. Temperatures in the summer can get well over 90 °F (32 °C), but average summer daytime highs are 85 °F (29 °C), with overnight lows of 66 °F (18 °C). Winter daytime high temperatures will get up to around 70 °F (21 °C), on average, with overnight lows of 48 °F (8 °C) and during this season rain is a possibility. The median temperature in January is 58.3 °F (14.6 °C) and 74.3 °F (23.5 °C) in July. The highest temperature recorded within city borders was 119.0 °F (48.33 °C) in Woodland Hills on July 22, 2006, the lowest temperature recorded was 18.0 °F (−7.8 °C) in 1989, in Canoga Park. The highest temperature ever recorded for Downtown Los Angeles was 112.0 °F (44.4 °C) on June 26, 1990, and the lowest temperature ever recorded was 28.0 °F (−2.2 °C) on January 4, 1949. Rain occurs mainly in the winter and spring months (February being the wettest month) with great variations in storm severity year by year. Los Angeles averages 15 inches (381 mm) of precipitation per year. It rarely snows in the city basin, but the mountains slopes within city limits typically receive snow every year. With weather permitting, it is possible to snow ski and surf on the same day in the Los Angeles area.
The city is governed by a mayor-council system. There are 15 city council districts. Other elected city officials include the City Attorney and the City Controller. The city attorney prosecutes misdemeanors within the city limits. The district attorney, elected by county voters, prosecutes misdemeanors in unincorporated areas and in 78 of the 88 cities in the county, as well as felonies throughout the county.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polices the city of Los Angeles, but the city also maintains three specialized police agencies; The Office of Public Safety, within the General Services Department, which is responsible for security and law enforcement services at city facilities throughout the city, including City Hall, city parks and libraries, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Convention Center; The Port Police, within the Harbor Department, which is responsible for land, air and sea law enforcement services at the Port of Los Angeles; and the Airport Police, within the Los Angeles World Airports Department, which is responsible for law enforcement services at all four city owned airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Ontario International Airport, Palmdale Regional Airport, and Van Nuys Airport, the largest general aviation airport in the country.
The LAPL, Los Angeles Public Library System and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) are among the largest such organizations in the country. The LAUSD is the second largest school district in the United States; only the New York City Department of Education is larger. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provides service to city residents and businesses.
The city government has been perceived as inefficient and ineffective by residents of some areas, which led to an unsuccessful secession movement by the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood, and San Pedro in 2002. The campaign to defeat secession was led by then Mayor James Hahn. The most often raised complaint is that city administration in Downtown gives priority to high-density neighborhoods like Mid-City and Downtown at the expense of its far-flung suburban neighborhoods.
To make the government more responsive and to help encourage the cohesiveness of neighborhood communities, the City Council has promoted the formation of neighborhood councils. These advisory councils were first proposed by City Council member Joel Wachs in 1996 and were incorporated in the Charter Reform of 1999. The councils cover districts which are not necessarily identical to the traditional neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the borders of which often reflect those of cities that were annexed to Los Angeles. More than 90 neighborhood councils have been formed and all stakeholders in a district may vote for council members. Though the councils have little actual power, they are still official government bodies and so must abide by California's Brown Act that strictly governs the meetings of deliberative assemblies. These and other regulatory requirements have proven frustrating for activists unaccustomed to bureaucratic procedures. The first notable achievement of the neighborhood councils was their organized opposition in March 2004 to an 18% increase in water rates by the Department of Water and Power (a municipal monopoly), which led the City Council to suspend the rate hike pending further study. As Mayor, James Hahn provided each council with $50,000 for any project of their choice and an additional $100,000 for street improvements in their neighborhood. These financial commitments have been maintained by current Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
The Los Angeles City Council was the first government anywhere to recognize the independence of Slovenia and Croatia.
The economy of Los Angeles is driven by international trade, entertainment (television, motion pictures, recorded music), aerospace, agriculture, petroleum, and tourism. Los Angeles is also the largest manufacturing center in the United States. The contiguous ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together compose the most significant port in North America and one of the most important ports in the world, and they are vital to trade within the Pacific Rim. Other significant industries include media production, finance, telecommunications, law, health and medicine, and transportation.
The city is home to three major Fortune 500 companies, including aerospace contractor Northrop Grumman, energy company Occidental Petroleum Corporation, and homebuilding company KB Home.
Other companies headquartered in Los Angeles include Twentieth Century Fox, Herbalife, Univision, Metro Interactive, LLC, Premier America, CB Richard Ellis, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Guess?, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, Tokyopop, The Jim Henson Company, Paramount Pictures, Robinsons-May, Sunkist, Fox Sports Net, Health Net, Inc., 21st Century Insurance, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
The metropolitan area contains the headquarters of even more companies, many of whom wish to escape the city's high taxes. For example, Los Angeles charges a gross receipts tax based on a percentage of business revenue, while most neighboring cities charge only small flat fees. The companies below clearly benefit from their proximity to Los Angeles, while at the same time they also avoid the city's taxes (and other problems). Some of the major companies headquartered in the cities of Los Angeles county are Shakey's Pizza (Alhambra), Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Beverly Hills), City National Bank (Beverly Hills), Hilton Hotels (Beverly Hills), DiC Entertainment (Burbank), The Walt Disney Company (Fortune 500 - Burbank), Warner Bros. (Burbank), Countrywide Financial Corporation (Fortune 500 - Calabasas), THQ (Calabasas), Belkin (Compton), Sony Pictures Entertainment (parent of Columbia Pictures, located in Culver City), Computer Sciences Corporation (Fortune 500 - El Segundo), DirecTV (El Segundo), Mattel (Fortune 500 - El Segundo), Unocal (Fortune 500 - El Segundo), DreamWorks SKG (Glendale), Sea Launch (Long Beach), ICANN (Marina Del Rey), Cunard Line (Santa Clarita), Princess Cruises (Santa Clarita), Activision (Santa Monica), and RAND (Santa Monica).
There are many other well-known companies with headquarters located in the County of Los Angeles or the greater Los Angeles area, but they are far beyond the City of Los Angeles (and the scope of this article).
The people of Los Angeles are known as Angelenos. L.A. can truly be described as a "world city" (Alpha World City) — that is, it has one of the largest and most diverse populations of any municipality anywhere. It has the second largest percentage of foreign-born citizens of any major U.S. city, after Miami. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the number one entry for immigrants in the country. The Hispanic, Asian American, and Caribbean populations are growing particularly quickly — the Asian American population is the largest of any city in the U.S and the city contains the largest concentration of Los Angeles County's 1.4 million Asians. Los Angeles hosts the largest populations of Armenians, Cambodians, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Hungarians, Koreans, Mexicans, Pacific Islanders such as Samoans, Salvadorans, Thais, and Vietnamese in the world outside of their respective countries. Los Angeles is also home to the largest populations of Japanese and Persians living in the U.S., and has one of the largest Native American populations in the country. Los Angeles is home to people from more than 140 countries, who speak at least 224 different languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Little Persia, Little Tokyo, Thai Town, and Little Saigon give testimony to the polyglot character of Los Angeles and its unique diversity.
Great restaurants of all types abound in Los Angeles, thus the city is a fine location for exquisite dining. Many celebrity chefs are also based in the city, the most notable being Wolfgang Puck. The nightlife in Los Angeles is very vibrant, with an immense array of bars, clubs, lounges, and other venues that cater to many tastes. Nighttime hotspots include places such as Downtown Los Angeles, Silver Lake, Hollywood, and West Hollywood, which is the home of the world-famous Sunset Strip. Furthermore, the Los Angeles area also boasts a prominent shopping scene. Anything can be bought in the city; some of the best shopping areas include Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Third Street Promenade and Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, Old Town Pasadena, the Hollywood and Highland complex, the Beverly Center, The Grove, Melrose Avenue, and Robertson Boulevard.
Arts and theatre
Los Angeles is widely referred to as the entertainment capital of the world. The largest and most famous entertainment industries in Los Angeles are television and film production, with the music business and the arts being huge industries as well. The city also offers several cultural institutions, and some of the most notable include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Getty Center and Villa, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Museum of Neon Art (MONA), the Norton Simon Museum, the Museum of Tolerance, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Latino Museum of History, Art, and Culture, the George C. Page Museum, the Japanese American National Museum, the California Science Center, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. There are also numerous smaller art galleries throughout the area, most noticeably in West Hollywood and Santa Monica. In regards to the performing arts, there are many venues such the Music Center of Los Angeles County (consisting of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the Los Angeles Opera, the Ahmanson Theatre, which hosts big Broadway productions, and the Mark Taper Forum), the Ford Amphitheatre, the Greek Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, the Pantages Theatre, and the new home of the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre. The city also has many smaller theaters such as the famous Actors Gang Theatre or the Coronet Theatre. There are also many architectural landmarks such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and the Bradbury Building. There is also a great rennaissance of downtown Los Angeles as an arts and entertainment district, with the restoration and development of historic buildings, Broadway theatres, and businesses such as restaurants and clubs. Many Angelenos are also migrating there to live, with the construction of hundreds of new penthouses and lofts.
Because the city is the center of the film industry, movie theaters also abound in the metro area, with the most famous being Grauman's Chinese Theatre, which hosts many film premieres, and the El Capitan Theatre. As a major global metropolis, Los Angeles has also evolved a unique culture of glamour, opulence, and prosperity that is widely portrayed in popular media.
Residents of the city of Los Angeles are served by the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) and its branch locations. Residents of the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and various cities within the county are served by the County of Los Angeles Public Library The LAPL is funded by voter-approved bond and tax levy packages. The Central Library is located in downtown Los Angeles and has been recognized as a National Historic Site.
Los Angeles is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Club Deportivo Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, the Los Angeles Riptide of Major League Lacrosse, and the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League. Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since 1995 despite being the second-biggest television market in North America. Prior to 1995, the Rams (1946-1994) and the Raiders (1982-1994) of the NFL were in the Los Angeles market. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Anaheim Ducks are both based in nearby Anaheim.
Beach volleyball and windsurfing were both invented in the area (though predecessors of both were invented in some form by Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii). Venice, also known as Dogtown, is credited with being the birthplace of skateboarding and the place where Rollerblading first became popular. Area beaches are popular with surfers, who have created their own subculture.
Los Angeles has twice played host to the summer Olympic Games: in 1932 and in 1984. When the tenth Olympic Games were hosted in 1932, the former 10th Street was renamed Olympic Blvd. The 1984 Summer Olympics inspired the creation of the Los Angeles Marathon, which has been celebrated every year in March since 1986. Super Bowls I and VII were also contested in the city as well as the World Cup in 1994. Los Angeles is also hoping to be lead of the 2016 Olympics.
The Los Angeles area contains all kinds of topography, notably the hills and mountains rising around the metropolis (it's the only major city in the United States bisected by a mountain range); four mountain ranges extend into city boundaries. Thousands of miles of trails crisscross the city and neighboring areas, providing exercise and wilderness access on foot, bike, or horse. Across the county a great variety of outdoor activities are available, such as skiing, rock climbing, gold panning, hang gliding, and windsurfing. Numerous outdoor clubs serve these sports, including the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, which leads over 4,000 outings annually in the area. Los Angeles also boasts a number of sports venues, most noticeably STAPLES Center, a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex that also hosts concerts and awards shows such as the Grammys.
Los Angeles has one of the largest freeway systems in the world, with 27 intertwining freeways handling millions of commuters as they journey a daily collective migration of about 100 million miles (160 million km). Los Angeles is the most car-populated metropolis in the world with three times more automobiles than people.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other agencies operate an extensive system of bus lines, as well as subway and light rail lines, which together carry over a million passengers a day. The major rail system includes the Red Line subway, the Gold, Blue, and Green light rail lines, and the Orange Line, a bus rapid transit line. The special red Metro Rapid buses have also been highly touted as a prime example of a successful bus transit program since these buses operate like a rail line and run through the best-known parts of the city. Currently under construction is an eastside extension of the Gold Line. In the works is a new rail line called the Expo Line. Momentum is slowly building to extend the subway under Wilshire Boulevard all the way to the ocean in Santa Monica, ushering in an even more extensive public transportation system. Rail passenger service is provided by Amtrak and Metrolink from historic Union Station. Rail shipping is handled by Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area is served by more airports than any major city in the world, with 5 major commercial airports, and many more general-aviation airports. The main Los Angeles airport is Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX, ICAO: KLAX), the fifth busiest commercial airport in the world. LAX handled 55 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo in 2003. Other major commercial airports include Ontario International Airport (IATA: ONT, ICAO: KONT), Bob Hope Airport (IATA: BUR, ICAO: KBUR), formerly known as Burbank Airport, Long Beach Municipal Airport (IATA: LGB, ICAO: KLGB), and John Wayne Airport (IATA: SNA, ICAO: KSNA) of Orange County. Los Angeles also has the world's busiest general-aviation airport, Van Nuys Airport (IATA: VNY, ICAO: KVNY).
The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach together make up the Los Angeles - Long Beach Harbor, the busiest and overall third-largest container shipping port in the world. There are also smaller, non-industrial harbors along L.A.'s coastline. Most of these contain sailboats and yachts, like Redondo Beach and Marina Del Rey.
Los Angeles Skylines of Today