City of Los Angeles History

The United States of America’s second largest metropolitan city is Los Angeles, California. With a diverse population and culturally rich heritage, the City of Angels is home to over 4 million residents. Known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” Los Angeles is home to Hollywood’s many film studios and landmarks. Most noteworthy, these studios include Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal, and more. The famed Hollywood Boulevard features the world-renowned TCL Chinese Theater. This theater showcases a myriad of celebrity hand and footprints on the Walk of Fame. From the shorelines of Venice and Santa Monica to the lavish shopping venues of exquisite Beverly Hills, Los Angeles continues to attract thousands of visitors each year.

The Founding of Los Angeles

Historically, Los Angeles was the home of the Tongva and Chumash Native American tribes. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo initially claimed the city for the Spanish Empire in 1542. On September 4, 1781, Felipe d Neve ,the current Spanish governor at the time founded the City of Los Angeles. As a result, The city became a part of Mexico in 1821 shortly following the Mexican War of Independence. The United States purchased LA and the rest of California at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. This purchase was part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty led to the incorporation of Los Angeles as a municipality on April 4, 1850. The city would soon experience rapid growth with the discovery of oil, and California would achieve statehood in September 1850.

Los Angeles: The Early Years

The initial years of Los Angeles saw Americans and Mexicans battling for possession of the city and state. However, Mexican rule would end as a result of the Mexican-American War. The Unite States grasped control of the city after defeating Mexico in a series of battles. The official transfer occurred at the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847. America began its policy of expansion into Western Territories. The railroads would play a pivotal role in the development of the city. With the completion of the Southern Pacific line to L.A. in 1876, more people began to move to Los Angeles. Once there they established small residences and businesses.

Growth increased with the discovery of oil in 1892. This discovery brought spectators, investors, and migrants from all over the country and the world. By 1923, Los Angeles became a boom town, considered the epicenter of the oil and petroleum industry in America. The early years would also see the first developments of small neighborhoods in and around the city. In fact, the population soared to over 100,000 by 1902, which resulted in the construction of irrigation lines, reservoirs, and citywide water supplies and tanks. These additions culminated with the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, which was under the guidance of Supervisor William Mulholland. Mulholland also oversaw the continued growth of Los Angeles and its outlining areas.


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Mexican – American War and the City of Los Angeles

The Mexican-American War resulted in a United States victory in February 1848. As part of the peace treaty, Mexico recognized California, Texas, and other territories as part of the United States. The war left behind deep resentments by Mexicans that lived in California and other parts of the Southwest that now fell under the United States government. The hostility, however, did not stop scores of Mexicans from moving into Los Angeles and Southern California for better opportunities to earn a living. While most of the early Mexican arrivals worked the farms, homesteads, and government run agricultural projects, many did prosper as small independent business owners – mainly selling traditional Mexican foods, fruits, vegetables, and homemade fabrics and clothing to local proprietors and new arrivals.

The State of California and the United States Entry

The United States of America admitted California as a state on September 9, 1850. Los Angeles became an incorporated city five months prior on April 4, 1850. Los Angeles also rapidly became a boom town with the discovery of oil. This expansion resulted in small towns being built overnight – with hotels, motels, bars, entertainment venues, and places of worship. These structures would eventually serve as the foundation of the downtown area, which would see new commercial buildings being erected throughout the 20th century. The new arrivals and existing Latino populations would each claim specific parts of the city as well. This grouping led to the formation of new neighborhoods, along with many of the nation’s first residential areas and complexes. By 1930, the population of L.A. reached one million people, and in 1932, Los Angeles received the honor of hosting the Summer Olympics.

Growth of Entertainment Industry in Los Angeles

With the development of the West Coast and Southwest Regions, many people flocked to Los Angeles to pursue dreams of stardom and fame. In fact, Hollywood was already in existence and merged into Los Angeles in 1910. There were already ten movie companies operating at the time, and over 80 percent of the world’s film industry was based in L.A. From the earliest projection films and motion pictures to commercials that would blanket the new television sets of the 1950’s, the growth of the entertainment industry mainly revolved around Los Angeles. LA became the entertainment industry hub because many directors, producers, actors, and actresses moved to L.A. for its warm climate and wealth of new opportunities.

The entertainment industry also shielded Los Angeles during the Great Depression. This protection was due to the scores of jobs and money generated by this industry. While most of the nation suffered massive financial losses during this time, L.A. only continued to grow and expand.

20th Century Politics of LA

By the end of World War II, Los Angeles developed both as a political center and haven for new arrivals. While the city was mainly white, its large Hispanic population continued to grow and expand. So much so, that new migrants from Central America began to get their share of the city’s bustling commercial centers and outlying agricultural and labor industries. Similarly, Southern and Eastern African-Americans began to move to the city as well – establishing residences in Compton, South Central Los Angeles, Lynwood, and Watts. Sadly, the resistance of whites to incorporating minorities into local and regional government positions began to tarnish Los Angeles’ reputation as a free-spirited and welcoming town. It would take the Civil Rights Movement and Act to chip away at these political ideologies and make L.A. a city for all.

Modern Metropolitan City of Los Angeles

The 20th century saw L.A. boom as a haven of new industries and commerce. Despite racial tensions and the expansion of the entertainment community, Los Angeles became a central hub for manufacturing, coastal fishing, textiles, aviation, and transportation. With companies like Douglas Aircraft, Hughes, Lockheed-Martin, and Vultee basing operations in Los Angeles, the city simply grew like wildfire – resulting in more neighborhood enclaves and the building of the downtown financial districts.

Future of Los Angeles

The future of Los Angeles has never been brighter and rosier. With new residential developments popping up each day, the city continues to attract settlers from all over the country and the world. Los Angeles is home to several sports teams and continues to be the ultimate entertainment center of the United States.

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