Welcome to Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is the largest city in the state of California and the second-largest in the United States. Often abbreviated as L.A., it is rated an alpha world city having an estimated population of 3.8 million and spanning over 469.1 square miles (1,214.9 square kilometers) in Southern California. Additionally, the Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana metropolitan area is home to nearly 13 million people who hail from all over the globe and speak more than a hundred different languages.Los Angeles is the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States. Its inhabitants are sometimes known as "Angelenos."
Los Angeles was founded in the year 1781 by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula). It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following its independence from Spain. In 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War, Los Angeles and California became part of the United States. It was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850—five months before California achieved statehood.
Los Angeles is one of the world's most prominent centers of culture, technology, and international trade. It is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields. The city and its immediate vicinity lead the world in producing popular entertainment — such as motion picture, television, video games and recorded music — which forms the base of Los Angeles' international fame and global status.
The old city plaza, 1869.
The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes thousands of years ago. The first Europeans arrived in 1542 under João Cabrilho, a Portuguese explorer who claimed the area as the City of God for the Spanish Empire but continued with his voyage and did not establish a settlement.The next contact would not come until 227 years later when Gaspar de Portola, together with Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769. Crespi noted that the site had the potential to be developed into a large settlement.
In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra built the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel near Whittier Narrows, in what is now called San Gabriel Valley. In 1777, the new governor of California, Felipe de Neve, recommended to the viceroy of New Spain that the site recommended by Juan Crespi be developed into a pueblo. The town was founded on September 4, 1781 by a group of 44 settlers and was named "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula," ("The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the River Porciúncula"). These settlers were of Filipino, Native American, African, and Spanish ancestry, with two-thirds being mestizo or mulatto. A majority of the settlers had some African ancestry. The settlement remained a small ranch town for decades, but by 1820 the population had increased to about 650 residents.Today, the pueblo is commemorated in the historic district Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles.
New Spain achieved its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, and the pueblo continued as a part of Mexico. Mexican rule ended during the Mexican-American War, when Americans took control from the Californios after a series of battles, culminating in the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847. Later, with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the Mexican government formally ceded Alta California and other territories to the United States.
Downtown Los Angeles from the Santa Ana Freeway.
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 producing one-quarter of the world's petroleum.
By 1900, the population had grown to more than 100,000 people, which began to put pressure on the city's water supply. The 1913 completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct under the supervision of William Mulholland, assured the continued growth of the city. In 1915, Los Angeles began annexation of dozens of neighboring communities without water supplies of their own.
In the 1920s, the motion picture and aviation industries flocked to Los Angeles. In 1932, with population surpassing one million, the city hosted the Summer Olympics. This period also saw the arrival of exiles from the increasing pre-war tension in Europe, including Thomas Mann, Fritz Lang, Bertolt Brecht, Arnold Schoenberg, and Lion Feuchtwanger.
World War II and the expansion of defense industries brought new growth and prosperity to the city. Thousands of African Americans migrated from california, Louisiana and Mississippi to work in the expanding industries. The state also succumbed to war fears and transported most Japanese American residents from Los Angeles and other cities to distant internment camps for the duration of the war.
The post-war years saw an even greater boom as urban sprawl expanded the city into the San Fernando Valley. In 1969, Los Angeles became one of the birthplaces of the Internet, as the first ARPANET transmission was sent from UCLA to SRI in Menlo Park.
As in other major cities, long-unresolved racial problems erupted in the 1960s and 1970s. Los Angeles grappled with the Watts Riots in 1965, the high school walkout by Chicano students in 1968, and the 1970 Chicano Moratorium, as representative of racial strife within the city. Los Angeles was one of the cities who passed gay rights bills during the 1970s (in 1979 after years of pressure from prominent performing arts members, and the first city where AIDS was discovered and centered on during the 1980s. Also in the 1980s, Los Angeles was also the center of the heavy metal scene, especially glam metal bands.
In 1984, the city hosted the Summer Olympics for the second time. During the rest of the 1980s, Los Angeles was plagued by increased gang violence, and police corruption. Racial tensions surfaced again in 1991 with the Rodney King controversy and the large-scale riots that followed the acquittal of his attackers. In 1994, the Northridge earthquake shook the city and caused 72 deaths.
Voters defeated the efforts by San Fernando Valley and Hollywood to secede from the city in 2002. The 2000s has seen a rise in urban redevelopment and gentrification in various parts of the city, most notably Echo Park and Downtown.
Los Angeles is irregularly shaped and covers a total area of 498.3 square miles (1,290.6 km²), comprising 469.1 square miles (1,214.9 km²) of land and 29.2 square miles (75.7 km²) of water. This makes it the 14th largest city in land area in the United States. The city extends for 44 miles (71 km) longitudinally and for 29 miles (47 km) latitudinally. The perimeter of the city is 342 miles (550 km). It is the only major city in the United States bisected by a mountain range.
View of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with Los Angeles in the distance.
The highest point in Los Angeles is Mount Lukens, also called Sister Elsie Peak. Located at the far reaches of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, it reaches a height of 5,080 ft (1,548 m). The major river is the Los Angeles River, which begins in the Canoga Park district of the city and is largely seasonal. The river is lined in concrete for almost its entire length as it flows through the city into nearby Vernon on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
Los Angeles is subject to earthquakes due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire. The geologic instability produces numerous fault lines both above and below ground, which altogether cause approximately 10,000 earthquakes every year. One of the major fault lines is the San Andreas Fault. Located at the boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, it is predicted to be the source of Southern California's next big earthquake. Major earthquakes to have hit the Los Angeles area include the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, the 1971 San Fernando earthquake near Sylmar, and the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. Nevertheless, all but a few quakes are of low intensity and are not felt. Parts of the city are also vulnerable to Pacific Ocean tsunamis; harbor areas were damaged by waves from the Great Chilean Earthquake in 1960.
The city is situated in a Mediterranean climate or Dry-Summer Subtropical zone (Köppen climate classification Csb on the coast, Csa inland), USDA Zones 8-11, experiencing mild, somewhat wet winters and warm to hot summers. 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; summer temperatures can sometimes be as much as 18 °F (10 °C) warmer in the inland communities compared to that of the coastal communities. A few coastal "micro-climates" have never recorded a temperature below freezing. Coastal areas also see a phenomenon known as the "marine layer," a dense cloud cover caused by the proximity of the ocean that helps keep the temperatures cooler throughout the year. When the marine layer becomes more common and pervades farther inland during the months of May and June, it is called May Gray or June Gloom.
Echo Park, as seen with Lotus Plants and Palm Trees.
Temperatures in the summer can get well over 90 °F (32 °C), but average summer daytime highs in downtown are 82 °F (27 °C), with overnight lows of 63 °F (17 °C). Winter daytime high temperatures will get up to around 65 °F (18 °C), on average, with overnight lows of 48 °F (10 °C) and during this season rain is common. The warmest month is August, followed by July and then September. This somewhat large case of seasonal lag is caused by Los Angeles' proximity to the ocean and its latitude of 34° north.
The median temperature in January is 57 °F (13 °C) and 73 °F (22 °C) in August. 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 recorded for Downtown Los Angeles was 112.0 °F (44.4 °C) on June 26, 1990, and the lowest temperature recorded was 28.0 °F (−2.0 °C) on January 4, 1949.
Rain occurs mainly in the winter and spring months (February being the wettest month), with great annual variations in storm severity. Los Angeles averages 15 inches (38 cm) of precipitation per year. Tornado warnings are also issued, which are extraordinarily rare downtown, though waterspouts are seen during severe storms at beaches. Snow is extraordinarily rare in the city basin, but the mountainous slopes within city limits typically receive snow every year. The greatest snowfall recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2.0 inches (5 cm) on January 15, 1932.
|Weather averages for Los Angeles, California (downtown)
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|Source: weatherbase.com Jun 2007
The Los Angeles area is rich in native plant species due in part to a diversity in habitats, including beaches, wetlands, and mountains. The most prevalent botanical environment is coastal sage scrub, which covers the hillsides in combustible chaparral. Native plants include: California poppy, matilija poppy, toyon, coast live oak, and giant wild rye grass. Many of these native species, such as the Los Angeles sunflower, have become so rare as to be considered endangered. Though they are not native to the area, the official tree of Los Angeles is the tropical Coral Tree and the official flower of Los Angeles is the Bird of Paradise, Strelitzia reginae.
Los Angeles viewed from the hills of Griffith Park, an abundance of smog lingers over the city.
Due to geography, heavy reliance on automobiles, and the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, Los Angeles suffers from air pollution in the form of smog. The Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley are susceptible to atmospheric inversion, which holds in the exhausts from road vehicles, airplanes, locomotives, shipping, manufacturing, and other sources. Unlike other large cities that rely on rain to clear smog, Los Angeles gets only 15 inches (381 mm) of rain each year. Pollution accumulates over multiple consecutive days. Issues of air quality in Los Angeles and other major cities led to the passage of early national environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act. More recently, the state of California has led the nation in working to limit pollution by mandating low emissions vehicles.
As a result, pollution levels have dropped in recent decades. The number of Stage 1 smog alerts has declined from over 100 per year in the 1970s to almost zero in the new millennium. Despite improvement, the 2006 annual report of the American Lung Association ranks the city as the most polluted in the country with short-term particle pollution and year-round particle pollution. In addition, the groundwater is increasingly threatened by MTBE from gas stations and perchlorate from rocket fuel. With pollution still a significant problem, the city continues to take steps to improve air and water conditions.
Hollywood, a well-known district of Los Angeles, often mistaken as an independent city.
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 Los Angeles, Northeast - including Highland Park and Eagle Rock areas, the Eastside, South Los Angeles (still often colloquially referred to as South Central by locals), the Harbor Area, Hollywood, Wilshire, the Westside, and the San Fernando and Crescenta Valleys.
Some well-known communities of Los Angeles include West Adams, Watts, Venice Beach, the Downtown Financial District, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Hancock Park, Koreatown, Westwood and the more affluent areas of Bel-Air, Benedict Canyon, Hollywood Hills, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood.
Important landmarks in Los Angeles include Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Disney Concert Hall, Kodak Theater, Griffith Observatory, Getty Center, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood sign, Hollywood Boulevard, Capitol Records Tower, Los Angeles City Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Watts Towers, Staples Center, Dodger Stadium and La Placita Olvera/Olvera Street.
Los Angeles is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, the Los Angeles Riptide of Major League Lacrosse, and the Los Angeles Avengers of the Arena Football League. Los Angeles is also home to the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins in the NCAA, both of which are Division I teams in the Pacific 10 Conference. UCLA has more NCAA national championships, all sports combined, than any other university in America. USC has the third most NCAA national championships, all sports combined, in the United States. Several more teams are in the greater Los Angeles media market: the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Major League Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League are both based in nearby Anaheim; and the Los Angeles Galaxy and Club Deportivo Chivas USA of Major League Soccer are both based in neighboring Carson.
Dodger Stadium is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There was a time when the Los Angeles media market boasted two NFL teams, the Rams and the Raiders. Both left the media market in 1995, with the Rams moving to St. Louis and the Raiders heading back to Oakland. Through the 2007-08 season there is no NFL franchise in the Los Angeles market, which is the second-largest city and television market in the United States]. Prior to 1995, the Rams called Memorial Coliseum (1946-1979) and Anaheim Stadium (1980-1994) home; and the Raiders played their home games at Memorial Coliseum from 1982 to 1994.
Since the franchise's departures the NFL as an organization, and individual NFL owners, have attempted to relocate a team to the city. Immediately following the 1995 NFL season, Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring went as far as packing up moving vans to start play in the Rose Bowl under a new team name and logo for the 1996 season. The State of Washington filed a law suit to successfully prevent the move. In 2003, then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue indicated L.A. would get a new expansion team, a thirty-third franchise, after the choice of Houston over L.A. in the 2002 league expansion round.When the New Orleans Saints were displaced from the Superdome by Hurricane Katrina media outlets reported the NFL was planning to move the team to Los Angeles permanently. Despite these efforts, and the failure to build a new stadium for an NFL team, L.A. is still expected to return to the league through expansion or relocation.
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 held every year in March since 1986. Super Bowls I and VII were also held in the city as well as soccer's international World Cup in 1994. Los Angeles applied to represent the USOC in international bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but lost to Chicago.
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 parties, sunbathers, surfers, swimmers and barefooters, who have created their own subcultures.
Staples Center, a premier venue for sports and entertainment, is home to five professional sports teams.
The Los Angeles area contains varied topography, notably the hills and mountains rising around the metropolis, making Los Angeles 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 opportunities for 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, including the Staples Center, a sports and entertainment complex that also hosts concerts and awards shows such as the Grammys. The Staples Center also serves as the home arena for the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Avengers of the AFL.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,694,820 people, 1,275,412 households, and 798,407 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,876.8 people per square mile (3,041.3/km²). There were 1,337,706 housing units at an average density of 2,851.8 per square mile (1,101.1/km²).
Los Angeles has become a multi-ethnic city, with major new groups of Latino and Asian immigrants in recent decades. The racial makeup of the city was 46.9% White (29.7% White/non-Hispanic), 11.24% African American, 10.0% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.9% from other races, and 5.2% from two or more races. 46.5% of the population were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 42.2% spoke English, 41.7% Spanish, 2.4% Korean, 2.3% Tagalog, 1.7% Armenian, 1.5% Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) and 1.3% Persian as their first language. Since the mid-1980s, Los Angeles has been a minority-majority city.
According to the census, 33.5% of households had children under 18, 41.9% were married couples, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 28.5% of households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size 3.56.
The age distribution was: 26.6% under 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 34.1% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 or older. The median age was 32. For every 100 females there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females aged 18 and over, there were 97.5 males.
The median income for a household was $36,687, and for a family was $39,942. Males had a median income of $31,880, females $30,197. The per capita income was $20,671. 22.1% of the population and 18.3% of families were below the poverty line. 30.3% of those under the age of 18 and 12.6% of those aged 65 or older were below the poverty line.
Los Angeles is home to people from more than 140 countries speaking at least 224 different identified languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Little Persia, Little India, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town provide examples of the polyglot character of Los Angeles.
Colleges and universities
There are three public universities located within the city limits: California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Private colleges in the city include the American Film Institute Conservatory, Alliant International University, American InterContinental University, American Jewish University, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy - Los Angeles campus, Antioch University's Los Angeles campus, Art Center College of Design (Art Center), Charles R. Drew University, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Los Angeles campus (FIDM), Los Angeles Film School, Loyola Marymount University (LMU is also the parent university of Loyola Law School located in Los Angeles), Mount St. Mary's College, National University of California, Occidental College ("Oxy"), Otis College of Art and Design (Otis), Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Southwestern University School of Law, and University of Southern California (USC).
The community college system consists of nine campuses governed by the trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District: East Los Angeles College (ELAC), Los Angeles City College (LACC), Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Trade Technical College and West Los Angeles College. Santa Monica College in the adjacent city of Santa Monica is operated by the Santa Monica Community College District.
Schools and libraries
The Los Angeles Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Unified School District serves almost all of the city of Los Angeles, as well as several surrounding communities, with a student population over 800,000. After Proposition 13 was approved in 1978, urban school districts had considerable trouble with funding. LAUSD has become known for its underfunded, overcrowded and poorly maintained campuses, although its 162 Magnet schools to help compete with local private schools. Several small sections of Los Angeles are in the Las Virgenes Unified School District. Los Angeles County Office of Education operates the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. The Los Angeles Public Library system operates 72 public libraries in the city.
Los Angeles has 27 intertwining freeways handling millions of commuters on a daily basis. Los Angeles is the most car-populated metropolis in the world with 1 registered automobile for every 1.8 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. Los Angeles' mass transit system does not have high per capita rider ship, with 10.5% of commuters using public transit, compared with 53% and 30% in New York and Chicago respectively. The rail system averages 276,900 trips a day, 0.4% of the 65 million commutes daily. The city's subway is the ninth busiest subway system in the United States and its light rail system is the third most ridden in the country.
Los Angeles subway at Wilshire/Vermont
Adding in trips taken by bus raises ridership to about 1.7 million. The rail system includes the Red and Purple subway lines, as well as the Gold, Blue, and Green light rail lines. The Orange Line, although a bus rapid transit line rather than a rail line, is usually considered part of the system. The Metro Rapid buses are a bus rapid transit program with stops and frequency similar those of a light rail.
An extension of the Gold Line running from Downtown to East Los Angeles is currently under construction, and is expected to open in late 2009. A second extension from Pasadena into the foothills is being considered. Also in the works is the new Expo Line, which will run from Downtown into Culver City. Construction of this line is expected to finish in the summer of 2010. Plans of a second phase extending the line into Santa Monica are currently being assessed. Momentum is slowly building to extend the Purple line under Wilshire Boulevard all the way to the ocean in Santa Monica, extending the city's public transportation system further. Rail passenger service is provided by Amtrak and Metrolink from historic Union Station. Rail shipping is handled by Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway.
LAX, the fifth busiest airport in the world.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area is served by more airports than any other city in the world. There are six 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 and the third busiest in the United States, LAX handled over 61 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo in 2006.
A view of the Vincent Thomas Bridge reaching Terminal Island.
The Port of Los Angeles is located in San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood, approximately 20 miles (30 km) south of Downtown. Also called Los Angeles Harbor and WORLDPORT LA, the port complex occupies 7,500 acres (30 km²) of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront. It adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach.
The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach together make up the Los Angeles – Long Beach Harbor. There are also smaller, non-industrial harbors along L.A.'s coastline. Most of these like Redondo Beach and Marina del Rey are used primarily by sailboats and yachts.
The Port of Los Angeles along with the Port of Long Beach comprise the largest seaport complex in the United States and the fifth busiest in the world.
The port includes four bridges: the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Henry Ford Bridge, Gerald Desmond Bridge, and Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge.
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