Overview of Los Angeles

History of Los Angeles

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Before European settlers began to occupy the Southern California region, the Native American tribe known as Tongva or Gabrieleños called the area home. The Portuguese explorer Jão Cabrillo was the first European to come through the area in 1542, but it wasn't until 227 years later a Spanish settlement is established. The city was officially founded by Felipe de Neve in 1781 and named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula which means "The village of our Lady, the Queen of Angels of Porciúncula". Spain's hold on the region continued for many years until Mexico declared Independence in 1821 bringing Southern California into Mexico's rule. By 1845 tensions were growing as the area now known as California was found to have gold and the nearby territory of Texas was annexed to the United States government. The Mexican-American war broke out in 1846 as the Mexican government did not recognize Texas's secession. For two years the two countries fought over their common border, eventually ending in the Treaty of Gaudalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. This effectively ended the war and ceded Alta California and Nuevo México to U.S. sovereignty. The Los Angeles area was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850 just 5 months before California was declared a state. This early Spanish influence can still be felt in the people and places of Los Angeles including Olvera Street which commemorates the original Pueblo as the oldest section of LA.

Los Angeles trade industry in agriculture and oil continued to boom throughout the early 1900s. With the growth of trade came more people and the art of film-making found a foothold in the growing city. By the 1930s the city had reached a population of one million, held its first Olympic games, and had acquired the nickname of "Tinsel Town". People affected by the great depression made their way to Los Angeles and settled in the developing suburbs and enjoyed the city's massive freeway system.

LA's reputation for a progressive and dynamic place only increased when the Internet was started in 1969 in the San Fernando Valley bringing the technology industry to root here. Unfortunately this time also brought major racial tension that climaxed in 1991 with the police brutality charges during the Rodney King controversy. When the police were acquitted, citizens were outraged and rioting was the symptom of the underlying unrest of a city plagued with gang violence and racial inequality. At the same time, the number of immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Latin America made Los Angeles a "majority minority" with more Latinos then any other race. LA was forced to confront some of the unresolved issues of being a major modern city in America.

Today, Los Angeles is the second most populated city in the United States with 3.8 million people. People flock to the area for the sun and the chance to live in the fast lane. The vast expanse of Los Angeles offers something for everyone whether it be the miles of Pacific beach, a historic Spanish district, shopping on Rodeo Drive, a vibrant Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo, or one one of the many tourist attractions like Universal Studios or Disneyland. Los Angeles is at once futuristic and full of old Hollywood glamour and charm.

Update 26/03/2008

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