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Overview of Los Angeles,  California

"Some information from Wikipedia"

Los Angeles California Overview

Los Angeles, California

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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. It is also considered to be the world's second largest Spanish-speaking city in surface area after Mexico City, and one of the world's major global cities. Located in Southern California, the city has a population of over 3.9 million spanning 498 square miles. It is the core cultural and economic center of the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, a region home to over 17 million people. 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.

Los Angeles is one of the world's most important centers of culture, science, technology, international trade, and higher education, and is home to numerous world-renowned institutions in 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.


he 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. These settlers were of African, Indian, and Spanish ancestry of which two-thirds were mulatto. "Colonial records indicate that twenty-six of the forty-six original settlers of Los Angeles were of African or part-African ancestry" [de Graaf, L. Seeking El Dorado:African Americans in California].

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.


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 among cities in the Continental United States (i.e. 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 totalling 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 areas in Los Angeles witness one or two minor earthquakes per year, usually inflicting little or no damage. Imperceptible quakes are detected by seismometers on a daily basis.


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 common. 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.


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, and Thai Town 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 theater

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 renaissance of downtown Los Angeles as an arts and entertainment district, with the restoration and development of historic buildings, Broadway theaters, 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 glamor, 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.
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