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Los Angeles At A Glance

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Located in southern California, Los Angeles, better known as L.A., is the second most populated city in the U.S. With Native American and Spanish roots evidenced by area names, L.A. remains one of the most culturally diverse cities in the U.S. The city is a major player in movie production, television shows and music recordings. Find out why nearly four million people brave earthquakes and road rage to call "the City of Angels" home.


From the prehistoric La Brea Tar Pits (dated to 38,000 B.C.) continuing for thousands of years, the L.A. area was thriving with hunter-gatherer peoples of numerous Native American tribes, a flowing river, tall trees, wet marshes, thick vegetation and plentiful fish and game. Evidence exists today in the many Native American area names scattered around L.A. The first Spanish settlers arrived from Mexico in 1781. Mexican Empire took over in 1821 with the Mexican War of Independence with Spain. L.A. and the rest of California was purchased from Mexico in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1846 following the Mexican-American War.

The area was made a state of the U.S. in 1848, just in time for a gold rush in 1949 that flooded the area with settlers looking to strike it rich. African Americans came in large numbers after the U.S. Civil War ended in 1865. Oranges from Brazil are grown and in 1877 ranching began to give way to agriculture. L.A. became a large oil-producing area in the late 1880s. Today, L.A. has many thriving businesses, but entertainment still ranks supreme.


An extremely diverse city, its residents have roots in Mexico and other Latin-American countries, Asia (namely Philippines and Korea), Africa, the Middle East and Samoa in the Pacific Islands. Latinos are primarily in East L.A., but are scattered throughout the city. African Americans comprise much of southern L.A., although recent decades show them being displaced by Hispanics. Cultural communities showcase the variety that make up L.A. and include: Koreatown, Filipinotown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little Tokyo, Chinatown and Thaitown. Names of communities and neighborhood hark back to the early days pulling from Native American and Spanish history.


Today the city is propelled by the entertainment factor. For a century the city has been the movie capital of the world. By 1920, 80% of all films were shot in L.A. Film companies such as Universal, Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and Columbia grew in the early 1900s. Capitol Records is established in L.A. In 1922, the city's first radio stations aired (KFI, KHJ and KNX) and the first concerts were held at the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater.


L.A. is made up of more than eighty districts and neighborhoods. Many were annexed by the city due to rapid expansion in the past century. Areas are Downtown, East L.A., Northeast L.A., South L.A., Harbor Area, Greater Hollywood, Whilshire, Westside and the San Fernando and Crescenta Valleys. The glitz and glam of Hollywood movies and movie stars are what brings many to L.A. The Rodney King beating by police put the Watts neighborhood in the news in the 1990s and caused a riot that spilled over into adjacent Koreatown. Founded by a tobacco millionaire, Venice is an affluent beach resort town favored for its over two mile promenade featuring all types of performers and entertainers giving it a carnival-like feel. Affluent L.A. neighborhoods include Bel Air, Los Feliz, Hollywood Hills and Pacific Palisades.


Sports is king in L.A. with most of the major-league sports represented (the one notable exception being the NFL). From the world-famous Lakers basketball team to Dodgers baseball and the recent Stanley Cup champion Kings hockey team, L.A. is an iconic sports town. If that weren't enough, L.A. is the only American city to host the summer Olympic games twice (1932 and 1984).

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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