The Founding of Los Angeles: Before the Birth of Hollywood

Table of contents :
The Founding of Los Angeles
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1 The Tongva
2 Early Exploration
3 Spanish Conquest
4 Pobladores
5 Mexican Takeover
6 American Transition
7 Hollywood and Beyond
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The Founding of Los Angeles Before the Birth of Hollywood


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Introduction The Tongva Early Exploration Spanish Conquest Pobladores Mexican Takeover American Transition Hollywood and Beyond

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Los Angeles may be best-known as the home of Hollywood glamour, but it had a rich history long before the first movie was ever made. There's evidence that Native Americans had lived there for thousands of years before the Spanish conquest, which then saw the development of missions throughout California. After 44 "Pobladores" traveled to what we now know as downtown Los Angeles and started to build housing there, the Mexicans took over and the area eventually went on to become part of the United States. With the California Gold Rush, the sunny climate and so much potential in various industries, it wasn't long before people saw the city's promise. It quickly started to become the thriving area that we now know and celebrate as the "City of Angels."


“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” -Frank Lloyd Wright Los Angeles was founded in 1781, four years following Felipe de Neve's tour of Alta California. But the land had already been inhabited for thousands of years by Native Americans. The Chumash people, who still exist in much smaller numbers today, historically occupied portions of California counties including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo, extending from Malibu to Morro Bay around 8000 B.C. During the Millingstone Horizon, which is also known as the Milling Stone Period, the central area of Los Angeles was apparently populated by Hokan-speaking people. They gathered wild seeds, fished and hunted sea mammals and were known for grinding food with stone tools. The area that is now San Fernando was inhabited by the Tataviam circa 300 B.C. It is not known for exactly what reason, but the Hokan-speaking people left the area of Los Angeles and migrants settled there in their place, or absorbed them as part of their settlements. There are theories that many of them could have fled because of the drought in the Great Basin, the most extensive area of connecting drainage basins in North America. The migrants

who occupied the Los Angeles region were known as the Tongva, which is also the name of the Uto-Aztecan language that they spoke. By 500 A.D., the Hokan-speakers had been entirely pushed out or became a part of the Tongva tribe. Discoveries about the Native Americans living in California and their history are still being unearthed to this day and prove that indigenous people inhabited Los Angeles County for thousands of years. A site formerly occupied by the Chowigna (part of the Tongva) has evidence of Native Americans living there over 7,000 years ago, according to an excavation of the Palos Verdes area in the 1930s. And as recently as 2006, a prehistoric milling site at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains near Azusa was found and is said to have been established 8,000 years earlier. Then in 2007 and 2008, archaeologists dug up over 174 ancient American Indian remains in Huntington Beach on land once shared by the Tongva and Acjachemem tribes. There is no evidence of a native Tongva speaker in the last 150 years and the last native speakers are believed to have lived in the early 20th century. Although there are reports of Tongva speakers who were alive as recently as the 1970s, the language became extinct with the decline of the tribe and their culture. In their dialect, the Tongva people called Los Angeles Yaa. And despite the fact that it has been such a long time since the language died out, many of the words remain an essential part of Los Angeles and its surrounding areas, especially as far as the toponymy of the city is concerned. Place names such as Azusa, Cahuenga, Cucamonga (as in Rancho Cucamonga), Pacoima, Topanga and Tujunga all originate back to the Tongva language and its use following the arrival of the Spanish. The minor planet of 5000 Quaoar, in the Kuiper belt, is also named after Quaoar, who was the Tongva creator God. Also, there is a summit named Tongva Peak in Glendale's Verdugo Mountains, the Tongva Park in Santa Monica and The Gabrielino Trail in the Angeles National Forest. The Tongva were indoctrinated following the arrival of European colonists in the late eighteenth century, and despite the fact that they existed in large numbers, we don't know too much about their ancient traditions. They worshipped Quaoar, who was also called "Chinigchinix," and created Weywot, god of the sky. Legend says that Weywot was a mean God who had rule over the Tongva people and was killed by his sons because of his cruel

nature. Quaoar then appeared to the Tongva in the form of a ghostly figure and gave laws to his followers. He decided which groups would be the political and spiritual leaders of the Tongva. Their God brought order to the world, and they had a unique circular structure in the village where religious ceremonies took place. Only female singers and males of high-status could enter, as well as close relatives during funerals. They did not believe in hell or evil spirits until Spanish colonists introduced this idea through the establishment of their missions. The Tongva were known story-tellers, and sharing fairy tales and legends was a significant way that they communicated with each other. Folklore was also how they passed down their beliefs to their children, while teaching them lessons and their customs at the same time. They explained nature through stories and had a compelling tale about what caused earthquakes. The Tongva said that the world was built on the backs of seven giant turtles, which stayed still and kept the land motionless when they were content. But they moved in different directions when they argued or were unhappy, and this caused the ground to shake and split apart on their backs, resulting in earthquakes. They made the most of the nature that surrounded them, including the coast and the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Santa Ana Rivers. The river provided them with fresh water, as well as fish, which the men were responsible for catching. Deer, rabbits and other small game they hunted were also a food source for their families. They never killed owls or porpoises because they had great respect for them. They used nets and harpoons for fishing, and hunted with throwing sticks and bows and arrows, or sometimes built traps out of wood. Bows and arrows were also used by warriors, along with clubs, although the Tongva rarely engaged in warfare. However, they valued courage above almost anything else and men regularly went to extremes to demonstrate that they possessed this, such as lying on top of red anthills with ants placed on their faces. Boys had to go through endurance tests to become men. The women were also significant contributors to the table and were the ones who gathered fruits, seeds, acorns and beans. They even baked bread made from acorn flour that they specially prepared, or from corn they obtained through trading between the Tongva and surrounding tribes. They were additionally skilled craftspeople and known for weaving baskets and for carving soapstone. The Tongva people were later sometimes known as the Gabrieleño and

Fernandeño, after Spanish missions built near where they lived. Colonists first called them "Kizh," which is pronounced "Keech" and means "home," but Tongva is thought to have come from the name of a village. The tribe inhabited an area of around 4,000 square miles across the Los Angeles Basin and Southern Channel Islands. Some think they are descended from other Uzo-Aztecan people who lived in the Nevada area 3,500 years ago, while others argue that their ancestors probably converged in the Sonoran Desert. But no matter how they came to be, the Tongva left a lasting impact. Alongside the Chumash, who continued to exist as a neighboring tribe, they were the most powerful of all indigenous people in Southern California and are believed to have lived in the population of 4,000 to 5,000 when Europeans made contact with California. There are said to have been at least 31 sites that were Tongva villages, and those each housed up to 400 or 500 huts. By the sixteenth century, which was when Europeans first visited California, the indigenous people's main village was called Yang-Na. It was located near where the Los Angeles City Hall stands today, in downtown LA. Life in Los Angeles changed drastically after the arrival of the Spanish, but even before Native Americans inhabited the land, it couldn't have been more different than what we see today. There have been, and continue to be remarkable discoveries of fossils in the La Brea tar pits. The tar preserved bones of animals who were trapped and died there, and as a result, it has been determined that there were woolly mammoths, ground sloths, dire wolves, short-faced bears and saber-tooth cats living in the vicinity. The remains of one woman were found in 1914. She is known as the La Brea Woman and is said to have lived 10,000 years ago.


“The final story, the final chapter of western man, I believe, lies in Los Angeles.” -Phil Ochs. While Los Angeles remained undiscovered until the late eighteenth century, North America had seen early visitors for hundreds of years beforehand. In the tenth century, Vikings briefly colonized North America, but their small settlements did not last and they were a long way from Los Angeles, settling on the northeastern fringes of Newfoundland. That was only first discovered in 1960 when evidence of Viking horses was unearthed near the area. The Norsemen's exploration of the country has been investigated further by archaeologists. Christopher Columbus gained fame for discovering America in 1492, but he didn't arrive in North America at all. The explorer instead traveled through the coasts of Central and South America and landed on the islands that became known as the Bahamas. However, he was instrumental in Europe's colonization of the New World and established settlements in Hispaniola, a Caribbean island. He also sparked the Columbian Exchange in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, following his exploration of the New World. It saw civilizations sharing food, technologies and other goods, as well as

knowledge and culture. But the exchange also included people, and led to a rise in slave labor, as well as the spread of diseases as people traveled between continents. Fortún Jiménez was the first European to sight California in 1533, when he landed on the lower Baja peninsula. Then, in 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo explored the West Coast of North America with his chief pilot Bartolomé Ferrelo. The Portuguese maritime navigator came to Ensenada before arriving in what we now know as San Diego. At the time, he called it San Miguel and described it as "a very good enclosed port." Cabrillo and Ferrelo also traveled to Santa Cruz, Catalina and San Clemente during their exploration. They additionally visited what they named "Bay of Smokes," which was San Pedro Bay, and he stated that Native Americans greeted them in canoes. But not all of the indigenous people were as welcoming, and Tongva tribesmen attacked them after they returned to San Miguel to spend the winter there. Cabrillo injured himself on sharp rocks that he fell over while attempting to assist his men during the ambush. The wound was infected and became gangrenous, and Cabrillo died on January 3, 1543. He is believed to have been laid to rest on Catalina Island. As Spain set its sights on California, England and Russia were also starting to see the great value it possessed. Russians were the first non-Native American people to settle in Northern California, but they were merely taking the first steps to colonizing small regions of the land while focusing on using the area for whaling and fur trapping. However, this was still enough to cause concern for Spain, who wanted full claim to California. Settlers viewed the land as a part of the New World that was full of promise and potential, and even its name mirrors its value. Queen Califia ruled over a kingdom of black women on the fictional island of California in Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo's 1510 romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián). The Spanish even believed California was a paradise such as Eden or Atlantis, and it was centuries before they discovered it wasn't, in fact, an island separate from the rest of North America. At the same time that Spain tried to make its claim in the New World, Queen Elizabeth I wanted England to have its own prominence and decided to send Sir Francis Drake to circumvent the Spanish and claim California for her country. It was the latest move in a long power struggle between the two countries, with tensions going back to the days of Henry VIII. The King denounced the Catholic church in order to divorce his first wife Catherine of

Aragon and made England a Protestant country. Their daughter Mary I reestablished Roman Catholicism after taking the throne and earned the nickname "Bloody Mary" because she had almost 300 people burned at the stake for religious dissent. Elizabeth I was Mary's half-sister and the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. She took the throne following Bloody Mary's death, and brought back Protestantism in the process. During her reign, Elizabeth I had rival Mary, Queen of Scots, executed for treason, and this is thought to have in part been a move to stop Mary from using her ties to Spain and France to overthrow the Queen of England. Sending Drake to claim California for England was the Queen's next move, and a bid to prove that England was a powerful country and worthy ally. He was to do so under utter secrecy and became the world's richest pirate, by raiding Spanish ships. King Philip II, the ruler of Spain, even placed a significant bounty on Drake's head. Drake's sail around the world took place in 1579, and did see him claiming California land for the English, which he named New Albion in honor of his country. It's unclear exactly where on the West Coast he visited, but porcelain, believed to be dated back to his discovery, was found in Drakes Bay in the Point Reyes area, approximately 30 miles away from San Francisco. The next visit to the coast of California was by Sebastian Vizcaino, in the year 1602. He was a soldier tasked with discovering safe harbors that the Spanish could use on a voyage returning from Manila to Acapulco. His flagship was called the San Diego, and upon his arrival, he named the bay previously known as San Miguel after his ship. He was also responsible for naming Carmel River, Monterey Bay, the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Point Conception and Point Lobos during his expedition, obliterating the names previously given to some of the areas by Cabrillo. He was the first person to make a record of the Monterey cypress forest in Point Lobos. San Tomás and the Tres Reyes were the other two ships on the expedition, but the commander of Tres Reyes, Martín de Aguilar, became separated from Vizcaino and continued without him, getting as far as where Oregon sits today. Following Vizcaino's exploration, there was interest from the Spanish in establishing a settlement in Monterey. An expedition to colonize the area was set up a few years later, but in the end, it was canceled after the Conde de Monterey went on to become the Viceroy of Peru, and his replacement was

not as enthusiastic about the idea. Vizcaino later traveled to Japan and died in 1624, after returning to Mexico City, New Spain. It was over 150 years after Vizcaino's trip that more visitors arrived from Europe and started the colonization of Los Angeles.


“LA is a jungle.” -Jack Kerouac The Los Angeles area was visited by Europeans, once again, during an expedition to California, led by Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portolà in 1769. He discovered Alta California as part of New Spain and became the first governor of the region. De Portolà and the group of missionaries who accompanied him, camped out on the banks of what we now call the Los Angeles River. Missionaries were given land in Las Californias and had the task of converting the indigenous people to Christianity. This was Spain's way of ensuring that they had full claim to the land, especially as Russia and England sought to encroach on them, and they followed the same template they had been using for over a century in Baja California. The movement was led by Father Junípero Serra, a Franciscan who was instrumental in the founding of missions across California. In 1998, Pope John Paul II posthumously made him a saint in a contentious move that was heavily criticized because of his treatment of Native Americans. In an area that was inhabited by small groups of Indians, Serra and a group of Spaniards founded the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel on September 8, 1771. They called the native people Gabrielinos, after the mission. The date was "The

Feast of the Birth of Mary" and the mission was christened after the wellknown Archangel Gabriel, whose name means "Strength of God." It was the fourth of 21 missions established in the California area. The first was Mission San Diego de Alcalá, built in 1769, and it was quickly followed by Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo and Mission San Antonio de Padua. The mission was founded by Fray Angel Francisico de Sonera and Fray Pedro Benito Cambon, and served as the first community in the area. As well as being a place of worship, the mission was self-supporting and its central industry was in farming, with the settlers producing everything they ate. The Tongva or Gabrielinos who lived in the area were autonomous and very much had their own way of doing things. However, the Spanish settlers believed the indigenous people and their culture was inferior. Spanish settlers, who had arrived in America to claim the land for themselves, converted the aboriginal people to Christianity and put them to work. There is some debate over whether they were forced into being baptized or impressed by the skills possessed by the Europeans and lured into doing so with the promise of knowledge and protection. Either way, the number of Indians to convert to Christianity began steadily rising, and there was a reported 1,701 living at the mission in 1817. They were taught how to farm and raise and care for livestock in the style of the Spanish. The mission started out with just 128 animals in 1771, but by 1829, they reached their peak with a herd of 42,350, predominantly made up of an estimated 25,000 cattle and 15,000 sheep. The labor of the Mission Indians increased and their agriculture sustained California's civil government and military by 1811. The first Native American was baptized in November 1771, using a sterling silver baptismal shell once carried by the founding fathers and still used today. In Indian, the mission was called Sibagna or Tobiscagna. But the original site of the mission is not where it stands today. It was originally planned for establishment along the Santa Ana River, then called "Río de los Temblores" meaning "River of the Earthquakes." However, out of fear that the area could flood and damage the mission beyond repair, they then chose to build it on fertile land in the Whittier Narrows, alongside the river Rio Hondo. The site had to be moved a few years after the mission was established when the complex and crops were destroyed due to a flash-flood. It was relocated to the current site, five miles away, in the area now known as San Gabriel, which at the time was a native settlement called Iisanchanga.

Father Antonio Cruzado was responsible for designing the mission and was in charge of it for a time. He also planted California's first orange grove in 1804, and is buried at the mission. Seven other Franciscan priests were laid to rest by the altar along with Cruzado, as well as "keeper of the keys" Eulalia Perez de Guillén Mariné, who has a bench that marks her grave. Construction on the church began in 1791, and was completed in 1805. It is particularly unique in its design, particularly compared to other missions of the time and thanks to its striking buttresses that are reminiscent of a fortress. Moorish influences can be seen in its architecture, and there are similarities to the well-known cathedral in Cordova, Spain, where Cruzado hailed from. The structure is built of stone, brick and mortar, with a roof made from tiles, and was well-engineered. It has been successfully preserved over the years, but hasn't been immune to natural disasters. An earthquake in 1804 caused so much damage to the structure of the building that its arches had to be torn down and the arched roof was replaced with a new one. The bell tower was also moved to the opposite end of the building after it was destroyed by another earthquake in 1812, and there are now six bells in the tower that date back to the early nineteenth century. The mission had to be massively restored after the structure was damaged by another earthquake in 1987. There is a legend that the Tongva people living the area attempted to drive away the Spanish settlers upon their arrival during their founding expedition. But the Gabrielinos allegedly made peace with the explorers after a priest placed a painting of "Our Lady of Sorrows" for them to see on the ground because they were mesmerized by the beauty of the painting. In the sanctuary of the mission, the 300-year-old artwork can still be found hanging near the high altar. Because it sparked the pueblo that led to the foundation of Los Angeles, the mission is often referred to as "Godmother of the Pueblo of Los Angeles" and it became one of the most prosperous in all of Alta California. San Gabriel Arcángel is now a historic landmark and remains a fullyfunctioning Roman Catholic mission to this day. San Gabriel is known as the "birthplace" of the region of Los Angeles, and the mission is an important marker in the area's history. It is argued that the mission was the most successful of all the California missions and a place that was relied on for certain necessities. As well as being a hub for trading and industry work, and a crucial area for agriculture, San Gabriel Arcángel is credited with first bringing viticulture, which is the cultivation of grapevines,

to California. During this time, the mission had the largest vineyard in Spanish California and served as a leading producer of wine grapes. The mission is thought to have been more productive than any other in the state, particularly as far as agriculture was concerned. Wheat, barley, beans, corn, lentils, peas and garbanzos were grown in enormous quantities, with a recorded 353,000 bushels harvested. The mission sat on a road that connected other missions, presidios and pueblos in the middle of three significant trails. Therefore, it became a veritable revolving door for travelers and a crucial spot for settlers. But there was also a huge military presence because of all the people on expeditions that stayed there, and this caused further tensions with the Native Americans. The current church was 300 feet in length at its peak. The mission's cemetery is the oldest in the county, and the walls were rebuilt in 1940, but with the use of the original foundations. Six thousand Indians are buried there and have been honored with a crucifix that remains there. Still standing from the original mission buildings are the padres' living quarters and adjoining kitchen, foundations of a tannery, smithy and soap factory and the chapel, which is today an active Roman Catholic Church. The city of San Gabriel was incorporated on April 24, 1913, at which time it had 1,500 inhabitants. It was one of the first townships in Los Angeles County.


“Los Angeles is 72 suburbs in search of a city.” -Dorothy Parker A few years after the mission was established, in 1777, Alta California Governor Felipe de Neve toured the region and decided to have pueblos established to support the military presidios (outposts). These civic pueblos were to ensure that the military did not have to depend so much on the missions, and they were also designed to promote agriculture and other industries. But that wasn't the only reason for de Neve's actions. He had also clashed with Serra over the secularization of the missions and the way the land was being redistributed to the Mission Indians and soldiers. Felipe de Neve is considered a founder of Los Angeles, although he didn't establish a settlement in the area himself. But he did choose the spot for his new pueblo on the Los Angeles river banks and is also said to have designed the city. The location had been praised 10 years earlier by Franciscan Priest, Father Juan Crespi, who was on the original expedition with Gaspar de Portolà. Viceroy Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa and Commandant General Teodoro de Croix gave de Neve's plans for a municipality their approval and also agreed to the construction of a presidio in Santa Barbara. They ordered Captain Fernando Javier Rivera y Moncada to recruit people to relocate to

Los Angeles and build the city. He recruited a group of 11 families from Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico to establish the pueblo. Rivera y Moncada had previously been in charge of commanding soldiers during the expedition of Gaspar de Portolà and Junípero Serra. Like de Neve, he had clashed with Serra over the missions. Serra wanted to build as many as possible, but Rivera y Moncada struggled with the few people he had to help him and wanted reinforcements to arrive before they continued the expansion of the Spanish missions. Rivera y Moncada had initially worked with the Jesuit missions, but leadership changed when the Society of Jesus was expelled in 1767, and New Spain was brought to order with Franciscans. The Jesuits had successfully evangelized the indigenous people living in Mexico, and were living and working in large numbers across the world. They were extremely wealthy but made many enemies, for reasons including their alleged failure to pay tithes and their conversion of missionary stations into commercial centers. Franciscan friars warned Spanish royalty about this as tensions mounted with the Jesuits reaching the pinnacle of their power. As a result, they were suppressed at the order of King Carlos III of Spain in America, Asia and Europe, and members were forced into exile. They were also deserted by the Pope, who would not let them seek shelter in his dominions. Rivera y Moncada was with Gaspar de Portolà and Serra when the Spanish King decided that California needed to be explored further, particularly with Russia and England eyeing up the territory, and ordered expeditions to the northern provinces of The Californias. The areas that were explored in the north became known as Upper California, to differentiate them from Lower California. This is how the two regions came to be known as Alta (Upper) California and Baja (Lower) California, which they were officially separated into in 1804. It was not an easy job to find people willing to undertake the task relating to Los Angeles, as they were not only living in the new city but also responsible for building it. Rivera y Moncada had to transport the people, who were agreeable and chosen, to Alta California from northern Mexico. The Pobladores or "townspeople" were made up of 44 settlers: 11 men, 11 women and 22 children. They traveled to the preselected location from the San Gabriel Mission in 1781, joined by two priests and escorted on their journey to Los Angeles by four soldiers. By this point, work on the missions had been in place for a decade. According to the census of 1781, the group

consisted of nine American Indians, one Spaniard who was born in Spain, one Spaniard who was born in New Spain, one mixed Spanish and Indian (Mestizo), two blacks of African ancestry and eight mixed Spanish and black (Mulattos). Racial mixing continued in California and as racial identity affected socio-economic status at the time, many of the Mestizos and Mulattos sought to be identified as pure-blooded Spaniards, and in turn Indians and blacks became Mestizos and Mulattos. Descendants usually came to identify themselves as Mestizos or Spaniards. Fourteen men had originally agreed to the recruitment, but two changed their mind and one was eventually sent to work at the Presidio in Santa Barbara, due to smallpox illness. Several of the settlers had contracted smallpox and were delayed in the process. They initially traveled from Sonora and Sinaloa to Baja California, but some of the group had to be quarantined while they recuperated in Loreto, and the others continued ahead with their journey. And that was not the only issue they faced. There was also an uprising from the Quechan (Apache) Indians in Arizona. The civil revolt was a result of the indoctrination and poor conditions under which the indigenous were expected to work. They attacked the lower Colorado River and Rivera y Moncada. Many of his soldiers and missionaries were killed. However, the settlers survived and completed their journey to California in multiple groups. Two groups are thought to have arrived at the San Gabriel Mission in June and July respectively, while those who had been ill with smallpox are believed to have arrived by August. The Indians' success in the revolt had a significant impact on the region, and as a result, the overland transportation that connected northern Mexico to Alta California was shut down for the next 50 years. This meant that Alta California couldn't become populated enough to keep immigrants away from eastern North America, and they were able to seize California during the Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 to 1848. If the attack from the Quechan (Apache) had never happened, there's no telling how different the history of California would be. The settlers eventually came to Los Angeles after another nine-mile journey on foot, and the new settlement was established on September 4, 1781. This is noted as the city's official founding date. There is some debate over its original name, which it has been claimed was called "El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles" (meaning "The Pueblo of the Queen of the Angels"). Others believe it was named "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los

Ángeles del Río Porciúncula," Spanish for, "town of our lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula." The Pobladores carved streets out of the desert and built a small cluster of houses from adobe-brick. The main product was grain, and the isolated town came to be known as the Ciudad de Los Angeles, or "City of Angels." The Pobladores gave the title to their land two years after a chapel was built on the plaza in 1784, and the city increased with the arrival of soldiers and settlers who would come to visit and stay there. There were 29 buildings, which were one-story with adobe structures with flat thatched roofs, surrounding the Plaza by the year 1800, and by 1821, Los Angeles had become the largest self-sustaining farming community in Southern California. The first recorded Los Angeles marriages took place in 1784, and young Indian women María Antonia and María Dolores were married to Maximo and José Carlos, the sons of settler Basilio Rosas. Each settler was given two irrigated plots and two dry plots of land for farming purposes, and they also built a water system of ditches known as "Zanjas," which led through the center of the town and into the farmlands from the Los Angeles River. At the time, the river flowed plentifully all year long and was full of salmon and steelhead. There were also swamps and wetlands, and lots of local wildlife including deer, black bears, the odd grizzly bears and antelope. They got their potable water from an upstream pool and employed Indians to transport the fresh water to the town. While the city eventually became particularly known for raising cattle and trading hides and tallows, it was first successful in producing fine wines, much like the San Gabriel Mission. But unlike the missions, Indians would be paid for their labor in cash and alcohol, along with clothing and various other goods. And there was plenty of work for the indigenous people, who got jobs as farm workers, cattle drivers, domestic employees, water transporters and ditch diggers. Sensing the city's economic promise, Native Americans came from as far as San Diego and San Luis Obispo to take on this paid work. The town became even more economically successful as Indians sold and traded woven mats, baskets and other items, as well as coveted seal and sea-otter pelts. However, things were not going so well for the Native Americans working at San Gabriel Arcángel, who grew increasingly frustrated with the abuse they suffered and the appalling conditions under which they were expected to work, as well as the fact that they labored on land that they used

to own. Toypurina was a young Indian healer who traveled around the area declaring that her people were suffering a pronounced injustice, and convinced other aboriginals to join her in a revolt in the 1780s. They attacked the mission, but were stopped by soldiers, and Toypurina was arrested alongside 17 others. At the same time, Governor Pedro Fages issued his "Instructions for the Corporal Guard of the Pueblo of Los Angeles" in 1787, which included the employment of Indians and the protection of their rancherías, as well as the demand that corporal punishment was not used. The move gave Indians a freedom they did not have previously and allowed them to choose between working for the rancherías, which were associated with the pueblos, and the missions, which did have some benefits to them. Between 1818 and 1822, the Plaza of La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles was built with much Indian labor, and the church fulfilled Governor Neve's plans to have the pueblos take over authority from the missions. This meant that the Angelinos no longer had to travel miles along a bumpy road to Sunday Mass at the Mission San Gabriel. The El Camino Viejo route, connecting Los Angeles up the San Joaquin Valley and to the east side of San Francisco Bay, was established in 1820.


"Los Angeles—a bright and guilty place." -Orson Welles Life changed dramatically in the area when Mexico declared war in 1821. After centuries of colonization, the country launched a revolt to become independent from Spain, and succeeded. The Spanish were unprepared for an attack from their former allies, having feared that their biggest threat was Great Britain, and the Mexicans easily took control of Alta California. People swore allegiance to the new ruling country as the flag of independent Mexico was raised. This was an occasion for celebration in the region, as it meant the people living there became citizens with rights, and were no longer under the thumb of the Spanish king. Upper California was still controlled by a governor, who was first appointed by the viceroy under control of the King of Spain, but chosen by Mexican presidents after 1821. The Franciscan friars had also had some influence over the region, but this changed in the 1830s, following the secularization of the missions. The independence also brought about even more economic growth, as well as a major population surge due to the arrival of immigrants from America, other parts of Mexico and Europe, and the acclimatization of Indians. In just 21 years, the population had almost tripled,

from 650 people in the pueblo before 1820, to 1,680 by 1841. As the people expanded, so did agriculture and cattle ranching efforts, along with trading in hides and tallow. In the 1820s, Los Angeles was separated from the administration of Santa Barbara, and the political aspect of the city developed, following completion of the new church and the rebuilding of the water system. In 1833, Mexican Congress ruled to secularize the California missions, which allowed access to land by ranchers and government officials. Over 800 land grants were made by the governor at this time, and in 1839, Francisco Sepulveda was given a grant of more than 33,000 acres. That area would later be developed into the Westside of LA. Meanwhile, the wine industry also thrived, and Jean-Louis Vignes made the first recorded shipment of California wine in 1840. He had bought the land where he planted his El Aliso vineyard after coming to Los Angeles in 1831, and not only sold in the Los Angeles area, but also as far as Santa Barbara, Monterey and San Francisco. El Aliso became the city's most extensive vineyard by 1849, with Vignes producing 150,000 bottles, or 1,000 barrels of wine per year from his 40,000 vines. The changes brought with them the arrival of more immigrants, who ventured to the city from the United States and Europe. It was these people, many of them rancho dons or political figures, who went on to play a crucial part in the American takeover of the city. But at the same time, it had a negative impact on the Indians, who often ended up in debt or became heavily into alcohol because they were marginalized and not afforded the same privileges as other citizens, with their land titles regularly seized from them during this period. In fact, it was only in 1924 that Congress ruled Native Americans had the same rights as all other citizens. As the years went on, the Mexican government struggled to rule the Alta Californians, who remained fairly independent and had no qualms about disagreeing with the government. It certainly didn't help that they were unable to rely on Mexico for material goods, and Alta Californians frequently ended up doing things their way. Manuel Victoria, who was a Mexican-born governor, lost a fight during the Battle of the Cahuenga Pass and was forced to flee his post in 1831. The descendants of the early settlers became the Californios, and they cultivated their own culture as government leaders and owners of large land estates. The Californios often took on roles within the government as they grew up, and some of them even became governors. But this contributed to a

big divide between upper and lower California, as the Californio leaders attempted to cut ties with Mexico, and the Mexicans sought to have more control over the region by making it the capital, in place of the far less populated Monterey. Los Angeles was declared a city and Alta California's official capital by Mexican Congress in 1835. It was a year after Governor Pio Pico and Maria Ignacio Alvarado were married at the Plaza church, in a celebration attended by hundreds of people in Alta California and the entire 800-strong population of the pueblo. When colonial soldiers retired, they were granted enormous "ranchos," as gratitude for their services or in lieu of payment. These estates, many of which were also obtained by settlers, were vast in size, rivaling the pueblos and land owned by the missions. They became successful in cattle ranching, which was crucial in the development of the local economy, and this turned them into prominent figures in the society of Southern California. These people were known as "rancho dons," and they went on to build strong alliances in the nineteenth century, with their families marrying each other and Anglo-American merchants, who immigrated from New England for the purpose of trading hides. The rancho dons boasted considerable power in California, both politically and economically. While it was a prodigious time for rancho owners and their families, the same could not be said for other citizens of the area, in particular, the Indians. The population of the indigenous people plummeted from 80,000 in the year 1800, to just a few thousand by 1846. In turn, the vineyards, orchards and architecture, established by the missions and worked on by the Indians, quickly declined. After the missions were abolished in 1834, the Franciscan friars and soldiers who had been involved in the work there disappeared, and many Indians deserted the missions as a result. Some of them went back to their tribes, while others sought work in different places, including with the ranchos. The "savage tribes" would not be paid for their labor, which typically involved planting and harvesting crops and herding cattle, and instead were given room and board, along with clothing. One of the key factors that led to an uprising against Mexican rule was the fact that officials wanted civilians to be recruited from areas in Mexico, including Sonora, and the Californios were not happy about that. But the Mexicans did come over, despite the deteriorating government and isolation of the city. Most of them were retirees from the military who were drawn in by the potential to receive a land grant, which did not exist anywhere else.

Other early settlers were civilians from Mexico. They lived in the rancho housing, which was basic, to say the least, and known as "rude and crude," usually just a mud hut with a thatched roof. Some of the rancho owners went on to upgrade their buildings to adobe structures that had tiled roofs. Amid the Mexican-American War, US Navy Commodore John D. Sloat claimed Alta California for the United States in 1846. During this time, Mexico also lost its land in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The war stemmed from the Texas Revolution in 1836, which saw the state become independent from Mexico. The Mexican government frustrated settlers in Texas, for reasons including its control of what people were and were not allowed to grow. The government also disapproved of slavery, which the immigrants (many of whom were Mexican) had used to manage the land in an easy and economical way. Texas was an independent state, but sensing what could happen, Mexico vowed to wage war against America if they attempted to claim the land. They were furious when the U.S. Congress moved to make Texas a state of America, and tensions rose over a dispute about the rights to the Rio Grande River, which America claimed was part of Texas, and therefore belonged to them. When a 2,000-person Mexican cavalry then attacked a 70-person U.S. patrol, it led to the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, and a full-scale war. President James K. Polk had also been eyeing California as a prized region for some time, but the Mexican government declined his offer to claim the land in lieu of debts owed to America, or buy it outright. He seized the opportunity to capture California for the Americans during the war. California was an easy target for invasion, as Mexico struggled to defend the northern territories in its possession. Governor Pico had fled to Mexico and Commodore Robert F. Stockton seized Los Angeles, with John C. Frémont accompanying. Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillespie, who was placed in charge when Stockton left, following three weeks of occupation. The Battle of Los Angeles ended its first phase when the Americans were forced to leave by a group of 300 locals, sparked by the mistreatment of Gillespie and his troops. Following smaller battles in Los Angeles and outside of it, Stockton and Frémont, who had marched to San Diego and Monterey respectively with their troops, returned to the city, but no further blood was shed. Pico returned and signed the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847, which ended the California aspect of the war. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was then signed in 1848, officially ending the Mexican-American War. The two sides

reached an agreement that America would pay $15 million in damages and assume over $3 million in debts owed to them by Mexico. California was also relinquished to the United States.


“People cut themselves off from their ties of the old life when they come to Los Angeles. They are looking for a place where they can be free, where they can do things they couldn't do anywhere else.” -Tom Bradley After the United States took possession of California, they moved quickly to transition the region and create new laws for the ownership of the land. This also led to the first real estate boom in Los Angeles, and many of the street names were changed from Spanish to English. But the influences of the Spanish and Mexicans remain in Angeleno topography and can be evidenced in streets, such as Pico and Sepulveda. The plan for the original pueblo was replaced by one of a new civic center that was south of the Plaza. While the area around the Plaza had initially been where the power-elite resided under Spanish rule, they flocked to the outskirts after the American takeover, and the Plaza became the home of the minorities, including Chinese, French, Italians and Russians. On the heels of the real estate surge, was a significant rise in population that couldn't have been predicted, sparked by the gold rush. Gold was deposited by underwater volcanoes and transported to California by tectonic shifts. James W. Marshall discovered gold nuggets in January 1848, at

Sutter's Mill in Coloma, and brought them to his employer John Sutter, who dreamed of building an agricultural empire and feared the discovery would inhibit this if people migrated to California in search of gold. He was correct, and around 300,000 immigrants traveled to California's Gold Country, known as the Mother Lode, in 1849. Americans and Europeans already living in the area had been the first to join the hunt for the precious metal, and many families worked together. President Polk had confirmed the discovery of gold during a Congressional address in December of 1848, and Sam Brannan widely publicized it. He later became the first millionaire from the Gold Rush. Los Angeles may not have been the center of the goldfields, but it still played a big part during that time. Thousands of miners from Sonora, where many of the first Pobladores hailed from, settled north of the Plaza, which became known as Sonoratown. Los Angeles was also called the "Queen of the Cow Counties" during these years because it was a central supplier of beef and other food for miners in the north. It had the largest herds among the cow counties in the state, followed by Santa Barbara and Monterey. But as people rushed to join the hunt for gold, there was no legal system to control the flood of immigrants, and it wasn't long before lawlessness was rife. This was the same case in San Francisco, where prostitutes and gamblers had run riots and been forced out of the northern mining towns, as a result, by lynch mobs and vigilance committees. The outlaws, instead, came to Los Angeles, which started to be known as the "toughest and most lawless city west of Santa Fe." The racially motivated violence against the Mexicans also marginalized them, and their political and economic opportunities fell drastically. As lawlessness increased, so did vigilance committees, and around 35 Mexicans were lynched between 1850 and 1870, which was four times the amount in San Francisco. The murder rate from 1847 to 1870 was an average of 13 a year, or 158 per 100,000, which was 10 to 20 times the rate of homicides in New York City over the same period. This gave Los Angeles a reputation as "undoubtedly the toughest town of the entire nation." The massive changes that hit Los Angeles during the nineteenth century also impacted the Indians. The Yaanga village was relocated to what became the corner of Alameda and Commercial streets in 1836, and then again to what is now Boyle Heights, in 1845. The arrival of the Americans brought with it much disease, and the Indian population plummeted from 75,050 in 1848, to

just 12,500 in 1880. Indians were not allowed to sleep in the city if they were self-employed, and if they were drunk or unemployed, they were often arrested and auctioned off as laborers to people who would pay their fines. The compensation for their work was regularly liquor, rather than money, which added to their alcohol problems. At the same time, the labor was becoming competitive. More and more, Mexicans were moving to the area and taking over the work. On April 4, 1850, Los Angeles was incorporated as an American city, and California was admitted into the Union five months later. The city's first newspaper, the bilingual Los Angeles Star, started its publication in 1851. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, required that Indians of former Mexican territories were granted citizenship by the U.S. However, it would be another 80 years before that actually happened. The Indians were considered to be non-persons and had no protection under the law, according to the Constitution of California. This meant that no Anglo could be taken to trial for forcing an Indian off their property or even for killing them. Tragically, this meant that many Anglos decided the best way to get rid of the Indians was to slay them, and this became something of a standard procedure for many years to come. Despite this, the Tongva or Gabrielino Indians still survived, and there were 2,000 of them still living in California in 2006, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Native Americans were seeking federal recognition to operate a casino as a tribe, or trying to protect burial sites or cultural sites. One person that aided in their plight was Helen Hunt Jackson, who toured the Indian villages in 1883, and wrote a book called Ramona the following year, which described how the indigenous people were treated worse than animals and exposed the shocking things they went through. It was a mammoth success and inspired four movies. But more than that, it meant that many Southern Californian villages survived, including Cahuilla, Morongo, Pechanga, Soboba, Temecula and Warner Hot Springs. The population of Los Angeles continued to flourish following the Gold Rush, and went from a village of 5,000 in the 1870s, to over 100,000 occupants by 1900. Angelenos were working to turn Los Angeles into a fantastic city and make themselves a large profit in the process. Rich tourists from the east invested in the area, recognizing its potential. The first incorporated bank was the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles, which John G. Downey and Isaias W. Hellman founded in 1871. Los Angeles

sought to rival San Francisco with its banks, factories, ports and railway terminals. Downey also launched the city's first railroad with Phineas Banning in October 1869. It ran 21 miles, between San Pedro and Los Angeles. A few years later, in 1876, the railroads connected San Francisco to the Central Pacific. The railroads brought with them many more tourists and settlers, and the Los Angeles Railway and Pacific Electric Railway were founded in 1898 and 1900 respectively. Banning also excavated a port in San Pedro Bay and connected it to the city, and Los Angeles Times founder and owner Harrison Gray Otis expanded it into a harbor, with the help of several business colleagues. But much of the county remained as farmland, primarily focusing on cattle, dairy, citrus fruits and vegetables, until it was converted into housing tracts in 1945. In 1892, oil was discovered near the location now known as the Dodger Stadium by Edward L. Doheny. Soon after the Los Angeles City Oil Field was exploited, so was the discovery of the Beverly Hills Oil Field and Salt Lake Oil Field, a few miles away in 1900 and 1902 respectively. Los Angeles became a hub for oil production in the early twentieth century and was producing a quarter of the global total supply of oil by 1923. It remains a notable producer of oil today. As the population grew, so did crime and violence in the city. The Los Angeles Times was campaigning, not only for the expansion of the city, but also to make the region union-free. In 1894, the Pullman Strike was a nationwide railroad protest, and many local merchants and fruit growers opposed it. They formed the Merchants and Manufacturers Association (M & M), supporting the unionization. In 1910, tensions had come to a head and the Times was bombed. The Llewellyn Iron Works, near the plaza, was bombed two months later. Iron Union Workers John and James McNamara were indicted and sent to prison.


“In Los Angeles, everyone is a star.” -Denzel Washington Los Angeles has become synonymous with Hollywood, which found its roots at the beginning of the twentieth century. Jewish filmmakers realized, in the 1900s, that Los Angeles was a better location for round the year filming than New York, given its warm and pleasant temperament. Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company, in New Jersey, also owned most moviemaking patents. Filmmakers grew tired of the strict rules it imposed and the way Edison sued independent movies to try and stop them from being made. Los Angeles was also close enough to Mexico so that they could escape if agents came to the west to try and stop their productions. The city of Hollywood was incorporated in 1903, and became part of Los Angeles in 1910. The area remains the home of film, as well as many directors and actors. The first movie made in Hollywood was called In Old California, and the first motion picture studio built in the area was founded in 1911, by Al Christie, David Horsley's general manager. Studios began to crop up across the region in the years following. The iconic "Hollywood" sign was originally erected in 1923, to advertise a housing development called "Hollywoodland."

But it quickly fell into disrepair and eventually The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce was given the go-ahead to get rid of the last four letters and restore the rest in 1943. The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame, where names of celebrities are embedded in stars along Hollywood Boulevard, was first established in 1956. The first ever Academy Awards took place in 1929, during a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and the ceremony lasted just 15 minutes. Tickets cost $5, which today would be about $70, and 270 people attended. Despite its famous sunshine, the Los Angeles weather has always been unpredictable, with long droughts and fierce storms that destroyed properties surrounding the Los Angeles River and the first bridge built there. The greatest rainfall recorded in the area was in the San Gabriel Mountains, in 1943, when 26.12 inches fell in one day. Unfortunately, there was little action in response to any flooding because of arguments between the city and county governments, until Los Angeles and Orange County were hit by a huge flood in 1938. The Los Angeles River's main purpose is now to prevent flooding. The Los Angeles Aqueduct was unveiled in 1913, after the people of the city voted for $22.5 million worth of bonds to build it. The region has also been damaged by brush fires over the years, and in 1961, fires in the BelAir, Brentwood and Santa Ynez neighborhoods, caused much destruction. It's not just Hollywood that has been an important part of the history of Los Angeles over the last century. The Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles in 1932 and 1984, and will be held there again in 2028. The private Mines Field Airport opened in 1930, and was purchased to be used as a municipal airfield seven years later. In 1941, it was renamed Los Angeles Airport, and it became Los Angeles International Airport in 1949. During World War II, Los Angeles produced war supplies, ammunition and aircrafts, and became a key place for their production. When Executive Order 9066 was issued by President Roosevelt, this meant Japanese people and their descendants were interned, and this included many families in Los Angeles who had to prepare to be evacuated from defense areas on the West Coast. The end of the war meant that the land was cheap, and many developers became rich by buying it and subdividing and building on it. The world's very first theme park was Disneyland, which was opened in Anaheim in 1955. Three years later, the Dodgers baseball team left New York and came to Los Angeles. The city had become a center of industrialization and finance by 1950,

because of migration and the production of the war. Los Angeles continued to prosper during the baby boom generation, and 20 years after that the population had skyrocketed to almost 20 million. As well as being the home of film, the television industry blossomed in the 1950s, and Los Angeles played a key part in it, as well as producing training videos for the Army and Navy. Television City came to be after KTLA set the ball rolling and built the first television station west of the Mississippi river there. Recording studios also began to appear around the city. But LA was successful in various other ventures, too, and became known for stitching clothes, making furniture and tiles and assembling cars. Many of the songs of that time, such as "Hotel California," "California Girls" and "California Dreamin'" added to the region's appeal, and the freeways built in the 1940s, along with the development of San Fernando Valley, sparked even more expansion. As it remains today, Los Angeles quickly became a city that was centered around the automobile, particularly after the local streetcar service went out of business. But, by the 1970s, the air pollution in the city had reached a shocking level and strict methods of controlling the smog, such as carpool lanes, were implemented. The subway system was first developed in the 1980s, but frozen the following decade for political reasons and worries over methane gas, and a sinkhole in Hollywood, because of problems with the construction and financing. Los Angeles is now a multicultural place, but it used to be far more segregated in terms of ethnicities, particularly regarding the city's geography. Ninety-five percent of the housing was off-limits to Asians and black people, due to strict real estate covenants established in the 1920s. Even members of minorities who had fought in the war had the same restrictions, and they were often left with no other choice but to live in areas of East and South Los Angeles, such as Compton. A fair-housing bill was first introduced in 1955, and the Rumford Fair Housing Act was passed by California Legislature in 1963, the same year Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Wrigley Field. But in response, wealthy landlords and realtors campaigned for a referendum that would continue to allow them to deny housing to minorities, and this Proposition 14 was passed by California voters the following year. In 1965, 32 people died, over 1,000 were injured and almost 4,000 were arrested during the Watts Riots, which caused more than $40 million in damages. It was then ruled that Proposition 14 was in violation of the State Constitution's provisions for due process and equal protection and the 14th Amendment of

the United States Constitution, so the U.S. Fair Housing Act introduced enforcement. In 1973, Los Angeles elected Tom Bradley, the first black mayor in a major Western city. Street gangs became prevalent in the late twentieth century, and Los Angeles developed a reputation as a gang capital. The city cracked down with police vigilance, as well as raising the prices of housing, and urban renewal and revitalization. Today, Los Angeles remains a diverse city. It is still the home of movies and television, where actors can be spotted on a regular basis, and glamorous awards ceremonies are held every year to celebrate the best and brightest talents in the industry. It's also beloved for its sunny weather and fantastic beaches, the various different areas from sea to mountains that stretch across the city and its many popular sports teams. With so much to offer, there's no doubt Los Angeles will continue to draw in people from all over the world, whether to make it in Hollywood, or just make a life there, for many decades to come.

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