Los Angeles

Short history

Originally home to the Tongva and Chumash, Los Angeles saw Spanish control with the establishment of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1771. This mission was one of the first footholds of Spanish colonization, aiming to convert the indigenous population to Christianity and integrate them into the Spanish colonial system. Post-Mexico’s 1821 independence from Spain, it became part of Mexico, later joining the United States after the 1848 Mexican-American War. The transition from Mexican to American rule marked a significant change in land ownership and governance, laying the groundwork for modern Los Angeles. The discovery of oil, followed by the rise of Hollywood, transformed Los Angeles into a major industrial and cultural center despite challenges like racial tensions and environmental issues. The oil boom in the early 20th century propelled Los Angeles into an age of rapid growth and development, while the burgeoning film industry established the city as the entertainment capital of the world. Today, it’s a diverse metropolis with a global impact on culture, economy, and technology. This diversity is mirrored in its population, which comprises people from more than 140 countries, speaking 224 different identified languages, making Los Angeles a truly international city.

Geography

Los Angeles is located in Southern California. It has a wide variety of geographic features, including ocean views and towering mountains, which contribute to its appeal as a destination for tourists and residents alike. Situated on the Pacific Rim, Los Angeles covers a large area, allowing it to accommodate its population and a range of industries. Surrounded by the San Gabriel and Santa Monica mountains, the city is protected from extreme weather conditions.

The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate, characterized by its mild, generally pleasant weather that attracts people from colder climates. With hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters, this weather pattern supports Los Angeles’s outdoor-focused way of life. Allowing for year-round enjoyment of recreational activities and its natural surroundings, the climate plays a crucial role in the city’s culture and social life. Its location by the Pacific Ocean influences its climate, bringing in cool breezes that temper the summer heat. This supports various ecosystems, creating a variety of habitats that range from coastal wetlands to inland chaparral.

Population

Los Angeles, the United States’ second-largest city, has around 4 million residents according to the latest U.S. Census data. The city’s demographic profile is significantly shaped by its Hispanic or Latino community, which forms roughly 48 % of the total population. Other significant groups include Non-Hispanic Whites, Asian Americans, and African Americans, all contributing to Los Angeles’s diverse culture.

The city’s diversity is also evident in languages spoken at home, with over half of the populace using a language other than English, predominantly Spanish. This linguistic variety highlights Los Angeles’s role as a global cultural hub.

Los Angeles’s religious picture is equally diverse, accommodating a wide range of faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, reflecting its commitment to multiculturalism and inclusivity.

Main sights

  • Hollywood Sign: A landmark symbolizing the film industry, visible around Los Angeles.
  • Griffith Observatory: Provides views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Sign, with exhibits on space and science.
  • The Getty Center: Combines art, architecture, and gardens, with a collection of European art.
  • Venice Beach: Features a bohemian atmosphere, with a busy boardwalk and public art.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): The biggest art museum in the west of the US, with a diverse art collection.
  • Walt Disney Concert Hall: Known for its architecture and as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, it hosts top-notch musical performances.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood: A film studio and theme park offering rides, shows, and a look at movie-making.

Food

  • Tacos: A symbol of Los Angeles’ Mexican roots, tacos are available in a wide array of styles, mixing traditional and contemporary flavors.
  • Sushi: With a large Japanese community, Los Angeles is home to top-tier sushi, offering everything from authentic nigiri to inventive California rolls.
  • Korean BBQ: Celebrating the city’s Korean heritage, Korean BBQ restaurants are a staple, with an assortment of marinated meats and side dishes.
  • Avocado Toast: A reflection of the city’s focus on wellness, avocado toast is a popular choice, featuring fresh ingredients.
  • In-N-Out Burger: Starting in Los Angeles, In-N-Out Burger is beloved for its straightforward, quality burgers and fries, epitomizing California’s casual vibe.

Fun facts

  • Having the largest historic theatre district registered on the National Register of Historic Places, Los Angeles is a prime location for film and TV shoots, displaying many architectural wonders.
  • Initially named “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Río Porciúncula,” translating to “The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River,” the city’s name was eventually abbreviated to Los Angeles.
  • Notably, Los Angeles has a higher number of cars than residents, highlighting its extensive freeway system and deep-rooted car culture.
  • Hosting Angels Flight, the world’s shortest railway at 298 feet, Los Angeles cherishes this historic funicular, operational since 1901, as one of its iconic landmarks.
  • Marking its place in history, Los Angeles is where the internet was conceptualized. The first message sent via ARPANET, the internet’s forefather, was transmitted from UCLA to Stanford on October 29, 1969.