Los Angeles

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Los Angeles

Country United States
State California
Settled 1781
Population 4,000,000 (2020)
Area (sq mi) 468.7 sq mi
Population density (/sq mi) 8,500/sq mi
Current mayor [[Eric Garcetti]]
Demonym Los Angeleno
Co-ordinates 34.0° N., 118.4° W

Los Angeles (from Spanish "Los Ángeles, meaning "The Angels," often called "L.A." or "LA") is a city, a county and a metropolitan area in California. With a population of 4 million in the city and 10 million in the county, it is second only to New York City. Los Angeles is a global city with a multi-ethnic population. The county in 2007 was 47% Hispanic, 29% white non-Hispanic, 13% Asian, and 10% black. In 2017, around 22% of residents were non-citizens.[1] Besides the many rich celebrities, there is a large working-class population, so the average income of $53,500 is 10% below the state average.[2]

The current Mayor of Los Angeles is Eric Michael Garcetti,[3] a liberal Democrat who was elected in 2013 as the city's first Jewish mayor and reelected in 2017. The city's police department has been accused of systemic racism.[4] Los Angeles has had one Republican mayor since 1961. Los Angeles currently is undergoing a typhus epidemic.[5] Typhus is the name given to a group of bacterial infections transmitted to people living in crowded and unsanitary conditions by lice and fleas, coming from infected rats. The rats are attracted into the human environment by unsanitary conditions created by humans. Los Angeles Democrats sold off all its emergency medical stockpiles and ventilators for a respiratory pandemic in 2011.[6]

The highly diversified economy is most famous for the entertainment industry centered around Hollywood, with films, television and music production of major importance. Tourism is a major industry. Many major aerospace firms are there too, like Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, and Howard Hawks Aviation. Beaches line the coast along the Santa Monica bay and include the famous neighborhoods of Malibu beach to the north, and Venice Beach. The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach make up the largest port on the west Coast, larger even than Seattle or San Diego. Los Angeles has one of the country's largest manufacturing sectors, with the textile industry being highly prominent. Several oil refineries lie along the southern basin of the county, with refineries in Torrance, Carson, and Wilmington. The region became rich with farming—especially citrus production—a century ago.

Los Angeles is in an arid region, and a great amount of water comes from the Colorado River through the Los Angeles Aqueduct and from the California Water project.

The weather is excellent all year around, which is why the movie business moved there - the light is excellent for 'shooting' for over 300 days a year. Smog has been a major issue in recent decades, but is greatly improved since the worst years of the 1970s.[7] Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics.[8] expenditures. The 23d Olympiad in 1984 was a huge publicity and financial success, and it came away with a $225 million profit, thanks to the leadership of Peter Ueberroth.

Although never as devastated like San Francisco was in 1905,[9] Los Angeles is fascinated and fearful of disasters—especially earthquakes, as well as fires and mudslides.[10]
The Southern Pacific promoted its "Sunset Limited" express train for tourists; Amtrak now operates it; this poster dates from 1900


Spanish Era to 1848

Permanent Spanish settlement began with the Portolá expedition of 1769 and the founding of the pueblo of Los Angeles in 1781. Until 1822 Los Angeles existed as a tiny agricultural settlement, its founders multi-ethnic, its recorded history minimal. With Mexico gaining independence, Los Angeles benefited from liberalized trading policies and arrival of American merchants. Los Angeles was a village surrounded by cattle ranches operated by "Californios." From the 1820s to 1850 Los Angeles merchants played an important role as middlemen between ranchos and world trade. American merchants such as Abel Stearns and A. B. Thompson took cattle hides and tallow, negotiated for trade goods, extended credit, utilized hides as a form of currency, and kept meticulously accurate records. They handled imports and exports through the small port at San Pedro Harbor. They provided financial liquidity in an era lacking in currency and credit mechanisms both in California and the United States. In doing so they helped create economic stability and brought prosperity to an isolated region.[11]


When California came under American rule in 1846, the population of Los Angeles comprised about 300 Latino families and a few Anglo merchants. In 1869, the city formed its own police force, the Los Angeles Police Department, aka LAPD, who is/has been the subject of many motion pictures, television programs, news stories and novels. The city began growing when Henry Huntington's Southern Pacific railroad, subsidized by local government, opened lines to San Francisco in 1876 and through Arizona and Texas to the eastern U.S. in 1883.[12]

After a decade of prosperity, the cattle industry collapsed after the drought of 1862-63 ruining the landowners. The Californios—fewer than 2000 people—faded into obscurity, losing their ranches through bankruptcy and court cases. The old Spanish-Mexican culture faded, but reappeared in 20th century mission-style architecture. For a time the small town endured a reputation for lawlessness and vigilantism. Promotion of the region's agricultural potential brought newcomers—Yankees and Midwesterners. The boom came in 1886–88, sparked by a rate war between the Southern Pacific and the Sante Fe railroads that caused a land boom; by 1890 the city's population reached 50,000. The 1890s saw extensive advertising of the region's climate and opportunities to the rest of the United States, along with congressional approval of the development of key harbor facilities at San Pedro. The first suburbs appeared in Compton (1869) and Pasadena (1875)--part of LA County but entirely separate from the city of Los Angeles. By 1900 Los Angeles had been transformed into a substantially Protestant, midsized growth center, boosted as a land of opportunity for Americans, especially Midwesterners. As soon as they arrived they formed clubs named for their former states to remember their roots.[13]

LA in 1900--mostly orange groves and empty land

Economic growth

Los Angeles changed from a small town mentality with individual boosters promoting projects before 1906 to a highly organized growth regime (1906–32), as befitting a center of the nationwide Progressive Movement. The increasingly powerful Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce took the lead. Formed in 1888, the chamber brought together leading businessmen, bankers, publishers and real estate promoters to tell the world about the unequaled virtues of Southern California's climate, cheap land, and agricultural opportunities. The Rose Bowl started in 1902 as the first bowl game; it promoted sunshine to potential tourists in the depth of the winters back east.

In 1915, the Chamber of Commerce opened an Industrial Bureau to advertise the city's manufacturing and industrial possibilities. The chamber supported the establishing of the All-Year Club to promote tourism, an attraction also advertised by the Auto Club of Southern California and the Southern Pacific Railroad. In the 1920s, the heyday of boosterism, the chamber developed a photographic file of 50,000 pictures illustrating the area's attractions, while ignoring unions, minorities, and other potential drawbacks. The decades of promotion yielded enormous growth for Los Angeles, as the city increased from 11,000 in 1880 to 1,238,000 by 1930.[14]


Critical were large-scale public infrastructure projects - water supply, electricity, and the harbor - and the role of powerful local bureaucracies, such as the Department of Water and Power. In the early 20th century, the local government served as a key instrument of economic development in major cities across the West.[15]

Henry E. Huntington (1850-1927) was the largest employer in the Los Angeles area in the first two decades of the 20th century. His business operations included major street railways and a power company, which together employed over 5,000 workers. Huntington was vigorously opposed to unionization. He promptly fired workers who joined unions, made use of strikebreakers, and joined other employers in local and national anti-union organizations. As the city's most powerful entrepreneur, he successfully battled the labor movement to a draw. He would never negotiate with a union - such was viewed by him as a sign of failure in management. He promoted instead welfare capitalism, whereby workers got their rewards through the company not the union. He developed graduated pay scales based on seniority to encourage his workers to stay on and to reward the most loyal men. He rewarded his employees with generous wage hikes for their loyalty, and as the years passed he began offering fringe benefits such as insurance, housing, and medical care. His philanthropy included the famed Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.[16]

In 1900, Los Angeles bristled with oil derricks. By the 1920s, California produced a third of America's petroleum, most of it in LA county. Los Angeles grew so rapidly in the 1920s because it successfully presented itself as a symbol of the American dream of a better life, mixing a movieland perception with hardheaded property speculation.


The Progressive Movement found powerful support from the businessmen and professionals of Los Angeles. In an effort to rid the city of machine politics, reformers supported the election of Republican businessman George Alexander (1839-1923) as mayor in 1909. However the progressives disagreed over the goals of reform. Some emphasized honesty and efficiency in government, working for civil service reforms and 'classless' politics. More radical reformers called for measures that promoted social welfare and economic reform. When business-oriented progressives merged their interests with the social welfare faction, the city enacted legislation creating a public utilities commission, a public power project, and other measures. However, some business-oriented progressives abandoned the reform movement, while labor leaders demanded leadership that went beyond middle-class values. Pursuing a middle course, the progressives reelected Alexander in 1911, defeating the Socialist attack on the system. In Alexander's second term (1911–13) they enacted additional measures benefiting the public welfare. Party regulars, however, defeated a proposed progressive city charter in 1912, and increased factionalism within progressive ranks ended progressive rule in 1913.[17]

Failure of Socialism, 1911

The Los Angeles Socialist Party made a major bid for power in the 1911 local elections. Appealing especially to union members, Socialists argued at meetings, public parades, and demonstrations that the municipal government was guilty of class tyranny. When city police arrested John McNamara of the National Structural Iron Workers' Union and his brother in May 1911 on charges they had bombed the Los Angeles Times building, Socialists seized the heightened political climate as an opportunity to win control of the city council in the upcoming 1911 elections. Socialists in the newly formed Union Labor Political Club selected Job Harriman to run against George Alexander of the "Good Government" middle class coalition. Socialists stressed social welfare reform and the incumbent administration's abuse of police power as exemplified by the McNamara case. Harriman won more votes in the primary, shocking the middle class into activity. The Good Government party organized precincts, registered potential conservative and moderate voters, and warned that the Socialists were radicals who threatened to destroy the city's economic prosperity. The McNamara brothers' unexpected plea of guilty to bombing charges stunned the Socialists into despair. The overwhelming anti-radical position of newly registered women voters contributed to the decisive Socialist defeat in the December 1911 general election. Socialists were no longer a major player in city politics.[18]


Progressive reformers began reshaping the Los Angeles public schools before World War I, focusing on such new services as school lunches, after-school playgrounds, and home teacher visitations, especially within the immigrant communities. The programs were part of a national concern for better nutrition for children, preventing juvenile crime, and Americanizing immigrants. Initially volunteers carried out the programs, but by the end of World War I, school officials agreed to incorporate them into public education programs staffed by professionals. Although the programs achieved some success, immigrants expressed concern that some policies, particularly the home teacher program, undercut ethnic customs and traditions. Ethnic groups eventually succeeded in using the schools for after-hour classes in their native languages.[19]

Religious Revivals

Oral Roberts week-long revival in Los Angeles, 1957

Pentecostalism moved from the fringes to the mainstream with the Azusa Street Revival in 1906–1909. This event was marked by great emotional excitement, relatively brief interracial harmony, and an obsession with speaking in tongues and healing. It was touched off by the preaching of William J. Seymour, an African American who had absorbed the teachings of Charles F. Parham in Texas. Other Pentecostal revivals in other cities also played a major role, but Pentecostals have envisioned Azusa Street as a sacred event.[20]

One of the two best-known religious radio personalities of the 1930s was "Sister Aimee" - Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944).[21] A flamboyant evangelist, she was dynamic, colorful, charismatic, and a passionate preacher who founded the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel in Los Angeles, California. She mastered organized evangelism; at the height of her California ministry, McPherson preached each week to a congregation of over 5,000 people.

Los Angeles continues to be a major center of religious revivalism.

World War I and 1920s

Patriotism suffused the city in 1917–18. The Committee on Public Information's Division of Four-Minute Men promoted enthusiasm for the American wartime role and for war bond sales. This nationwide group gave four-minute speeches in public places, such as movie theaters. In Los Angeles, it was led by attorney Marshall Stimson; 215 men gave short 4-minute speeches in more than seventy movie houses. The speakers were white, Republican, and professional, including attorneys, bankers, and successful businessmen who supported progressive causes. Their voluntary patriotic effort showed how noncombatants could support the nation's war effort.[22]

Besides the fame and wealth it gained as the world center of the movie industry, every dimension of the Los Angeles showed dramatic growth in the 1920s. Producing one-fifth of all the oil in the world, Los Angeles became a major center for financing, refining, and for tool construction for the oil industry. The port was second only to New York City in exports, shipping not only oranges and oil but also the myriad products of the city's manufacturing base, which had expanded to included automobiles, tires, steel, and the new aircraft industry. In 1928, Christine Collins' son, Walter, disappeared from the city and was never found, causing much bad publicity for Los Angeles Police Department who was corrupt and brutal then during Prohibition. This event was the plot of Clint Eastwood's 2008 production and direction movie, Changeling, starring Angelina Jolie as Christine and John Malkovich, based on the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders of 1928.


The LA region is arid and water has to be brought in from the Owens Valley hundreds of miles to the north, where mountain snow runoff is abundant. William Mulholland played the central role in building aqueducts as chief of the Los Angeles Water Bureau.

see Owens Valley water dispute

As Los Angeles grew from 100,000 to 175,000 people during 1900–04, city engineer William Mulholland worked with former Mayor Fred Eaton to secure water rights to the Owens River, more than 200 miles away. Los Angeles voters approved bonds for the aqueduct and in 1907 construction started on the project. Ranchers in the Owens Valley showed their opinion of the Owens River Aqueduct in a series of dynamitings between 1924 and 1928. Owens Valley resistance ended with the failure of the Watterson banks in 1927; the Watterson brothers had headed the Owens Valley Property Owners, which sought huge sums for their water. They had impoverished the Owens Valley by embezzling millions and were trying to recoup their losses by extorting Los Angeles. By 1913 when the aqueduct opened, the growth of the city had already overtaken Mulholland's population projections, and within a decade the city was searching for additional water supplies. The aqueducts remain in operation, and serves many more people today because oranges are no longer grown in LA and they had used most of the water.

The failure of the St Francis Dam, a storage facility for aqueduct water, in 1928 effectively ended Mulholland's career. The dam break killed over four hundred people in the San Francisquito and Santa Clara River valleys and Mulholland accepted responsibility for it.[23] In 2009 severe droughts caused another major water shortage crisis for all of southern California.



The city made some 73 annexations over the years, most notably in the San Fernando Valley, expanding in size from 43 to 442 square miles. Many areas joined to get access to the city's famous water supply. However, many other suburbs—especially those with oil wells—retained their political independence from the city.

Los Angeles is famous as a collection of many suburbs with a very weak central city. Unlike eastern cities LA was not created by the expansion of suburbs spreading outward from the city center over time. Instead suburbs grew up around dispersed hubs of manufacturing and job creation, all linked by highways.[24] Los Angeles therefore spread out to great distances, allowing people to own houses because land was cheap. The vast San Fernando Valley is legally part of the City but is only loosely connected with the rest of LA and has several times tried—and failed—to secede. Meanwhile, most suburbs in the County of Los Angeles are entirely independent of the City of Los Angeles. During 1900–40, Los Angeles suburbs for the working class offered residents an opportunity to maximize the productive uses of their property in their quest for economic security and insulation from an unpredictable marketplace, thus fulfilling the class-based needs of suburbanites. These were rough-hewn communities, where multi-ethnic residents grew produce and livestock in backyards, built their own homes, and paid low taxes. The nature and function of these suburbs defy traditional scholarly portrayals of suburbia as the pastoral, exclusive haven of the white middle class. Such communities were surprisingly prevalent in Los Angeles before World War II. By 1940, 72% of all incorporated suburbs were predominantly working class. Four categories of these communities existed: industrial suburbs, labor camp suburbs, domestic service suburbs, and farm-fringe streetcar suburbs. Many of these communities were "unplanned," allowing residents to rely on their own labor as a means of entering the ranks of suburban home ownership. Early-20th century suburban development illustrates how working people shaped the residential landscape of early Los Angeles.[25]


Los Angeles was transformed by World War II. The city's prosperity during this time allowed it to modernize its infrastructure. LA made great strides in terms of manufacturing and technological development and these changes provided new jobs and allowed many people to rise out of poverty. Even so, the war left a mixed legacy. It sped up damage to the local environment; created a series of difficult urban problems ranging from sewage disposal to housing shortages; obliterated the city's quiet, "small-town" pre-war character; and sharpened racial and ethnic disparities and tensions.[26] Industry saw explosive growth as the oil wells and ports operated at full capacity.

Los Angeles before the war already had a well-established aerospace presence that it could quickly build upon. Factors contributing to the aircraft industry's growth before 1941 included a technology-based economic and industrial infrastructure, large numbers of skilled and semi-skilled workers, a strong financial center to provide capital, effective business support organizations, and a beneficial affiliation with the California Institute of Technology.[27] As soon as national mobilization began in spring 1940, aircraft companies built gigantic plants that paid high wages and drew workers from across the country, including blacks who could get high paying jobs in integrated settings for the first time.

Mayor Bowron

Fletcher Bowron (1887-1968) was the mayor 1938-1953 who led LA from depression through war to postwar reconversion, as the great war industries—aircraft especially—were a magnet for hundreds of thousands of workers. Bowron swept into office in a landslide after Mayor Frank Shaw was ousted in a recall election in 1938 because of vice and corruption.[28] Bowron's repeated election victories reflected the image of a devoted reformer and efficiency expert; he built a shifting coalition of union members, businessmen, Protestant clergy, and liberals of various stripes. He helped move the Japanese to relocation camps, and clamped down on the Latino "Zoot Suit" troublemakers, while reducing policy misbehavior. After the war he distanced himself from the labor unions in order to promote rapid growth of business enterprise. More conservative voters rejected his advocacy of public housing; the recall election of 1953 removed him from office.[29]

Japanese relocation

The Japanese population—especially the older members, who were born in Japan and were not U.S. citizens—had celebrated Japanese military victories over China before Pearl Harbor. They became highly suspect. They, and their children (who were U.S. citizens) were all removed from the coast to inland relocation centers. They returned in 1944–45.

Zoot Suit Riot

The Zoot Suit riot between servicemen and Latino youth in June 1943 was the major confrontation during the war. As city planners worked to redevelop poor neighborhoods primarily inhabited by recent immigrants, they tended to ignore the ties of neighborhood and community. The construction of a major naval training center near largely Mexican American neighborhoods exacerbated the situation, because young Mexican Americans and sailors on leave contended for the use and control of public spaces. Mexican-American teenagers had adopted flashy highly exaggerated clothes, which they called "zoot suits", as a means of expressing adulthood and sense of self. To Anglos the suits represented juvenile delinquency, drugs, and gang activity; they encouraged Anglo servicemen in uniform to confront the zoot-suiters, leading to small scale riots.[30]


Growth in the region was very rapid after 1945. Veterans who had tasted the life style migrated in and bought houses with their GI Bill benefits. This was a time of revitalization of the civic center through urban renewal. Social tensions, industrial growth, and suburban expansion brought new challenges. Old industries declined, especially oil production. Thousands of farms and orange groves were developed into housing tracts as the land in farms shrank from 300,000 acres to a mere 10,000 acres by 1970. Major sports teams came to the city, Hollywood flourished, television became a major new industry and music grew in importance. High-rise commercial buildings were built. LA endured damaging rainstorms, a prolonged drought, a dam failure, and in 1971 a major earthquake. The city schools were integrated by court order, and its police took criticism for using unnecessary violence; meanwhile, crime increased.[31]

Essential to the economy and the life style of the region is the high speed freeway system, built after World War II. The freeways liberated individuals from the limitations of place and circumstance. Freeways created a new community based not on shared culture, but on freedom and democratically private experience. It therefore is a man-made fulfillment of the promise of a new Garden of Eden in America, although traffic backs up a great deal during rush hours.[32]

During 1950-90 a community of aerospace researchers and manufacturers emerged and grew rapidly in the LA region. Contributing to the growth and continued success of the Los Angeles "technopole" were the US Air Force's contracting system and the government's determination to develop technology for an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile system), as well as civilian aircraft for the booming airlines. the end of the Cold War in 1991 brought a dramatic reduction in the military component of high technology.

The Dodgers

Los Angeles acquired the historic National League Dodgers baseball franchise amid opposition, litigation, and controversy. Faced with poor attendance and an obsolete Ebbets stadium back in Brooklyn (part of New York City), Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley decided to move to another city. Airline travel now made long distance scheduling feasible, and LA was by far the largest city without major league baseball. At the same time, LA Mayor Norris Poulson determined that his city must acquire a major-league baseball team. The New York Giants at the same time moved to San Francisco. Opposition to a new stadium exploded over the choice of Chavez Ravine, an ideal location for a stadium but it had been set aside for public housing. Between 1957 and 1959 final approval of the new Dodgers home was delayed by lawsuits, appeals, and bitter debate in the Los Angeles City Council. Despite the controversy, the city did well in its arrangements. Unlike other cities which must fill municipally owned stadiums, Los Angeles collects property taxes from privately owned Dodgers Stadium. The Dodgers thus became more committed to Los Angeles than other teams which move from one city to another as lucrative opportunities arise.[33]


Elected to an unprecedented fifth term as mayor of Los Angeles in 1989, Tom Bradley (1917-1998) was mayor for 20 years, 1973–1993, with an electoral base among blacks, Jews, Hollywood, liberals, Latinos, and big corporations. Bradley lost to conservative Democrat Sam Yorty in 1969, but unseated Yorty in 1973. Bradley enjoyed high popularity in spite of his failure to redress the problems of gang warfare, drug abuse, poor housing, unemployment, and poor schools. His success came from his skillful low-key organizing tactics and his high-profile use of symbolic politics. The latter has allowed well-organized groups to maintain control of city government and make the mayor their pawn.[34]


The 1980s saw Los Angeles' bicentennial (200th) anniversary in 1981 but also that year as the first U.S. city where symptoms of what would a year later be known as AIDS' where reported from, making Los Angeles one of the top three highest reporting cities for it, after New York's first and San Francisco's second; now Los Angeles is second in AIDS cases after New York City with San Francisco as third. Many heavy metal and New Wave rock bands who were popular in the 1980s were formed in Los Angeles during that decade as well as many rap musicians.

Riots and crime

In 1965, a major riot in the all-black Watts neighborhood signaled the beginning of "long hot summers", as virtually all major cities experienced similar riots in the next four years. A large part of the reason the rioting grew as bad as it did during that time (which eventually would have required a whole army division of 15,000 National Guardsmen to stop it), and by extension why similar riots occurred in Newark and Detroit in 1967, was because of a failure of the higher ups to actually do something about it, as then-California governor Pat Brown had been vacationing in Greece at the time, and then-President Lyndon Johnson refused to even acknowledge the gravity of the situation, much less take action, with Johnson's domestic policy advisor Joseph Califano stating that "[Johnson] refused to look at the cables from Los Angeles. . . .He refused to take calls from the generals who were requesting government planes to fly in the National Guard. . . . We need decisions from him. But he simply wouldn't respond."[35][36]

When the four police officers who had been videotaped beating motorist Rodney King were found not guilty of criminal acts in 1992, the city erupted in the worst rioting seen in the United States since the 1960s. Black ghetto neighborhoods were aflame as attacks and lootings went on three nights and two days. The riot was produced by social forces that included the end of Cold War federal spending and the ensuing regional recession, the movement of middle-class blacks out of South Central Los Angeles into safer neighborhoods, and the failure of local and state leaders to handle tensions emerging in rising crime, drug abuse and gangs. The increasingly violent underclass in the inner city was a challenge that that Mayor Tom Bradley could not deal with politically since he had come to office in a middle class coalition. Police Chief Daryl Gates aggressively attacked with Operation Hammer street, using sweeps of South Central streets rather than a softer community policing approach. That kept the thugs low until the riot released all restraints. The loss of life and destruction of property left permanent economic damage. Tensions remain very high between blacks and Koreans, who owned many of the stores and shops that came under violent attack.[37] In 1993, a federal trial held in Los Angeles itself resulted in convictions of two of these officers-Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell-who served 2 1/2 year sentences each as well as termination from LAPD. The other two defendants, Ted Briseno and Timothy Wind, were acquitted again but were also fired from LAPD before the decade was half over and earlier in this century left California altogether.

William Bratton, LA police chief from 2002 to 2009, introduced extensive use of computerized data to allocate police resources, and saw crime rates fall steadily—just as they had when he headed the New York City police, 1994–96. Major crimes in LA were down crimes down 33% and homicides down 41%. He had to implement court-ordered reforms to stop police corruption and brutality while supervising 9,800 sworn officers, 3,000 civilian employees, and billion dollar budget.

Latino power

In June 2001 Latino candidate Antonio Villaraigosa (b. 1953) and Anglo candidate James Hahn (b. 1950) competed in the mayoral runoff election. Both were liberal Democrats seeking office in a political climate characterized by nonpartisanship, a majority Latino population, and a long history of successful deracialized campaigns and biracial coalition politics. From 1973 to 1993, Mayor Tom Bradley used deracialized campaigns to develop a coalition of liberal white, African American, Latino, and Jewish voters. In 2001, however, the coalitions had realigned. Blacks, moderate whites, and conservative whites preferred Hahn, the majority of Latinos and liberal Democrats voted for Villaraigosa. A vote for Villaraigosa symbolized the evolving political power of Latinos both locally and nationally. Although he led in the primary, Villaraigosa lost the runoff after the Hahn campaign used racially offensive ads to attack his integrity and character. In 2005, the charismatic Villaraigosa defeated the lackluster Hahn in a landslide with 59% of the vote.[38]

Housing Boom and Bust


After 2001 housing prices soared in LA and throughout California. New construction began at a furious pace, and many new shopping centers and office building were built. Today many stand empty[Citation Needed]. Millions of people refinanced their homes and pocketed the "profits", while speculators bought houses and condominiums they did not intend to live in, but planned to sell at a huge profit. Bankers gave out mortgages with very low initial payments expecting that the houses would be resold at a higher price before the higher rates kicked in. They gave mortgages to people who they knew could never afford the full payments. The boom collapsed after summer 2007, with home prices falling 40%[39] and the bankers caught with hundreds of billions of dollars of "toxic" mortgages of uncertain value. The average price of a house or condominium in the region peaked in April 2006 at $580,000; by spring 2011 prices had fallen to less than half of this number- $230,000[40] The housing bubble was a major cause of the Financial Crisis of 2008 and helped start the Recession of 2008, which in 2011 continues to hit the LA region very hard.

2020 Antifa riots

See also: 2020 Antifa riots

Leftist rioters beat up a cop[41] and burnt a police vehicle.[42] The city's Democrat mayor moved to cut funding for the police department by $250 million.[43]


Hollywood has made the image of Los Angeles world-famous, as have many screenwriters and novelists. Writers initially praised Los Angeles as a source of regeneration. By the 1930s, however, the view of Los Angeles had turned dark as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley, Raymond Chandler, Nathanael West, and others saw the city as a place of broken dreams and corruption. Representative novels include Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935) and Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust (1939).

1946 film noir

The cynicism prevailed throughout the 20th century as Ross MacDonald, Joan Didion, Joseph Wambaugh, and other writers saw Los Angeles as a metaphor for deception, illusion and loss. Hollywood turned the negative image into a backdrop for a series of famous "film noir" (black films) in the 1940s which portrayed Los Angeles as an impersonal, pessimistic, and dehumanized environment. Classic films include "Double Indemnity," "Mildred Pierce," "The Postman Always Rings Twice," and "The Blue Dahlia". The Spanish architectural styles of residences, the seediness of downtown Los Angeles, exotic landscaping, the river channel, the Hollywood Bowl, and industrial locations were featured in these films and usually given a dark interpretation, as Los Angeles came to represent disillusionment with the American Dream.[44]

The dark gloom continues in Latino literature. For example, the dangerous streets in Luis Rodríguez's 1993 autobiographical novel Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. are a metaphor for young urban Latinos' sense of despair and search for self that can lead them into gang activity.[45]

Since the beginning of the entertainment industry's days in Los Angeles, the city has frequently been seen as promoting Hollywood values to the world, and the city is infamous as a den of iniquity and a 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams'.

See also

Further reading

Some of the best history appears in the appropriate chapters of the multivolume history of California by Kevin Starr[46]

Guides, architecture, geography

  • Herman, Robert D. Downtown Los Angeles: A Walking Guide‎ (2004) 270 pages
  • Fodor. Los Angeles: plus Disneyland & Orange County‎ ed. by Maria Teresa Burwell, (2007) 368 pages excerpt and text search
  • Mahle, Karin, and Martin Nicholas Kunz. Los Angeles: Architecture & Design‎ (2004) 191pp
  • Nelson, Howard J. The Los Angeles Metropolis. (1983). 344 pp. geography
  • Pitt, Leonard and Dale Pitt. Los Angeles A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the City and County. (1997). 605 pp. short articles by experts excerpts and text search

Contemporary issues

  • Abu-Lughod, Janet L. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America's Global Cities (1999) online edition
  • Dear, Michael J., H. Eric Schockman, and Greg Hise, eds. Rethinking Los Angeles (1996) interprets LA in terms of "postmodern urbanism" model. It consists of several fundamental characteristics: a global-local connection; a ubiquitous social polarization; and a reterritorialization of the urban process in which hinterland organizes the center (in direct contradiction to the Chicago School model of cities). The resultant urbanism is distinguished by a centerless urban form termed "keno capitalism."
  • Fine, David. Imagining Los Angeles: A City in Fiction. (2000). 293 pp.
  • Flanigan, James. Smile Southern California, You're the Center of the Universe: The Economy and People of a Global Region (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Fulton, William. The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles. (1997). 395 pp.
  • Gottlieb, Robert. Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City‎ (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Scott, Allen J. and Soja, Edward W., eds. The City: Los Angeles and Urban Theory at the End of the Twentieth Century. (1996). 483 pp.


  • Bollens, John C. and Geyer, Grant B. Yorty: Politics of a Constant Candidate. (1973). 245 pp. Mayor 1961-73
  • Fogelson, Robert M. The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850-1930 (1967), focus on planning, infrastructure, water, and business
  • Friedricks, William. Henry E. Huntington and the Creation of Southern California (1992), on Henry Edwards Huntington (1850-1927), railroad executive and collector, who helped build LA and Southern California through the Southern Pacific railroad and also trolleys.
  • Garcia, Matt. A World of Its Own: Race, Labor, and Citrus in the Making of Greater Los Angeles, 1900-1970. (2001). 330 pp.
  • Hart, Jack R. The Information Empire: The Rise of the Los Angeles Times and The Times Mirror Corporation. (1981). 410 pp.
  • Jaher, Frederic Cople. The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. (1982). 777 pp.
  • Klein, Norman M. and Schiesl, Martin J., eds. 20th Century Los Angeles: Power, Promotion, and Social Conflict. (1990). 240 pp.
  • Lavender, David. Los Angeles, Two Hundred Years. (1980). 240 pp. heavily illustrated popular history
  • Leader, Leonard. Los Angeles and the Great Depression. (1991). 344 pp.
  • Mullins, William H. The Depression and the Urban West Coast, 1929-1933: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. (1991). 176 pp.
  • Nicolaides, Becky M. My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965. (2002). 412 pp.
  • O'Flaherty, Joseph S. An End and a Beginning: The South Coast and Los Angeles, 1850-1887. (1972). 222 pp.
  • O'Flaherty, Joseph S. Those Powerful Years: The South Coast and Los Angeles, 1887-1917 (1978). 356 pp.
  • Payne, J. Gregory and Ratzan, Scott C. Tom Bradley: The Impossible Dream. (1986). 368 pp., mayor 1973 to 1993 and a leading African American
  • Raftery, Judith Rosenberg. Land of Fair Promise: Politics and Reform in Los Angeles Schools, 1885-1941. (1992). 284 pp.
  • Rolle, Andrew. Los Angeles: From Pueblo to City of the Future. (2d. ed. 1995). 226 pp.; the only historical survey by a scholar
  • Sitton, Tom and Deverell, William, eds. Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s. (2001). 371 pp.
  • Verge, Arthur C. Paradise Transformed: Los Angeles during the Second World War. (1993). 177 pp.
  • Verge, Arthur C. "The Impact of the Second World War on Los Angeles" Pacific Historical Review 1994 63(3): 289–314. 0030-8684 in JSTOR

Planning, environment and autos

an exaggerated freeway interchange
  • Bottles, Scott L. Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City. (1987). 302 pp.
  • Davis, Margaret Leslie. Rivers in the Desert: William Mulholland and the Inventing of Los Angeles. (1993). 303 pp.
  • Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. (1990). 462 pp.
  • Desfor, Gene, and Roger Keil. Nature And The City: Making Environmental Policy In Toronto And Los Angeles (2004) 290pp
  • Deverell, William, and Greg Hise. Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Metropolitan Los Angeles‎ (2006) 350 pages excerpt and text search
  • Dewey, Scott Hamilton. Don't Breathe the Air: Air Pollution and U.S. Environmental Politics, 1945-1970. (2000). 321pp., focuses on LA smog
  • Hise, Greg. Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the Twentieth-Century Metropolis. (1997). 294 pp.
  • Keane, James Thomas. Fritz B. Burns and the Development of Los Angeles: The Biography of a Community Developer and Philanthropist. (2001). 287 pp.
  • Longstreth, Richard. The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space in Los Angeles, 1914-1941. (1999). 248 pp.
  • Longstreth, Richard. City Center to Regional Mall: Architecture, the Automobile, and Retailing in Los Angeles, 1920-1950. (1997). 504 pp.
  • Mulholland, Catherine. William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles. (2000). 411 pp. online edition
  • Post, Robert C. Street Railways and the Growth of Los Angeles (1989). 170pp.
  • Rajan, Sudhir Chella. The Enigma of Automobility: Democratic Politics and Pollution Control. (1996). 202 pp.


Hollywood sign.jpg
  • Balio, Tino. Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930-1939. (1993). 483 pp.
  • May, Lary. The Big Tomorrow: Hollywood and the Politics of the American Way (2000)
  • Schatz, Thomas. The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era. (1988). 492 pp.
  • Vaughn, Stephen. Ronald Reagan in Hollywood: Movies and Politics. (1994). 359 pp.
  • Wells, Walter. Tycoons and Locusts: A Regional Look at Hollywood Fiction of the 1930s (1973) online edition

Ethnicity, race and religion

  • Abelmann, Nancy and Lie, John. Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots. (1995). 272 pp.
  • Acuña, Rodolfo F. Anything but Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles. (1996). 328 pp.
  • Allen, James P. and Turner, Eugene. The Ethnic Quilt: Population Diversity in Southern California. (1997). 282 pp.
  • Bedolla, Lisa García. Fluid borders: Latino power, identity, and politics in Los Angeles‎ (2005) 278 pages; excerpt and text search
  • Cannon, Lou. Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. (1997). 698 pp. online edition
  • Degraaf, Lawrence B. "The City Of Black Angels: Emergence of the Los Angeles Ghetto, 1890-1930". Pacific Historical Review 1970 39(3): 323–352. in JSTOR
  • Engh, Michael E. "'A Multiplicity and Diversity of Faiths': Religion's Impact on Los Angeles and the Urban West, 1890-1940," Western Historical Quarterly 1997 28(4): 462–492. 0043-3810 in JSTOR
  • Engh, Michael E. Frontier Faiths: Church, Temple, and Synagogue in Los Angeles, 1846-1888. (1992). 267 pp.
  • Greenwood, Roberta S., ed. Down by the Station: Los Angeles Chinatown, 1880-1933. (1996). 207 pp.
  • Griswold del Castillo, Richard. The Los Angeles Barrio, 1850-1890: A Social History. (1979). 217 pp.
  • Gutierrez, Ramon A., and Patricia Zavella, eds. Mexicans in California: Transformations and Challenges essays by leading scholars (2009)
1910 Easter service
  • Hamilton, Nora and Chinchilla, Norma Stoltz. Seeking Community in a Global City: Guatemalans and Salvadorans in Los Angeles. (2001). 296 pp.
  • Hayashi, Brian Masaru. "For the Sake of Our Japanese Brethren": Assimilation, Nationalism, and Protestantism among the Japanese of Los Angeles, 1895-1942 (1995). 217 pp.
  • Horne, Gerald. Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s. (1995). 424 pp.
  • Keil, Roger. Los Angeles: Globalization, Urbanization, and Social Struggles. (1998). 295 pp.
  • Leclerc, Gustavo; Villa, Raúl; and Dear, Michael, eds. Urban Latino Cultures: La Vida Latina en L.A. (1999). 214 pp.
  • Loza, Steven. Barrio Rhythm: Mexican American Music in Los Angeles. (1993). 320 pp.
  • Min, Pyong Gap. Caught in the Middle: Korean Communities in New York and Los Angeles. (1996). 260 pp.
  • Modell, John. The Economics and Politics of Racial Accommodation: The Japanese of Los Angeles, 1900-1942. (1977). 201 pp.
  • Monroy, Douglas. Rebirth: Mexican Los Angeles from the Great Migration to the Great Depression. (1999). 322 pp.
  • Moore, Deborah Dash. To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and L.A. (1994). 358 pp.
  • Oberschall, Anthony. "The Los Angeles Riot of August 1965," Social Problems, Vol. 15, No. 3 (Winter, 1968), pp. 322–341 in JSTOR, black riots in Watts
  • Ong, Paul, ed. The New Asian Immigration in Los Angeles and Global Restructuring. (1994). 330 pp.
  • Ríos-Bustamante, Antonio and Castillo, Pedro. An Illustrated History of Mexican Los Angeles, 1781-1985. (1986). 196 pp.
  • Saito, Leland T. Race and Politics: Asian Americans, Latinos, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb. (1998). 250 pp.
  • Sánchez, George J. Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945. (1993). 367 pp. online edition
  • Sides, Josh. L. A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present (2003) online edition
  • Valle, Victor M. and Torres, Rodolfo D. Latino Metropolis. (2000). 249 pp.
  • Waldinger, Roger and Bozorgmehr, Mehdi, eds. Ethnic Los Angeles. (1996). 497 pp. studies by sociologists
  • Weber, Francis J. Magnificat: The Life and Times of Timothy Cardinal Manning. (1999). 729 pp. The Catholic archbishop from 1970 to 1985.
  • Weber, Francis J. His Eminence of Los Angeles: James Francis Cardinal McIntyre. (1997). 707 pp. Catholic archbishop from from 1948 to 1970.
  • Weber, Francis J. Century of Fulfillment: The Roman Catholic Church in Southern California, 1840-1947. (1990). 536 pp.

Primary sources

  • Caughey, John and LaRee Caughey, eds. Los Angeles: Biography of a City. (1976). 510 pp. short excerpts from primary and secondary sources
  • Diehl, Digby, ed. Front Page: 100 Years of the Los Angeles Times, 1881-1981. (1981). 287 pp.
  • Rodríguez, Luis. Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. (1993); autobiographical novel online edition
  • Violence in the City -- An End or a Beginning?, A Report by the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles Riots, 1965 Official Report online, report on 1965 black riot in Watts; called the "McCone Report" after its chairman


  1. https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=CF
  2. See Quick Facts
  3. http://mayor.lacity.org/MeettheMayor/index.htm
  4. https://californialines.com/los-angeles-mayor-the-goal-is-to-bring-down-systemic-racism/
  5. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/typhus-reaches-epidemic-levels-parts-los-angeles-area-n917271
  6. https://www.redstate.com/jenvanlaar/2020/03/29/ca-dismantled-its-mobile-hospital-system-ventilator-stockpile-in-2011/
  7. http://egpnews.com/?p=21847
  8. See Matthew J. Burbank, et al. Olympic Dreams: The Impact of Mega-Events on Local Politics. (2001). 203 pp.; Bill Shaikin, Sport and Politics: The Olympics and the Los Angeles Games. (1988). 101 pp.
  9. The worst recent earthquake hit Northridge in 1994.
  10. Mike Davis, Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. (1998). 484 pp.
  11. William J. Barger, "The Merchants Of Los Angeles: Economics and Commerce in Mexican California." Southern California Quarterly 2000 82(2): 125-144. 0038-3929
  12. Richard J. Orsi, Sunset Limited: The Southern Pacific Railroad and the Development of the American West, 1880-1930 (2005)
  13. Leonard Pitt, "The Midwesternization of a Cowtown" California History 1981 60(1): 28-49. 0162-2897
  14. Tom Zimmerman, "Paradise Promoted: Boosterism and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce," California History 1985 64(1): 22-33. 0162-2897
  15. Steven P. Erie, "How the Urban West Was Won: The Local State and Economic Growth In Los Angeles, 1880-1932" Urban Affairs Quarterly 1992 27(4): 519-554. 0042-0816
  16. William B. Friedricks, "Capital and Labor In Los Angeles: Henry E. Huntington Vs. Organized Labor, 1900-1920." Pacific Historical Review 1990 59(3): 375-395. 0030-8684
  17. Martin J. Schiesl, "Progressive Reform in Los Angeles under Mayor Alexander, 1909-1913." California Historical Quarterly 1975 54(1): 37-56
  18. Daniel J. Johnson, "'No Make-Believe Class Struggle': The Socialist Municipal Campaign in Los Angeles, 1911." Labor History 2000 41(1): 25-45. 0023-656x; James P. Kraft, "The Fall of Job Harriman's Socialist Party: Violence, Gender and Politics in Los Angeles, 1911." Southern California Quarterly 1988 70(1): 43-68.
  19. Judith Raftery, "Progressivism Moves into the Schools: Los Angeles, 1905-1918," California History 1987 66(2): 94-103. 0162-2897
  20. Joe Creech, "Visions of Glory: The Place of the Azusa Street Revival in Pentecostal History," Church History, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 405-424 in JSTOR
  21. Charles Coughlin, also a Canadian, was the other. He was a Catholic priest based in Detroit.
  22. M. Guy Bishop, "'Strong Voices and 100 Per Cent Patriotism': The Four-Minute Men of Los Angeles County, 1917-1918." Southern California Quarterly 1995 77(3): 199-214. 0038-3929
  23. Catherine Mulholland, "William Mulholland and the St. Francis Dam." Southern California Quarterly 1995 77(1-2): 111-137. 0038-3929
  24. Greg Hise, "Home Building and Industrial Decentralization in Los Angeles: The Roots of the Postwar Urban Region." Journal of Urban History 1993 19(2): 95-125. online
  25. Becky M. Nicolaides, "'Where The Working Man is Welcomed': Working-Class Suburbs in Los Angeles, 1900-1940" Pacific Historical Review 1999 68(4): 517-559. 0030-8684
  26. Verge (1994)
  27. Joseph E. Libby, "To Build Wings for the Angels: Los Angeles and its Aircraft Industry, 1890-1936." Business and Economic History 1992 21: 22-25. 0894-6825
  28. Shaw, a Democrats, was elected in 1933; Bowron was a Republican. Daniel Hurewitz, "Goody-Goodies, Sissies, and Long-Hairs: The Dangerous Figures in 1930s Los Angeles Political Culture." Journal of Urban History 2006 33(1): 26-50
  29. Tom Sitton, Los Angeles Transformed: Fletcher Bowron's Urban Reform Revival, 1938-1953, (2005)
  30. Eduardo Obregón Pagán, "Los Angeles Geopolitics and the Zoot Suit Riot, 1943." Social Science History 2000 24(1): 223-256. online edition
  31. Richard G. Lillard, "Problems and Promise In Tomorrowland," California History 1981 60(1): 76-97. 0162-2897
  32. David Brodsly, L.A. Freeway: An Appreciative Essay (1981).
  33. Cary S. Henderson, "Los Angeles and the Dodger War, 1957-1962" Southern California Quarterly 1980 62(3): 261-289
  34. John M. Allswang, "Tom Bradley of Los Angeles". Southern California Quarterly 1992 74(1): 55-105; James A. Regalado, "Organized Labor and Los Angeles City Politics: An Assessment in the Bradley Years, 1973-1989" Urban Affairs Quarterly 1991 27(1): 87-108. 0042-0816; Byran Jackson, "Black Political Power in the City of Angels: An Analysis of Mayor Tom Bradley's Electoral Success," National Political Science Review 1990 2: 169-175. 0896-629x
  35. The Politically Incorrect Guide to the 1960s by Jonathan Leaf, p. 61
  36. John Fabanjong, Understanding the Backlash Against Affirmative Action, 72.
  37. See Lou Cannon, Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD (1997), online review
  38. Sharon D. Wright Austin and Richard T. Middleton, "The Limitations of the Deracialization Concept in the 2001 Los Angeles Mayoral Election." Political Research Quarterly 2004 57(2): 283-293; Raphael J. Sonenshein and Susan H. Pinkus, "Latino Incorporation Reaches the Urban Summit: How Antonio Villaraigosa Won the 2005 Los Angeles Mayor's Race," PS: Political Science & Politics (2005), 38:4:713-721
  39. http://www.deptofnumbers.com/asking-prices/california/los-angeles/
  40. "http://www.deptofnumbers.com/asking-prices/california/los-angeles/
  41. https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2020/05/leftist-mob-beats-police-officer-street-la-officer-mobbed-rescued-good-samaritan/
  42. https://streamable.com/61mdlo
  43. https://youtu.be/DcGSvEl44ow
  44. Tina Olsin Lent, "The Dark Side of the Dream: The Image of Los Angeles in Film Noir" Southern California Quarterly 1987 69(4): 329-348. 0038-3929
  45. Fine (2000); Maria Herrera-Sobek, "Geography of Despair: The Mean Streets of L.A. in Luis Rodriguez's Always Running". Latino Studies Journal 1997 8(2): 56-67. 1066-1344
  46. See Starr, Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915 (1973), focuses on novelists; Inventing the Dream: California through the Progressive Era (1986); Material Dreams: Southern California through the 1920s(1991); excerpt and text search; Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California (1997); excerpt and text search; The Dream Endures: California Enters the 1940s (1997); Embattled Dreams: California in War and Peace, 1940-1950 (2003); excerpt and text search; Golden Dreams: California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963 (2009) excerpt and text search; and Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003. (2004).