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A brief History of Los Angeles

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Task 1: Read the story "A brief History of Los Angeles" by Tim Lambert.

Task 2: What do you find out about the development of the population of Los Angeles over the centuries? Summarize the immigration movement and look for more detailed information about it on the Internet.

Task 3: How is the population of Los Angeles composed today? Visualize your findings in the form of a diagram.

Task 4: Can you think of problems which could arise in a multi-ethnic society? Summarize these from the text underneath and comment on them.

A brief History of Los Angeles

by Tim Lambert

The Foundation of Los Angeles

The story of Los Angeles began in 1769 when Franciscan friars built a mission there. They named the site El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de los Angeles de la Porciuncula (The River of our Lady of the Angels of Porciuncula). The friars tried to force the natives to convert to Christianity. They also introduced diseases, which the natives had no resistance to causing a catastrophic fall in population.

The fist civilian settlement at Los Angeles was founded in 1781. At first there was only a handful of families but in 1784 a chapel was built. The Plaza Catholic Church was built in 1822.

The settlement of Los Angeles grew steadily and by the time Mexico became independent of Spain in 1821 it had a population of several hundred. In 1846 war began between the USA and Mexico. US forces captured Los Angeles in 1847. However for a long time afterwards most of the population of Los Angeles remained Mexican.

Yet with the discovery of gold in California Americans rushed to live in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. At first it was a very rough and lawless place. Nevertheless a new town was founded at Wilmington in 1858. A new town was founded by German immigrants at Anaheim. By 1860 Los Angeles had a population of 4,400. Meanwhile in 1851 Los Angeles gained its first newspaper.

However in the winter of 1861-1862 Los Angeles suffered severe floods. That was followed by two years of drought. Nevertheless Los Angeles recovered.

In the late 19th century many people migrated to Southern California for the sake of their health. The climate was believed to heal or at least improve many conditions. Meanwhile from the 1870s the orange industry in California boomed.

In 1874 the first streetcar began operating in Los Angeles. In 1876 Los Angeles was connected to San Francisco by railroad. The city grew rapidly and by 1880 the population of Los Angeles was 11,000. Furthermore the University of Southern California was founded in 1880.

In the 1880s Los Angeles boomed and immigrants flooded in. By 1887 the population of Los Angeles had risen to 80,000.

Los Angeles in the 20th Century

In the early 20th century many Japanese migrated to South California. So did many Mexicans. Furthermore from the time of the First World War large numbers of African Americans came to live in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile in 1904 Abbot Kinney built the city of Venice.

The growing city in an arid climate faced a major problem supplying its people with water. However Los Angeles aqueduct was built in 1908-1913 to bring water to the city.

The first film was made in Los Angeles in 1908. In the following years the film industry in Los Angeles blossomed and in 1913 Cecil B. DeMille hired a barn in the suburb called Hollywood for film making.

In the early 20th century an aircraft making industry began in Los Angeles.

During the early 20th century Los Angeles continued to boom and by the early 1920s it had overtaken San Francisco in size. By 1939 it had a population of over 1.5 million.

However like the rest of the world Los Angeles suffered during the depression of the 1930s. Between 1935 and 1939 many 'Okies' fleeing the dustbowl fled to the Los Angeles region.

Los Angeles boomed again during World War II (although its Japanese citizens were interned).

However all did not go smoothly in Los Angeles in the 20th century. On 31 May 1942 11 sailors claimed they were assaulted by Mexicans in Los Angeles. In retaliation from 4 June to 7 June 1942 sailors sought out men in 'zoot suits' (Mexican Americans) and assaulted them.

In 1965 Los Angeles was again rocked by riots. On 11 August police stopped and questioned an African American. In the ensuing riots 34 people were killed.

In 1992 4 police officers bear an African American driver named Rodney King. However at their trial the officers were acquitted. The result was 3 days of rioting during which left 58 people were killed.

Many famous buildings were erected in Los Angeles during the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st. Los Angeles City Hall was built in 1928. Union Station was built in 1939. Watts Towers was built in 1954 by Simon Rodia.

Theme Building was erected in 1961. US Bank Tower was built in 1989 and Walt Disney Concert Hall was built in 2003.

In the late 20th century manufacturing industry in Los Angeles declined. However service industries boomed. Tourism is now a flourishing industry and Los Angeles is a thriving financial center.

In the late 20th century the Hispanic population of Los Angeles grew dramatically. Meanwhile the percentage of white non-Hispanics fell.

Today the population of Los Angeles is 3.8 million.


[ Source: www.localhistories.org/losangeles.html - 9 NOV 2009 ]