Los Angeles (in Spanish) is the largest city in the state of California and the American West as well as second largest in the United States. Often abbreviated as L.A. and nicknamed The City of Angels, Los Angeles is rated an alpha world city, has an estimated population of 3.8 million and spans over in Southern California. Additionally, the Los Angeles metropolitan area is home to nearly 12.9 million residents,who hail from all over the globe and speak 224 different languages. Los Angeles is the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated and one of the most diverse counties in the United States. Its inhabitants are known as "Angelenos" ().
Los Angeles was founded September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola). It became a part of Mexico in 1821, following its independence from Spain. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War, Los Angeles and California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States; Mexico retained the territory of Baja California. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.
Los Angeles is one of the world's centers of culture, technology, media, business, and international trade. It is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields, and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. Los Angeles leads the world in producing popular entertainment — such as motion picture, television, and recorded music — which forms the base of its international fame and global status.
The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes hundreds of years ago. The first Europeans arrived in 1542 under Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese-born explorer who claimed the area as the City of God for the Spanish Empire. However, he continued with his voyage and did not establish a settlement. The next contact would not come until 227 years later, when Gaspar de Portola, along with Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769. Crespí noted that the site had the potential to be developed into a large settlement.
In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra built the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel near Whittier Narrows, in what is now called San Gabriel Valley. In 1777, the new governor of California, Felipe de Neve, recommended to Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa, viceroy of New Spain that the site noted by Juan Crespí be developed into a pueblo. The town was founded on September 4, 1781, by a group of forty-four settlers known as "los Pobladores". They were escorted by four Spanish colonial soldiers and their families. It was named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the Porciúncula River). These pueblo settlers came from the common Hispanic culture that had emerged in northern Mexico among a racially-mixed society. Two-thirds of the settlers were mestizo or mulatto, and therefore, had African and Indian ancestry. More importantly, they were intermarrying. The settlement remained a small ranch town for decades, but by 1820 the population had increased to about 650 residents. Today, the pueblo is commemorated in the historic district of Los Angeles Pueblo Plaza and Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles.
New Spain achieved its independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, and the pueblo continued as a part of Mexico. During Mexican rule, Governor Pío Pico, made Los Angeles Alta California's regional capitol. Mexican rule ended during the Mexican–American War: Americans took control from the Californios after a series of battles, culminating with the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13, 1847.
By 1900, the population had grown to more than 102,000 people, putting pressure on the city's water supply. 1913's completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, under the supervision of William Mulholland, assured the continued growth of the city.
The post-war years saw an even greater boom, as urban sprawl expanded the city into the San Fernando Valley. In 1969, Los Angeles became one of the birthplaces of the Internet, as the first ARPANET transmission was sent from UCLA to SRI in Menlo Park.
Also in the 1980s, Los Angeles became the center of the heavy metal music scene, especially glam metal bands. In 1984, the city hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the second time. It became the most financially successful Olympics in history, and only the second Olympics to turn a profit — the other being the 1932 Summer Olympics, also held in Los Angeles.
During the remainder of the 1970s into the 1980s, Los Angeles was plagued by increasing gang violence, drug trades, and police corruption. Racial tensions erupted again in 1992 with the Rodney King controversy and the large-scale riots that followed the acquittal of his police attackers. In 1994, the 6.7 Northridge earthquake shook the city, causing $12.5 billion in damage and 72 deaths.
Los Angeles is irregularly shaped and covers a total area of , comprising 469.1 square miles (1,214.9 km²) of land and 29.2 square miles (75.7 km²) of water. The city extends for 44 miles (71 km) longitudinally and for 29 miles (47 km) latitudinally. The perimeter of the city is 342 miles (550 km). It is the only major city in the United States bisected by a mountain range.
The highest point in Los Angeles is Mount Lukens, also called Sister Elsie Peak. Located at the far reaches of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, it reaches a height of 5,080 ft (1,548 m). The major river is the Los Angeles River, which begins in the Canoga Park district of the city and is largely seasonal. The river is lined in concrete for almost its entire length as it flows through the city into nearby Vernon on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
The Los Angeles basin and metropolitan area are also at risk from blind thrust earthquakes.
Summers are warm to hot and dry with average high temperatures of 81 - 84°F (27 - 29°C) and lows of 63°F (16°C), however temperatures sometimes exceed 90°F (32°C) during the summer. Winters are mild and somewhat rainy with high temperatures of 68 - 70°F (20 - 21°C) and lows of 48 - 50°F (9 - 10°C). Spring and autumn bring mild days and cool evenings.
The Los Angeles area is also subject to the phenomenon typical of a microclimate. As such, the temperatures can vary as much as 18°F (10°C) between inland areas and the coast, with a temperature gradient of over one degree per mile from the coast inland.
Rainfall occurs mainly in the winter and spring months (February being the wettest month), with light rainfall, but sometimes as thunderstorms. Los Angeles averages 15 inches (385 mm) of precipitation per year, but is lower at the coast and higher at the mountains. Tornadoes are extraordinarily rare downtown, though waterspouts can be seen during severe storms at beaches. Snow is extraordinarily rare in the city basin, but the mountainous slopes within city limits typically receive snow every year. The greatest snowfall recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2.0 inches (5 cm) on January 15, 1932.
Owing to geography, heavy reliance on automobiles, and the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, Los Angeles suffers from air pollution in the form of smog. The Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley are susceptible to atmospheric inversion, which holds in the exhausts from road vehicles, airplanes, locomotives, shipping, manufacturing, and other sources. Unlike other large cities that rely on rain to clear smog, Los Angeles gets only 15 inches (381 mm) of rain each year: pollution accumulates over many consecutive days. Issues of air quality in Los Angeles and other major cities led to the passage of early national environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act. More recently, the state of California has led the nation in working to limit pollution by mandating low emission vehicles.
As a result, pollution levels have dropped in recent decades. The number of Stage 1 smog alerts has declined from over 100 per year in the 1970s to almost zero in the new millennium. Despite improvement, the 2006 and 2007 annual reports of the American Lung Association ranked the city as the most polluted in the country with short-term particle pollution and year-round particle pollution. In 2008, the city was ranked the second most polluted and again had the highest year-round particulate pollution. In addition, the groundwater is increasingly threatened by MTBE from gas stations and perchlorate from rocket fuel. With pollution still a significant problem, the city continues to take aggressive steps to improve air and water conditions.
The city is divided into many neighborhoods, many of which were towns that were annexed by the growing city. There are also several independent cities in and around Los Angeles, but they are popularly grouped with the city of Los Angeles, either due to being completely engulfed as enclaves by Los Angeles, or lying within its immediate vicinity. Generally, the city is divided into the following areas: Downtown Los Angeles, Northeast - including Highland Park and Eagle Rock areas, the Eastside, South Los Angeles (still often colloquially referred to as South Central by locals), the Harbor Area, Hollywood, Wilshire, the Westside and the San Fernando and Crescenta Valleys.
Some well-known communities of Los Angeles include West Adams, Watts, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, Venice Beach, the Downtown Financial District, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Koreatown, Westwood and the more affluent areas of Bel Air, Benedict Canyon, Hollywood Hills, Hancock Park, Pacific Palisades, and Brentwood.
42.2% spoke English, 41.7% Spanish, 2.4% Korean, 2.3% Filipino, 1.7% Armenian, 1.5% Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin) and 1.3% Persian as their first language. Since the mid-1980s, Los Angeles has been a minority-majority city.
According to the census, 33.5% of households had children under 18, 41.9% were married couples, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 28.5% of households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size 3.56.
The age distribution was: 26.6% under 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 34.1% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 or older. The median age was 32. For every 100 females there were 99.4 males. For every 100 females aged 18 and over, there were 97.5 males.
The median income for a household was $36,687, and for a family was $39,942. Males had a median income of $31,880, females $30,197. The per capita income was $20,671. 22.1% of the population and 18.3% of families were below the poverty line. 30.3% of those under the age of 18 and 12.6% of those aged 65 or older were below the poverty line.
Los Angeles is home to people from more than 140 countries speaking 224 different identified languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little India, Little Tokyo, and Thai Town provide examples of the polyglot character of Los Angeles.
The economy of Los Angeles is driven by international trade, entertainment (television, motion pictures, recorded music), aerospace, technology, petroleum, fashion, apparel, and tourism. Los Angeles is also the largest manufacturing center in the United States. The contiguous ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together comprise the most significant port in North America. They are some of the most important ports in the world, and vital to trade within the Pacific Rim. Other significant industries include media production, finance, telecommunications, law, health medicine, and transportation.
The University of Southern California (USC) is the city's largest private sector employer.
Other companies headquartered in Los Angeles include 20th Century Fox, Latham & Watkins, Univision, Metro Interactive, LLC, Premier America, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Guess?, O’Melveny & Myers; Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, Tokyopop, The Jim Henson Company, Paramount Pictures, Robinsons-May, Sunkist Growers, Incorporated, Fox Sports Net, Capital Group, 21st century Insurance and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Korean Air's United States passenger operations and cargo operations headquarters are located in two separate offices in Los Angeles.
The metropolitan area contains the headquarters of companies who moved outside of the city to escape its taxes but keep the benefits of proximity. For example, Los Angeles charges a gross receipts tax based on a percentage of business revenue, while many neighboring cities charge only small flat fees. The companies below benefit from their proximity to Los Angeles, while at the same time avoiding the city's taxes (and other problems). Some of the major companies headquartered in the cities of Los Angeles county are Shakey's Pizza (Alhambra), Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Beverly Hills), City National Bank (Beverly Hills), Hilton Hotels (Beverly Hills), DIC Entertainment (Burbank), The Walt Disney Company (Fortune 500 – Burbank), Warner Bros. (Burbank), Countrywide Financial (Fortune 500 – Calabasas), THQ (Calabasas), Belkin (Compton), Sony Pictures Entertainment (parent of Columbia Pictures, located in Culver City), California|El Segundo]]), DirecTV (El Segundo), Mattel (Fortune 500 – El Segundo), Unocal Corporation (Fortune 500 – El Segundo), DreamWorks (Glendale), Sea Launch (Long Beach), ICANN (Marina del Rey), Cunard Line (Santa Clarita), Princess Cruises (Santa Clarita), Activision (Santa Monica), and RAND (Santa Monica).
Some well-known shopping areas are the Hollywood and Highland complex, the Beverly Center, Melrose Avenue, Robertson Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, The Grove, Westside Pavilion, The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center and Venice Boardwalk.
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles leads the largest archdiocese in the country. Cardinal Roger Mahony oversaw construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, completed in 2002 at the north end of downtown. Construction of the cathedral marked a coming of age of the Catholic, heavily Latino community. There are numerous Catholic churches and parishes throughout the city.
The Los Angeles California Temple, the second largest temple operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is on Santa Monica Boulevard in the Westwood district of Los Angeles. Dedicated in 1956, it was the first Mormon temple built in California and it was the largest in the world when completed. The grounds includes a visitors' center open to the public, the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center, also open to the public, and the headquarters for the Los Angeles mission.
With 621,000 Jews in the metropolitan area (490,000 in city proper), the region has the American Jews third largest population of Jews in the United States. Many synagogues of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist movements can be found throughout the city. Most are located in the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles. The area in West Los Angeles around Fairfax and Pico Boulevards contains a large number of Orthodox Jews. The Breed Street Shul in East Los Angeles, built in 1923, was the largest synagogue west of Chicago in its early decades. (It is no longer a sacred space and is being converted to a museum and community center.) The Kabbalah Centre, devoted to one line of Jewish mysticism, is also in the city.
Because of Los Angeles' large multi-ethnic population, a wide variety of faiths are practiced, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Bahá'í, various Eastern Orthodox Churches, Sufism and others. Immigrants from Asia for example, have formed a number of significant Buddhist congregations making the city home to the greatest variety of Buddhists in the world.
The major daily newspaper in the area is the Los Angeles Times; La Opinión is the city's major Spanish-language paper. Investor's Business Daily is distributed from its L.A. corporate offices, which are headquartered in Playa Del Rey. There are also a number of smaller regional newspapers, alternative weeklies and magazines, including the Daily News (which focuses coverage on the San Fernando Valley), LA Weekly, Los Angeles CityBeat, L.A. Record (which focuses coverage on the music scene in the Greater Los Angeles area), Los Angeles magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles Daily Journal (legal industry paper), The Hollywood Reporter and Variety (entertainment industry papers), and Los Angeles Downtown News. In addition to the English- and Spanish-language papers, numerous local periodicals serve immigrant communities in their native languages, including Armenian, Korean, Persian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Many cities adjacent to Los Angeles also have their own daily newspapers whose coverage and availability overlaps into certain Los Angeles neighborhoods. Examples include The Daily Breeze (serving the South Bay), and The Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Los Angeles and New York City are the only two media markets to have all seven VHF allocations possible assigned to them.
The city's first television station (and the first in California) was KTLA, which began broadcasting on January 22, 1947. The major network-affiliated television stations in this city are KABC-TV 7 (ABC), KCBS 2 (CBS), KNBC 4 (NBC), KTTV 11 (FOX), KTLA 5 (The CW), and KCOP-TV 13 (MyNetworkTV), and KPXN 30 (i). There are also three PBS stations in the area, including KCET 28, KOCE-TV 50, and KLCS 58. World TV operates on two channels, KNET-LP 25 and KSFV-LP 6. There are also several Spanish-language television networks, including KMEX-TV 34 (Univision), KFTR 46 (TeleFutura), KVEA 52 (Telemundo), and KAZA 54 (Azteca América). KTBN 40 (Trinity Broadcasting Network), is a religious station in the area.
Several independent television stations also operate in the area, including KCAL-TV 9 (owned by CBS Corporation), KSCI 18 (focuses primarily on Asian language programming), KWHY-TV 22 (Spanish-language), KNLA-LP 27 (Spanish-language), KSMV-LP 33 (variety)—a low power relay of Ventura-based KJLA 57—KPAL-LP 38, KXLA 44, KDOC-TV 56 (classic programming and local sports), KJLA 57 (variety), and KRCA 62 (Spanish-language).
There was a time when Los Angeles boasted two NFL teams, the Rams and the Raiders. Both left the city in 1995, with the Rams moving to St. Louis and the Raiders heading back to Oakland. Los Angeles is the second-largest city and television market in the United States, but has no NFL team (see List of television stations in North America by media market). Prior to 1995, the Rams called Memorial Coliseum (1946-1979) and Anaheim Stadium (1980-1994) home; and the Raiders played their home games at Memorial Coliseum from 1982 to 1994.
Since the franchise's departures the NFL as an organization, and individual NFL owners, have attempted to relocate a team to the city. Immediately following the 1995 NFL season, Seattle Seahawks owner Ken Behring went as far as packing up moving vans to start play in the Rose Bowl under a new team name and logo for the 1996 season. The State of Washington filed a law suit to successfully prevent the move. In 2003, then NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue indicated L.A. would get a new expansion team, a thirty-third franchise, after the choice of Houston over L.A. in the 2002 league expansion round. When the New Orleans Saints were displaced from the Superdome by Hurricane Katrina media outlets reported the NFL was planning to move the team to Los Angeles permanently. Despite these efforts, and the failure to build a new stadium for an NFL team, L.A. is still expected to return to the league through expansion or relocation.
Los Angeles has twice played host to the summer Olympic Games, in 1932 and in 1984. When the tenth Olympic Games were hosted in 1932, the former 10th Street was renamed Olympic Blvd. Super Bowls I and VII were also held in the city as well as soccer's international World Cup in 1994.
Los Angeles also boasts a number of sports venues, including Staples Center, a sports and entertainment complex that also hosts concerts and awards shows such as the Grammys. Staples Center also serves as the home arena for the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Avengers of the AFL.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polices the city of Los Angeles, but the city also maintains four specialized police agencies; The Office of Public Safety, within the General Services Department (which is responsible for security and law enforcement services at city facilities, including City Hall, city parks and libraries, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Convention Center), the Port Police, within the Harbor Department (which is responsible for land, air and sea law enforcement services at the Port of Los Angeles), the Los Angeles City Schools Police department which handles law enforcement for all city schools, and the Airport Police, within the Los Angeles World Airports Department (which is responsible for law enforcement services at all four city-owned airports, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), LA/Palmdale Regional Airport (PMD), and Van Nuys Airport (VNY), (the busiest general aviation airport in the country).
The councils cover districts which are not necessarily identical to the traditional neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Almost ninety neighborhood councils (NCs) are certified and all "stakeholders" — meaning anyone who lives, works or owns property in a neighborhood — may vote for members of the councils' governing bodies. Some council bylaws allow other people with a stake in the community to cast ballots as well.
The councils are official government bodies and so their governing bodies and committees must abide by California's Brown Act, which governs the meetings of deliberative assemblies.
The first notable concern of the neighborhood councils collectively was the opposition by some of them in March 2004 to an 18% increase in water rates by the city's Department of Water and Power. This led the City Council to approve only a limited increase pending independent review. More recently, some of the councils petitioned the City Council in summer 2006 to allow them to introduce ideas for legislative action, but the City Council put off a decision.
The neighborhood councils have been allocated $50,000 each for administration, outreach and approved neighborhood projects.
Los Angeles has been experiencing significant decline in crime since the mid-1990s, and hit a record low in 2007, with 392 homicides. The LAPD makes live crime statistics available on the LAPD crimestats and epolice web site
Current mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.
According to a May 2001 Drug Threat Assessment by the National Drug Intelligence Center, Los Angeles County is home to 152,000 gang members organized into 1,350 gangs. Among the most infamous are the 18th Street, Mara Salvatrucha, Crips, Bloods, and the Surenos street gangs. This has led to the city being referred to as the "Gang Capital of America.
There are three public universities located within the city limits: California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Private colleges in the city include the American Film Institute Conservatory, Alliant International University, American InterContinental University, American Jewish University, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy - Los Angeles campus, Antioch University's Los Angeles campus, Art Center College of Design (Art Center), Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Los Angeles campus (FIDM), Los Angeles Film School, Loyola Marymount University (LMU is also the parent university of Loyola Law School located in Los Angeles), Mount St. Mary's College, National University of California, New York Film Academy in Universal City, CA, Occidental College ("Oxy"), Otis College of Art and Design (Otis), Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Southwestern Law School, and University of Southern California (USC).
The community college system consists of nine campuses governed by the trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District: East Los Angeles College (ELAC), Los Angeles City College (LACC), Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and West Los Angeles College.
Los Angeles Unified School District serves almost all of the city of Los Angeles, as well as several surrounding communities, with a student population over 800,000. After Proposition 13 was approved in 1978, urban school districts had considerable trouble with funding. LAUSD has become known for its underfunded, overcrowded and poorly maintained campuses, although its 162 Magnet schools help compete with local private schools. Several small sections of Los Angeles are in the Las Virgenes Unified School District. Los Angeles County Office of Education operates the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. The Los Angeles Public Library system operates 72 public libraries in the city.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other agencies operate an extensive system of bus lines, as well as subway and light rail lines across Los Angeles County, with a combined daily ridership of 1.7 million. The majority of this (1.4 million) is taken up by the city's bus system, the second busiest in the country. The subway and light rail combined average the remaining roughly 319,000 boardings per weekday. Altogether, public transit ridership is much lower than other large cities, with 11% of Los Angeles commuters riding public transportation.
The rail system includes the Red and Purple subway lines, as well as the Gold, Blue, and Green light rail lines. The Metro Rapid buses are a bus rapid transit program with stops and frequency similar those of a light rail.
The main Los Angeles airport is Los Angeles International Airport . The fifth busiest commercial airport in the world and the third busiest in the United States, LAX handled over 61 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo in 2006.
Other major nearby commercial airports include:
The world's third busiest general-aviation airport is also located in Los Angeles, Van Nuys Airport .
The Port of Los Angeles is located in San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood, approximately 20 miles (30 km) south of Downtown. Also called Los Angeles Harbor and WORLDPORT LA, the port complex occupies 7,500 acres (30 km²) of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront. It adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach.
The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach together make up the Los Angeles – Long Beach Harbor. There are also smaller, non-industrial harbors along L.A.'s coastline. Safety is provided at the only beach controlled by Los Angeles City by the highly trained Los Angeles City Lifeguards
Los Angeles has 25 sister cities, ranked by year joined: