Los Angeles History
Before it was a state, California
was home to many Native Americans. These natives made their
home near rivers and lived in harmony for thousands of years.
Then Rodríguez Cabrillo explored the California area
and told the Spanish about California who arrived soon after
The beginning of present-day Los Angeles dates back to September
4, 1781 when Spanish colonists arrived
and gave it the name “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de Los
Angeles del Río de Porciúncula,” or “The
Village of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River."
To get a taste of California’s history, pay a visit to one
of the local missions that include the San Fernando Rey de España
Mission that was founded on September 8, 1797 and San Gabriel Arcángel
Mission that was founded on September 8, 1771. There are 21 missions
in all that line a path called the El Camino Real, “The Royal
Spain ruled California until 1822, and began to populate the region
with settlers from Mexico. Then Mexico became its ruler until the
Americans took control and it became a territory in 1848.
On September 9, 1850, California became the 31st state to join
the Union. Since then it has grown to become the most populated
state in the U.S., and with close to 4 million residents in the
city, and 18 million in the metropolitan area, Los Angeles is the
second largest city in the country. Although people complain about
the high living expenses, and how owning a home is almost unattainable,
people continue to flock here in droves.
But as with any large city, Los Angeles has also had dark periods
of history. In 1965, residents revolted against police brutality,
harassment, injustice, and inequity. The Watts Riots resulted in
about 500 National Guardsmen working to restore order. In the end,
34 people were dead, a thousand were injured, and a city and its
people were hurt.
The violence returned on April 29, 1992, when a jury declared 10
white police officers “not guilty” of beating Rodney
King, Jr. The attack was caught on video camera and shown around
the world, and residents were in disbelief over the verdict.
Soon after the verdict was heard, Reginald Denny, a white truck
driver was dragged from his cab and severely beaten. Then three
days of chaos and violence filled the streets of South Central Los
Angeles. Strong racial tensions had erupted and violence was everywhere.
Angelenos have since worked together to try to solve these problems
so that the city and its people can prosper, but the reminders of
these riots will always remain.
Natural disasters have also made their mark on Los Angeles. The
Northridge Earthquake struck on January 17, 1994 and devastated
the Los Angeles area. Freeways and houses collapsed, and once again,
Angelenos were reminded of the horrors of big earthquakes. But the
city was rebuilt and is back stronger than ever.