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Los Angeles.

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 in 1542.

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 Highway.”

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.


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