The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes thousands of years ago. A Gabrielino settlement in the area was called iyáangẚ (written Yang-na by the Spanish), meaning "poison oak place".
In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra directed the building of the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, the first mission in the area. On September 4, 1781, a group of forty-four settlers known as "Los Pobladores" founded the pueblo called "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula"; in English it is "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Porciúncula River". The Queen of Angels is an honorific of the Virgin Mary. Two-thirds of the settlers were mestizo or mulatto with a mixture of African, indigenous and European ancestry. 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 capital. 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.
Railroads arrived with the completion of the Southern Pacific line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil was discovered in 1892, and by 1923, the discoveries had helped California become the country's largest oil producer, accounting for about one-quarter of the world's petroleum output.
In 1910, not only had the city of Los Angeles annexed Hollywood, but there were already at least 10 movie companies operating in the city. By 1921, more than 80 percent of the world's film industry was concentrated in L.A. The money generated by the industry kept the city insulated from much of the economic pain suffered by the rest of the country during the Great Depression. By 1930, the population surpassed one million. In 1932, the city hosted the Summer Olympics.
In 1984, the city hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the second time. Despite being boycotted by 14 Communist countries, the 1984 Olympics became more financially successful than any previous, and the second Olympics to turn a profit until then – the other, according to an analysis of contemporary newspaper reports, being the 1932 Summer Olympics, also held in Los Angeles.
Racial tensions erupted on April 29, 1992, with the acquittal by a Simi Valley jury of the police officers captured on videotape beating Rodney King, culminating in large-scale riots. In 1994, the 6.7 Northridge earthquake shook the city, causing $12.5 billion in damage and 72 deaths. The century ended with the Rampart scandal, one of the most extensive documented cases of police misconduct in American history.
In 2002, voters defeated efforts by the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood to secede from the city.
Los Angeles is irregularly shaped and covers a total area of 502.7 square miles (1,302 km2), comprising 468.7 square miles (1,214 km2) of land and 34.0 square miles (88 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).
The average annual temperature in downtown is 66 °F (19 °C): 75 °F (24 °C) during the day and 57 °F (14 °C) at night. In the coldest month, January, the temperature typically ranges from 59 to 73 °F (15 to 23 °C) during the day and 45 to 55 °F (7 to 13 °C) at night. In the warmest month – August – the temperature typically ranges from 79 to 90 °F (26 to 32 °C) during the day and around 64 °F (18 °C) at night.
Temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on a dozen or so days in the year, from one day a month in April, May, June and November to three days a month in July, August, October and to five days in September. Temperatures are subject to substantial daily swings; in inland areas the difference between the average daily low and the average daily high is over 30 Fahrenheit (16 Celsius) degrees. The average annual temperature of the sea is 63 °F (17 °C), from 58 °F (14 °C) in January to 68 °F (20 °C) in August. Hours of sunshine total more than 3,000 per year, from an average of 7 hours of sunshine per day in December to an average of 12 in July.
The Los Angeles area is also subject to phenomena typical of a microclimate, causing extreme variations in temperature in close physical proximity to each other. For instance, the average July maximum temperature at the Santa Monica Pier is 75 °F (24 °C) whereas it is 95 °F (35 °C) in Canoga Park. The city, like much of the southern California coast, is subject to a late spring/early summer weather phenomenon called "June Gloom." This involves overcast or foggy skies in the morning which yield to sun by early afternoon.
Downtown Los Angeles averages 15.14 inches (384.6 mm) of precipitation annually, which mainly occurs during the winter and spring (November through April), generally in the form of moderate rain showers, but often as heavy rainfall and thunderstorms during winter storms. The coast gets slightly less rainfall, while the mountains get slightly more. However the San Fernando Valley Region of Los Angeles can get between 16 and 20 inches (410 and 510 mm) of rain per year. Years of average rainfall are rare; the usual pattern is bimodal, with a short string of dry years (perhaps 7–8 inches or 180–200 millimetres) followed by one or two wet years that make up the average. Snowfall is extremely rare in the city basin, but the mountains within city limits typically receive snowfall every winter. The greatest snowfall recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2 inches (5 cm) in 1932. The highest recorded temperature in downtown Los Angeles is 113 °F (45 °C) on September 27, 2010 and the lowest recorded temperature is 24 °F (−4 °C) on December 22, 1944.
Climate data for Los Angeles (USC, Downtown), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1877–present
A Gabrielino settlement in the area was called iyáangẚ (written Yang-na by the Spanish), which has been translated as "poison oak place".Yang-na has also been translated as "the valley of smoke." 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.
The smog season lasts from May to October. Unlike other large cities that rely on rain to clear smog, Los Angeles gets only 15 inches (380 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. Smog is expected to continue to drop in the coming years due to aggressive steps to reduce it, which include electric and hybrid cars, improvements in mass transit, and other measures.
The number of Stage 1 smog alerts in Los Angeles 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. The city met its goal of providing 20 percent of the city's power from renewable sources in 2010.
The American Lung Association's 2013 survey ranks the metro area as having the nation's worst smog, and fourth in both short term and year round pollution amounts.
Map of Los Angeles County showing percentage of population self-identified as Mexican in ancestry or national origin by census tracts. Heaviest concentrations are in East L.A, Echo Lake/Silver Lake, South Central, San Fernando and San Pedro/Wilmington.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Los Angeles had a population of 3,792,621. The population density was 7,544.6 people per square mile (2,913.0/km²). The Census reported that 3,708,020 people (97.8% of the population) lived in households, 58,186 (1.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 26,415 (0.7%) were institutionalized.
The age distribution was 874,525 people (23.1%) under 18, 434,478 people (11.5%) from 18 to 24, 1,209,367 people (31.9%) from 25 to 44, 877,555 people (23.1%) from 45 to 64, and 396,696 people (10.5%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 34.1 years. For every 100 females there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.6 males.
There were 1,413,995 housing units—up from 1,298,350 during 2005–2009—at an average density of 2,812.8 households per square mile (1,086.0/km²), of which 503,863 (38.2%) were owner-occupied, and 814,305 (61.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.1%. 1,535,444 people (40.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,172,576 people (57.3%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Los Angeles had a median household income of $49,745, with 21.2% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
Non-Hispanic whites were 28.7% of the population in 2010, compared to 86.3% in 1940.Mexicans make up the largest ethnic group of Latinos at 31.9% of Los Angeles' population, followed by Salvadorans (6.0%) and Guatemalans (3.6%). The Latino population is spread throughout the city of Los Angeles and its metropolitan area but it is most heavily concentrated in the East Los Angeles region, which has a long established Mexican American and Central American community.
The largest Asian ethnic groups are Filipinos (3.2%) and Koreans (2.9%), which have their own established ethnic enclaves−Koreatown in the Wilshire Center and Historic Filipinotown. Chinese people, which make up 1.8% of Los Angeles' population, reside mostly outside of Los Angeles city limits and rather in the San Gabriel Valley of eastern Los Angeles County, but make a sizable presence in the city, notably in Chinatown. Chinatown and Thaitown are also home to many Thais and Cambodians, which make up 0.3% and 0.1% of Los Angeles' population, respectively. Japanese comprise 0.9% of L.A.'s population, and have an established Little Tokyo in the city's downtown, and another significant community of Japanese Americans is located in the Sawtelle district of West Los Angeles. Vietnamese make up 0.5% of Los Angeles' population. Indians make up 0.9% of the city's population.
African Americans have the largest establishment in South Los Angeles, including the industrial neighborhoods of Crenshaw and Watts. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported city's population as 17.9% black, 61.1% non-Hispanic white and 17.1% Hispanic. However, since the 1980s, there has been a large influx of immigration from Mexico and Central America which have outnumbered the blacks in South Los Angeles. South Los Angeles, as well as neighboring communities such as the city of Compton that were home to predominant African American populations are now transforming into Hispanic communities.
Pacific Islanders make up 0.1% of Los Angeles' population, and are concentrated in southwestern Los Angeles County, namely in Long Beach and Carson, which are home to thousands of Samoan Americans.
The economy of Los Angeles is driven by international trade, entertainment (television, motion pictures, video games, recorded music), aerospace, technology, petroleum, fashion, apparel, and tourism. Los Angeles is also the largest manufacturing center in the western United States. The contiguous ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together comprise the fifth-busiest port in the world and the most significant port in the Western Hemisphere and is vital to trade within the Pacific Rim. Other significant industries include media production, finance, telecommunications, law, healthcare, and transportation.
Los Angeles is often billed as the "Creative Capital of the World," due to the fact that one in every six of its residents works in a creative industry. According to the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, "there are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any time in the history of civilization."
Los Angeles is home to Hollywood, globally recognized as the epicenter of the motion picture industry. A testament to its preeminence in film, the city plays host to the annual Academy Awards, the oldest and one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world. Finally, Los Angeles is home to the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the oldest film school in the United States.
The Los Angeles metro area include additional major league teams. The Los Angeles Galaxy and Club Deportivo Chivas USA of Major League Soccer are based in Carson. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Major League Baseball and the Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League are in the Los Angeles media market and are based in Anaheim in Orange County. The Angels began as an expansion franchise team in Los Angeles in 1961 before moving to Anaheim in 1966. The Ducks, who have played in Anaheim since their inception as an expansion team in 1993, were originally owned by Disney. The team adopted its current name in 2006, a year after Disney sold the franchise.
Los Angeles is the second-largest television market in the United States but has no NFL team. At one time Los Angeles area had 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 their original home of Oakland. Prior to 1995, the Rams called Memorial Coliseum home (1946–1979) and the Raiders played their home games at Memorial Coliseum from 1982 to 1994.
Since the franchises' departures, the NFL and individual NFL owners have attempted to relocate a team to the city. Following the 1995 NFL season, the Seattle Seahawks planned to play in the Rose Bowl under a new team name and logo for the 1996 season, but the State of Washington filed a lawsuit to prevent the move. Despite the failure to build a new stadium for an NFL team, Los Angeles is still expected to return to the league through expansion or relocation. On August 9, 2011, the LA City Council approved plans to build Farmers Field, which may become home to an NFL team in the future.
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 multiple FIFA World Cup games in 1994 including the final. Los Angeles will host the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2015.
Los Angeles boasts a number of sports venues, including Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Coliseum, The Forum, the StubHub Center, and the Staples Center. 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, and the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL. It was also home to the Los Angeles Avengers of the original AFL, a team that did not participate in that league's ongoing revival.
The Charter of the City of Los Angeles ratified by voters in 1999 created a system of advisory neighborhood councils that would represent the diversity of stakeholders, defined as those who live, work or own property in the neighborhood. The neighborhood councils are relatively autonomous and spontaneous in that they identify their own boundaries, establish their own bylaws, and elect their own officers. There are currently about 90 neighborhood councils.
Residents of Los Angeles elect supervisors for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th supervisorial districts. They also elect the 45th, 46th, 50th, 51st, 52nd, 54th, 59th, 64th, and 70th district State Assemblymen, the 18th, 27th, 30th, and 35th district State Senators, and the 28th, 29th, 30th, 33rd, 37th, and 44th district U.S. Representatives.
The LAPD on May Day 2006 in front of the new Caltrans District 7 Headquarters
Like most American cities, Los Angeles has been experiencing significant decline in crime since the mid-1990s, and reached a 50-year low in 2009 with 314 homicides. This is a rate of 7.85 per 100,000 population—a major decrease from 1993, when the all-time high homicide rate of over 21.1 per 100,000 was reported for the year. This included 15 officer-involved shootings. One shooting led to the death of a SWAT team member, Randal Simmons, the first in LAPD's history. Los Angeles in the year of 2013 totaled 251 murders, a decrease of 16 percent from the previous year. Police speculate that the drop resulted from a number of factors, including young people spending more time online.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the city is home to 45,000 gang members, organized into 450 gangs. Among them are the Crips and Bloods, which are both African American street gangs that originated in South Los Angeles. Latino street gangs such as the Sureños, a Mexican American street gang, and Mara Salvatrucha, which has mainly members of Salvadoran descent, all originated in Los Angeles. The 18th Street has a predominately Latino membership but is multiethnic. This has led to the city being referred to as the "Gang Capital of America".
Los Angeles and New York City are the only two media markets to have seven VHF allocations assigned to them.
The city has major broadcast channels as well as three PBS stations. World TV operates on two channels and the area has several Spanish-language television networks. KTBN 40 is the flagship station of the religious Trinity Broadcasting Network, based out of Santa Ana. A variety of independent television stations also operate in the area.
The city and the rest of the Los Angeles metropolitan area are served by an extensive network of freeways and highways. The Texas Transportation Institute, which publishes an annual Urban Mobility Report, ranked Los Angeles road traffic as the most congested in the United States in 2005 as measured by annual delay per traveler. The average traveler in Los Angeles experienced 72 hours of traffic delay per year according to the study. Los Angeles was followed by San Francisco/Oakland, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, (each with 60 hours of delay). Despite the congestion in the city, the mean travel time for commuters in Los Angeles is shorter than other major cities, including New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago. Los Angeles' mean travel time for work commutes in 2006 was 29.2 minutes, similar to those of San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The LA 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 monthly ridership (measured in individual boardings) of 38.8 million as of September, 2011. The majority of this (30.5 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 8.2 million boardings per month. In 2005, 10.2% of Los Angeles commuters rode some form of public transportation.
Besides the rail service provided by Metrolink and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles is served by inter-city passenger trains from Amtrak. The main rail station in the city is Union Station just north of Downtown.
The Theme Building at LAX
The main Los Angeles airport is Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX, ICAO: KLAX), commonly referred to by its airport code, LAX. The sixth busiest commercial airport in the world and the third busiest in the United States, LAX handled over 66 million passengers and close to 2 million tons of cargo in 2013.
The Port of Los Angeles is located in San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood, approximately 20 miles (32 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. Together, both ports are the fifth busiest container port in the world, with a trade volume of over 14.2 million TEU's in 2008. Singly, the Port of Los Angeles is the busiest container port in the United States and the largest cruise ship center on the West Coast of the United States – The Port of Los Angeles' World Cruise Center served about 800,000 passengers in 2009.