Historical Timeline of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States, the most populous city in the state of California, and the county seat of Los Angeles County. Situated in Southern California, Los Angeles is known for its mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, sprawling metropolis, and as a major center of the American entertainment industry. It lies in a large coastal basin surrounded on three sides by mountains reaching up to and over 10,000 feet.

When compared to other major world cities, Los Angeles is relatively young, having been incorporated only in 1850. The growth rate, however, has been astonishing. Today, the city is the focal point of the larger Los Angeles metropolitan area and the Greater Los Angeles Area region, which contain 13 million and over 18 million people, respectively, as of 2010, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world as well as the second-largest in the United States. Los Angeles is also the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated county in the United States.

The following historical timeline sheds some light on how a small peublo of just a few dozen people could grow to became one of the largest, most successful cities in the world. Be sure to follow the links to get a deeper understanding of Los Angeles' most significant historical events.


(1850)^* - This is an old photograph of an accurate model of Los Angeles as it appeared in 1850. Looking northeast, the layout of the new city can clearly be seen with the Los Angeles Plaza located in the lower left-center. The large white structure to the left of the Plaza is the Old Plaza Church. The two streets running from bottom of photo to the Plaza are Main Street on the left and Los Angeles Street on the right. Alameda Street runs from the lower right corner diagonally toward the lower center of photo. The L.A. River can be seen running from the lower-right diagonally to the center of the photo, turns left and disappears behind the mountain. At that point the Arroyo Seco can be seen at its confluence with the LA River. The tall majestic San Gabriel Mountains stand in the far background. Vineyards blanket the area between the City and the L.A. River (lower right). The large dark spot in the lower-right of the photo is El Aliso, the historic landmark of the indigenous Tongva people who once lived in the Indian Village of Yangna at that location, adjacent to the Los Angeles River.  


Historical Timeline of Los Angeles

Circa 38,000 BC - Los Angeles has been pulling in visitors for tens of thousands of years, as a future fossil is trapped inside what are now the historical La Brea Tar Pits.

Circa 8000 BC - Chumash people settle the Los Angeles basin.

Circa 300 BC - The Tataviam (later Fernandeno) people inhabit what is now the San Fernando Valley.

Circa 500 AD - Tongva Indians settle in the Los Angeles basin. Some accounts say they displaced the Chumash. By the 16th century, the region’s main village will be called Yang-Na, near present-day Los Angeles City Hall .

1542 - Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo navigates the coast of California. He calls present day San Pedro Bay the “Bay of Smokes.” 

1602 - Sebastian Vizcaino of Spain explores the California coast and meets some of the locals.

1769 - Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola explores the area to open up a land route to the port of Monterey and establishes the first Spanish settlement in the area. The settlers name the local river Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula (River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula aka Los Angeles River).

1771 - Father Junipero Serra establishes the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, later moved to the present-day city of San Gabriel.

1781 - A group of 11 families comprising 44 Mexicans settles by the river. Felipe de Neve, Governor of Spanish California, names the settlement El Pueblo Sobre el Rio de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula. The name is shortened rather quickly to Los Angeles River.

1797 - Father Fermin Lasuen founds Mission San Fernando, named for King Ferdinand of Spain. It later becomes home to the largest adobe structure in California, 30,000 grape vines and 21,000 head of livestock.

1805 - The first American trading ship arrives at San Pedro Bay, south of the Pueblo.

1821 - Mexico achieves independence from Spain.

1841 - History of Los Angeles’ first census shows a population of 141.

1842 - California’s first discovery of gold is made at Placerita Canyon, near Mission San Fernando, prompting LA’s first population boom.

1846 - Pio Pico is sworn in as governor of the California, in Los Angeles. Out-of-towners begin to mispronounce his name (it’s PEE-koh).

1847 - Battle of Rio San Gabriel. The United States takes control of Los Angeles. Treaty of Cahuenga is signed in the pass (Cauhenga Pass) between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.  

1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico formally cedes California to the United States, and all residents are made U.S. citizens.

1849 - That other California Gold Rush. Settlers flood the state, creating great demand for beef from Los Angeles-area ranchos.

1850 - Los Angeles is incorporated as a municipality, and California becomes the 30th state in the union.

1852 - The Gilmore Adobe is built at the site of the current Original Farmers Market, where it still stands.

1854 - The first Jewish services in history of Los Angeles are held.

1855 - Los Angeles gets its first schoolhouse.

1865 - Civil War ends. African Americans begin heading to Los Angeles in significant numbers.

1865 - Los Angeles’ first college, St. Vincent's (now Loyola Marymount University), is established. Today Los Angeles County has 42 colleges and universities.

1866 - Los Angeles Town Square is established. Its name would change five times (La Plaza Abaja, St. Vincent Park, Los Angeles Park, 6th Street Park, and Central Park) before finally becoming Pershing Square in 1918.

1867 - The beginning of the famous nighttime view of Los Angeles, with the arrival of streetlights.

1869 - Southern California’s first railroad is constructed, connecting Downtown Los Angeles with San Pedro Bay, 21 miles away.

1870 - Whites outnumber Hispanics and Native Americans for the first time in Los Angeles.

1871 - First rail link established between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

1871 - Isaac Newton Van Nuys buys 60,000 acres of land in the southern San Fernando Valley.  Click HERE to see more in Early Views of the San Fernando Valley

1872 - Ventura County is established, ceded from a section of northwest Los Angeles County.

1872 - The Los Angeles branch of the First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church is established.

1873 - Hired by Southern Pacific rail baron Henry Huntington, journalist Charles Nordhoff writes the book California for Health, Pleasure and Residence. Today a street bears his name in the San Fernando Valley.

1873 - The city’s first synagogue in history is built - B'nai B'rith Temple.

1873 - The first trolley line in the city opens.

1873 - The seedless navel orange is introduced to California from Brazil.

1874 - Los Angeles gets its First Streetcar. It’s horse-drawn. The First Electrified Streetcars will debut in 1887.

1876 - Cathedral of St. Vibiana opens.

1877 - Thanks to new refrigerated boxcar technology, California oranges cause a sensation in St. Louis. Agriculture begins to replace ranching as the mainstay of the local economy.

1878 - Los Angeles County Bar Association is established.

1880s - Citrus, wine grapes and other fruits and vegetables are grown in the Los Angeles area. The area of present-day Beverly Hills is largely bean fields, Hollywood is fig orchards.

1880 - Founding of the University of Southern California. Its sports teams are known as the Methodists or the Wesleyans until 1912, when a columnist wrote that they “fought like Trojans.” The name sticks.

1881 - The Los Angeles Times debuts as the Los Angeles Daily Times.

1881 - The Southern Pacific Railroad links Los Angeles directly with the eastern United States for the first time.  Transcontinental

1881 - Los Angeles has its first recorded snowfall.

1880s - Westlake Park is built, later renamed MacArthur Park after the World War II general.

1883 - Los Angeles gets its First Conservatory of Music.

1885 - The Santa Fe Railroad opens a second line linking Los Angeles with the rest of the nation.  2nd Transcontinental

1886 - Harvey Henderson Wilcox purchases 160 acres of land west of the Cahuenga Pass for a planned residential community. He names it Hollywood, after the estate of an acquaintance of his wife, Daeida.  Click HERE to see more Early Views of Hollywood (1850 – 1920)

1886 - The price of a train ticket between Kansas City and Los Angeles falls to one dollar, prompting another population boom.

1889 - USC and St. Vincent’s College play the first college football game in Los Angeles.

1890 - Los Angeles population: 50,000 (a new record in the history of LA).

1890 - The official flag of Los Angeles is designed.

1892 - Edward Doheny discovers oil at “Greasy Gulch,“ near Westlake Park. Soon oil is discovered all over the Los Angeles area.

1896 - Colonel J. Griffith donates nearly five square miles of land near his ranch to the people of Los Angeles. Today, Griffith Park is 4,017 acres of mountains, dales and flatlands between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley, the largest urban park in the United States.

1897 – Five hundred oil wells are operating within Los Angeles. California is the third-largest oil-producing state in America.

1897 - A nine-mile wooden cycleway called the California Cycleway is built connecting Downtown Los Angeles with Pasadena along the riverbed the Arroyo Seco. The cycleway eventually fails, but the right of way remains.

1897 - The First Automobile takes to the streets of Los Angeles.

1898 - Los Angeles gets a symphony orchestra, the fifth in the nation.

1899 - First Breakwater constructed at the Port of Los Angeles, on San Pedro Bay.

1900 - Los Angeles population: 102,479, which ranks it 36th in the nation.

1900 - Early Japanese immigrants arrive in Los Angeles.

1901 - Angels Flight, a funicular up Bunker Hill in Downtown Los Angeles, opens.

1902 - The First Rose Bowl Game is played. Michigan defeats Stanford.

1903 - The Los Angeles Examiner (later the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner) is founded by William Randolph Hearst.

1904 - Los Angeles establishes the first Playground Department in the United States.

1905 - Tobacco magnate turned real estate developer Abbot Kinney carves out canals near the beach, naming the district the Venice of America. Six of those canals still exist.

1906 - The first fossils are excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits.

1907 - The Southwest Museum of the American Indian opens. Today it has one of the most important collections of Native American art and artifacts in the United States, covering 2,000 years.

1908 - Philippe's Restaurant opens. It will later invent the French dip roast beef sandwich. See also: Cole's (no one knows for sure which restaurant actually gets credit for creating the now-famous menu item).

1909 - Los Angeles becomes the first large city in the nation to adopt zoning laws to distinguish between commercial and residential properties.

1910 - Los Angeles population: 319,198, 17th in the nation.

1910 – D.W. Griffith becomes the first director to shoot film in Los Angeles. His acting company includes Lionel Barrymore, Lillian Gish and Mary Pickford.

1910 - Dominguez Field in Los Angeles is host to the world’s first air meet.

1910 - Residents of the municipality of Hollywood vote to join the city of Los Angeles, partially to have access to Los Angeles’ water rights.

1911 - The first Hollywood production company, Nestor Film Company opens in an abandoned tavern. Soon, neighbors erect signs reading, “No dogs, no actors.”

1911-1912 – An 8,500-foot breakwater is completed at the port of Los Angeles, and shipping channels are widened.

1912 - The area around First Street and Central Avenue becomes the gateway to a famous African-American corridor along Central Avenue, which swells in population in the 1920s.

1912 - Los Angeles gets its first gas station (Early LA Gas Stations).

1913 - Cecil B. de Mille shoots the first Hollywood movie, Squaw Man, in a stuido converted from an Old Barn.

1913 - The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County opens. It remains the largest museum of its kind in the western United States.

1913 - Los Angeles’ first children’s and family camps are established, for recreation in the mountains.

1913 - After a saga of cinematic proportions, the Los Angeles Aqueduct is completed, carrying water from the Owens Valley, about 230 miles north of the city. At the opening ceremony, engineer William Mulholland proclaims “There it is. Take it.”

1913 - Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick becomes the first woman to parachute from an airplane, over Griffith Park. She later demonstrates parachuting techniques for the U.S. military.

1914 - The LA subdivision of Beverly Hills is incorporated as an independent city. From here on out, it’s all swimming pools, movie stars, Beverly Hills Cop and 90210.

1915 - Large parts of the San Fernando Valley are annexed to the city of Los Angeles. Further annexations will continue through 1965.

1915 - Carl Laemmle opens Universal Film Manufacturing Company (Universal Studios), the world’s largest motion picture production facility, near the Cahuenga Pass. He charges the public 25 cents to watch films being shot, including a boxed lunch.

1915 – D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation creates the film vocabulary that is known today, despite the controversy it generates. The film’s story seems to justify racial segregation and glorify the Ku Klux Klan.

1915 - Direct steamship service begins between Los Angeles and Japan.

1915 - There are 55,000 cars on the streets of Los Angeles.

1916 - The Jesse L. Lasky Company, a Hollywood film production house, merges with Adolph Zukor’s New York-based Famous Players to distribute films under Paramount Pictures’ star-ringed mountaintop.

1917 - Frank Lloyd Wright designs the Hollyhock House for heiress Aline Barnsdall. Today’s visitors can see the house at Barnsdall Art Park.

1917 - The first Forest Lawn Cemetery opens.

1918 - Brothers Sam, Jack, Harry and Albert Warner, immigrants from Poland via Pennsylvania, open Warner Bros. Studio on Sunset Boulevard.

1919 - Founding of the Southern Branch of the University of California, later University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The campus is on Vermont Avenue and enrolls some 1,500 students.

1920 – Eighty percent of the world’s films are shot in California, mostly in Hollywood.

1921 - Welder Simon Rodia (recently arrived from Italy) begins work on what will become the Watts Tower.

1921 - Amelia Earhart begins her aeronautic career with flying lessons in Los Angeles.

1923 - Robert Andrews Millikan of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) wins the first Nobel Prize for a Los Angeles-area institution, in Physics. Twenty-one more (so far) will follow in his footsteps including Linus Pauling and Richard Feynman.

1922 - Los Angeles’ first radio stations, KFI, KHJ and KNX, take to the air.

1922 – The first concerts are held at the Hollywood Bowl amphitheater, now the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and site of concerts by artists including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, the Beatles, Monty Python, Cher and world music of every stripe.

1923 - The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum opens.

1923 - Charismatic preacher Aimee Semple McPherson opens the Angelus Temple (seating 5,000) in Los Angeles’ Echo Park district. Her preaching incorporates speaking in tongues and demonstrations of faith healing.

1923 - A young cartoonist named Walt Disney arrives in Los Angeles with $40 in his pocket.

1923 – Bel-Air becomes a not-quite-gated community in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. It has been populated by movers and shakers ever since.

1924 - The Mulholland Highway (now Muholland Drive) opens on the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills. It remains one of America’s most beautiful drives.

1924 - Theater magnate Marcus Loew amalgamates Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Pictures into what will become Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM Studios). Hollywood’s wunderkind, Irving Thalberg, is head of production.

1924 - CBC Film Sales Corporation is renamed Columbia Pictures Corporation. The lady with the torch will soon be introducing Frank Capra films.

1924 - Los Angeles population tops one million.

1924 - Los Angeles gets its first opera company.

1925 - Los Angeles Central Library opens.

1925 - Fox Film Corporation and Twentieth Century Pictures merge to form Twentieth Century Fox. The next year, the studio acquires 300 acres of open land west of Beverly Hills for its production facilities.

1926 - The Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion is founded. Today it has the largest circulation of any Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, with more than 126,000 copies daily.

1926 - A 2,400-plus mile stretch of road connecting Los Angeles and Chicago is designated as U.S. Highway 66. Roadside architecture and American popular music have never been the same since.

1927 - Talkies arrive, with the first feature-length talking picture, The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, and Fox Movietone News, which will be regular feature in cinemas until 1963.

1927 - Grauman's Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Theatre) opens. Over the years, impresario Sid Grauman and his successors will invite dozens of top stars to leave their handprints and footprints in freshly poured cement out front.

1927 - Establishment of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, with actor Douglas Fairbanks as president. Oscar winners have been thanking the academy ever since.

1927 – Two hundred thousand people greet aviator Charles Lindbergh.

1928 - Los Angeles City Hall opens. Just the facts, ma’am: the tower, with its distinctive pyramid-shaped roof, later appears on the opening credits of the TV show Dragnet.

1928 - The first Academy Awards ceremony takes place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Wings, directed by William Wellman, wins best picture.

1928 - Walt Disney finds his first lasting success with the release of the animated talking picture Steamboat Willie, starring a mouse named Mickey.

1928 - The first NAACP convention in the west takes place on Central Avenue.

1929 - UCLA opens the first four buildings of its current campus in the Westwood district, including the Romanesque-style Royce Hall. Graduates of this campus will include James Dean and Heather Locklear.

1929 - Ross-Loos Medical Group of Temple Street becomes the first comprehensive medical care organization in the United States, serving employees of the Department of Water and Power and their families. Today it would be better known as a health maintenance organization (HMO).

1930 - The area of the original Pueblo of Los Angeles is renovated and opens as Olvera Street.

1930 - Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) opens. Today it is the world’s busiest in point-to-point passenger traffic and is fifth busiest overall.

1930 - The Greek Theatre, named because it was meant to replicate a Greek amphitheater, opens in Griffith Park.

1932 - Los Angeles hosts the games of the X Olympiad. Tenth Street is renamed Olympic Boulevard.

1933 - First publication of the African-American newspaper the Los Angeles Sentinel.

1934 - The Original Farmers Market opens at the corner of Third Street and Fairfax Avenue.

1935 - The Griffith Observatory opens in Griffith Park. From its perch on a promontory, one can view both the skies above and the city below.

1939 - Union Staion opens in Downtown Los Angeles. Its style combines Mission, Spanish Colonial and Streamline Moderne motifs, to dramatic effect. Los Angeles Chinatown moves to its present location to make way.

1939 - Raymond Chandler publishes The Big Sleep, the first of his detective novels set in Los Angeles.

1939 - MGM Studios takes viewers over the rainbow, with the release of The Wizard of Oz.

1940 - The Arroyo Seco Parkway opens on the right-of-way between Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, becoming the nation’s first controlled limited access highway (you may know it as a freeway). Today the LA area has 27 interconnecting freeways, and the East L.A. Interchange is the busiest in the world.

WWII - Shipbuilding becomes the primary business of the Port of Los Angeles, employing some 90,000 workers. One-third of U.S. warplanes are manufactured in Los Angeles.

1942 - Los Angeles gives the world its first parking meter.

1944 - Bing Crosby’s recording of “San Fernando Valley” reaches No. 1 on the charts, no doubt prompting plenty of GIs to move here after the war.

1944 - Peak of ridership of the Pacific Electric Railway (red car) streetcars, with 109 million riders on more than 1,150 miles of track in four counties.

1946 - The Cleveland Rams football team moves to Los Angeles and become the Los Angeles Rams. Under executive Pete Rozelle (later commissioner of the National Football League), the Rams will become the first team to capitalize on television.

1947 - The telephone area code 213 is assigned to Los Angeles.

1950 - Los Angeles population: 1,970,358, surpassing Detroit as fourth in the nation.

1950 – Sunset Boulevard is released and instantly becomes the definitive Hollywood film. Gloria Swanson headlines as the faded star Norma Desmond.

1953 - Completion of the “four level” interchange, the first of its kind, connecting the Hollywood, Pasadena and Harbor Freeways.

1954 - Oil magnate J. Paul Getty first opens a museum of his collections to the public.

1954 - Simon Rodia completes the Watts Towers.

1955 - Walt Disney moves to Los Angeles’ ritzy Bel Air district and proclaims his new Disneyland Park in nearby Anaheim as the "Happiest Place on Earth."

1956 - The Capitol Records Building in Hollywood, distinctively shaped like a stack of 45-rpm disks, becomes the first circular office tower.

1957 - Richard Knerr and Arthur "Spud" Melin of the Los Angeles-based toy company Wham-O create a durable plastic ring they call the Hula Hoop. It sells over 100 million in the next two years.

1958 - Television station KTLA becomes the first to use a news helicopter.

1958 - The former Brooklyn Dodgers play for the first time as the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the first Major League Baseball team west of Missouri.

1958 - USC establishes the first schools in the United States for Cinema-Television, Gerontology and Urban Planning & Development.

1959 - Los Angeles-based toy company Mattel debuts Barbie on March 9. That makes her a Pisces.

1960 - Los Angeles population: 2,479,015, surpassing Philadelphia as third in the nation. More than 6 million people live in Los Angeles County.

1960 - The Minneapolis Lakers basketball team moves to Los Angeles and is renamed the Los Angeles Lakers. Legendary Lakers will include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

1960 - The Hollywood Walk of Fame opens with a star dedicated to Joanne Woodward embedded in the sidewalk.

1960 - Los Angeles hosts the national convention of the Democratic Party at the LA Memorial Sports Arena. John F. Kennedy is nominated to run for president.

1961 – Cleopatra, starring Elizabeth Taylor, becomes the first film to break the $10 million mark in production budget, and Twentieth Century Fox sells off its back lot to pay for it. This is to become Century City, now home to office towers, hotels and shopping.

1961 - The Chouinard Art Institute and Los Angeles Conservatory of Music merge to form California Institute of the Arts, the first degree-granting school for visual and performing arts in the United States. CalArts alumni include directors Tim Burton and Sofia Coppola, Pixar chief John Lasseter and actors Don Cheadle, Ed Harris and David Hasselhoff.

1961 - The last of the Red Car trolleys ceases operation.

1962 - Dodger Stadium opens in Chavez Ravine. Many aficionados still call it the most beautiful stadium in baseball.

1962 - The space-age Theme Building opens as the centerpiece of Los Angeles International Airport.

1962 - Heeeeere’s Johnny! Johnny Carson becomes host of NBC’s The Tonight Show. Although the show is first broadcast from New York, it later moves to Los Angeles, and Carson becomes synonymous with the city, peppering his monologues with numerous LA-area references.

1964 - The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opens as the cornerstone of the Music Center of Los Angeles County. It is to serve as home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera and Music Center Dance, as well as several Oscar presentations.

1964 - The Whisky A Go Go opens. It will host musical acts including the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, Talking Heads, Oasis, Nirvana and Soundgarden.

1965 - The Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens. Today it is the largest art museum in the western United States, anchor of the Museum Corridor along Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile.

1965 - Restrictions are lifted on immigration from East Asia. Early days of Koreatown, along Wilshire Boulevard.

1965 - Dedication of Marina del Rey, the largest man-made pleasure boat harbor in the world. South of Venice, it is home to 6,000 private yachts.

1966 - Los Angeles Zoo opens in Griffith Park.

1966 - The Beach Boys release Good Vibrations, a No. 1 hit in the United States and UK and widely considered one of the most influential pop songs ever written.

1967 - Super Bowl I takes place at the historical Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

1967 - The Mark Taper Forum opens at the Music Center. It will be instrumental in the launch of successful new plays including Angels in America.

1967 - Opening of the Los Angeles Forum. The Los Angeles Kings hockey team plays its first games here.

1970 - Los Angeles’ first gay pride parade. Today it is the largest the United States; the parade and its festival draw more than 350,000 attendees annually.

1972 - The South Bay Bike Trail is constructed, linking Pacific Palisades with Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey and other beach cities, and turning the beach into even more of a recreation destination.

1973 - Tom Bradley becomes mayor of Los Angeles, the second African-American mayor of a major United States city. He is to serve as mayor for the next two decades.

1974 - The J. Paul Getty Museum moves to a recreated Roman villa on a hill overlooking the ocean in Malibu.

1974 - Nude sunbathing at Venice Beach gets national attention, before the Los Angeles City Council votes to outlaw it.

1975 - The George C. Page Museum opens adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits.

1975 – Jaws, a film by a young director named Steven Spielberg, inaugurates the age of the modern blockbuster.

1975 - Establishment of the Southern California Air Quality Management District. Air quality in the Los Angeles basin has improved steadily since, with ozone levels down to about one-third their 1975 levels.

1976 - Painting of the Great Wall of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, the world’s longest mural at 2,500 feet. Los Angeles is the mural capital of the world, with over 1,500 wall paintings around the city.

1978 - The Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area is established. At over 153,000 acres, it is the world’s largest urban national park.

1979 - The Museum of Contemporary Art is founded, with one of the most comprehensive collections of late-20th-century art in the United States. Its main gallery (1986) is on Grand Avenue, designed by Arata Isozaki. MOCA galleries also include the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo and MOCA West in West Hollywood.

1979 - The Laugh Factory opens on the Sunset Strip. Over the years, it will host every major North American standup comedian: Rodney Dangerfield, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Adam Sandler, Roseanne Barr and more.

1980 - Los Angeles population: 3,005,072, surpassing Chicago as second in the nation.

1981 - The California African American Museum opens in temporary headquarters in Exposition Park. It moved to its permanent site in 1984.

1982 - The Raiders professional football team moves to Los Angeles from Oakland, California.

1982 - Wolfgang Puck opens Spago on the Sunset Strip, inaugurating a new era of California Cuisine and making LA a city of foodies.

1982 - OUTFEST comes out, the first gay and lesbian film festival in the country, and the longest continuously running film festival in Los Angeles.

1982 – Fast Times at Ridgemont High, set at a fictional San Fernando Valley high school, makes stars of Sean Penn, Nicolas Cage and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

1982 - Legendary rock ‘n’ roller Frank Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit, like, record “Valley Girl.” It will become Zappa’s only top 40 hit.

1983 - Randy Newman releases “I Love L.A.,” which will become the city’s unofficial anthem. We love it!

1984 - Los Angeles becomes the first city in America with two telephone area codes, as the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys are designated as 818.

1984 - A new international terminal opens at LAX, named for Mayor Tom Bradley. Today, some 30 airlines operate out of this terminal.

1984 - Los Angeles becomes the only American city ever to host the Summer Olympic Games twice.

1984 - The Mazda Miata is designed in Los Angeles. In addition to Mazda, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo and the "Big Three" U.S. automobile manufacturers all have design centers in LA.

1986 - Running on Olympic fever, the first City of Los Angeles Marathon takes place. It is the largest first-time marathon, at nearly 11,000 people.

1987 - Pope John Paul II visits Los Angeles. His activities include meeting with communications industry leaders and celebrating two outdoor masses.

1987 - James Ellroy’s The Black Dahlia is published, the first of his series of Los Angeles novels, which also includes L.A. Confidential.

1988 - The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum opens.

1990 - U.S. Bank Tower opens. At 73 stories, it remains the tallest building on the West Coast.

1990 - When the Metro Blue Line connects Downtown to Long Beach, light-rail for commuters returns to the Los Angeles area. It will be joined by four other subway/rail lines and busways.

1991 - Lakers star Magic Johnson retires, announcing that he is HIV-positive, giving HIV/AIDS a new platform and making it clear that this disease can affect anyone.

1991 - The 310 area code comes into use for western, southern and eastern Los Angeles.

1992 - Esa-Pekka Salonen takes the baton as conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

1992 - Opening of the Japanese-American National Museum in Little Tokyo, the only museum in the United States telling the story of Japanese Americans.

1992- Jay Leno takes over as host of The Tonight Show. Jaywalking begins.

1993 - The Museum of Tolerance opens in West LA. Although focused on the Nazi Holocaust, it also examines general issues of tolerance and racism.

1994 - The Petersen Automotive Museum opens on Museum Row.

1994 - The eyes of the world are focused on LA as football great O.J. Simpson is arrested for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, following a spectacular slow-speed car chase. “If it doesn’t fit, you must aquit” soon enters the American lexicon.

1994 - The FIFA World Cup is held at venues throughout the United States. The final match, won by Brazil, takes place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

1996 - The first Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is held. It is now the largest book fair in America, with over 13,000 attendees and 370 writers in attendance.

1996 - The Skirball Cultural Center opens in Brentwood as a museum of Jewish history and culture.

1997 - The hilltop Getty Center opens with views of the entire Los Angeles Basin. Architect Richard Meier has created the buildings, with a façade of travertine marble, while the garden by Robert Irwin draws equal praise.

1998 - The area surrounding LA’s Downtown core is given the area code 323.

1999 - STAPLES Center arena opens, the new home for basketball and hockey teams and the beginning of a renaissance in Downtown Los Angeles.

2000 - A section of East Hollywood is designated as America’s first and only Thai Town. So many ethnic Thais live in Los Angeles (roughly 80,000), that the city is sometimes referred to as Thailand’s 77th province.

2001 - The Kodak Theatre opens as the new venue for the Academy Awards ceremony (it will later be renamed the Dolby Theatre, in 2012). Hollywood & Highland, a futuristic shopping mall that also has an eye toward Hollywood’s past, opens next door.

2002 - The 11-story Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels opens in the heart of Downtown, replacing St. Vibiana's as the main center of worship for the archdiocese. The contemporary design by José Rafael Moneo has virtually no right angles and a plaza that evokes cathedrals of the Old World.

2003 - Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Los Angeles-based architect Frank Gehry, becomes a new architectural emblem for the city, and the acoustically perfect home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

2005 - Antonio Villaraigosa becomes mayor of Los Angeles, the city’s first mayor of Hispanic descent since 1872. After his election, Newsweek features him on the cover with the headline “Latino Power.”

2006 - The Getty Museum in Malibu reopens after years of renovation as the Getty Villa, housing the foundation’s significant collection of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities.

2006 - The Griffith Observatory reopens after extensive renovations, including the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, named for the actor who played Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek series.

2006 - City population is 3,976,071. Los Angeles County population is 10,245,572, by far the nation’s largest county.

2008 - L.A. LIVE opens in Downtown Los Angeles and the Broad Contemporary Art Museum opens at LACMA.

2009 - Madame Tussauds opens in Hollywood; the Annenberg Space for Photography opens in Century City.

2010 - Angels Flight reopens, connecting the historic and financial districts of Bunker Hill.

2011 - In Downtown LA, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes opens across from the Olvera Street marketplace, and Dinosaur Hall opens at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park.

2011 - The Los Angeles Philharmonic extends acclaimed music director Gustavo Dudamel's contract through the end of the 2018-2019 season, the orchestra's 100th year anniversary.

2012 - TransformersTM: The Ride-3D launches at Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Space Shuttle Endeavour goes on public display at the California Science Center.

2013 - Several of LA's cultural landmarks celebrate milestone anniversaries: Walt Disney Concert Hall (10th), Fowler Museum (50th), Hollywood Sign (90th), Natural History Museum (100th).



(2005)++ – Panoramic view looking northeast showing downtown Los Angeles, with snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains in the background.  The Harbor Freeway and LA Convention Center are in the foreground. Photo by Daniel Castro  





(2008)*# - Aerial view of Downtown Los Angeles with Wilshire Blvd in the background heading off to the west. Photo by Ron Reiring  


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History of Water and Electricity in Los Angeles




More Historical Early Views



Newest Additions



Early LA Buildings and City Views


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* DWP - LA Public Library Image Archive

**Discover Los Angeles - Historical Timeline of Los Angeles

++City-Data.com: Los Angeles

*^Wikipedia: Los Angeles

^*Noirish Los Angeles - forum.skyscraperpage.com

*#Flickr-Los Angeles in Good Light - Ron Reiring



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