Places & Events > Cities



Los Angeles

1769: Spanish explorers discover the Los Angeles River and say that the area around it "has all the requisites for a large settlement."

Sept. 4, 1781: Settlers from the San Gabriel Mission found the city as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River).

April 4, 1850: The City of Los Angeles is incorporated. The population at this time is 1,610.

1850: A California state law decrees: "No black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor of, or against, any white person. Every person who shall have one-eighth part or more of Negro blood shall be deemed a mulatto and every person who shall have one-half of Indian blood shall be deemed Indian."

1853: Jack Whaling, the city's second City Marshal, is murdered. A bounty hunter takes his murderer's life. These events bring about the formation of "The Los Angeles Rangers," volunteer policemen who help the County Sheriff and Marshal. The Rangers wear a white ribbon with the words (in both English and Spanish) "City Police - Authorized by the Council of Los Angeles." There is no jail in the city, so prisoners are chained to logs in the jail yard. This is the beginning of the Los Angeles Police Department.

1854: Mayor Stephen C. Foster resigns in order to lead a mob that removes a prisoner from jail and hangs him. Despite his actions, Foster is reelected the position of Mayor.

1857: Sheriff James Barton is assassinated. Eleven of the suspects are hanged. Vigilantes "take care of" the real assassin.

1860s: French settlers in Los Angeles become frightened by the level of violence in the city and ask the French government to help. The French deploy troops in Los Angeles for an unknown period of time.

1869: The city police department becomes official, with six officers being paid a salary. The City Marshal is the head of the police. He also serves as dog catcher and tax collector.

1870s: By this time the population is approximately 5,614. There are 110 saloons and 175 other businesses.

1871: People running gambling and prostitution businesses are required to pay licensing fees.

Oct. 1871: 19 Chinese are hung by a mob. Because Chinese are denied protection under the law, the mob had no reason to be gentle. Desite this, eight members of the lynch mob are arrested and sentenced to San Quentin for 2-6 years.

1873: All eight members of the lynch mob that hung 19 Chinese are released from San Quentin.

1876: Southern Pacific completes its railroad line to Los Angeles.

1877: William Mulholland, an Irish immigrant, rides into Los Angeles on horseback. He had just come from San Francisco. He later says of his first impression of the Los Angeles River: "The Los Angeles River was a beautiful, limpid little stream, with willows on its banks ... It was so attractive to me that it at once became something about which my whole scheme of life was woven, I loved it so much."

1877: Olvera Street is given its name, after the first county judge, Augustin Olvera.

Dec. 4, 1881: The Los Angeles Daily Times is published for the first time. It soon goes bankrupt and is taken over by the Mirror Company. Harrison Gray Otis is named editor and makes the paper a success.

1884: Harrison Gray Otis buys out the Los Angeles Daily Times from the Mirror Company and forms the Times-Mirror Company.

1892: Oil is discovered in Los Angeles.

1900: Harvey Wilcox, a transplant from Kansas, buys 160 acres of land west of Los Angeles in order to found a conservative community. His wife Daeida meets a woman on a train who speaks of her summer home called Hollywood. She convinces her husband to name their new community Hollywood.

1903: The community is incorporated as Hollywood. Wilcox, a prohibitionist, bans the sale of alcohol in the community except by pharmacists.

1909: Santa Monica pier opens.

1910: Hollywood officially becomes a part of Los Angeles in order to benefit from the water and sewage systems.

Oct. 1, 1910: Two union organizers blow up the offices of the Los Angeles Times and the home of Times owner Harrison Gray Otis. 21 people lose their lives. The two union organizers are defended by attorney Clarence Darrow but they plead guilty despite many people's belief that they have been framed.

1911: David Horsley purchases the Blondeau Tavern on Sunset Boulevard and turns it into the Nestor Film Company, Hollywood's first film studio.

1914: The first feature-length film, The Squaw Man, is released. Its creators - Samuel Goldwyn, Cecil B. DeMille, and Jesse Lasky - made the film in a barn a block away from what is now the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

1913: Construction of the first Los Angeles Aqueduct is completed.

Nov. 5, 1913: William Mulholland presents the water from the aqueduct to Los Angeles residents. He says: "There it is: take it."

1916: Police Chief Clarence E. Snively starts what is called the "Anti-Cigarette Clinic" in order to dissuade juvelines from smoking. Snively says: "... the use of cigarettes by children is a great cause of delinquency. The nicotine poison which enters the body ... has a tendency to make weak bodies, weak intellects and weak morals."

1917: The Charlie Chaplin Studios are built just south of Sunset.

1918: The 1918 Spanish Flu takes the lives of many Los Angeleans.

1920s: During Prohibition, Los Angeles is host to all manner of criminals because of its corrupt government and relaxed atmosphere.

1922: The famous carousel on the Santa Monica pier opens.

1923: The Hollywood sign, which originally reads "Hollywoodland," is put up. It is an advertisement for a Hollywood Hills housing development. After the advertisement is over, the sign remains and is negelected.

May 18, 1927: Grauman's Chinese Theatre has its Grand Opening in Hollywood. The film shown that evening is Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings. A riot breaks out as onlookers try to see the stars entering the theater for the premiere.

May 19, 1927: Grauman's Chinese Theatre opens to the public.

May 16, 1929: The first Academy Awards ceremony and banquet takes place in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

1929: Wyatt Earp dies of chronic cystitis in Los Angeles at the age of 80.

1930: Olvera Street is converted to a Mexican marketplace by Christine Sterling.

1932: Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympics.

1935: William Mulholland dies.

1940: The Los Angeles aqueduct system is extended to bring water from the Mono Basin.

1941: With the city growing, more water is needed. The Colorado River Aqueduct is completed and brings its first water to the city.

Feb. 19, 1942: In enforcement of Executive Order 9066 decreeing that all Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals be evacuated from the West Coast, U.S. soldiers empty Little Tokyo and deport all Japanese Americans out of the city.

May 1943: The Venice Riots break out after soldiers claim a soldier has been stabbed on the beachfront by the pachucos (young Mexican Americans wearing zoot suits). Approximately 500 sailors and civilians begin attacking young Mexican Americans as they exit a dance at the Aragon Ballroom. Police arrive and arrest the Mexican Americans "for their own protection."

May 31, 1943: A group of twelve sailors and soldiers fight with a group of Mexican American boys. One sailor, Seaman Second Class Joe Dacy Coleman, U.S.N., is seriously injured

June 3, 1943: A group of about 50 sailors goes down to downtown Los Angeles to avenge Coleman's injuries. They beat up everyone wearing a zoot suit. The riots are thus dubbed the "Zoot Suit Riots." Police arrest hundreds of Mexican American men and only nine sailors.

June 4, 1943: The sailors continue to cause mayhem in downtown Los Angeles. They commandeer taxis to drive around looking for men in zoot suits, but by this point they are attacking young Mexican Americans no matter what they are wearing.

June 5, 1943: The riots continue.

June 6, 1943: The riots spread to East L.A.

June 7, 1943: Soldiers from as far away as San Diego travel to Los Angeles to take part in the riots. The rioting grows even more violent and spreads into the community of Watts.

June 8, 1943: The riot is contained after the military forbids all U.S. servicemen from venturing into downtown Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council bands Mexican Americans from wearing zoot suits in public. The punishment for doing so is 50 days in jail.

June 16, 1943: Eleanor Roosevelt writes in her column: "The question goes deeper than just suits. It is a racial protest. I have been worried for a long time about the Mexican racial situation. It is a problem with roots going a long way back, and we do not always face these problems as we should."

June 18, 1943: Eleanor Roosevelt is criticized in the Los Angeles papers for inciting racial discord. One paper even accuses her of having communist sympathies.

1947: The first Los Angeles TV station, KTLA, goes on the air.

1949: The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce takes charge of the Hollywood signing, removing the "land" and repairing the letters that now spell, simply, "Hollywood."

Early 1950s: Charles Bukowski works for the United States Post Office in Los Angeles on and off until 1969. On finally deciding to quit, he writes in a letter at the time: "I have one of two choices--stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve."

1956: The now-landmark Capitol Records building is erected on Vine Street.

1958: The Hollywood Walk of Fame is created.

1960: The first star is placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The celebrity honored is Joanne Woodward.

Aug. 11, 1965: The Watts riots begin after a California Highway Patrol officer pulls over Marquette Frye, an African American who had reportedly been driving erratically. The officer questions Frye and his brother. Meanwhile, a crowd gathers around them, including Frye's mother. A struggle ensues and police hit the two Frye brothers with their batons. This outraged the crowd. The police arrested the three Frye family members and drove away. This is when chaos breaks loose as the outraged onlookers begin rioting. The riots last for five more days. 34 people die and the damages total over $200 million.

Aug. 20, 1965: The cover of Time magazine shows pictures of the riots and reads "The Los Angeles Riot."

1968: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is declared a historical and cultural landmark.

June 6, 1968: Robert Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel.

1971: The 6.4 San Fernando earthquake takes 58 lives. 80,000 people evacuate their homes after a dam nearly breaks. Total damages are $511 million.

1974: In an interview, Charles Bukowski says: "You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every street corner. You've got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are ... Since I was raised in L.A., I've always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I've had time to learn this city. I can't see any other place than L.A."

1974: J. Paul Getty opens the Getty Museum in Malibu. It is a re-creation of the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum, Italy.

1984: Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympic Gamess.

Oct. 1, 1987: The 6.1 Whittier Earthquake shakes Los Angeles. Eight people die. Damage is extensive throughout the Los Angeles Basin and the San Gabriel Valley.

1992: Riots break out after the verdict in the Rodney King case is read out.

Jan. 7, 1994: The 6.7 Northridge earthquake. 57 people lose their lives and nearly 2,000 are injured. It causes widespread damage throughout the Los Angeles area and is the most costly earthquake in U.S. history.

June 12, 1994: O.J. Simpson's ex wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman are murdered in Brentwood.

June 17, 1994: O.J. Simpson, a suspect in the double murder, is supposed to turn himeself in at 11 a.m. He doesn't show up and an all-points bulletin is issued for his arrest. Simpson's friend Robert Kardashian reads a statement from Simpson: "First everyone understand I had nothing to do with Nicole's murder ... Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life." Believing this to be a suicide note, the search for Simpson intensifies. Finally at 6:45 pm, Simpson's white Ford Bronco is spotted going north on the 405. The infamous slow-speed chase ensues. Simpson surrenders later that evening.

June 20, 1994: Simpson has his first court arraignment and pleads "not guilty."

July 22, 1994: In his second court appearance, Simpson pleads: "absolutely 100% not guilty."

Jan 29, 1995: The O.J. Simpson trial begins.

June 15, 1995: Assistant prosecutor Christopher Darden asks Simpson to put on the leather glove that was found at the scene of the crime. The glove is too tight for Simpson and he struggles to get it on. This brings on the famous comment by defense attorney Johnny Cochran: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

Oct. 3, 1995: The jury deliberates for only three hours and brings a verdict of "not guilty" for Simpson.

Dec. 16, 1997: The Getty Center, the new home of the Getty Museum, opens in Brentwood. The original Getty Museum is renamed the Getty Villa and remains closed for renovations.

Oct. 2003: The supermarket strike begins. 97% of the members of the United Food and Commercial Workers in southern and central California vote to strike over health care benefits at Vons supermarket. Hours later, Ralphs and Albertson's supermarket chains lock out their employees. The strike lasts until Feb. 2004.

Oct. 30, 2005: The board of the J. Paul Getty Trust forms a committee to investigate claims that its museum purchased stolen art and that its chief executive spent tax-exempt funds.