The Cultural History of Los Angeles


Believe it or not, Los Angeles, California was a dusty, Mexican cattle ranching village consisting of 1610 people in 1850-it is hard to believe that by 1967, the population had grown to 2,600,000. Today, Los Angeles has a population of approximately 4 million (the population of Los Angeles county is much larger). The immigration of people from the eastern United States and from other countries is one factor that transformed the tiny town to the metropolis it is today; the other was advanced technology of irrigation, railroads, radio, and TV, just to name a few. Today, most everyone has seen Los Angeles, California-at least on television. The city is famous for the movie and music industries. These famous industries attract artists and inspire creativity. The rich ethnic diversity, movie industry, music, arts, and sports, are all factors that have made Los Angeles the cultural giant that it is today. The willingness of the people to embrace new ideas and build them into reality has made Los Angeles what it is today.

It is hard to define a single culture that represents Los Angeles. Ethnically, it is truly a melting pot with 40% of the population being foreign born It is home to famous ethnic neighborhoods like China Town, Little Ethiopia, Little Tokyo, Thai Town, Koreatown, and more. Los Angeles has a bigger Latino population than any city in the United States. It is located in the 3rd most racially diverse county in the U.S. All of these different ethnicities have their own cultures that they celebrate with over 300 festivals, music, theater, arts, and activities.

The first thing many people imagine when they think of Los Angeles is the movie industry and Hollywood stars. The beautiful climate year round and the stunning scenery of Los Angeles was and is perfect for making movies. Historically, it was this climate and scenery plus inexpensive labor and land that drew filmmakers to Los Angeles beginning in 1908. Hollywood is an area in the city of Los Angeles, but it was annexed in 1910. For many, the culture of glamour and extravagance associated with Hollywood is the culture associated with Los Angeles. Hollywood has influenced the thoughts and lives of Americans to the point that one could say Hollywood created American culture. There are many famous buildings and monuments that have been featured in movies in Los Angeles as well such as Fire Station No. 23 which was used in making Ghostbusters and the iconic Hollywood sign.

The music industry thrives in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is home to the famous Philharmonic orchestra, and many big name record companies, such as Capital Records. There are so many famous bands that are from Los Angeles that is hard to count them, but The Beach Boys, The Eagles, Metallica, Van Halen, and Ice Cube are just a hand full. Los Angeles also has an amazing array of Latino music due to its roots as a Mexican town. The many ethnic groups in Los Angeles produce unique music as well. Music is performed everywhere, even in the streets. Famous music festivals and lesser known music festivals are always going on. Historic concert halls are found around every corner.

Not only is Los Angeles famous for movie making and music, it is also famous for art of all types. It is estimated that 4.8 % of people work as artists in Los Angeles, more than any other city in the United States. There is a great appreciation for the arts and sciences, as evidenced by Los Angeles’s more than 800 art galleries and museums. Stunning architecture is present at every turn in this city. Famous theatre houses and performing groups make their homes in Los Angeles. This city is not afraid of new ideas; the people here embrace them, which is why LA is a cultural mecca for the creative arts. Cutting edge fashion and literature also thrives in Los Angeles. Many famous art and design schools teach students how to turn creative ideas into reality.

Los Angeles is famous for technology and science as well as art. The internet had its origins here, with UCLA sending the first message via internet. The creative culture of Los Angeles has attracted and supported the creators of many famous inventions. Los Angeles is home to one of the top 10 museums in the world, the California Science Center. The La Brea Tar Pits are famous for being the only active excavation site in a city in the United States

Los Angeles is also the perfect place for sports with its mild winters and beautiful weather. The Dodgers were established in 1883 in New York but moved to Los Angeles in 1958 becoming the Los Angeles Dodgers. They play at the famous and historic Dodger stadium, one of the 3 oldest ballparks in Major League baseball. Soccer is also very popular in Los Angeles and of course basketball, with the LA Lakers being a famous team.

Los Angeles started out as a tiny village in the middle of nowhere in 1850 to being the second largest metropolitan area in the United States today. The rich cultural diversity brought from waves of immigrants, technology that brought irrigation and water, and Los Angeles’s climate and geographical features are all contributing factors that made Los Angeles the cultural center that it is today. An openness to new ideas and a creative spirit have made Los Angeles the home of the film industry, which in a way created the culture for the rest of the country. Los Angeles is truly an artist’s haven and a city of invention and innovation.

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