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Cities in the Spotlight: Los Angeles, USA

Updated: Mar 11

In today's post we are travelling to Los Angeles (LA) USA. Enjoy!!


Los Angeles City Information

Los Angeles, often referred to by its initials L.A., is the largest city in California. With a 2020 population of 3,898,747 it is the second-largest city in the United States, following New York City. Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic and cultural diversity, Hollywood film industry and sprawling metropolitan area. The City of Los Angeles lies in a basin in Southern California, adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, and extends through the Santa Monica Mountains and into the San Fernando Valley, covering a total of about 469 square miles (1,210 km2). It is the seat of Los Angeles County, which is the most populous county in the United States with just over 10 million residents in 2020.


Los Angeles Historical Significance

Pre-colonial history

The Los Angeles coastal area was settled by the Tongva (Gabrieleños) and Chumash tribes. Los Angeles would eventually be founded on the village of iyáanga’ or Yaanga (written "Yang-na" by the Spanish), meaning "poison oak place". Maritime explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed the area of southern California for the Spanish Empire in 1542 while on an official military exploring expedition moving north along the Pacific coast from earlier colonizing bases of New Spain in Central and South America. Gaspar de Portolà and Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769. Spanish rule

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 they called El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, 'The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels'. The original name of the settlement is disputed; the Guinness Book of World Records rendered it as "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula"; other sources have shortened or alternate versions of the longer name. The present-day city has the largest Roman Catholic archdiocese in the United States. Two-thirds of the Mexican or (New Spain) settlers were mestizo or mulatto, 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.

Mexican rule

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.

1847 to present

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 transcontinental Southern Pacific line from New Orleans to Los Angeles in 1876 and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1885. Petroleum was discovered in the city and surrounding area 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. By 1900, the population had grown to more than 102,000, putting pressure on the city's water supply. The completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, under the supervision of William Mulholland, ensured the continued growth of the city. Because of clauses in the city's charter that prevented the City of Los Angeles from selling or providing water from the aqueduct to any area outside its borders, many adjacent cities and communities felt compelled to join Los Angeles. Los Angeles created the first municipal zoning ordinance in the United States. On September 14, 1908, the Los Angeles City Council promulgated residential and industrial land use zones. The new ordinance established three residential zones of a single type, where industrial uses were prohibited. The proscriptions included barns, lumber yards, and any industrial land use employing machine-powered equipment. These laws were enforced against industrial properties after the fact. These prohibitions were in addition to existing activities that were already regulated as nuisances. These included explosives warehousing, gas works, oil drilling, slaughterhouses, and tanneries. Los Angeles City Council also designated seven industrial zones within the city. However, between 1908 and 1915, the Los Angeles City Council created various exceptions to the broad proscriptions that applied to these three residential zones, and as a consequence, some industrial uses emerged within them. There are two differences between the 1908 Residence District Ordinance and later zoning laws in the United States. First, the 1908 laws did not establish a comprehensive zoning map as the 1916 New York City Zoning Ordinance did. Second, the residential zones did not distinguish types of housing; they treated apartments, hotels, and detached-single-family housing equally. In 1910, Hollywood merged into Los Angeles, with 10 movie companies already operating in the city at the time. 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 loss 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. During World War II, Los Angeles was a major center of wartime manufacturing, such as shipbuilding and aircraft. Calship built hundreds of Liberty Ships and Victory Ships on Terminal Island, and the Los Angeles area was the headquarters of six of the country's major aircraft manufacturers (Douglas Aircraft Company, Hughes Aircraft, Lockheed, North American Aviation, Northrop Corporation, and Vultee). During the war, more aircraft were produced in one year than in all the pre-war years since the Wright brothers flew the first airplane in 1903, combined. Manufacturing in Los Angeles skyrocketed, and as William S. Knudsen, of the National Defense Advisory Commission put it, "We won because we smothered the enemy in an avalanche of production, the like of which he had never seen, nor dreamed possible."

In the 1930s–1940s, Los Angeles County was the national leader in agriculture. Following the end of World War II, Los Angeles grew more rapidly than ever, sprawling into the San Fernando Valley. The expansion of the Interstate Highway System during the 1950s and 1960s helped propel suburban growth and signaled the demise of the city's electrified rail system, once the world's largest. As a consequence of World War II, suburban growth, and population density, many amusement parks were built and operated in this area. An example is Beverly Park, which was located at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and La Cienega before being closed and substituted by the Beverly Center. Racial tensions led to the Watts riots in 1965, resulting in 34 deaths and over 1,000 injuries. In 1969, California became the birthplace of the Internet, as the first ARPANET transmission was sent from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. In 1973, Tom Bradley was elected as the city's first African American mayor, serving for five terms until retiring in 1993. Other events in the city during the 1970s included the Symbionese Liberation Army's South Central standoff in 1974 and the Hillside Stranglers murder cases in 1977–1978. 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; the other, according to an analysis of contemporary newspaper reports, was 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 four Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers captured on videotape beating Rodney King, culminating in large-scale riots. In 1994, the magnitude 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, Mayor James Hahn led the campaign against secession, resulting in voters defeating efforts by the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood to secede from the city. Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games, making Los Angeles the third city to host the Olympics three times.


Travel to Los Angeles *taken from Lonely Planet*

Ruggedly good looking, deeply creative, with a sunny disposition to boot…if LA were on Tinder, the app would crash.

Natural Beauty

Envy is an ugly thing, New York. While your denizens spend their time sniffling and throwing shade in the snow, Angelenos are busy riding waves, tying up their hiking boots and counting their copious blessings. Think about it: in how many megalopolises can you gallop across rugged mountains just nine miles from City Hall? Despite its heaving head count, LA is a city indelibly tied to mighty Mother Nature. Here, dense, vibrant neighborhoods back onto golden beaches, city streets lead up to flower-carpeted hillsides, and huge, deep-blue skies are an IMAX screen for lingering sunsets made to pierce your heart.

Creative Overload

Dreams are serious business in La La Land. Home to Hollywood, this is a city where fantastical thoughts are encouraged; a place gleefully wrapped in endless layers of modern legend and mythology. Every year countless small-town dreamers pour onto its streets, itching to share their tales with LA and the world – on screen and stage, in lyrics, or on the whitewashed walls of galleries. The end result is an electrifying whirlpool of creativity: edgy art spaces, cult-status rock venues, acclaimed concert halls and thought-provoking stages, all fueling a city addicted to the weird, the wonderful and the downright scandalous.

Architectural Riches

LA's obsession with creative expression extends to its stucco and mortar. After all, this is where movie palaces look like Chinese temples and ancient Egyptian tombs, where concerts halls twist and curve like steely cartoon characters, and where soda bottling plants look like landlocked ocean liners. Indeed, LA celebrates architectural diversity with astounding gusto. From storybook Hollywood abodes and Silver Lake modernist prototypes, to downtown theaters channeling the Palace of Versailles, no other American city delivers such a thrilling mash-up of architectural styles, statements and role models…often on the very same palm-studded street.

Food & Drink

So which really has the better food scene: LA or SF? While the latter may claim more Michelin stars, LA packs one heck of a culinary punch. It's here that you'll find California's best tacos, the country's most authentic Korean and one of the nation's biggest concentrations of vegan restaurants. And when it comes to imbibing, SF best take a cable car home. From dirty martinis in a basement power station, to craft brews in a steampunk bowling alley, LA has a knack for turning humble drinking sessions into otherworldly adventures worthy of a toast or three.


Must See Sites

Griffith Observatory; With eyes on both the galaxy above and palm-flanked boulevards below, the Griffith Observatory hovers above LA like a hulking spacecraft. This is one of the city’s true icons, an art deco behemoth flaunted on both the small and silver screen. Yet the place is more than its architectural good looks and epic panoramas, with spectacular planetarium shows, intriguing exhibits and handsome murals. The 1935 observatory opens a window onto the universe from its perch on the southern slopes of Mt. Hollywood. Its planetarium claims the world's most advanced star projector, while its astronomical touch displays explore some mind-bending topics, from the evolution of the telescope and the ultraviolet and x-ray techniques used to map our solar system to the cosmo itself.

Universal Studios Hollywood; Dodge dinosaurs, hang with Homer Simpson and morph into a Minion on the sometimes hair-raising, always entertaining attractions at Universal Studios Hollywood. More than an amusement park, this is a multisensory immersion into the world of TV and movies on the grounds where filmmaking still takes place. Hop on a ride that drops you inside an iconic flick, explore movie magic at a Special Effects stage show and feast on the same food as your favorite characters. (Chocolate frog, anyone?) Universal Studios parks now exist in other parts of the world, but Hollywood is the original.

Venice Boardwalk; Prepare for a sensory overload on Venice's Boardwalk, a one-of-a-kind experience. Buff bodybuilders brush elbows with street performers and sellers of sunglasses, string bikinis, Mexican ponchos and cannabis, while cyclists and in-line skaters whiz by on the bike path and skateboarders and graffiti artists get their own domains.

Santa Monica Pier; Once the very end of the legendary Route 66 and still the object of a tourist love affair, this much-photographed pier dates back to 1908 and is the city’s most compelling landmark. It’s dominated by Pacific Park amusement park with arcades, carnival games, a Ferris wheel and roller coaster. Nearby is a vintage carousel and an aquarium. The pier is most photogenic when framed by California sunsets and when it comes alive with free concerts and outdoor movies in the summertime. The pier extends almost a quarter-mile over the Pacific, so you can stroll to the edge, hangout among the motley anglers and lose yourself in the rolling, blue-green sea.

La Brea Tar Pits & Museum; Mammoths, saber-toothed cats and dire wolves roamed LA's savanna in prehistoric times. We know this because of an archaeological trove of skulls and bones unearthed here at the La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world’s most fecund and famous fossil sites. A museum has been built here, where generations of young dino hunters have come to seek out fossils and learn about paleontology from docents and demonstrations in on-site labs. Thousands of Ice Age critters met their maker between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago in gooey crude oil bubbling up from deep below Wilshire Blvd (though it wasn't Wilshire Blvd then). Animals wading into the sticky muck became trapped and were condemned to a slow death by starvation or suffocation. A life-size drama of a mammoth family outside the museum dramatizes such a cruel fate. Also outside the museum, visitors can observe the pits where fossils are still being discovered.

While technically not in Los Angeles, I don’t think that you can head to this area without at least thinking of visiting these attractions.

Disneyland & Disney California Adventure Parks; There's so much to explore and enjoy. Discover attractions, dining and shopping experiences that are available at these parks.

Knott’s Berry Farm; At Knott’s, fun is always in season, with dozens of thrilling rides, shows, and attractions in four themed areas inspired by the history and culture of California. A day at Knott’s Berry Farm means taking on mammoth roller coasters, Old West adventures in the authentic 1800’s Ghost Town, paying tribute to California’s Hispanic roots in Fiesta Village, experiencing the Southern California beach lifestyle along the Boardwalk, and going on a High Sierras adventure with the world’s most loveable beagle – Snoopy! Located just 10 minutes from the Anaheim resort area, the once small family farm has grown into today's family fun destination; home to the Knott's Berry Farm theme park, Knott's Soak City Waterpark and Knott's Berry Farm Hotel. Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, family road trip, or overnight stay, you’ll find something for everyone at Knott’s Berry Farm!


Must Try Food & Drink

Avocado Toast; Avocado toast is a dish consisting of a piece of toasted bread topped with a combination of mashed avocados, salt, pepper, and (sometimes) citrus juice. There are many varieties of this dish, so it can be enriched with ingredients such as salmon, tomatoes, onions, eggs, garlic, cheese, olive oil, or red pepper flakes. Although the dish is quite simple and straightforward, the location of its origin is not – some claim that it is an Australian invention, while others proclaim that Los Angeles is the place where it was born. Regardless of its origin, avocado toast started its modern-day revival on Instagram, and it has been trending across the globe ever since.

Cobb Salad; A shining example of American ingenuity and creativity, Cobb salad was invented in the 1930s at The Brown Derby, a famous Los Angeles restaurant whose owner, Robert Cobb, found some leftovers in the kitchen - hard-boiled eggs, salad greens, chicken breast, avocado, chopped bacon, tomatoes, and Roquefort cheese among them. He tossed all of the ingredients with some salt, pepper, and a vinaigrette consisting of olive oil, red vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce, and Cobb Salad started its way toward fame. The composed salad's popularity relies entirely on the careful preparation of each ingredient and their distinct textures, from juicy over crunchy to creamy. It is similar to a BLT sandwich without the bread, and thanks to a variety of movie stars who ate at the restaurant such as Clark Gable and Lucille Ball, the dish rose to stardom, becoming a symbol of Californian cuisine. Although the restaurant is closed today, the tradition of consuming Cobb salad remains a staple of American food.

Zombie; Zombie is a Tiki cocktail that was invented in the late 1930s in Los Angeles by Donn Beach. The cocktail is named Zombie after the way it affects the drinkers. The drink is made with demerara rum, golden rum, dark rum, 151 proof Lemon Hart, falernum, lime juice, grenadine, Pernod, Angostura bitters, and Don's mix. However, some variations include absinthe or triple sec, which makes the cocktail even stronger. This high-powered cocktail is prepared by shaking all the ingredients together, except for the 151-proof rum, which is added on top of the drink and can even be ignited at this point. Zombie is typically served on the rocks in a tiki mug or a hurricane glass, garnished with a cherry, an orange slice, and a pineapple slice. If it is served heated, the cocktail is named Hot Zombie.

Uramaki; Uramaki, California roll, or upside-down sushi is a unique sushi variety which has its origins disputed between Los Angeles and Vancouver, although most people claim that it was invented in California in the 1960s by a Japanese chef named Ichiro Mashita. This sushi roll is prepared with sushi rice, nori, crab or surimi, avocado, and cucumber. It differs from other sushi types because the rice is on the exterior, wrapped around nori seaweed that is in the inner part and surrounds the filling. Uramaki is often rolled in roasted sesame seeds. It's recommended to serve this unusual delicacy with soy sauce, gari (pickled ginger), and wasabi on the side.

Rainbow Roll; Rainbow roll is a type of uramaki or upside-down sushi, where the rice is on the exterior, wrapped around nori seaweed that holds the other ingredients on the inside. This sushi variety is typically made with rice, nori, tuna, salmon, avocado, and cucumber. Once the uramaki has been assembled, the slices of fish and avocado are carefully arranged on the top of the roll, which is then sliced into pieces. The name of this sushi variety refers to the alternating colors of fish and avocado which are reminiscent of a rainbow. Serve it with soy sauce and wasabi on the side for the best experience.

Appletini; Appletini consists of vodka and one or more of these beverages: apple juice, apple cider, apple liqueur, or apple brandy such as Calvados. This modern cocktail was invented in Los Angeles in 1996, and it is also known as Apple Martini or Adam's Apple Martini. Vodka may be substituted with gin, and in some variations, vermouth can be included in the combination. One of the most popular variations is known as Rumpletini, made with light rum instead of vodka. Appletini continues to gain fame through pop culture, with frequent mentions in famous TV shows such as Scrubs, Two and a Half Men, Mr. Robot, and How I Met Your Mother, and after the release of the movie Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg declared Appletini Facebook’s official drink. Typically, the drink is served shaken in a chilled cocktail glass, garnished with a cherry or an apple slice.

L.A. Galbi; Korean galbi includes various dishes made with beef short ribs, and this version differs in the specific cut of meat. Unlike the traditional galbi in which the ribs are sliced along the bones (also known as the English cut), in L.A. galbi, the ribs are cut across the bones into thin strips. The ribs should be marinated, typically in different combinations of soy sauce, onions, and Asian pears, and are then grilled over charcoal. Two main theories explain the origin and the name of L.A. galbi. While the less popular claims that the name stems from the lateral cut, it has been widely accepted that the dish initially appeared among the Korean community in Los Angles. The dish is now equally popular throughout South Korea. Like its traditional counterpart, L.A. galbi is also served with rice and various side dishes (banchan).

Chili Burger; Chili burger is a variety of hamburger consisting of a bun and a meat patty that is topped with chili con carne, although the chili might also be served on the side. The hamburger is served open-faced in some places, and it is often topped with cheese and onions, while fries are usually served as an accompaniment. It is believed that chili burger was invented in the 1920s by Thomas M. DeForest in Los Angeles.

Tuna Tartare; Tuna tartare is an elegant starter originating from Los Angeles. The dish is made with a combination of raw tuna, avocado, egg yolks, green peppercorns, capers, chives, tarragon, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. It was invented in 1984 by chef Shigefumi Tachibe at the Chaya Brasserie when a few customers came in wanting beef tartare, but one of them didn't eat beef, so the chef tried tuna, and it was an instant success. Nowadays, it's usually served as a visually attractive appetizer with crackers or toast.

Harvey Wallbanger; Harvey Wallbanger is a simple cocktail made with vodka, orange juice, and a sweet herbal liqueur known as Galliano. To prepare it, vodka and orange juice are poured into a glass over ice, while Galliano is added on top by pouring it over the back of a bar spoon. The cocktail is garnished with an orange slice and a cherry. Although it is believed that the cocktail was invented in 1952 by Donato Antone, it gained popularity in the 1970s.

Chiffon Pie; With meringue being its ultimate inspiration, chiffon pie was originally made with the incredibly light, mousse-like filling based on egg whites and a crisp shell of graham crackers acting as a base. This American classic is said to have been invented in Los Angeles in 1926 by a baker named Monroe Boston Strause. Within a couple of years of his invention, Strause boasted the largest pie business in the West, and became known as the nation's champion pie maker, or simply the Pie King. The delicate chiffon pie is still today one of country's favorite desserts and it most often comes with a zesty, lemon-flavored filling.


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