Facts About Los Angeles: The Mickey Mouse County

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Los Angeles as a city and a metropolitan area is the second most populated urban area in the USA, after New York. It is the county seat of California and stands proudly on the Pacific Coast.

A t the start of the 20th century Los Angeles was referred to as a large village. It lacked the necessary requisites of a large city. Despite this Los Angeles has developed into an important centre of commerce, agriculture, tourism and industry.

In 1781, the Spaniards ruled and there were only 44 inhabitants. Of these 26 were African and Native American. Over the next few decades the white population increased. But the immigration tsunami witnessed by the East Coast of USA did not significantly affect Los Angles. In 1910 following the Mexican Revolution the region witnessed a large influx of immigrants. Immigrants from Asia and Africa followed and Los Angeles has since become one of the most ethnically diverse metropolises of the world.

Over ninety languages are spoken in Los Angeles. They include Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Hmong, Tagalog, Korean, Armenian, Farsi, Cambodian and Hebrew. There are 50 foreign language newspapers and 12 foreign language radio channels.

Ninety cities have been incorporated into Los Angeles County. These include Beverly Hills, Pasadena, Long beach, two Channel Islands – Santa Catalina and San Clemente. The city and county share close geographical, cultural economic links and are considered as one entity.

The residents of Los Angeles are called Angelinos. They enjoy a hospitable, Mediterranean climate of mild wet winters and warm dry summers. This climate the envy of those living in harsher climes, had led to a mocking attitude towards the amiable Angelenos. They are accused of being laid back and having a ‘la-la attitude’. However it is not roses all the way for the Angelenos. Earthquakes, fire, smog and gang wars are regular occurrences.

The Angelenos were traditionally Roman Catholic. In 1906, William J Seymour sparked off the Pentecostal Religious Movement from Azusa Street. The movement gained popularity over much of the globe, with unprecedented rapidity.

Los Angeles is known for its citrus orchards planted by the Spanish. In addition industry, technology, fashion, financial and business services flourish. The economy is larger than the GNP of most countries off the world.

Hollywood the hub of the film making business employs 100’s of thousands of people and pumps 10’s of billions of dollars into the economy. The Annual Awards Night (Oscars) draws tourists from all over the world. It is beamed to over one billion people globally.

Hollywood is also a centre of the recording business. Most of the major record labels are represented here. The Angelenos love their music and all genres have thrived here. The Los Angeles Philharmonic is one of the top orchestras in the US. Famous conductors like Zubin Mehta and Andre Pevin have performed with them. The 1930’s brought musical talent fleeing from Nazism, Ivan Stravinsky included. Jazz with Charlie Parker and Louis Armstrong, Big bands with Duke Ellington and Frank Sinatra, Surf Music with rock and rollers the Beach Boys, country and rock with Buffalo Springfield, the Byrd, the Doors and Frank Zappa have all found in this warm easy going county a platform to express their unique artistry.

Tinsel town, as New Yorker Woody Allen disparagingly referred to this cheerful, informal city, has much depth to its tinsel. Creative artists from Europe have made it their home. Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann and Billy Wilder all lived here.

In 1960, civic activist Dorothy Chandler arranged a county subsidy for the Los Angeles Music Centre. This initiated a movement to nurture the arts and create the city’s own cultural institutions. About 1000 murals dot the city, creating an artist friendly environment. These murals are funded by the statutory one per cent of building costs that construction companies are required to put aside to promote the Arts.

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