Los Angeles is the largest city in the state of California and the second largest in the United States. Often abbreviated as L.A. and nicknamed The City of Angels, Los Angeles has an estimated population of 3.8 million and spans over 498.3 square miles (1,290.6 km2) in Southern California. Additionally, the Los Angeles metropolitan area is home to nearly 12.9 million residents. Los Angeles is the seat of Los Angeles County, the most populated and one of the most diverse counties in the United States. Its inhabitants are known as "Angelenos"
Los Angeles was founded September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of the river of Porziuncola). It became a part of Mexico in 1821, following its independence from Spain. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War, Los Angeles and California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States; Mexico retained the territory of Baja California. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood.
Los Angeles is one of the world's centers of business, international trade, entertainment, culture, media, fashion, science, technology, and education. It is home to renowned institutions covering a broad range of professional and cultural fields, and is one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States. As the home base of Hollywood, it is known as the "Entertainment Capital of the World", leading the world in the creation of motion pictures, television production and recorded music. The importance of the entertainment business to the city results in many celebrities calling Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs home.
The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes thousands of years ago. The first Europeans arrived in 1542 under Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese-born explorer who claimed the area as the City of God for the Spanish Empire. However, he continued with his voyage and did not establish a settlement. The next contact would not come until 227 years later, when Gaspar de Portola, along with Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí, reached the present site of Los Angeles on August 2, 1769. Crespí noted that the site had the potential to be developed into a large settlement.
In 1771, Franciscan friar Junípero Serra built the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel near Whittier Narrows, in what is now called San Gabriel Valley. In 1777, the new governor of California, Felipe de Neve, recommended to Antonio María de Bucareli y Ursúa, viceroy of New Spain that the site noted by Juan Crespí be developed into a pueblo. The town was officially founded on September 4, 1781, by a group of forty-four settlers known as "Los Pobladores". Tradition has it that on this day they were escorted by four Spanish colonial soldiers, two priests from the Mission and Governor de Neve. The town was named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the Porciúncula River). These pueblo settlers came from the common Hispanic culture that had emerged in northern Mexico among a racially mixed society. Two-thirds of the settlers were mestizo or mulatto, and therefore, had African and Indian ancestry. More importantly, they were intermarrying. 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.
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. 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 when the Southern Pacific completed its line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil was discovered in 1892, and by 1923 Los Angeles was producing one-quarter of the world's petroleum.
By 1900, the population had grown to more than 102,000 people, putting pressure on the city's water supply. 1913's completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, under the supervision of William Mulholland, assured the continued growth of the city.
In the 1920s, the motion picture and aviation industries flocked to Los Angeles. In 1932, with population surpassing one million, the city hosted the Summer Olympics.
The post-war years saw an even greater boom, as urban sprawl expanded the city into the San Fernando Valley. In 1969, Los Angeles became one of the birthplaces of the Internet, as the first ARPANET transmission was sent from UCLA to SRI in Menlo Park.
Also in the 1980s, Los Angeles became the center of the heavy metal music scene, especially glam metal bands. In 1984, the city hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the second time. Despite being boycotted by 14 Communist countries, the 1984 Olympics became the most financially successful in history, and only the second Olympics to turn a profit – the other being the 1932 Summer Olympics, also held in Los Angeles.
During the remaining decades of the 20th century, the city was plagued by increasing gang warfare, drug trades, and police corruption. Racial tensions erupted again in 1992 with the Rodney King controversy and the large-scale riots that followed the acquittal of his police attackers. In 1994, the 6.7 Northridge earthquake shook the city, causing $12.5 billion in damage and 72 deaths.
Voters defeated efforts by the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood to secede from the city in 2002.
Gentrification and urban redevelopment have occurred in many parts of the city, most notably Hollywood, Koreatown, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Downtown.