Los Angeles A to Z

Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2000-12-01
Publisher(s): Univ of California Pr
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This guide to the City of Angels includes entries on history, geography, automobile culture, sports, neighborhoods, and more. Quotations throughout the the book provide provocative and amusing tidbits about the city. Illustrations, with 22 tables and 6 maps.

Table of Contents

Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
Los Angeles A to Z
Appendix A: Chronology 573(10)
Appendix B. 1990 Census Population 583(8)
Appendix C: Incorporation and Consolidation of Cities 591(4)
Appendix D: City and County Government Organization 595(4)
Selected Readings 599(6)
Selected Films 605




AAA. See Automobile Club of Southern California

ABDUL-JABBAR, KAREEM (1947-), basketball star. Born Lew Alcindor in New York City, he attended that city's Power Memorial High School, where his team had a 71-game winning streak. He was recruited to UCLA, and during his three-year tenure as a center the Bruins racked up an 88-2 record; he also led the team to three NCAA titles with a 12-0 tournament record, and was named Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament for all three years and College Player of the Year in 1967 and 1969. After graduation in 1969 he entered the National Basketball Association (NBA), playing for the Milwaukee Bucks. In 1971 he changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In 1975 the Los Angeles Lakers acquired him in a trade. During his career Kareem amassed an astonishing number of NBA records: he scored 37,639 points, appeared in 1,486 games, made 15,524 field goals, was the leading scorer in All-Star competition and the only player chosen to participate 18 times, was the only player to win six Most Valuable Player awards, and was the first to appear in 200 playoff games. Famous for his sky-hook shot, at the time of his retirement in 1988 the 7-foot 2-inch Kareem was the oldest player in the NBA.

ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURE ARTS AND SCIENCES (AMPAS), film industry association established in 1927 to recognize and foster meritorious film work. It is best known to the public for its annual Academy Awards ceremony (originally known as Merit Awards). The perhaps apocryphal story is that the "Oscar" award was so named when Margaret Herrick, the AMPAS librarian, remarked that the bronze figurine resembled her uncle Oscar. These treasured statuettes are presented to the year's best film, actors, director, screenwriter, cinematographer, etc. The first awards (presented in 1929 for the 1927-1928 season) were held at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. Only three awards were given: to Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor as best actors, and for Wings as best film. The ceremony has expanded over the years to include numerous artistic, technical, humanitarian, and life achievement awards. In recent years it has been held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and at the Shrine Auditorium. The awards have become an international event, viewed on television by hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The Academy maintains a research library and archives in a restored historic building on La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The library's priceless collections of 12,000 films, 18,000 books, 5 million photos, and 5,000 scripts are open to the public.

ACLU. See American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California


ACTON, unincorporated county area in the mountainous reaches of the Santa Clara River. Located 20 miles from the urbanized Santa Clarita Valley and 6 miles from Soledad Canyon, the site was established in the 1870s as a railroad construction camp on the Saugus-to-Mojave line of the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP). The name first appeared on an SP station between 1873 and 1876, possibly for one of the many cities named Acton in the eastern part of the country. For a short time during the 1880s thousands of people came to the area, drawn by the copper ore and gold-bearing quartz in nearby Soledad Canyon. After the turn of the century mining gave way to ranching. Acton experienced considerable growth in the 1970s and 1980s; in 1990 its population, combined with that of nearby Mint Canyon, was 9,200.

ACT UP/L.A. See Gay and lesbian movement ADAMIC, LOUIS (1899-1951), author. A Slavic immigrant, Adamic lived in Los Angeles among the radical outcasts and socialist idealists of the 1920s. His autobiography, Laughing in the Jungle (1932), debunks the philistinism of the boosters and midwestern exiles who dominated the town during the Boom of the Twenties. His book Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence in America (1935) contains a plausible account of the bombings that racked Los Angeles in 1910 and their aftermath. Adamic was a friend of Carey McWilliams and other literati, and influenced their work.

ADAMS, HARRY (1919-1985), photographer. Adams was an important recorder of the African American scene in Los Angeles, working for a time on both the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel newspapers. He was mainly known for his later work, however, which included portraits of noted African Americans in entertainment, society, sports, and politics.

ADAMS, MARGARET Q. (1873-1974), first woman deputy sheriff in Los Angeles, and perhaps in the United States. She was appointed in 1912 and worked for 35 years in the Civil Division.

ADOBE, Spanish name for rough-hewn, sunbaked bricks. Widely used by Spanish and Mexican colonials, adobe is made by mixing clayey soil, water, and weeds. Adobe buildings were ideal structures for the local environment: cool in summer, warm in winter, cheap, and easy to construct. They had a striking appearance when whitewashed and combined with colored clay tiles and wooden beams. Several old adobes have been preserved or reconstructed, among them the Avila Adobe on Olvera Street (ca. 1822), Andres Pico Adobe in Mission Hills (1834), Adobe de Palomares in Pomona (1834), Hugo Reid Adobe in Arcadia (1839), Feliz Adobe in Griffith Park (ca. 1853), and Catalina Verdugo Adobe in Glendale (1875). A strong candidate for reconstruction is the Lugo Adobe, which once stood on the east side of the Los Angeles Plaza.

ADVERTISING INDUSTRY, highly developed enterprise in Southern California since the 1880s. From 1885 to 1915, Los Angeles was the most advertised city in the United States. The promoters of real estate, railroad land, oil drilling, and tourism, as well as the chamber of commerce, newspapers, orange growers, and movies, made a virtual cult of the selling of Los Angeles. Mainly they extolled the magnificent climate.

Today the industry is a national trendsetter. It thrives on special local characteristics: a lifestyle highly involved with cars, outdoor recreation, health, diet and dining, the entertainment media, single-family homes, a multicultural population, and a consumer population with strong regional preferences. Angelenos as an advertising audience are sophisticated and heterogeneous, and often indifferent to campaigns that succeed in other parts of the country. Agency directors work to accommodate a "laid-back" attitude and more than a trace of eccentricity; they capitalize on the Angeleno's love of experimentalism and trendiness, and on a pattern of rapid style changes.

The enormous geographic landscape of the county also influences the industry's approach to advertising. Radio advertisers must adjust to the area's huge boundaries and ethnic diversity. The streets and highways, jammed with millions of cars and drivers, are a bonanza for billboard advertisers. In 1993, Los Angeles had 40,000 of the nation's 500,000 billboards, transit shelters, benches, and bus ads. As for newspapers, the potential readership is so vast that even the mighty Los Angeles Times cannot cover the entire scene. A major challenge for advertisers is to encourage the tens of millions of visitors and tourists who vacation in the city to buy and spend.

The industry has been highly profitable but, beginning around 1987, experienced a serious downturn when nine or so large firms closed their Los Angeles offices and moved elsewhere. New York remains the king of the industry, with $24.7 billion in annual ad billings in 1990, compared to $4.3 billion for Los Angeles. The largest Los Angeles-based ad agency is Chiat/Day/Mojo, headquartered in Venice. It does business in the $1 billion range and has acquired a reputation for bold and innovative advertising.

AEROSPACE INDUSTRY, a combination of firms producing missiles, spacecraft, aircraft, communications networks, and navigational instruments. It is an offshoot of the giant aircraft industry of World War II, and became the dominant feature of the Los Angeles economy beginning in the 1950s. The term aerospace entered into general use in 1959, after the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in that year. The industry drew upon the combined efforts of several elements: a strong existing aircraft industry (Hughes, Douglas, Lockheed, etc.), a distinguished academic science institution (Caltech), a government rocket laboratory (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and a private rocket-building firm (Aerojet-General). General Dynamics, Litton Industries, North American, and numerous small firms were also part of the scene. The heart of the missile industry of the non-Communist world was located just south of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), with branches in the San Fernando Valley and Orange County.

The postwar industry underwent repeated rejuvenation during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War, when missiles increasingly replaced airplanes on the assembly lines. The industry was dominated by stellar physicists and engineers, notably Theodore von Karman, Simon Ramo, Clark Millikan, and Dean Wooldridge. Ramo and Wooldridge set up their own technological firm, later known as Thompson, Ramo, Wooldridge (TRW). The air force established its own aerospace think tank in Santa Monica, the nonprofit RAND Corporation, whose staff developed scientific strategies for the Cold War. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the industry provided jobs for some half a million people--nearly 43 percent of the region's total manufacturing employment. Aerospace had become the area's most important manufacturing industry.

With the end of the Cold War and a decline in defense spending, the industry initiated a major restructuring and downsizing. Defense spending by NASA and the Department of Defense peaked in 1987, and thereafter fell sharply. Over 20 percent of the work force was let go in the ensuing three years. Even after downsizing, in 1991 aerospace accounted for 225,600 jobs in Los Angeles County, or about 5 percent of the total employment, and 24 percent of manufacturing jobs. The largest dislocations occurred in Canoga Park, Lancaster, North Hollywood, Glendale, and Torrance.

Business leaders and elected officials have begun pursuing ways of converting the industry to peacetime pursuits. They seek new commercial markets and are exploring ways to recycle old production facilities and retrain and adapt the highly skilled work force. They have pressed for tax incentives and government supports for new research and development, and for an elimination of certain environmental regulations to stimulate growth.

Some astronauts in the space program are products of Los Angeles area high schools: Walter Cunningham (Venice High School), Sally Ride (West-lake School for Girls), and Kathleen Sullivan (Taft High School).

A. F. GILMORE COMPANY. See Gilmore Company, A. F.

AFI. See American Film Institute

AFL-CIO. See Labor union movement

AFRICAN AMERICANS were prominent in the first Spanish settlement of Los Angeles in 1781. Twenty-six of the 44 original settlers (pobladores) were of black or mixed ancestry. Most came from Sinaloa, Mexico, where two-thirds of the residents were mulatos. In the 1790s Francisco Reyes, an African American, received ownership of the San Fernando Valley and became mayor of the pueblo. Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, was of African-Mexican descent. The number of blacks was eclipsed by new immigrants in the early American years. Only about a dozen of the 1,600 county residents listed in the 1850 census were black, including a successful barber, Peter Biggs. In the second half of the century Robert Owens and ex-slave Biddy Mason became astute real estate investors and prominent landowners. In the 1880s Lucky Baldwin hired African American families from South Carolina to work on his ranch, some of whom bought land in Monrovia.

The African American community's political awakening came during the Progressive Era from 1900 to 1917. In 1903 Jefferson Lewis Edmond and other Progressive-leaning blacks at the First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church created the Los Angeles Forum to foster political debate. The statewide Afro-American Council and the Women's Civic League, along with two newspapers, the Liberator and the California Eagle, also worked for

This "City of the Angels" is anything else, unless the angels are fallen ones. --John W. Audubon

social reform and the end of discrimination. Frederick M. Roberts was the first African American elected official. A Republican, in 1918 he represented the "Black Belt" district of Los Angeles in the state assembly. Although nominally associated with the party of Lincoln, most black Angelenos remained alienated from politics. Marcus Garvey's black nationalist movement was popular among working-class blacks in the 1920s. The swing to the Democratic Party occurred in the 1930s.

Although overshadowed by white immigration, the numbers of African Americans grew steadily: 188 in 1880, 1,200 in 1890, 2,800 in 1900 (2.5 percent of the total population), 15,500 in 1920, and 19,000 in 1929. By 1930 Los Angeles was home to the largest black community on the Pacific Coast. Although they faced discrimination, many families owned their own homes and had improved their previous living conditions in what has been called the Golden Era for blacks in Los Angeles. They operated their own churches, restaurants, businesses, nightclubs, insurance organizations such as Golden State Mutual Life, and civic groups.

Distinctive African American neighborhoods sprang up in Los Angeles. The Budlong district near downtown Los Angeles was a favorite area for sleeping-car porters, redcaps, and their families. "Sugar Hill" in the West Adams district was preferred by the small black middle class. Central Avenue, with its churches and businesses, was "Main Street" for black Los Angeles during the 1920s. It stretched as far as Slauson Avenue, where whites threw up an invisible racial barrier that endured until World War II. The color bar, maintained by enforceable racial covenants, was especially rigid in the beach cities, where black occupancy was restricted in the first part of the century; the only exception was Venice, where blacks lived while working at the amusement complex there.

Owing to employment opportunities in the aircraft industry, migration from the South quickened during World War II and continued after the war. The suburban farming town of Watts was one site transformed by this migration. By 1950, 218,000 blacks resided in Los Angeles County. It was a period of developing black organizations, one that influenced the careers of such future city leaders as Tom Bradley and Gilbert Lindsay.

The increase of the county's African American population has slowed considerably in recent decades. In the 1980s it grew by only I percent. At the same time, the black population has dispersed widely, more than doubling its numbers in 163 communities, though remaining a minority in most of them. In South Central Los Angeles the black population fell by 17 percent during that decade.

Leimert Park Village, a cluster of stores at 43rd Place and Degnan Boulevard in the Leimert Park area, serves a population in the surrounding area that was 92 percent African American in the early 1990s. The village has become a center for African American artists and professionals.

AFRICANS. According to the 1990 U.S. Census, 28,850 Africans live in Los Angeles. More than half of them immigrated between 1980 and 1990. Of the 52 nations of Africa, the ones with the greatest representation in Los Angeles County are Egypt, 10,271; South Africa, 3,363; Nigeria, 2,900; Ethiopia, 2,890; Morocco, 1,753; Kenya, 985; Ghana, 780; Senegal, 94; and other, 5,814. Their residences are dispersed throughout the Los Angeles region, although the most concentrated center of African businesses is on Degnan Boulevard in Leimert Park. The African Times newspaper is published for Africans living in Los Angeles.

AFRO-AMERICAN MUSEUM. See California Afro-American Museum

AFTRA. See American Federation of Television and Radio Artists

AGOURA, partly incorporated, partly unincorporated area in the far western part of the county 47 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. It was first inhabited by Chumash Indians, then by Spanish colonials. The Reyes Adobe, built between 1797 and 1820 on Rancho Las Virgenes, is still extant. In 1924 the area was known as Independence, and shortly afterward as Picture City because Paramount Studios bought 335 acres. The name was rejected in 1927 by the U.S. Post Office, which preferred one-word names. The town was finally called Agoure, after a local Basque rancher, the e soon being dropped in favor of an a.

From the 1960s to the 1980s Agoura hosted the annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire. Recently, most of the area was incorporated as Agoura Hills, except for a small portion on unincorporated county territory that still calls itself Agoura. The population of the city of Agoura Hills grew an astonishing 79 percent between 1980 and 1990, reaching a total of 20,400. It is governed by a council and city manager. The Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation has been instrumental in protecting the area from overdevelopment.

AGRICULTURE, primary source of wealth in Los Angeles County in the 19th century, and a significant factor throughout most of the first half of the 20th. From 1910 to the early 1950s Los Angeles was the leading county in the nation in farm production, with oranges the leading crop through much of that period.

Because the Gabrieleno Indians were gatherers rather than farmers, agriculture started in Spanish colonial days. The mission fathers recruited Indian laborers to plant grapes, wheat, barley, corn, and citrus trees and to herd cattle, horses, and sheep. From the 1780s the citizens of the pueblo (pobladores) who were farmers became successful by shipping their surpluses to the presidio at Santa Barbara. The rancheros raised cattle for hides and tallow to trade with Yankee outsiders. Grapes were cultivated for wine by Jean Louis Vignes and others, and William Wolfskill began growing citrus fruit commercially Local cattle herds were driven north into the gold mining areas during the Gold Rush. In 1862 and 1865 a drought devastated thousands of head of cattle, leading to a breakup of the ranchos. For a time sheep raising became prevalent. In the 1870s the San Fernando Valley was given over to extensive wheat growing. Cattle growers now raised animals on enclosed pastures instead of the open range, improved their herds, and placed greater emphasis on dairying.

Agricultural jobs were associated with ethnicity. Indian neophytes cultivated the orchards, gardens, and fields and, for cheap wages or in peonage, worked as vaqueros herding the cattle for the missions and ranchos. They were followed by other minorities, often migratory and poorly paid. Southern California crops such as lemons, strawberries, and tomatoes were labor intensive and dependent on cheap labor. The Chinese worked in orchards and truck gardens in the 1880s, and soon the Japanese were replacing them. Mexicans were also part of the local migratory labor pool.

In the peak agricultural year of 1942 over 318,000 acres were farmed in the county as a whole; by 1987 only about 32,000 acres were under cultivation. Farming survives mainly on land owned by electric power companies where other permanent structures are outlawed: nursery crops--trees, shrubs, and plants--are grown beneath high-tension power lines. In addition to raising chickens and horses, the county also produces eggs (West Covina), onions, sprouts, strawberries, alfalfa, and milk. In the past three or four decades farmers have taken refuge on the high desert in the Antelope Valley. About 77,000 acres of barley and other crops were farmed there in 1960, before the growers were beset by problems of drought, pests, and rising water prices. By 1990 the amount of cultivated land in that valley had dropped to 10,600 acres. Even so, 50,000 tons of onions were harvested in 1993, under the flight path of air force planes. At the same time, Antelope Valley land has become extremely valuable; farms bought 15 years earlier sold in 1993 for about 15 times their original price, or $30,000 an acre. The rapid rise in land costs in valley areas with such evocative names as Pearblossom and Almondale has been due largely to the development of housing tracts. No government policy has been established to save the region's farmland.

AGUA DULCE, unincorporated rural area of the county in the eastern Santa Clarita Valley. In the 1870s the area, which is completely surrounded by hills, became a hideout for the bandit Tiburcio Vasquez. The land has been ranch country since the late 19th century, with some mining taking place in nearby Soledad Canyon. Bawdy establishments secluded themselves along the old "Sierra Highway" connecting Los Angeles and Palmdale. Today the Antelope Valley Freeway runs just south of Agua Dulce.

AGUILAR, CRISTOBAL, mayor of Los Angeles from 1866 to 1868 and again from 1871 to 1872. In 1868 he made a momentous decision by vetoing a city council proposal to sell off the city's water rights. Had he not done so the city would have rescinded exclusive ownership of water rights. thus forfeiting its ability to become a major metropolis.

AHMANSON, HOWARD (1906-1968), entrepreneur and philanthropist. An insurance broker since 1928, Ahmanson was considered an upstart in the savings and loan industry in 1947 when he bought the struggling Home Building and Loan Association for $162,000 and built it into the largest savings and loan in the nation. In 1988 his enterprise, renamed Home Savings and Loan (more recently shortened to Home Savings), had assets of $36 billion and employed 11,000. He donated money to establish the Ahmanson Theatre, which opened in 1957, and became a member of the governing board of the Los Angeles Music Center. Ahmanson also contributed to construction of the main gallery of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and, as a trustee of USC, gave a substantial donation to its Center for Biological Research.

AIDS (ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME), fatal disease caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The first diagnoses in the county occurred in 1981 when five cases of rare pneumonia were traced to the new disease. The spreading illness soon reached alarming proportions. By April 1995 over 29,100 cases and 19,200 deaths had been reported in the county. Homosexual or bisexual men accounted for 79 percent of the cases, intravenous drug users for 5 percent, and women for 4 percent. The remaining cases included babies born to infected mothers, people who had received tainted blood injections, etc. AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), with strong roots in the gay community, is the largest nonprofit social service agency dealing with the illness. Responding to public pressure, the county and city have created a task force to cope with the crisis. "Safe sex" has begun to reduce the rate of infection, social service agencies have become more responsive, and drugs are helping patients to live longer. In a major effort to prevent the spread of AIDS, the Los Angeles Board of Education authorized the distribution of condoms in city high schools.

Copyright © 1997 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

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