Historically home to the Chumash and Tongva, Los Angeles was claimed by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo for Spain in 1542 along with the rest of what would become Alta California. The city was officially founded on September 4, 1781, by Spanish governor Felipe de Neve. It became a part of Mexico in 1821 following the Mexican War of Independence. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican–American War, Los Angeles and the rest of California were purchased as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, thereby becoming part of the United States. Los Angeles was incorporated as a municipality on April 4, 1850, five months before California achieved statehood. The discovery of oil in the 1890s brought rapid growth to the city. The completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, delivering water from Eastern California, later assured the city's continued rapid growth.
Nicknamed the "City of Angels" in part because of how its name translates from the Spanish, Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic diversity, and sprawling metropolis. The city is also one of the most substantial economic engines within the nation, with a diverse economy in a broad range of professional and cultural fields. Los Angeles is also famous as the home of Hollywood, a major center of the world entertainment industry. A global city, it has been ranked 6th in the Global Cities Index and 9th in the Global Economic Power Index. The Los Angeles combined statistical area (CSA) also has a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $831 billion (as of 2008), making it the third-largest in the world, after the Greater Tokyo and New York metropolitan areas. Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics and will host the Olympic Games for a third time in 2028.
The Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes thousands of years ago. A Gabrielino settlement in the area was called iyáangẚ (written Yang-na by the Spanish), meaning "poison oak place."
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese-born explorer, 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.
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 de Porciúncula;" in English, this translates as "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula." The Queen of the Angels (feast day Aug. 2) is an honorific of the Virgin Mary; indeed, the present-day city still retains an active Roman Catholic Archdiocese, and as noted below, this archdiocese of Roman Catholicism remains the largest such archdiocese in the United States. Two-thirds of the settlers were mestizo or mulatto with 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.
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 with the completion of the Southern Pacific line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil 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, assured the continued growth of the city. Due to clauses in the city's charter that effectively prevented the City of Los Angeles from selling or providing water from the aqueduct to any area outside its borders, many adjacent city and communities became compelled to annex themselves into Los Angeles.
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.
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.
The 1960s saw race relations boil over into the Watts Riots of 1965 which resulted in 34 deaths and over 1,000 injuries. It was the most severe riot in the city's history until the Los Angeles riots of 1992. In 1969, Los Angeles became the birthplace of the Internet, as the first ARPANET transmission was sent from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to SRI in Menlo Park.
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 until then – the other, according to an analysis of contemporary newspaper reports, being 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 the police officers captured on videotape beating Rodney King, culminating in large-scale riots. They were the largest riots in US history causing approximately $1.3 billion in damage as well as 53 deaths and over 2,000 injuries.
In 1994, the 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, voters defeated 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.
The city is divided into over 80 districts and neighborhoods, many of which were incorporated places or communities that merged into the city. These neighborhoods were developed piecemeal, and are well-defined enough that the city has signage marking nearly all of them.
More broadly, the city is divided into the following areas: Downtown Los Angeles, East Los Angeles and Northeast Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, the Harbor Area, Greater Hollywood, Wilshire, the Westside, and the San Fernando and Crescenta Valleys.
The city's street pattern generally follows a grid plan, with uniform block lengths and occasional roads that cut across blocks. However, this is complicated by rugged terrain, which has necessitated having different grids for each of the valleys that Los Angeles covers. Major streets are designed to move large volumes of traffic through many parts of the city; many of which are extremely long: Sepulveda Boulevard is 43 miles (69 km) long, while Foothill Boulevard is over 60 miles (97 km) long, reaching as far east as San Bernardino. Drivers in Los Angeles suffer from one of the worst rush hour periods in the world, according to an annual traffic index by navigation system maker, TomTom. L.A. drivers spend an additional 92 hours in traffic each year. During the peak rush hour there is 80% congestion, according to the index.
Los Angeles is often characterized by the presence of low-rise buildings. Outside of a few centers such as Downtown, Warner Center, Century City, Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Hollywood and Westwood, skyscrapers and high-rise buildings are not common. The few skyscrapers that are built outside of those areas often stand out above the rest of the surrounding landscape. Most construction is done in separate units, rather than wall-to-wall. That being said, downtown Los Angeles itself has many buildings over 30 stories, with fourteen over 50 stories, and two over 70 stories (the tallest buildings west of Chicago-see List of tallest buildings in Los Angeles). Also, Los Angeles is increasingly becoming a city of apartments rather than single family dwellings, especially in the dense inner city and Westside neighborhoods.
Important landmarks in Los Angeles include the Hollywood Sign, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Capitol Records Building, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Angels Flight, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Dolby Theatre, Griffith Observatory, Getty Center, Getty Villa, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Venice Canal Historic District and boardwalk, Theme Building, Bradbury Building, U.S. Bank Tower, Wilshire Grand Center, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles City Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Battleship USS Iowa, Watts Towers, Staples Center, Dodger Stadium, and Olvera Street.
The city of Los Angeles covers a total area of 502.7 square miles (1,302 km2), comprising 468.7 square miles (1,214 km2) of land and 34.0 square miles (88 km2) of water. The city extends for 44 miles (71 km) longitudinally and for 29 miles (47 km) latitudinally. The perimeter of the city is 342 miles (550 km).
Los Angeles is both flat and hilly. The highest point in the city proper is 5,074 ft (1,547 m) Mount Lukens, located at the northeastern end of the San Fernando Valley. The eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains stretches from Downtown to the Pacific Ocean and separates the Los Angeles Basin from the San Fernando Valley. Other hilly parts of Los Angeles include the Mt. Washington area north of Downtown, eastern parts such as Boyle Heights, the Crenshaw district around the Baldwin Hills, and the San Pedro district.
Surrounding the city are much higher mountains. Immediately to the north lie the San Gabriel Mountains, which is a popular recreation area for Angelenos. Its high point is Mount San Antonio, locally known as Mount Baldy, which reaches 10,064 feet (3,068 m). Further afield, the highest point in the greater Los Angeles area is San Gorgonio Mountain, with a height of 11,503 feet (3,506 m).
The Los Angeles River, which is largely seasonal, is the primary drainage channel. It was straightened and lined in 51 miles (82 km) of concrete by the Army Corps of Engineers to act as a flood control channel. The river begins in the Canoga Park district of the city, flows east from the San Fernando Valley along the north edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, and turns south through the city center, flowing to its mouth in the Port of Long Beach at the Pacific Ocean. The smaller Ballona Creek flows into the Santa Monica Bay at Playa del Rey.
Los Angeles is rich in native plant species partly because of its diversity of habitats, including beaches, wetlands, and mountains. The most prevalent plant communities are coastal sage scrub, chaparral shrubland, and riparian woodland. Native plants include: California poppy, matilija poppy, toyon, Ceanothus, Chamise, Coast Live Oak, sycamore, willow and Giant Wildrye. Many of these native species, such as the Los Angeles sunflower, have become so rare as to be considered endangered. Though it is not native to the area, the official tree of Los Angeles is the Coral Tree (Erythrina caffra) and the official flower of Los Angeles is the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae). Mexican Fan Palms, Canary Island Palms, Queen Palms, Date Palms, and California Fan Palms are common in the Los Angeles area, although only the last is native.
Los Angeles is subject to earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The geologic instability has produced numerous faults, which cause approximately 10,000 earthquakes annually in Southern California, though most of them are too small to be felt. The strike-slip San Andreas Fault system is located at the boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, and is vulnerable to the "big one", a potentially large and damaging event. The Los Angeles basin and metropolitan area are also at risk from blind thrust earthquakes. Major earthquakes that have hit the Los Angeles area include the 1933 Long Beach, 1971 San Fernando, 1987 Whittier Narrows, and the 1994 Northridge events. Nevertheless, all but a few are of low intensity and are not felt. The USGS has released the UCERF California earthquake forecast which models earthquake occurrence in California. Parts of the city are also vulnerable to tsunamis; harbor areas were damaged by waves from the Valdivia earthquake in 1960.
Los Angeles has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb on the coast, Csa inland), and receives just enough annual precipitation to avoid either Köppen's BSh or BSk (semi-arid climate) classification. Los Angeles has plenty of sunshine throughout the year, with an average of only 35 days with measurable precipitation annually. The coastal region around Los Angeles has a climate that is comparable to coastal areas of southeastern Spain such as Alicante or Elche, in temperature range and variation, in sunshine hours and as well as annual precipitation levels.
Temperatures in the coastal basin exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on a dozen or so days in the year, from one day a month in April, May, June and November to three days a month in July, August, October and to five days in September. Temperatures in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys are considerably warmer. Temperatures are subject to substantial daily swings; in inland areas the difference between the average daily low and the average daily high is over 30 °F (17 °C). The average annual temperature of the sea is 63 °F (17 °C), from 58 °F (14 °C) in January to 68 °F (20 °C) in August. Hours of sunshine total more than 3,000 per year, from an average of 7 hours of sunshine per day in December to an average of 12 in July.
The Los Angeles area is also subject to phenomena typical of a microclimate, causing extreme variations in temperature in close physical proximity to each other. For instance, the average July maximum temperature at the Santa Monica Pier is 75 °F (24 °C) whereas it is 95 °F (35 °C) in Canoga Park. The city, like much of the southern California coast, is subject to a late spring/early summer weather phenomenon called "June Gloom". This involves overcast or foggy skies in the morning which yield to sun by early afternoon.
Downtown Los Angeles averages 14.93 in (379 mm) of precipitation annually, which mainly occurs during November through March, generally in the form of moderate rain showers, but sometimes as heavy rainfall during winter storms. Summer days are usually rainless. Rarely, an incursion of moist air from the south or east can bring brief thunderstorms in late summer, especially to the mountains. The coast gets slightly less rainfall, while the inland and mountain areas get considerably more. Years of average rainfall are rare. The usual pattern is year to year variability, with a short string of dry years of 5–10 in (130–250 mm) rainfall, followed by one or two wet years with more than 20 in (510 mm). Wet years are usually associated with warm water El Niño conditions in the Pacific, dry years with cooler water La Niña episodes. A series of rainy days can bring floods to the lowlands and mudslides to the hills, especially after wildfires have denuded the slopes.
Both freezing temperatures and snowfall are extremely rare in the city basin and along the coast, with the last occurrence of a 32 °F (0 °C) reading at the downtown station being January 29, 1979; freezing temperatures occur nearly every year in valley locations while the mountains within city limits typically receive snowfall every winter. The greatest snowfall recorded in downtown Los Angeles was 2.0 inches (5 cm) on January 15, 1932. At the official downtown station, the highest recorded temperature is 113 °F (45 °C) on September 27, 2010, while the lowest is 28 °F (−2 °C), on January 4, 1949. During autumn and winter, Santa Ana winds sometimes bring much warmer and drier conditions to Los Angeles, and raise the wildfire risk.
A Gabrielino settlement in the area was called iyáangẚ (written Yang-na by the Spanish), which has been translated as "poison oak place". Yang-na has also been translated as "the valley of smoke". Owing to geography, heavy reliance on automobiles, and the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, Los Angeles suffers from air pollution in the form of smog. The Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley are susceptible to atmospheric inversion, which holds in the exhausts from road vehicles, airplanes, locomotives, shipping, manufacturing, and other sources.
The smog season lasts from approximately May to October. While other large cities rely on rain to clear smog, Los Angeles gets only 15 inches (380 mm) of rain each year: pollution accumulates over many consecutive days. Issues of air quality in Los Angeles and other major cities led to the passage of early national environmental legislation, including the Clean Air Act. More recently, the state of California has led the nation in working to limit pollution by mandating low-emission vehicles. Smog is expected to continue to drop in the coming years because of aggressive steps to reduce it, which include electric and hybrid cars, improvements in mass transit, and other measures.
The number of Stage 1 smog alerts in Los Angeles has declined from over 100 per year in the 1970s to almost zero in the new millennium. Despite improvement, the 2006 and 2007 annual reports of the American Lung Association ranked the city as the most polluted in the country with short-term particle pollution and year-round particle pollution. In 2008, the city was ranked the second most polluted and again had the highest year-round particulate pollution. The city met its goal of providing 20 percent of the city's power from renewable sources in 2010. The American Lung Association's 2013 survey ranks the metro area as having the nation's worst smog, and fourth in both short-term and year-round pollution amounts.
Climate change has already affected Los Angeles with a 4 degree average temperature rise from 1878 to 2005 with a UCLA study predicting that coastal areas will rise 3 to 4 degrees in temperature and urban areas 4 to 4.5 degrees. In 2014, the fire season never finished in Southern California and studies have predicted that climate change will cause more frequent and larger fires by the end of the century. Climate change is also expected to affect sea levels which are expected to rise 5 to 24 inches from 2000 to 2050 leading to higher storm surge and waves, which could result in more extensive flooding that could threaten critical coastal infrastructure.
Los Angeles is also home to the nation's largest urban oil field. There are more than 700 active oil wells located within 1,500 feet of homes, churches, schools and hospitals in the city, a situation about which the EPA has voiced serious concerns.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Los Angeles had a population of 3,792,621. The population density was 8,092.3 people per square mile (2,913.0/km²). The age distribution was 874,525 people (23.1%) under 18, 434,478 people (11.5%) from 18 to 24, 1,209,367 people (31.9%) from 25 to 44, 877,555 people (23.1%) from 45 to 64, and 396,696 people (10.5%) who were 65 or older. The median age was 34.1 years. For every 100 females there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.6 males.
There were 1,413,995 housing units—up from 1,298,350 during 2005–2009—at an average density of 2,812.8 households per square mile (1,086.0/km²), of which 503,863 (38.2%) were owner-occupied, and 814,305 (61.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.1%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.1%. 1,535,444 people (40.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 2,172,576 people (57.3%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Los Angeles had a median household income of $49,497, with 22.0% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
According to the 2010 Census, the racial makeup of Los Angeles included: 1,888,158 Whites (49.8%), 365,118 African Americans (9.6%), 28,215 Native Americans (0.7%), 426,959 Asians (11.3%), 5,577 Pacific Islanders (0.1%), 902,959 from other races (23.8%), and 175,635 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 1,838,822 persons (48.5%). Los Angeles is home to people from more than 140 countries speaking 224 different identified languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Tehrangeles, Little Tokyo, Little Bangladesh and Thai Town provide examples of the polyglot character of Los Angeles.
Non-Hispanic whites were 28.7% of the population in 2010, compared to 86.3% in 1940. The majority of the Non-Hispanic white population is living in areas along the Pacific coast as well as in neighborhoods near and on the Santa Monica Mountains from the Pacific Palisades to Los Feliz.
Mexican ancestry make up the largest ethnic group of Hispanics at 31.9% of Los Angeles' population, followed by those of Salvadoran (6.0%) and Guatemalan (3.6%) heritage. The Hispanic population has a long established Mexican-American and Central American community and is spread well-nigh throughout the entire city of Los Angeles and its metropolitan area. It is most heavily concentrated in regions around Downtown as East Los Angeles, Northeast Los Angeles and Westlake. Furthermore, a vast majority of residents in neighborhoods in eastern South Los Angeles towards Downey are of Hispanic origin.
The largest Asian ethnic groups are Filipinos (3.2%) and Koreans (2.9%), which have their own established ethnic enclaves−Koreatown in the Wilshire Center and Historic Filipinotown. Chinese people, which make up 1.8% of Los Angeles' population, reside mostly outside of Los Angeles city limits and rather in the San Gabriel Valley of eastern Los Angeles County, but make a sizable presence in the city, notably in Chinatown. Chinatown and Thaitown are also home to many Thais and Cambodians, which make up 0.3% and 0.1% of Los Angeles' population, respectively. Japanese comprise 0.9% of L.A.'s population, and have an established Little Tokyo in the city's downtown, and another significant community of Japanese Americans is located in the Sawtelle district of West Los Angeles. Vietnamese make up 0.5% of Los Angeles' population. Indians make up 0.9% of the city's population.
The Los Angeles metropolitan area is home to a large population of Armenians and Iranians, many of whom live in enclaves like Little Armenia and Tehrangeles.
African Americans have been the predominant ethnic group in South Los Angeles, which has emerged as the largest African American community in the western United States since the 1960s. The neighborhoods of South LA with highest concentration of African Americans include Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, Hyde Park, Gramercy Park, Manchester Square and Watts. Apart from South Los Angeles, neighborhoods in the Central region of Los Angeles, as Mid-City and Mid-Wilshire have a moderate concentration of African Americans as well. In 1970, the Census Bureau reported the city's population as 17.9% black, 61.1% non-Hispanic white and 17.1% Hispanic.
According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, Christianity is the most prevalently practiced religion in Los Angeles (65%). Perhaps owing to the fact of its founding by Franciscan friars of Roman Catholicism, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles leads the largest archdiocese in the country. Cardinal Roger Mahony oversaw construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which opened in September 2002 in downtown Los Angeles. Construction of the cathedral marked a coming of age of the city's Catholic, heavily Latino community. There are numerous Catholic churches and parishes throughout Los Angeles.
In 2011, the once common, but ultimately lapsed, custom of conducting a procession and Mass in honor of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, in commemoration of the founding of the City of Los Angeles in 1781, was revived by the Queen of Angels Foundation and its founder Mark Albert, with the support and approbation of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as well as several civic leaders. The recently revived custom is a continuation of the original processions and Masses which commenced on the first anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles in 1782 and continued for nearly a century thereafter.
With 621,000 Jews in the metropolitan area (490,000 in city proper), the region has the second largest population of Jews in the United States. Many of Los Angeles' Jews now live on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley, though Boyle Heights and Northwest Los Angeles once had large Jewish populations. Many varieties of Judaism are represented in the area, including Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstructionist. The Breed Street Shul in East Los Angeles, built in 1923, was the largest synagogue west of Chicago in its early decades. (It is no longer a sacred space and is being converted to a museum and community center.) The Kabbalah Centre also has a presence in the city.
The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel was founded in Los Angeles by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1927 and remains headquartered there to this day. For many years, the church convened at Angelus Temple, which, when built, was one of the largest churches in the country.
The Los Angeles California Temple, the second largest temple operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is on Santa Monica Boulevard in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Dedicated in 1956, it was the first LDS temple built in California and it was the largest in the world when completed.
The Hollywood region of Los Angeles also has several significant headquarters, churches, and the Celebrity Center of Scientology.
Because of Los Angeles' large multi-ethnic population, a wide variety of faiths are practiced, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Bahá'í, various Eastern Orthodox Churches, Sufism and others. Immigrants from Asia for example, have formed a number of significant Buddhist congregations making the city home to the greatest variety of Buddhists in the world. Atheism and other secular beliefs are also common, as the city is the largest in the Western U.S. Unchurched Belt.
The economy of Los Angeles is driven by international trade, entertainment (television, motion pictures, video games, music recording, and production), aerospace, technology, petroleum, fashion, apparel, and tourism. Other significant industries include finance, telecommunications, law, healthcare, and transportation. In the 2017 Global Financial Centres Index, Los Angeles was ranked as having the 19th most competitive financial center in the world, and sixth most competitive in United States (after New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.).
Three of the six major film studios--Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Universal Pictures—are located within the city limits, their locations being part of the so-called "Thirty-Mile Zone" of entertainment headquarters in Southern California.
Los Angeles is the largest manufacturing center in the western United States. The contiguous ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach together comprise the fifth-busiest port in the world and the most significant port in the Western Hemisphere and is vital to trade within the Pacific Rim.
The Los Angeles–Long Beach metropolitan area has a gross metropolitan product of $866 billion (as of 2015), making it the third-largest economic metropolitan area in the world, after Tokyo and New York. Los Angeles has been classified an "Alpha world city" according to a 2012 study by a group at Loughborough University.
The largest employers in the city as of 2009 were, in descending order, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and University of California, Los Angeles. The University of Southern California (USC) is the city's fourth largest employer and the largest private sector employer.
The city was home to six companies in the 2014 Fortune 500.
Los Angeles is often billed as the "Creative Capital of the World", because one in every six of its residents works in a creative industry and there are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any time in history.
The city's Hollywood neighborhood has become recognized as the center of the motion picture industry. Los Angeles plays host to the annual Academy Awards and is the site of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the oldest film school in the United States.
The performing arts play a major role in Los Angeles' cultural identity. According to the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, "there are more than 1,100 annual theatrical productions and 21 openings every week." The Los Angeles Music Center is "one of the three largest performing arts centers in the nation", with more than 1.3 million visitors per year. The Walt Disney Concert Hall, centerpiece of the Music Center, is home to the prestigious Los Angeles Philharmonic. Notable organizations such as Center Theatre Group, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Los Angeles Opera are also resident companies of the Music Center. Talent is locally cultivated at premier institutions such as the Colburn School and the USC Thornton School of Music.
There are 841 museums and art galleries in Los Angeles County. In fact, Los Angeles has more museums per capita than any other city in the world. Some of the notable museums are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (the largest art museum in the Western United States), the Getty Center (part of the larger J. Paul Getty Trust, the world's wealthiest art institution), the Battleship Iowa, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. A significant number of art galleries are located on Gallery Row, and tens of thousands attend the monthly Downtown Art Walk there.
The city of Los Angeles and its metropolitan area are the home of ten top level professional sports teams. These teams include the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB), the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL), the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks of the National Hockey League (NHL), the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS), and the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Other notable sports teams include the UCLA Bruins and the USC Trojans in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), both of which are Division I teams in the Pac-12 Conference.
Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the United States but hosted no NFL team between 1995 and 2015. At one time, the Los Angeles area hosted two NFL teams: the Rams and the Raiders. Both left the city in 1995, with the Rams moving to St. Louis, and the Raiders moving back to their original home of Oakland. After 21 seasons in St. Louis, on January 12, 2016, the NFL announced that the Rams would be moving back to Los Angeles for the 2016 NFL season. A new stadium will be built in Inglewood, California for the team by the 2020 season. Prior to 1995, the Rams played their home games in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1946 to 1979 and the Raiders played their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum from 1982 to 1994. The San Diego Chargers announced that they will become the Los Angeles Chargers beginning in the 2017 NFL season and will play at the StubHub Center in Carson, California for the next three seasons.
Los Angeles has twice hosted the Summer Olympic Games: in 1932 and in 1984, and will host the games for a third time in 2028. Los Angeles will be the third city after London (1908, 1948 and 2012) and Paris (1900, 1924 and 2024) to host the Olympic Games three times. When the tenth Olympic Games were hosted in 1932, the former 10th Street was renamed Olympic Blvd. Super Bowls I and VII were also held in the city, as well as multiple FIFA World Cup games at the Rose Bowl in 1994, including the final. Los Angeles also hosted the Deaflympics in 1985 and Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2015.
Los Angeles boasts a number of sports venues, including Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, The Forum, the StubHub Center, the Staples Center, and the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena.
Los Angeles is a charter city as opposed to a general law city. The current charter was adopted on June 8, 1999 and has been amended many times since then. The elected government consists of the Los Angeles City Council and the Mayor of Los Angeles which operate under a mayor-council government, as well as the city attorney (not to be confused with the district attorney, a county office) and controller. The current mayor is Eric Garcetti. There are 15 city council districts.
The city has many departments and appointed officers, including the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL).
The Charter of the City of Los Angeles ratified by voters in 1999 created a system of advisory neighborhood councils that would represent the diversity of stakeholders, defined as those who live, work or own property in the neighborhood. The neighborhood councils are relatively autonomous and spontaneous in that they identify their own boundaries, establish their own bylaws, and elect their own officers. There are currently about 90 neighborhood councils.
Residents of Los Angeles elect supervisors for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th supervisorial districts.
In the California State Assembly, Los Angeles is split between fourteen districts. In the California State Senate, the city is split between eight districts. In the United States House of Representatives, it is split between ten congressional districts.
Los Angeles experienced a significant decline in crime in the 1990s and late 2000s and reached a 50-year low in 2009 with 314 homicides. This is a rate of 7.85 per 100,000 population—a major decrease from 1980 when a homicide rate of 34.2 per 100,000 was reported. This included 15 officer-involved shootings. One shooting led to the death of a SWAT team member, Randal Simmons, the first in LAPD's history. Los Angeles in the year of 2013 totaled 251 murders, a decrease of 16 percent from the previous year. Police speculate that the drop resulted from a number of factors, including young people spending more time online. Crime increased significantly in 2015 from the low in 2013 with the rate of aggravated assault up 76%, rape up 182.7% and murder up 9.2%.
The Dragna crime family and the Cohen crime family dominated organized crime in the city during the Prohibition era and reached its peak during the 1940s and 1950s with the battle of Sunset Strip as part of the American Mafia, but has gradually declined since then with the rise of various black and Hispanic gangs in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the city is home to 45,000 gang members, organized into 450 gangs. Among them are the Crips and Bloods, which are both African American street gangs that originated in the South Los Angeles region. Latino street gangs such as the Sureños, a Mexican American street gang, and Mara Salvatrucha, which has mainly members of Salvadoran descent, all originated in Los Angeles. This has led to the city being referred to as the "Gang Capital of America".
There are three public universities located within the city limits: California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA), California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Private colleges in the city include the American Film Institute Conservatory, Alliant International University, Syracuse University (Los Angeles Campus), American Academy of Dramatic Arts (Los Angeles Campus), American Jewish University, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy – Los Angeles campus, Antioch University's Los Angeles campus, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Emperor's College, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising's Los Angeles campus (FIDM), Los Angeles Film School, Loyola Marymount University (LMU is also the parent university of Loyola Law School located in Los Angeles), Marymount College, Mount St. Mary's College, National University of California, Occidental College ("Oxy"), Otis College of Art and Design (Otis), Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc), Southwestern Law School, University of Southern California (USC), and Woodbury University.
The community college system consists of nine campuses governed by the trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District: East Los Angeles College (ELAC), Los Angeles City College (LACC), Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), Los Angeles Southwest College, Los Angeles Trade-Technical College and West Los Angeles College.
There are numerous additional colleges and universities outside the city limits in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Los Angeles Unified School District serves almost all of the city of Los Angeles, as well as several surrounding communities, with a student population around 800,000. After Proposition 13 was approved in 1978, urban school districts had considerable trouble with funding. LAUSD has become known for its underfunded, overcrowded and poorly maintained campuses, although its 162 Magnet schools help compete with local private schools.
Several small sections of Los Angeles are in the Las Virgenes Unified School District. The Los Angeles County Office of Education operates the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. The Los Angeles Public Library system operates 72 public libraries in the city. Enclaves of unincorporated areas are served by branches of the County of Los Angeles Public Library, many of which are within walking distance to residents.
The Los Angeles metro area is the second-largest broadcast designated market area in the U.S. (after New York) with 5,431,140 homes (4.956% of the U.S.), which is served by a wide variety of local AM and FM radio and television stations. Los Angeles and New York City are the only two media markets to have seven VHF allocations assigned to them.
As part of the region's aforementioned creative industry, the Big Four major broadcast television networks, ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, all have production facilities and offices throughout various areas of Los Angeles. All four major broadcast television networks, plus major Spanish-language networks Telemundo and Univision, also own and operate stations that both serve the Los Angeles market and serve as each network's West Coast flagship station: ABC's KABC-TV (Channel 7), CBS's KCBS-TV (Channel 2), Fox's KTTV-TV (Channel 11), NBC's KNBC-TV (Chennel 4), Telemundo's KVEA-TV (Channel 52), and Univision's KMEX-TV (Channel 34). The region also has three PBS stations, as well as KCET, the nation's largest independent public television station. KTBN (Channel 40) is the flagship station of the religious Trinity Broadcasting Network, based out of Santa Ana. A variety of independent television stations, such as KCAL-TV (Channel 9) and KTLA-TV (Channel 5), also operate in the area.
The major daily English-language newspaper in the area is the Los Angeles Times. La Opinión is the city's major daily Spanish-language paper. The Korea Times is the city's major daily Korean language paper while The World Journal is the city and county's major Chinese newspaper. The Los Angeles Sentinel is the city's major African-American weekly paper, boasting the largest African-American readership in the Western United States. Investor's Business Daily is distributed from its L.A. corporate offices, which are headquartered in Playa del Rey.
There are also a number of smaller regional newspapers, alternative weeklies and magazines, including the Los Angeles Register, Los Angeles Community News, (which focuses on coverage of the greater Los Angeles area), Los Angeles Daily News (which focuses coverage on the San Fernando Valley), LA Weekly, L.A. Record (which focuses coverage on the music scene in the Greater Los Angeles Area), Los Angeles Magazine, the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (legal industry paper), The Hollywood Reporter, Variety (both entertainment industry papers), and Los Angeles Downtown News. In addition to the major papers, numerous local periodicals serve immigrant communities in their native languages, including Armenian, English, Korean, Persian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, and Arabic. Many cities adjacent to Los Angeles also have their own daily newspapers whose coverage and availability overlaps into certain Los Angeles neighborhoods. Examples include The Daily Breeze (serving the South Bay), and The Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Los Angeles arts, culture and nightlife news is also covered by a number of local and national online guides like Time Out Los Angeles, Thrillist, Kristin's List, DailyCandy, LAist, and Flavorpill.
The city and the rest of the Los Angeles metropolitan area are served by an extensive network of freeways and highways. The Texas Transportation Institute, which publishes an annual Urban Mobility Report, ranked Los Angeles road traffic as the most congested in the United States in 2005 as measured by annual delay per traveler. The average traveler in Los Angeles experienced 72 hours of traffic delay per year according to the study. Los Angeles was followed by San Francisco/Oakland, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, (each with 60 hours of delay). Despite the congestion in the city, the mean travel time for commuters in Los Angeles is shorter than other major cities, including New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago. Los Angeles's mean travel time for work commutes in 2006 was 29.2 minutes, similar to those of San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Among the major highways that connect LA to the rest of the nation include Interstate 5, which runs south through San Diego to Tijuana in Mexico and north through Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle to the Canada–US border; Interstate 10, the southernmost east–west, coast-to-coast Interstate Highway in the United States, going to Jacksonville, Florida; and U.S. Route 101, which heads to the California Central Coast, San Francisco, the Redwood Empire, and the Oregon and Washington coasts.
The LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other agencies operate an extensive system of bus lines, as well as subway and light rail lines across Los Angeles County, with a combined monthly ridership (measured in individual boardings) of 38.8 million as of September 2011. The majority of this (30.5 million) is taken up by the city's bus system, the second busiest in the country. The subway and light rail combined average the remaining roughly 8.2 million boardings per month. In 2005, 10.2% of Los Angeles commuters rode some form of public transportation.
The city's subway system is the ninth busiest in the United States and its light rail system is the country's second busiest. The rail system includes the Red and Purple subway lines, as well as the Gold, Blue, Expo, and Green light rail lines. In 2016, the Expo Line was extended to the Pacific at Santa Monica. The Metro Orange and Silver lines are bus rapid transit lines with stops and frequency similar to those of light rail. The city is also central to the commuter rail system Metrolink, which links Los Angeles to all neighboring counties as well as many suburbs.
Besides the rail service provided by Metrolink and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles is served by inter-city passenger trains from Amtrak. The main rail station in the city is Union Station just north of Downtown.
In addition, the city directly contracts for local and commuter bus service through the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, or LADOT.
The main international and domestic airport serving Los Angeles is Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX, ICAO: KLAX), commonly referred to by its airport code, LAX. The sixth busiest commercial airport in the world and the third busiest in the United States, LAX handled over 66 million passengers and close to 2 million tons of cargo in 2013.
Other major nearby commercial airports include:(IATA: ONT, ICAO: KONT) LA/Ontario International Airport, owned by the city of Los Angeles; serves the Inland Empire.(IATA: BUR, ICAO: KBUR) Bob Hope Airport, formerly known as Burbank Airport; serves the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys(IATA: LGB, ICAO: KLGB) Long Beach Airport, serves the Long Beach/Harbor area(IATA: SNA, ICAO: KSNA) John Wayne Airport of Orange County
One of the world's busiest general-aviation airports is also located in Los Angeles, Van Nuys Airport (IATA: VNY, ICAO: KVNY).
The Port of Los Angeles is located in San Pedro Bay in the San Pedro neighborhood, approximately 20 miles (32 km) south of Downtown. Also called Los Angeles Harbor and WORLDPORT LA, the port complex occupies 7,500 acres (30 km2) of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of waterfront. It adjoins the separate Port of Long Beach.
The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach together make up the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor. Together, both ports are the fifth busiest container port in the world, with a trade volume of over 14.2 million TEU's in 2008. Singly, the Port of Los Angeles is the busiest container ports in the United States and the largest cruise ship center on the West Coast of the United States – The Port of Los Angeles' World Cruise Center served about 590,000 passengers in 2014.
There are also smaller, non-industrial harbors along Los Angeles' coastline. The port includes four bridges: the Vincent Thomas Bridge, Henry Ford Bridge, Gerald Desmond Bridge, and Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge. Passenger ferry service from San Pedro to the city of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island is provided by Catalina Express.
As home to Hollywood and its entertainment industry, numerous singers, actors and other entertainers live in various districts of Los Angeles.
Los Angeles has 25 sister cities, listed chronologically by year joined:
In addition, Los Angeles has the following "friendship cities": London, United Kingdom Łódź, Poland Manchester, United Kingdom Tel Aviv, Israel