A History of Los Angeles

Go back in time by revisiting the past of Los Angeles

Los Angeles has a rich history and we can help you book a rental car so you can enjoy Los Angeles today.

Originally settled thousands of years ago by several Native American tribes including the Tongva and Chumash. In 1781, Spanish explorers founded a pueblo they named La Reyna de los Angeles (queen of the angels) on the site of present day downtown LA. In 1821, Los Angeles (with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants) became part of Mexico, which had won its independence from Spain. At the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1847, the United States signed a treaty and purchased the California territory. Three years later, in 1850, California became the 31st state.

By 1900, Los Angeles had a population of 100,000 - which didn't even put it among the top 20 largest American cities. But LA was about to hit its stride. The film industry was born and grew up quickly, with a dozen studios in and around Hollywood by 1910. Oil was also discovered in the Los Angeles, and by 1920, California led the nation in oil production, pumping one-quarter of the world's supply. In that year, the population had grown to 500,000, and LA was the 10th largest city in the country.

Over the next 20 years, the population of Los Angeles tripled to 1,500,000, making it the 5th largest city in America in 1940. And the growth would only continue during and after the Second World War. The construction of the freeway system in the 1950s gave LA its famous sprawl as people from all over the country flocked to the Southern California metropolis with its booming economy, temperate climate and easy-going lifestyle. In 1960, LA was the 3rd largest city with 2.5 million residents. And 20 years later, it overtook Chicago as America's 2nd city, after only New York.

In 2010, Los Angeles County (which includes the city of LA, neighboring cities such as Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, plus unincorporated areas) has a population of 10 million people, making it the most populous county in the United States.

Los Angeles is really the center of the Southern California megalopolis, stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and east to Palm Springs - encompassing nearly 20 million people. All of whom, it seems, are on the freeway with you.