THE ANGELS financial companies, offices of the most famous multinationals. It is the cradle of the film industry: Hollywood is home to many film studios and has been considered the capital of American cinema for more than fifty years. Also important is the tourist activity favored by the mild climate and the proximity of famous beaches such as Long Beach, Santa Barbara, Malibu and Santa Monica.
Los Angeles is one of the American metropolises that excite the most, because it is unique in its kind. In 1927 Sid Grauman built Mann’s Chinese Theater, a sumptuous building stylistically inspired by Chinese temples where the first visions during the golden years of Hollywood were presented. In front of its entrance, stars of the caliber of Elizabeth Taylor, Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne have imprinted the imprint of their hand and foot in the concrete. In the historic center, the so-called “El Pueblo de Los Angeles”, characterized by numerous 19th century adobe buildings, is crossed by Olvera Street, which hosts street performers and colorful stalls all year round.The grandiose train station built in 1939 in the style of a Spanish mission is called Union Station and once used to stop legendary trains such as the Daylight Special or the City of Los Angeles. Along the Front Walk there are stalls selling t-shirts and sunglasses. The best panoramic view of Los Angeles is from Griffith Observatory.
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Do not miss the J. Paul Getty Museum, sensational not only for the architecture of Richard Meier (1987-97) but also for the rich collection of paintings, graphics, furniture and other precious objects that were part of the collection of the billionaire. Sunset Boulevard, a two-lane, palm-lined boulevard runs through Bel Air and Beverly Hills creating an oasis of man-made luxury where smog seems to have given way to swaying palm trees, flowering gardens and sumptuous villas, most with pools private and tennis court.
In the expensive fashion ateliers on nearby Rodeo Drive the creations of the most successful Italian and French designers triumph. If you are a shopping fanatic, stroll three streets further on Third Street Promenade, the pedestrian area between Broadway and Wilshire Boulevard which offers some exclusive boutiques alongside the usual chain stores.
It has a Mediterranean climate thanks to the San Gabriel mountains that surround it and protect it from the cold and dry winds coming from the North. The total population residing in the metropolitan area (approximately 10,000,000) makes the city the second largest center by population in the United States.
History– On September 4, 1781, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles was founded by 44 colonists from New Spain, present-day Mexico. The heads of the families of the eleven founding families formed a multiracial body, made up of Hispanics, (Antonio Clemente Villavicencio and Jose Fernando Lara), blacks, (Antonio Mesa and Luis Quintero), Indians (José Vanegas, Pablo Rodríguez, Basilio Rosas and Alejandro Rosas), mulatto, (Manuel Camero and José Moreno), and a mestizo, (José Antonio Navarrese). Despite their varied racial origins, they shared language, culture and religion. The first elections in Los Angeles took place in 1788, and elected the first mayor José Vanegas, an Indian.
One of the first settlers, the mulatto Juan Francisco Reyes, was mayor between 1793 and 1795. Owner of the San Fernando Valley Ranch, he negotiated with the Franciscans in 1797 so that a mission could be built there. Tiburcio Tapla, became an important figure in Los Angeles starting in 1833, after being elected mayor three times, and in addition to being a judge. Catalina Moreno, grandson of the mulatto founder José Moreno, married General Andrés Pico, of the famous Pico family. His brother-in-law Pio Pico was the last governor of California under the Mexican regime. The Pico brothers had Indian and African ancestry, and some descendants of the black founder Luis Quintero still live in Los Angeles. One of their nephews was mayor of Santa Barbara. Eugene Biscailuz, a great-grandson, was a sheriff of Los Angeles. María Valdez, a granddaughter, had a ranch that is now known as Beverly Hills. These are some of the many personalities of various origins who have made important contributions to the development of Los Angeles, a large cosmopolitan city that is now the second largest in the country.
In 1769, Hispanic explorers traced a road that was known as El Camino Real, between San Diego and San Francisco, along which a series of missions were founded. Led by Father Junipero Serra by Captain Gaspar de Portola, and by Father Juan Crespi, the expedition of about 67 men arrived at the site today corresponds to the Elysian Park in modern Los Angeles on August 2. The expedition left the area the following day, three earthquakes surprised them in its short stay. Despite everything, Crespi saw the possibilities of founding a large settlement in this delightful place on the banks of the river. The new governor of California, Felipe de Neve, recommended the site suggested by Father Crespi to the viceroy of Mexico, the ideal place for building a mission. Charles III, King of Spain, took the recommendation into consideration and instructed the governor de Neve to build a village. De Neve took the task of building this settlement very seriously. He drew up the plans for the town, including a square, fields and meadows. It was the first planning of the city before the arrival of the first settler in the Los Angeles settlement. Despite the excellent arguments that De Neve proposed such as money and land, it took months to attract new settlers, so much so that he had to go all the way to Sonora to look for them. Finally, a group of eleven men, eleven women, and twenty-two children arrived as a group at the San Gabriel Mission.
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With a speech by Governor De Neve, the prayers and blessings of the missionary fathers, all under the supervision of the Yang-Na Indians, Il Paese di Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciuncula (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angeles of Porciuncula).
The new country was growing slowly, and there was little entertainment. The houses were very small, usually made of brick with flat roofs, glassless windows, and rough cane doors. The narrow streets became almost impassable when it rained. In 1790 Los Angeles had 28 homes and a population of 139 people. In 1800 the population was 315, distributed in 70 families. This Hispanic city, neither known nor cared for by the United States, was born, moved and grew on the edge of the rest of the continent. The first Yankee settler arrived only in 1820.
It became an important railway junction in the second half of the 19th century, and it quickly developed after the discovery of large oil fields and after the development of the agricultural and film industries.
What to see – Museums, buildings, and tourist sites
Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA. Considered one of the ten best architectural works in the United States, the Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, is formed from an intricate ensemble of pyramidal, cylindrical and cubic shapes. Exhibits a good selection of post-1940 art.
Museum of Television and Radio. This recently opened museum fills a void in museums across Los Angeles, with exhibits, screenings, lectures and lectures.
Autry Museum of Western Heritage. It has one of the largest collections in the world dedicated to Western history and art.
Sunset Boulevard– Its liveliest and most historic part, Sunset Strip, is now filled with restaurants, luxury hotels and nightclubs. Once a haunt of gamblers and smugglers, this 2.5 km long strip was home to famous clubs such as Ciro’s and Mocambo, where according to legend Margarita Cansino met the tycoon Harry Cohen, who renamed it Rita Hayworth. While the Strip remains the center of nightlife, old “Hollywood” now in full swing is the trendiest place, with plenty of nightclubs, restaurants and shops, most notably the Hollywood & Highland Center.
Hollywood Boulevard– Among the most famous streets in the world there is certainly Hollywood Boulevard, still today synonymous with the world of cinema. Despite the somewhat scruffy appearance taken on by the avenue in recent years, most of its most characteristic corners still retain the charm of the past. Here is the only sidewalk in the city that is cleaned six days a week, the Walk of Fame, in which more than 2,500 marble stars are set. Since 1960, celebrities from film, radio, television, theater and music have been immortalized on this boulevard and Vine Street.
Union Station. Built by the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe railway companies, it opened in 1939 and cost more than $ 11 million. This is the last major station in America. More than one and a half million people visited it in the first three days.
Fort Moore. It commemorates the construction of the fort during the Mexican-American War in 1847. Construction material was obtained from the San Gabriel Mountains, with a battalion of Mormon volunteers doing most of the work.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Park. It consists of a large space surrounded by Alameda, Arcadia, Spring and Macy streets, it has many historical monuments, such as: the Avila Adobe, ranch built by Don Francisco Avila in 1818, the oldest residence in the city, the Old Plaza, center of ‘activity in the ancient town of Los Angeles, the Present Plaza, inaugurated in 1815, the Church of the Old Plaza, the oldest church in the city, founded in 1822, Olvera Street, one of the oldest in the city that now functions as a Mexican market, the Casa Pico, the Casa Sepulveda, built in 1887 as a residence and hotel, the Statue of Felipe de Neve, founder of Los Angeles; the Statue of Charles III, erected in 1976 for the 200th anniversary of the United States.
Cathedral of Saint Vibiana. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It has been closed since May 1995 due to damage during the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It is surrounded by abandoned buildings and, given its state, its future is uncertain. Projects for the Los Angeles Cathedral began in 1859. Using land donated to the Church by Amiel Cavalier, architect Ezra Kysor designed the building. The cathedral was consecrated in 1876; four years later and with an investment of $ 80,000, it was completed.
City Hall. Completed in 1927, it is an unusual mixture of architectural styles. One of its architects, John Bakewell, said it was a modern interpretation of the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century.
Casa de Adobe. It is a reconstruction of a California residence, completed at the end of the First World War. It has two dozen rooms, and the furnishings are original, two of the three bedrooms are furnished with furniture used by the Sepulveda and Pico families. Disneyland
. It is the most popular and covers about 30 hectares. Older and smaller than its copy in Florida, it is divided into seven parts, crossed by a monorail: Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierlan, New Orleans, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
Berry Knott´s Berry Park. It is the oldest amusement park of all. It evokes simple America in the memory of Cordelia Knott selling roast chickens in her oven during the Depression.
Marineland. It is located near the cliffs of the Pacific, where you can admire whales, dolphins, sea lions.
Magic Mountain. It has 75 rides and boasts some of the largest and longest roller coaster in the world.
The most famous neighborhoods of Los Angeles
Beverly Hills. At the turn of the century there were only a few hills with herds and oil wells, and it did not reach its maximum extent until the arrival of the film industry. The first to settle were Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. It has some extravagant buildings like the Spadina House, inspired by the tale of Hansel and Gretel, or the decadent Tudor-style Doheny Mansión, built by an oil tycoon. The commercial part of Beverly Hills merged Wilshire Boulevard with Rodeo Drive, an artery with the most exclusive shops in the world. In Beverly Hills there are also small ethnic and cultural neighborhoods, with art galleries.
. It is a neighborhood in the hills of the western part of the city, it has one of the highest percentages of Rolls-Royce per person. In this neighborhood is the UCLA public university, the Frank Wright Gallery and the Schoenberg Hall, dedicated to the memory of the composer Arnold Schoenberg who taught there in the 1930s and 1940s.
Santa Monica. Thanks to its cool sea breeze, mild climate and friendly environment, Santa Monica has been the pearl of the Los Angeles coast since 1890. Situated on a high yellowish cliff overlooking Santa Monica Bay, it is famous for its restaurants., the commercial areas and the active artistic environment. The city is dotted with green parks, none of which are as beautiful as Palisades Park, on a promontory overlooking the ocean. For 2.5km along the cliff’s edge, this well-kept park is a prime spot to watch the sunset. To fully experience California, you have to walk or run through the park’s paths, with the ocean in the background and palm trees overhead.
SAN DIEGO – City and port of the United States, located in the state of California, on the shores of the bay of the same name.
San Diego is the southernmost of all California cities, being practically on the border with Mexico, at the great peninsula of Baja California.
San Diego was founded by the Spaniards in 1769 who made it an outpost for the penetration of the Catholic religion. The city owes its development to the Pacific Ocean. The port has found an ever greater development thanks to the shipbuilding industry and to the presence of an impressive fleet of offshore fishing boats.
The particularly favorable climate has played a primary role in making San Diego a destination of great interest for tourism. Places of interest include the Zoo, Mission San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument, where the Point Loma Lighthouse (1855) is located, and SeaWorld. SeaWorld’s park covers 76 acres along Mission Bay. The fabulous Bayside Skyride roller coaster reaches 30m high, circling the loop against the backdrop of Mission Bay. The main attractions of SeaWorld, however, are the whale exhibits. Shamu’s Happy Harbor is a water park dedicated to children. SeaWorld is also involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals and has educational and environmental protection programs. Very close to the city is Mount Palomar, which is the largest telescope in the world. The economy is based on the aviation, chemical and food sectors, fishing and commercial port and, to a lesser extent, agriculture.
SAN FRANCISCO – A somewhat crazy urbanism, with roads that storm the hills in a straight line instead of going around as usually happens. An urban landscape made of hollows and bumps with small rose gardens around pastel houses, of residences with very original stairways and columns, of ribbed, round or oval windows, carved into the wooden facades. Spectacular observation points everywhere on Sausalito, on the bridge, on the new buildings surrounding the second largest Chinese district in America, with impeccable geometry. The big cars rock, they venture with the caution of cats on climbs with a gradient of 20%, disappear into the abyss of asphalt to reappear on the nearby ridge.
San Francisco is the commercial and cultural center of the Bay Area, a metropolitan region surrounded by the cities of San José to the south, Oakland, Berkeley and Concord to the east, and San Rafael, Nappa and Sonoma to the north. This region, called the Bay Area, has the fifth largest metropolitan market in the country. The main industries in the city are service industries, including tourism, business and legal services, finance, insurance and real estate services. San Francisco is an important international center for trade and a gateway to trade with the shores of the Pacific, as well as with Mexico and Latin America. The economies of the Bay Area and San Francisco are among the richest in the state.
The community was founded in 1776, when the Spaniards built a fortress to guard the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Shortly after, in the same year, Mission San Francisco de Asis (now Mission Dolores) was built. In 1830, the construction of a third settlement in the north-eastern sector of the city began, called Yerba Buena.
The United States snatched Yerba Buena from Mexico in 1846, which was then renamed San Francisco in 1847. In 1848, gold was found in California, near Sacramento, and the resulting wave of prospectors soon turned San Francisco into a thriving community that acquired the rank of city in 1850.
Grown as a landing and supply point, it soon became a cosmopolitan administrative and cultural center. In 1869, the transcontinental railroad reached the area, and by 1900 San Francisco already had more than 340,000 inhabitants. On April 18, 1906, a strong earthquake struck the city, causing a fire that lasted three days and destroyed most of the center and much of the residential area. Despite this, the city was rebuilt in a short time. The city was badly damaged by another earthquake in 1989, from which it recovered quickly. During the Second World War, San Francisco was an important naval shipbuilding center and in 1945, at the end of the war, the international conference that gave birth to the United Nations Organization (UN) took place in the city. Between 1960 and 1970 many large buildings in the city were built, and some residential areas were revitalized. In the late 1950s, San Francisco was the cradle of the Beat Generation literary movement.
What to see – The Golden Gate Bridge is 11km long (including access). Once the California gold rush passed, Fisherman’s Wharf became a favorite fishing boat dock, while today it houses a shopping mall.
Currently the hottest neighborhoods in San Francisco are Cow Hollow and South of Market. The local Chinatown, between Broadway, Bush, Kearny and Stockton Street, is the second largest Chinese community in the US, after that of New York.
Union Square– Decorated with palm trees, it is located in the heart of the most important commercial district of the city and offers numerous high-end department stores. The neighborhood’s churches, clubs and synagogue were replaced by shops and offices. Major department stores in the area include Macy’s, Saks and Gump’s. There are also numerous antique bookshops and small boutiques.
Alcatraz Island– Alcatraz in Spanish means “pelican”, in homage to the first inhabitants of this rocky and steep island. From 1934 to 1963 it was a maximum security federal penitentiary. Renamed “The Rock” by inmates, it housed an average of 264 of the country’s most notorious criminals annually, transferred here for misconduct while in other US prisons. Today Alcatraz is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
San Francisco City Museum– Inaugurated in 1991, the museum’s objectives are the acquisition, collection, organization, conservation and display of materials relating to the history of the city and its surroundings, as well as the sharing of historical information on the facts and myths of the past. It is also a research center for visitors, school groups and students.
Museum of Modern Art– This museum is one of the main reasons for San Francisco’s fame as a world center of modern art. The modernist building of the Swiss architect Mario Botta revolves around a cylindrical window measuring I 38 m, which channels the light up to the atrium on the first floor. The 4600 square meters of the museum contains more than 17,000 works of art, with interesting programs and exhibitions from all over the world.
Golden Gate Railroad Museum – Is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of railway material, freight and passengers, and to give an interpretation of the history of local railways.
Young Museum– The de Young Museum, closed due to the irreparable damage suffered in the 1989 earthquake, reopened its doors in 2005 in a new anti-seismic building, with an exhibition space doubled compared to the old museum despite having returned about 0.8 hectares to the park of green. The permanent collection includes American art from the 17th to the 20th centuries and works from around 30 countries. Frequent temporary exhibitions are also set up. Outside there is a garden adorned with statues and terraces and another garden for children.