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Los Angeles, California

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 skyline facing northeast toward the on a clear winter day.
Downtown Los Angeles skyline facing northeast toward the San Gabriel Mountains on a clear winter day.

The City of Los Angeles (from the Spanish phrase Los Ángeles, meaning the angels), widely known by its abbreviation L.A., is a large coastal conurbation in Southern California in the western United States. It was incorporated as a city in California on April 4, 1850. The city is the county seat of Los Angeles County. Los Angeles is the largest city in California, and the second most populous city in the United States (after New York City), with a population of 3,694,820 as of the 2000 census. A July 1, 2004, Census estimate shows the city's population at 3,847,400. The economy of Los Angeles is driven by agriculture, petroleum, motion pictures, aerospace, international trade, and tourism. It is the largest entry point for immigrants to the United States, with people from every nation. According to at least one typology of world cities, Los Angeles is an "Alpha" world city, since it has hosted two Olympic Games, and is home to renowned scientific and cultural institutions. It is a major center for producing entertainment, including motion picture, TV, and recorded music.

The City of Los Angeles is governed by a mayor and a 15-member council. The Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Public Library System and Los Angeles Unified School District are among the largest such organizations in the country. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power provides service to city residents and businesses.

See also: The Greater Los Angeles Area



Main Article: History of Los Angeles, California

The Los Angeles coastal area was occupied by the Tongva, Chumash, and even earlier Native American peoples for thousands of years. The Spanish people first arrived in 1542, when Juan Cabrillo visited the area. In 1769 the Spanish returned to California to stay. In 1771, the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel was founded, thus establishing a long-term Spanish presence in the area.

On September 4, 1781 settlers from the San Gabriel Mission founded the town and named it El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula, "The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of the Small Portion". It remained a small mission and ranch town for decades.

Mexican independence from Spain was achieved in the 1820's, but the greatest change took place in present day Montebello after the Battle of Rio San Gabriel in 1847, which decided the fate of Los Angeles. Yankees gained control after they flooded into California during the Gold Rush and secured the subsequent admission of California into the United States.

Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1850. Railroads arrived when the Southern Pacific completed its line to Los Angeles in 1876. Oil was discovered in 1892, and by 1923, Los Angeles was supplying one-quarter of the world's petroleum.

Even more important to the city's growth was water. In 1913, William Mulholland completed the aqueduct that assured the city's growth and led to the annexation by the City of Los Angeles, starting in 1915, of dozens of neighboring communities without water supplies of their own.

In the 1920s the motion picture and aviation industries both flocked to Los Angeles and helped to develop it further. The city was the proud host of the 1932 Summer Olympics. World War II brought new growth and prosperity to the city, although many of its Japanese-American residents were transported to internment camps. The post-war years saw an even greater boom as urban sprawl expanded into the San Fernando Valley.

The Watts riots in 1965 reminded the country of the deep divisions that even the nation's youngest city faced. The XXIII Olympiad was successfully hosted in Los Angeles in 1984. The city was tested by the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. A city-wide vote on San Fernando Valley and Hollywood secession was defeated in 2002.

Seismic activity

Like most areas of California, Los Angeles' history is punctuated with major earthquakes, most recently the 1994 Northridge earthquake, centered in the northern San Fernando Valley. Coming less than two years after the LA riots, the Northridge earthquake resulted in an additional shock to Southern Californians, in addition to billions of dollars in damage. Other major earthquakes include the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake and the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.


Main article: Arts and culture of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is famous as the world capital of motion picture production. It is also an important center for music, art, and architecture. As a major global metropolis, Los Angeles has evolved a unique cultural surface that is most influentially portrayed in its main medium, Hollywood.

Despite its young age, Los Angeles has earned impressive fame and inspired much criticism. A frequent stereotype is that Los Angeles is a cultureless wasteland. For more criticism, see Arts and culture of Los Angeles: Criticism.

Residents of the city of Los Angeles are served by the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) and its branch locations. Residents of the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and various cities within the county are served by the County of Los Angeles Public Library The LAPL is funded by voter approved bond and tax levy packages. The Main Library is located in downtown Los Angeles and has been recognized as a National Historic Site.

See also: List of sites of interest in the Los Angeles area


Los Angeles is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers men's basketball teams, the Los Angeles Sparks women's basketball team, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the Club Deportivo Chivas USA and Los Angeles Galaxy soccer teams, and the Los Angeles Avengers arena football team. Los Angeles has been without an NFL franchise since 1995 despite being the second biggest television market in North America.

Anaheim, about 25 miles (40 km) to the south-east, is home to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim hockey team and the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. At various times in history, however, the Angels have been known as the Anaheim Angels and California Angels; talks in 2004 suggested the team was considering returning to the original name, over loud protests from the Anaheim government. In late December 2004 the name was officially changed to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in order to associate with the larger city while still complying with contractual obligations.

Beach volleyball and windsurfing were both invented in the area (though predecessors of both were first invented in some form by Duke Kahanamoku in Hawaii). Venice, also known as Dogtown, is credited with being the birthplace of skateboarding and the place where rollerblading first became popular. Area beaches are popular with surfers, who have created their own subculture.

Los Angeles has twice played host to the summer Olympic Games: in 1932 and in 1984.

Los Angeles is perhaps the most mountainous metropolis in the world, with four mountain ranges partly inside city boundaries. Thousands of miles of trails crisscross the city and neighboring areas, providing exercise and wilderness access on foot, bike, or horse. Across the county a great variety of outdoor activities are available, such as skiing, rock climbing, gold panning, hang gliding, and windsurfing. Numerous outdoor clubs serve these sports, including the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, which annually leads over 4,000 outings in the area.


Los Angeles is remarkably rich in native plant species. With its beaches, dunes, wetlands, hills, mountains, and rivers, the area contains a number of important biological communities. The largest area is coastal sage scrub, which covers the hillsides in combustible chaparral. Native plants include: California poppy, matilija poppy, toyon, coast live oak, giant wild rye grass , and hundreds of others. Unfortunately, many native species are so rare as to be endangered, such as the Los Angeles sunflower .

Jacaranda blossom
Jacaranda blossom

There are many exotic flowers and flowering trees that are blooming year-round, with subtle colors, including the jacaranda, hibiscus, phlox, bougainvillea, coral tree blossoms and bird of paradise. If there were no city here, flower-growing could still flourish as an industry, as it does in Lompoc. Wisteria has been known to grow to house-lot-size, and in Descanso Gardens, there are forests of camellia trees. Orchids require special attention in this Mediterranean climate.


Los Angeles is served by the Los Angeles Times and La Opinión (the city's major Spanish-language paper.), as well as smaller regional newspapers, alternative weeklies and magazine, including the Los Angeles Newspaper Group's Daily News (which focuses coverage on the Valley), Village Voice Media's L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Los Angeles magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles Daily Journal (legal industry paper), Variety, (show-biz industry paper), and Los Angeles Downtown News. In addition to the English and Spanish language papers, numerous local periodicals serve immigrant communities in their native languages.

Most of the above papers are center-left or left in their political stance with the clear exception of the Daily News, which is center-right. One example of this is that the L.A. Times often does high-quality investigative journalism on important inner-city issues like healthcare and crime, while the L.A. Daily News is usually content to run wire stories on those issues, if it covers them at all. The L.A. Daily News also focuses on business issues, education, crime, and supports lowering taxes.

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 .

See: List of Los Angeles television stations


Los Angeles is home to adherents of many religions. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles leads the largest archdiocese in the country. Roger Cardinal Mahony oversaw construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, completed in 2002 at the north end of downtown. A major temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is situated in West Los Angeles. Los Angeles has the second-largest Jewish community in the United States, rivaled only by New York City.

The Azusa Street Revival (1906–1909) in Los Angeles was a key event in the growth of the Pentecostal movement. Los Angeles' large multi-ethnic population has fostered some of the less common religions of North America. Immigrants from Asia, for example, have formed a number of significant Buddhist congregations. Today, the Church of Scientology has a major presence in Hollywood. The Self-Realization Fellowship is also based in Hollywood and has a private park in Pacific Palisades. Los Angeles is the home to a number of Neopagans and other mystical religions. One wing of the Theosophist movement is centered in Los Angeles, and another is set in neighboring Pasadena.

The city has also been home to some very colorful religious leaders and icons. In the 1920s, Aimee Semple McPherson established a thriving evangelic ministry, with her Angelus Temple in Echo Park open to both black and white congregants. Billy Graham became a celebrity during a successful revival campaign in Los Angeles. Until his death in 2005, Dr. Gene Scott was based near downtown. Los Angeles has been a destination for Swamis and Gurus as early as 1900. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded the Transcendental Meditation movement in Los Angeles in the late 1950s.


K-12 schools

The primary school district that serves Los Angeles is the Los Angeles Unified School District.

After Proposition 13 in 1978, urban school districts had considerable trouble with funding and LAUSD became known for its underfunded, overcrowded and poorly maintained campuses. Wealthy and upper-middle-class parents placed their children in elite private schools like Harvard-Westlake, Crossroads School, The Buckley School, Milken Community High School , Brentwood School, and Marlborough, while middle-class families fled into suburban school districts beyond LAUSD boundaries.

Since then, the LAUSD has embarked on an aggressive school construction program to relieve overcrowding, and has developed high-quality magnet schools to nurture talented students and encourage them to remain within the public school system.

Colleges and universities

++Los Angeles Community College District

Note: for more colleges and universities in the L.A. area, such as Caltech, see Los Angeles County, California#Colleges and universities

Law and government

Main article: Law and government of Los Angeles

Los Angeles city hall
Los Angeles city hall

Law enforcement

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) polices the city of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department polices all unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County and some cities which have contracted for law enforcement services because they lack police departments of their own, including Calabasas, West Hollywood, and Compton.

Some people claim that 95 percent of all outstanding homicide warrants and 60 percent of outstanding felony warrants in the city are for illegal aliens. [1] The ability of all Californian cities to enforce outstanding warrants is currently being hampered by an ongoing international crisis based on fundamental differences in American and Mexican constitutional law; see 1917 Constitution of Mexico.

City government

The city has a mayor-council system. The current mayor is James Hahn. There are 15 city council districts. Other elected city officials are city attorney, Rocky Degadillo, and the city controller. The city attorney prosecutes misdemeanors within the city limits. The district attorney, elected by the county voters, prosecutes misdemeanors in unincorporated areas and in 78 of the 88 cities in the county, as well as felonies everywhere in the county.

The city government has been perceived as insufficiently effective by some of its areas, which ultimately led to an unsuccessful secession movement by the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood in 2002. The main problem seems to be that the city administration in Downtown gives more priority to high-density neighborhoods like Mid-City and Downtown at the expense of its far-flung suburban neighborhoods.

To make the government more responsive and to help encourage the cohesiveness of neighborhood communities, the city council has promoted the formation of neighborhood councils . These advisory councils were first proposed by city council member Joel Wachs in 1996 and were incorporated in the Charter Reform of 1999. The councils cover districts which are not necessarily identical to the traditional neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the borders of which often reflect those of cities that were annexed to Los Angeles (see Communities, neighborhoods and districts below). More than 90 neighborhood councils have been formed and all stakeholders in a district may vote for council members. Though the councils have little actual power, they are still official government bodies and so must abide by California's Brown Act that strictly governs the meetings of deliberative assemblies. These and other regulatory requirements have proven frustrating for activists unaccustomed to bureaucratic procedures. The first notable achievement of the neighborhood councils was their organized opposition in March 2004 to an 18% increase in water rates by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (a municipal monopoly), which led the city council to suspend the rate hike pending further study.

See also: List of mayors of Los Angeles, California

Legal system

The Los Angeles County Superior Court has jurisdiction over all cases arising under state law, while the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California hears all federal cases. Both are headquartered in a large cluster of government buildings in the city's Civic Center.

Unlike the largest city in the United States, New York, all of the city of Los Angeles and most of its important suburbs are located within a single county. As a result, both the county superior court and the federal district court are respectively the busiest courts of their type in the nation.

Thanks to Hollywood, celebrities like O.J. Simpson are frequently seen in Los Angeles courts. In 2003, the tabloid television show Extra (based in nearby Glendale) found itself running so many reports on the legal problems of local celebrities that it spun them off into a separate show, Celebrity Justice.

State cases are appealed to the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, which is also headquartered in the Civic Center, and then to the California Supreme Court, which is headquartered in San Francisco but also hears argument in Los Angeles (again, in the Civic Center). Federal cases are appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which hears them at its branch building in Pasadena. Of course, the court of last resort for both federal and state cases is the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.


Many movies and songs about Los Angeles depict the fact that the city is home to a large number of gangsters and professional criminals. As a result, people around the world know that the number 187 means murder in California. According to a May 2001 Drug Threat Assessment by the National Drug Intelligence Center, Los Angeles County is home to 152,000 gang members organized into 1,350 gangs. Every day, the middle pages of Los Angeles newspapers are packed with brief reports of violent crimes that would be front page news in almost any other city in the United States.

In Los Angeles, car chases happen more often then most major cities (sometimes a few times in one week) because Los Angeles' complex freeway system makes it easier to continue on for miles while still in the same general area. One is also more likely to see car-to-car shootings (see road rage), drive-by shootings, thrill killings, hit-and-run accidents, and carjackings; numerous instances of all these crimes are documented on the LAPD press release Web site [2]. One example of how frequent shootings can be is a report on two fatal shootings on the Harbor Freeway through South Central Los Angeles that happened within two weeks[3].

There are crime video games that take place in Los Angeles such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (which has a city named Los Santos which is based on Los Angeles) and True Crime: Streets of LA (which takes place in Los Angeles and is a close replica of the area).

In Los Angeles County and many other Southern California counties, a person may not be arrested or questioned solely for immigration status. For example, a police officer may not question an illegal alien about his or her immigration status or take action about it unless there is a valid, but different reason for the alien to be questioned or other actions at all.

Sister cities

Los Angeles has 20 Sister Cities, more than any other municipality in California. Notable sister cities include Athens, Jakarta, Berlin, Mumbai, Vancouver, Mexico City, Makati and St. Petersburg.


Los Angeles' large urban sprawl: About 16 million people live in the imaged area.
Los Angeles' large urban sprawl: About 16 million people live in the imaged area.

Main article: Geography of Los Angeles

The city is situated in a semitropical Mediterranean climate zone.

L.A. has a total area of 472.08 square miles (1,223 km²). The extreme north-south distance is 44 miles (71 km), the extreme east-west distance is 29 miles (47 km), and the length of the city boundary is 342 miles (550 km).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1,290.6 km² (498.3 mi²). 1,214.9 km² (469.1 mi²) of it is land and 75.7 km² (29.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 5.86% water.

The highest point in Los Angeles is Sister Elsie Peak, 5,080 feet at the far reaches of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, part of Mt. Lukens. The city is mostly at sea level elevation or a few feet above.

The major waterway of Los Angeles is the Los Angeles River.

See also: Los Angeles Basin, San Fernando Valley


Despite its relative decentralization, Los Angeles has the fourth largest skyline in the United States (after New York City, Chicago, and, Houston). The skyline of Los Angeles has recently started rapid growth due to a severe housing shortage, as the majority of the new skyscrapers is housing. Some examples includes Elleven[4], a tri-tower complex (13, 17, and 27 story towers) at 11th and Grand in downtown, The Californian on Wilshire[5] which is a 23 story condominium tower on Wilshire Boulevard in Westwood, as well as many others. See also: Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, California

The skyline of Los Angeles is contained in several different areas, although few are connected to each other. Century City and the parts of Wilshire Boulevard through Westwood make up a busy skyline that is often confused with the downtown skyline. Downtown has the tallest skyline, however, and mixes extremely tall high-rises with lower high-rises (most around 12 stories) from the times when there was a low height limit. Warner Center in the San Fernando Valley has a small skyline of commercial towers, with the tallest being around 25 stories. Encino, also in the San Fernando Valley, has many towers along Ventura Boulevard and nearby streets that have high-rises with story amounts in the 20's. The area around LAX as well as the stretch of Century Boulevard to the direct east of LAX also makes a small, mid-rise skyline. A majority of Wilshire Boulevard has mid-rises outside of Century City, such as in the Miracle Mile and Mid-Wilshire .

Urban layout

From a height, a flat area completely filled with houses, buildings, roads, and freeways
From a height, a flat area completely filled with houses, buildings, roads, and freeways

Greater Los Angeles (also referred to locally as "Southern California" or "The Southland") is such a sprawling area that residents refer to broad general sub-regions. It is not always meaningful to refer to Los Angeles as a distinct city, but people outside of Southern California commonly refer to the entire region as "L.A.," even though there are five counties, more than 100 distinct municipalities, hundreds of neighborhoods and districts, and more people than any individual state except for Texas, New York, Florida, and, of course, California.

At the same time, the area's reputation for sprawl is more historic than real in today's terms. Los Angeles achieved a high degree of automobile ownership earlier than most urban areas, and as a result it developed somewhat less densely. This decentralization has resulted in the city of Los Angeles having a very low population density compared to other large American cities (less than one-third the density of New York City, and nearly half the density of Chicago). In contrast to this, the extent of the region's suburban sprawl as been so thoroughly cultivated so as to result in a greater metropolitan area with a relatively high density of 7,070 people per square mile (2,730/km²) according to the 2000 census. This is slowly beginning to change, however, as real estate investment is becoming increasingly focused towards central areas of the city; Downtown Los Angeles is gaining more skyscrapers (mainly residential), and the effects are shown, such as a decreased office vacancy rate, as well as increased values and tourism. See also Bunker Hill, Los Angeles, California.

Some areas are bounded by natural features such as mountains or the ocean; others are marked by city boundaries, freeways, or other constructed landmarks. For example, Downtown Los Angeles is the area of Los Angeles roughly enclosed by three freeways and one river: The Harbor Freeway to the west, the Hollywood Freeway to the north, the Los Angeles River to the east, and the Santa Monica Freeway to the south. Or, consider the San Fernando Valley: Lying north-northwest of Downtown L.A., "The Valley" is a 15 mile (24 km) wide basin ringed by mountains.

Some other areas of Los Angeles include the Westside; South L.A. (formerly known as South Central L.A.); and the San Pedro/Harbor City area. Adjoining areas that are outside the actual city boundaries of the incorporated city of Los Angeles include the South Bay, the San Gabriel Valley and the Foothills. The San Pedro/Harbor City area was annexed to the city of Los Angeles so the city could have access and control over the Port of Los Angeles and is only connected by a narrow Corridor with the rest of L.A, which follows the Harbor Freeway for the most part. Many Angelenos consider the Eastside to be the area east of the Los Angeles River, above Orange County.

Angelenos usually identify other Angelenos based on what part of the area they are from, and have commonly-spread biases towards such people. For example, a person from the westside usually is contrasted with a person from the eastside. A person from the valley is not considered to be identical to people from the South Bay.

The city boundaries are quite complicated. For example, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are completely surrounded by the City of Los Angeles except for a small border the two cities share. Culver City is surrounded by L.A. except where it shares a boundary with the unincorporated communities of Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills. Both Santa Monica and Marina del Rey are surrounded except on their ocean side. San Fernando in the northern corner of the San Fernando Valley is also a separate city entirely surrounded by L.A. territory. There are also unincorporated enclaves which are under Los Angeles County jurisdiction.

Communities, neighborhoods and districts

 is a well-known area of Los Angeles, formerly housing many actors and actresses
Hollywood is a well-known area of Los Angeles, formerly housing many actors and actresses

The city is divided into many neighborhoods. Most of the neighborhood names come either from farm towns that were annexed by the growing city, physical terrain features, major streets, or subdivision names coined by enterprising developers. These divisions have no legal status but are of significance to residents for cultural and financial reasons. Signs have been placed on major thoroughfares designating some of the communities, a practice going back decades. (The "neighborhood councils" of Los Angeles began in 1999 and often follow different borders).

Depending on the context, West Los Angeles can refer to either a specific neighborhood or the entire Westside.

Related topics:

Area codes

Area code 213 - Downtown L.A.
Area code 323 - Doughnut-shaped area surrounding downtown, including greater Hollywood, the Fairfax neighborhood, East L.A., northern South-Central L.A.
Area code 310 - West L.A. and the South Bay
Area code 562 - South-West L.A. County, Whittier, Long Beach area
Area code 626 - Pasadena, San Gabriel Valley
Area code 661 - Antelope Valley including Palmdale, Lancaster; Santa Clarita
Area code 818 - The San Fernando Valley, Glendale
Area code 909 - Pomona, parts of the east County


Main article: Economy of Los Angeles

The most important industries in Los Angeles are entertainment, adult entertainment, and media production, aerospace, telecommunications, law, tourism, health and medicine, manufacturing and transportation. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are vital to North American trade with the Pacific Rim countries.

Companies headquartered in Los Angeles (by neighborhood)

Companies headquartered in cities adjacent to Los Angeles (by city)

Few major companies are headquartered within the boundaries of the City of Los Angeles for a variety of reasons, such as the city's high taxes. For example, Los Angeles charges a gross receipts tax based on a percentage of business revenue, while most neighboring cities charge only small flat fees. The companies below clearly benefit from their proximity to Los Angeles, while at the same time they also avoid the city's taxes (and other problems).

There are many other well-known companies with headquarters located in the County of Los Angeles or the greater Los Angeles area, but they are far beyond the City of Los Angeles (and the scope of this article). See the Economy section of the Los Angeles County article for a list of such companies in Los Angeles County.


Main article: Transportation of Los Angeles. See also: Freeway system of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the center of the huge Southern California freeway system. While L.A. is considered to be the home of traffic jams and car culture , the L.A. freeway system successfully handles millions of commuters as they endure a daily collective migration of about 99 million miles (160,000,000 km). The MTA and other agencies operate bus, subway and light railroad lines which together carry over a million passengers a day. Rail passenger service is provided by Amtrak and Metrolink from historic Union Station. Rail shipping is handled by Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The main Los Angeles airport is LAX, although the area also includes numerous regional airports. LAX handled 55 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo in 2003. The sea ports of the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach combine to make the third largest container shipping port in the world.

Due to Los Angeles geography and massive car use, the city suffers from severe air pollution in the form of smog. The Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley hold in the fumes from automobiles, diesel trucks, shipping, and locomotive engines, as well as manufacturing and other sources. In addition the groundwater is increasingly threatened by MTBE from gas stations and perchlorate from rocket fuel. Some consider urban sprawl to be a result of the city's transportation system.


The people of Los Angeles are known as "Angelenos". L.A. can truly be described as a "world city" -- that is, it has one of the largest and most diverse populations of any municipality anywhere. The Hispanic and Asian American populations are growing particularly quickly--the Asian American population is the largest of any city in the U.S. Los Angeles hosts the largest populations of Armenians, Cambodians, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Koreans, Thais, Mexicans, and Salvadorans outside of their respective countries. Los Angeles is also home to the largest populations of Japanese, Iranians, and Cambodians living in the U.S. L.A. also has one of the largest Native American populations in the country.

L.A. is home to people from more than 140 countries, who speak at least 92 different languages. Ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Thai Town, Historic Filipino Town, and Little Ethiopia give testimony to the polyglot character of Los Angeles.


As of the census of 2000, there are 3,694,820 people, 1,275,412 households, and 798,407 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,041.3/km² (7,876.8/mi²). There are 1,337,706 housing units at an average density of 1,101.1/km² (2,851.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 46.93% White, 11.24% African American, 0.80% Native American, 9.99% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 25.70% from other races, and 5.18% from two or more races. 46.53% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race and 29.75% White, not of Latino/Hispanic origins.

There are 1,275,412 households out of which 33.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% are married couples living together, 14.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% are non-families. 28.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.83 and the average family size is 3.56.

In the city the population is spread out with 26.6% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 34.1% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 99.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $36,687, and the median income for a family is $39,942. Males have a median income of $31,880 versus $30,197 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,671. 22.1% of the population and 18.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 30.3% of those under the age of 18 and 12.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Educational Attainment

Of 2,308,887 people 25 years of age or older, 437,758 have less than a 9th grade educational attainment, 332,414 have between a 9th-12th grade educational attainment with no diploma, 401,938 are high school graduates or equivalent, 424,785 have some college education but with no degree, 122,931 have an associate degree, 379,630 have a bachelor's degree, and 209,431 have a graduate or professional degree.


Of 2,182,114 native people, 1,485,576 were born in California, 663,746 were born in a different state of the United States of America, and 31,792 were born in a United States territory (Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, or Northern Marianas).

Of 1,512,720 foreign born people, 100,252 were born in Europe, 376,767 were born in Asia, 20,730 were born in Africa, 4,104 were born in Oceania, 996,996 were born in Latin America, and 13,859 were born in Northern America. Of such foreign born people, 569,771 entered between 1990 to March 2000. 509,841 are naturalized citizens and 1,002,879 are not citizens.


There are 1,690,316 people at least 16 years old in the labor force, of which 1,688,652 are in the civilian labor force , 1,664 are in the Armed Forces, and 156,578 are unemployed. There are 756,303 females that are at least 16 years old in the labor force.

The mean time to commute to work (one-way) is 29.6 minutes.

Of the workers, 1,209,942 are privately employed, 162,402 are government workers, 153,551 are self-employed, and 6,179 are unpaid family workers.

Leaving to work

Of the 1,433,200 workers that do not work at home, 97,677 leave to go to work between 5:00 A.M.-5:59 A.M., 117,065 leave between 6:00-6:29 A.M., 126,156 leave between 6:30-6:59 A.M., 211,629 leave between 7:00-7:29 A.M., 190,922 leave between 7:30-7:59 A.M., 179,318 leave between 8:00-8:29 A.M., 94,857 leave between 8:30-8:59 A.M., 204,567 leave between 9:00-11:59 A.M., 85,128 leave between 12:00 P.M.-3:59 P.M., and 125,881 leave at all other times.


Of 1,494,895 out of the 1,690,316 workers 16 years or older, 982,735 drive to work alone in a motor vehicle, 220,408 carpool, 152,435 use public transportation (including taxicabs), 53,386 walk, 2,474 use a motorcycle, 9,052 use a bicycle, and 12,710 use other means of transportation to commute to work. 61,695 work at home.

Of the 220,408 workers that carpool, 163,508 have a carpool of 2 people, 34,845 have 3 people, 13,266 have 4 people or more, 5,682 have 6-7 people, and 3,107 have 7 or more people.

Of the 152,435 workers that use public transportation, 144,973 use bus or trolley bus, 804 use a streetcar, 3,054 use a subway, 1,730 use rail service, 136 use a ferryboat, and 1,738 use a taxicab.

Real Estate

Of the structures containing the 1,337,668 housing units in the city, 524,787 are in a structure of only 1 detached unit, 87,776 are in a structure of only 1 attached unit, 42,814 are in a structure of 2 units, 86,253 are in a structure of 3-4 units, 126,263 are in a structure of 5-9 units, 138,634 are in a structure of 10-19 units, 322,059 are in a structure of 20 or more units, 8,222 are a mobile home, and 860 are a boat, R.V., van, or similar constructs.

Of the 1,337,668 housing units, 7,250 were built between 1999-March 2000, 25,363 between 1995-1998, 49,785 between 1990-1994, 148,376 between 1980-1989, 200,978 between 1970-1979, 234,429 between 1960-1969, 447,923 between 1940-1959, and 223,564 were built in 1939 or earlier.

940,097 housing units use utility gas for house heating fuel, 17,170 use bottled, tank, or LP gas, 260,453 use electricity, 647 use fuel oil, kerosene, or similar fuels, 124 use coal or coke, 1,881 use wood, 3,137 use solar energy, 2,117 use some other fuel, and 49,732 do not use fuel. 16,682 units lack complete plumbing facilities, 26,606 lack complete kitchen facilities, and 27,672 units do not have telephone service.

Of 782,164 renter-occupied units, 21,720 units have a rent of less than $200, 22,915 have rent between $200-$299, 123,579 have rent between $300-$499, 300,153 have rent between $500-$749, 162,156 have rent between $750-$999, 101,720 have rent between $1,000-$1,499, 35,384 have rent of $1,500 or more, and 14,537 do not pay rent in the form of cash.

Related topics: Maps of Los Angeles, California

Notable natives

See: List of Los Angeles natives

Films about Los Angeles

  • Thom Andersen, Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003). A reflective compilation film about the presentation of Los Angeles in Hollywood films.
  • Steve Martin & Mick Jackson, L.A. Story (1991). A loving satire of L.A. culture featuring Steve Martin & Sarah Jessica Parker

Further reading

  • Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, Vintage Books 1992
  • Lynell George, No crystal stair : African Americans in the city of angels, London : Verso, 1992
  • Norman M. Klein, The History of Forgetting: Los Angeles and the Erasure of Memory, Verso 1997

See also

External links

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