The New International Encyclopædia/Los Angeles (California)

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LOS ANGELES, lṓs ăṉ′gĕl-ĕs or ān′jĕl-ĕs. The largest city of southern California, and the county-seat of Los Angeles County. 480 miles southeast of San Francisco; on the Los Angeles River, 20 miles from its mouth, and on the Southern California, the South Pacific, and the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake railroads (Map: California, D 4). It is immediately south of the Sierra Madre range, and 15 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, though San Pedro, its seaport, a city with a harbor admitting vessels of 20 feet draught, and having (1900) 1787 inhabitants, is distant 25 miles.

Los Angeles is renowned for its beauty, and for the healthfulness of its mild, equable climate. Its broad avenues are embowered in luxuriant foliage, and the adjacent orange groves and fine fruit gardens present a marked contrast to the barren coasts of the vast unirrigated region thereabouts. In the vicinity are other places celebrated as pleasure, health, and seaside resorts, notably Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, and Santa Catalina Island. The city is the seat of a State normal school, Saint Vincent's College (Roman Catholic), opened in 1865, University of Southern California (Methodist Episcopal), opened in 1880, and Occidental College (Presbyterian), opened in 18S7. Among the prominent buildings are the city hall, county court-house, Federal building, opera house, Roman Catholic cathedral, and the Blanchard Art Building. Also of interest are the Old Plaza Church, the headquarters of General Frémont, the viaduct of the electric street-car road over the railroad tracks in the eastern part of the city, the district known as Chinatown, and Sonora Town. There are a public library of 60,000 volumes, several hospitals and asylums, beautiful cemeteries, a crematory, and magnificent botanical gardens and parks — notably Elysian, Westlake, Eastlake, Echo, Hollenbeck, Griffith, Central, and Plaza parks. More than 3700 acres in parks are accessible to the public; of these fully 3000 acres are outside the city limits.

Los Angeles has important fruit-growing and shipping interests, and is an extensive wine-making place. Oranges and lemons are by far the leading exports, but there is a large trade also in cereals and garden stuff. The city is the mining centre for southern California and Arizona, the surrounding region having valuable deposits of gold, silver, lead, and coal, and producing asphalt and petroleum. The refining of petroleum is an important industry in Los Angeles.

The government is vested in a mayor, biennially elected; a unicameral council; and administrative departments. The public library is in charge of five trustees appointed by the executive; the police, fire, park, and health departments are each in the hands of four commissioners elected by the council, the mayor being ex-officio member of these bodies and chairman; the department of education is under the control of a board of nine members, one from each ward, chosen by popular election. The city spends annually in maintenance and operation over $1,350,000, the main items of expense being about $445,000 for schools, $130,000 for the police department, $125,000 for the fire department, $90,000 for street-cleaning, $55,000 for parks, and $45,000 for municipal lighting.

Los Angeles was settled by the Spaniards as Puebla de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles (City of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels) in 1781, and until 1847 alternated with Monterey as the seat of government for the Mexican Province of California. In 1846 it was taken by Commodore Stockton, U.S.N., after slight opposition. In 1851 it was chartered as a city. Population, in 1850, 1610; in 1860, 4385; in 1870, 5728; in 1880, 11,183; in 1890, 50,395; in 1900, 102,479, with a foreign-born population of 20,000, and a total colored population of 4400, including 2100 persons of negro descent.