History of Los Angeles County, California
Los Angeles County has grown to be the most populated county in the United States with a little more than ten million people living there. But while the county was officially formed in 1850 when the state of California was established, the history of the county dates back well before then.
People have inhabited the land that Los Angeles County is based on for at least the last five thousand years. Around 5,000 people were living in the region in the eighteenth century when Spanish explorers reached the area. Mexicans from Sonora had formed the region, but in 1771 the San Gabriel Mission was formed by Father Junipero Serra as a new community for Spanish settlers. In 1777 Spanish governor Felipe de Neve established a new pueblo in the region. This was designed as the Spanish took control of much of the region.
Carpenter Joseph Chapman moved into Los Angeles County in 1818 as the first English-speaking resident of the area. Many other Americans would eventually move into the region. The county grew even further following Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1821. The population started to grow shortly after as more ranches grew while more mission lands became accessible to the public for development.
In 1850, Los Angeles County was officially formed as California became a part of the United States. The county was nearly 34,000 square miles in size. It was cut apart three times in the nineteenth century with Kern, Orange and San Bernardino Counties formed from land space previously occupied by Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County became a popular place for oil exploration and drilling in the early twentieth century. There were nearly 1,500 oil wells in the county during the industry’s peak.
The railroad industry was also prominent in the county. The Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad was popular for linking people between Los Angeles and San Pedro. Additional rail stations were formed in the county to take in people who moved into the region from across the country.
The entertainment industry would start to grow in the early twentieth century as the beautiful scenery and weather of Los Angeles County made it conducive to many film shoots. Many film studios from New York moved out to Los Angeles to make it easier for them to shoot movies. The Nestor Film Company was formed in Los Angeles in 1911 as the first film studio in the county. Many other major studios soon followed with Louis Mayer forming his own western branch of his studio not long after.
Los Angeles County continued to grow throughout the twentieth century. The Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX as it is better known, opened in in 1930. The region also hosted the Summer Olympics in 1932 and would do so again in 1984. The area continued to grow as families moved out to the county after World War II. The cheap land and properties in the region made it big among veterans. The Metro Rail rapid transit system that links people around the county was eventually formed in 1990.