LOS ANGELES , city in S. California with approximately 4,000,000 inhabitants occupying 469 square miles of territory; the third most populous city in the U.S. and the largest city in area in the world. Los Angeles County is the home of some 552,000 (2003) Jews, second only to New York City.
The origins of the city go back to the early Spanish colonization of California. Los Angeles was formally dedicated as a pueblo on Sept. 4, 1781, with 44 inhabitants. The town grew slowly to 1,100 inhabitants by 1840. A year later the first party of pioneers traveled overland to Los Angeles from the Middle West of the U.S. With them was Jacob Frankfort, the first Jewish resident of Los Angeles. The accession of California to the U.S. in 1850 as an aftermath of the Mexican War and the discovery of gold brought a surge of Jews from Western Europe and the Eastern U.S. to seek a quick fortune. The majority did not engage in gold mining but opened stores in the small towns and mining camps of northern California. The prosperity filtered down to the rancho country of southern California and to the small town of Los Angeles, which was its marketing and commercial center. A Los Angeles census of 1850 revealed a total of 1,610 inhabitants of which eight are recognizably Jewish: Morris Michaels, aged 19, Portland, Oregon; Abraham Jacobi, 25, Poland; Morris L. Goodman, 24, Germany; Philip Sichel, 28, Germany; Augustine Wasserman, 24, Germany; Felix Bachman, 28, Germany; Joseph Plumer, 24, Germany; and Jacob Frankfort, 40, Germany; all were unmarried and merchants, except for Frankfort who was a tailor. The Jewish population, in the wake of economic expansion, increased rapidly. Jews came from San Francisco and the East and directly from Germany and promptly set up businesses, or, procuring carts and wagons, began to trade with the prosperous Spanish rancheros. Jewish services probably began on the High Holidays in 1851 and were more formally established with the arrival of Joseph Newmark (1799–1881) in 1854. Rabbinically trained and traditionally oriented, he was the patriarch of the Jewish community until his death. Services were held in various rented and borrowed places until the first synagogue was built in 1873 at 273 N. Fort Street (now Broadway). The first visit of the artist S.N. Carvalho, in 1854, directly stimulated the founding of the Hebrew Benevolent Society of Los Angeles. Carvalho influenced his host, Samuel Labatt, to establish a philanthropic society and a Jewish cemetery. Thirty charter members elected S.K. Labatt as president; Charles Schachno, vice president; Jacob Elias, secretary and treasurer; and S. Lazard and H. Goldberg, trustees. This was the first social welfare organization in Los Angeles. A year later the society procured land from the City Council in Chavez Ravine for the Jewish cemetery, which served until 1900. In addition to furthering their economic interests and "the holy cause of benevolence," the Jewish merchants during these early years were also active in such civic affairs as the founding of the Masonic order, the first Library Association, the Odd Fellows order, the German Turnverein, and as elected members of the City Council and County Board of Supervisors. Jews participated freely in every facet of social and economic as well as communal life. From 1850 until 1880 one or two Jews continuously served as elected officials. In 1873 they took the initiative in organizing the first Chamber of Commerce. Jewish business, concentrating on wholesale and retail merchandising, was among the largest in town. In 1865 I.W. Hellman (1843–1920) ventured into the banking business to become ultimately the leading banker in Los Angeles and among the dominant financial powers in the state. By the 1890s I.W. Hellman and Henry Huntington became the two financial giants of southern California. In 1861 Beth El, a congregation of Polish Jews, was formed. It soon was replaced by the German Congregation B'nai B'rith, which invited the Orthodox Rabbi A.W. Edelman (1832–1907), a Hebrew school-teacher in San Francisco, to become its first rabbi. Congregation B'nai Brith's first officers were Joseph Newmark, president; Wolf Kalisher, vice president; M. Behrend, secretary; and Elias Levinthal, Isadore Cohen, and Louis Levy, trustees. It functioned as a traditional congregation until the middle 1880s, when it began moving to an unequivocal Reform position. Ephraim Schreiber of Denver became the rabbi from 1884 to 1889; Abraham Blum, 1889–95; M.G. Solomon, 1895; and Sigmund Hecht, 1900–19. The position of the Jewish community in Los Angeles was expressed by an editorial in the local Daily News in 1873, which summed up the prevailing attitude toward the Jewish population: "We commend them for their commercial integrity and their studied isolation from prevalent vices of gambling and inebriation. We commend them for their general business and personal probity… they are among our best citizens and the city suffers nothing in their hands…." The population of Los Angeles rose sharply during the 1880s with the arrival of the transcontinental railroad service and following a concerted program of promotion by the Chamber of Commerce. The population, only 11,000 in 1880, multiplied fivefold in a few years during a land boom of vast proportions. With the arrival of large numbers of Middle Westerners the easygoing, socially integrated society began to change. Jewish social life became more ingrown. Jews established separate social outlets including a Young Men's Hebrew Association for the young and the Concordia Club for the card-playing parents. Jews lost their places in the Blue Book, the local social register, which in 1890 listed 44 Jews, 22 in 1921, and in recent years, no discernible Jews.
Population Growth and Communal Development
At the beginning of the 20th century large numbers of East European Jews began to migrate to Los Angeles to begin in their turn the ascent to prestige, status, and security. Their movement to Los Angeles was aided by the Industrial Removal Office in New York, which sent them as part of a grand dispersal design. Approximately 2,000 Jews went to Los Angeles through this source of assistance, and subsequently brought their families. In 1900 the Los Angeles population was 102,000 and the Jews numbered 2,500. Twenty years later the Jews constituted 40,000 out of 576,000, and by 1930 the Jews numbered 70,000 out of 1,200,000. The rapid increase of population created for the first time recognizably Jewish neighborhoods. By 1920 the three major areas of Jewish concentration were Temple Street, Boyle Heights, and the Central Avenue district. The early Jewish community organizations, Congregation B'nai B'rith, B'nai B'rith Lodge No. 224, which had been established in 1874, the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society established in 1870, and the Hebrew Benevolent Society were by this time insufficient to meet the needs of a new era. The high percentage of Jews coming west for their health made the establishment of medical institutions the first order of communal business. In 1902 the private home of Kaspare Cohn was donated to become the Kaspare Cohn Hospital. A few years later, the hospital was forced to move outside the city when the treatment of tuberculosis, its main business, was declared illegal within the city limits. In 1911 the Jewish Consumptive Relief Association was established and began to build a sanitarium at Duarte for consumptives who came to seek relief; this evolved into today's City of Hope Medical Center. For the elderly people the Hebrew Sheltering Home was established, to become the Jewish Home for the Aged. In 1910 B'nai B'rith was the moving force for the establishment of the Hebrew Orphans Home, whose name ultimately became Vista Del Mar. In 1912 the Federation of Jewish Charities was established to unite all fundraising for Jewish institutions. The Kaspare Cohn Hospital gradually transformed itself into a general hospital. It gradually altered its character as a charity hospital and began to charge patients. In 1926 it moved to facilities on Fountain Street near Vermont Avenue, and was renamed the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. The first meeting of the Federation of Jewish Charities was held in 1912 with Ben R. Meyer, the son-in-law of Kaspare Cohn, as president, and included Dr. David W. Edelman, son of Rabbi Edelman and the president of the Reform congregation; Louis M. Cole, son-in-law of I.W. Hellman; M.N. Newmark and Isaac Norton, members of pioneer families; and S.G. Marshutz of B'nai B'rith, the founder of the Orphans Home. They typified the local Jewish leadership, to whom philanthropy was central in Jewish community life. The first decade of the 20th century was marked by a transition from charity aid to social welfare. During World War i overseas needs began to assume a large role in the philanthropy of the Jewish community. In 1934 the United Jewish Community was organized alongside the United Jewish Welfare Fund and the United Community Committee, which was established to fight antisemitism. The new leaders were mostly lawyers and not men of inherited wealth. Men like Lester W. Roth, Harry A. Holzer, Benjamin J. Scheinman, and Mendel B. Silberberg succeeded the Newmarks and the Hellmans. In 1937 the United Jewish Community was incorporated as the Los Angeles Jewish Community Council, with the United Jewish Welfare Fund as its fund-raising arm. The United Community Council became the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Community Council. The Federation of Jewish Charities continued as a separate entity until 1959, when a merger was effected between the Jewish Community Council with its pro-Israel interest and overseas concerns, and its orientation toward Jewish education, and the Federation of Jewish Welfare organizations typifying the earlier Jewish community, with its primary concern for local philanthropies. A few years later the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital and Sinai Hospital, which was established during the 1920s by the Eastern European community, also merged.
In the early 1900s Congregation B'nai B'rith, which had served the entire community since 1861, was joined by the first Orthodox congregation, Beth Israel or the "Olive Street Schul." In 1906 Congregation Sinai, the first Conservative congregation, was organized, and built its first edifice three years later. Isadore Meyers was rabbi and his successors included Rudolph Farber, David Liknaitz, Moses Rosenthal, and Jacob Kohn. The congregation grew and moved in 1930 to an imposing edifice at 4th and New Hampshire streets. Two rabbis and two congregations towered over the religious life in Los Angeles Jewry until World War ii. Wilshire Boulevard Temple was founded in 1860. It was classical Reform, with a magnificent structure erected in the 1920s on Wilshire Boulevard representing the affluence of its membership, including many of the movie colony. It was the "established" congregation of the Jewish community. Hushed worship, the garments of the minister, the mixed choir, the centrality of the sermon, and the absence of bar mitzvah, all marked the Reform temple. Its rabbi was Edgar F. Magnin (1890–1984). Under his influence membership rose from 300 to 2,000, to become reputedly the largest congregation in the United States. In 1930 Dr. Jacob Kohn (1881–1968) arrived at Congregation Sinai. He became renowned for his liberal forthrightness, philosophical depth, and Jewish scholarship. Rabbi Oser Zilberstein of the Breed Street Shul (1891–1973) was the preeminent Orthodox rabbi of his generation. At the end of World War ii 150,000 Jews lived in Greater Los Angeles, an increase of 20,000 since the war began.
The major growth of the Jewish population in Los Angeles began after 1945 when thousands of war veterans and others moved West with their families. The city's population multiplied and the Jewish community grew apace. By 1948 the Jewish population was a quarter of a million, representing an increase of 2,000 people a month as Jews moved West in one of the great migrations in Jewish history. The Middle West was the major area of origin; perhaps 38% of the Jewry in Los Angeles in 1951 were from the Chicago area. In 1951 it was estimated that 330,000 Jews lived in Los Angeles. Dozens of suburban communities founded during this period were swiftly absorbed in the spreading Los Angeles metropolis. By 1965 the Jewish population of Los Angeles had reached half a million and the community had become one of the largest centers of Jewish population.
The vast increase in Jewish population resulted in a proliferation of congregations, synagogues, and religious functionaries. The national movement of the religious denominations "discovered" Los Angeles as the United Synagogue established its Pacific Southwest Region, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations established its Southern Pacific Region, and rabbis by the dozen wended their way West. By 1968 there were 150 congregations and even more rabbis in Los Angeles. The largest congregations were Wilshire Blvd. Temple, Temple Israel of Hollywood, Temple Emanuel, Temple Beth Hillel, and Temple Isaiah (Reform); Temple Beth Am, Valley Jewish Community Center, Sinai Temple, Hollywood Temple Beth El, and Valley Beth Sholom (Conservative); and Beth Jacob and Shaarei Tefillah (Orthodox).
All three branches of Judaism established schools of higher Jewish learning after 1945. The Jewish Theological Seminary established the University of Judaism, which in turn developed a Hebrew Teachers' College, a School of the Fine Arts, the Graduate School, and an extensive program of adult Jewish studies. Hebrew Union College similarly developed a branch in Los Angeles with a rabbinical preparatory school, cantors' training school, and a Sunday school teachers program.
Yeshiva University established a branch specializing in teacher training and adult education. All three institutions had extensive programs of public education and public lectures and exercised a maturing effect on the growing Los Angeles Jewish community. Brandeis Camp Institute, near the city, with a college camp, children's camp, and weekend cultural retreats exerted a cultural influence on the Jewish community; other summer camps were educational influences for children. The Bureau of Jewish Education did much to raise the level of teaching and encouraged and subsidized Hebrew secondary schools. By 1968 the Los Angeles Hebrew High School, the largest, had more than 500 students.
The community centers were organized under the Jewish Centers Association, founded in 1943. By 1968 there were the following neighborhood centers: The Olympic Jewish Center and the Valley Cities Jewish Center, the Los Feliz Jewish Center and the Bay Cities Jewish Center, the West Valley Jewish Center and the North Valley Jewish Center, all under professional direction. The directors of the Jewish Centers Association since the Second World War were Meyer E. Fichman, Bertram H. Gold, who later became the long-time head of the American Jewish Committee, and Charles Mesnick.
Los Angeles has been the capital of the movie industry. The development of films moved from New York to Los Angeles beginning in 1912. Film distributors or exhibitors like Marcus Loew, Adolph Zukor, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Lewis Selznick, Samuel Goldfish (later Goldwyn), and Louis B. Mayer, many of whom had started in the clothing business, came to the suburb of Hollywood to make films. By 1925 the Hollywood movie colony was famous throughout the world. The advent of talking pictures was sparked by the Warner Brothers, Albert, Jack, Sam, and Harry, who produced The Jazz Singer, a film about a Jewish cantor's son who was reticent to uphold the tradition of his ancestors and wanted to be a singer. It starred Al Jolson, the son of a Washington, d.c., cantor who did not go into his father's profession. This ushered in a new era in the movies. In 1930 three of the eight major production companies were partly owned by Jews, and 53 of 85 production executives were Jewish. When television production established itself in Hollywood from 1950, Jews were again a considerable proportion of the writers and producers in the industry. The biggest Jewish business in town, however, was not entertainment but construction and financing. Many Jews were involved in one or another aspect of real estate, financing, and other elements of the building trade. They built some of the large suburban areas and tract cities such as Lakewood, La Mirada, Panorama City, and Santa Susanna.
Jews, too, were strongly represented in the research, electronic, aircraft, and educational institutions that dotted southern California. The University of California at Los Angeles, for instance, which reputedly had only one Jewish professor in the 1930s, had over 400 Jewish scholars on its faculty 30 years later. As elsewhere, Jews founded thriving practices in medicine, law, and accounting, and were heavily concentrated in furniture, food, sportswear, and retail merchandising. By 1968 Jewish mobility had brought an end to the formerly Jewish Boyle Heights, Adams Street, Temple Street, Wilshire District, and other areas of Jewish concentration. Jews settled in the western and newer sections of sprawling Los Angeles – Westwood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills. In the San Fernando Valley 100,000 Jews resided in communities from North Hollywood westward to the city limits. Other Jewish communities had been established in the San Gabriel Valley, while thousands moved to Orange County.
Swift currents of change that swept over the Jewish community during the 1970s and 1980s profoundly affected Jewish life in Los Angeles. In summary they were (1) the drastically reshaped demographics of a city which at a mind-boggling pace underwent an immigrant-driven transformation into America's first Third World city. This ethnic revolution had powerful Jewish consequences including the need for reexamination of Jewish self-identity; (2) profound internal religious changes, marked by significant movement toward increased adherence to historical traditions, alongside equally striking departures from traditional views and practices; (3) the assumption by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation of responsibilities and objectives commensurate with newly perceived qualitative needs of the world's second largest Jewish community (after New York).
the demographic revolution in los angeles
California in the 1980s grew by six million people, the biggest human surge in any state in U.S. history, with estimates of an additional million immigrants by the end of the century. One third of the new arrivals settled in Southern California, increasing its population to 14.5 million. Greater Los Angeles had abruptly become the largest metropolitan center in the country. It also had ceased to be a European outpost and was now a multi-racial world nation. Some 75% of the immigrants were Hispanic, Asian, and black. By the end of the 1980s, 51% of Los Angeles residents were Hispanic or nonwhite. Between 1980 and 1998, the Latino population of the United States doubled to 30 million, establishing Hispanics as the single largest minority community in the country. By 2003, 38 percent of l.a.'s population identified itself as Hispanic, resulting in portentous shifts in the city's political, economic, and cultural tectonics. The renaming of Brooklyn Avenue in the pre-war Jewish stronghold of Boyle Heights to Avenida Cesar Chavez in 1995 was one early indication of this demographic change. The election in 2005 of Antonio Villaraigosa, the city's first Hispanic mayor in over a century, signified a demographic sea change, although the vagaries of identity politics did not solely determine the outcome of this contest.
The city's Asian community, largely Chinese and Japanese, who in the 19th century had been viewed as ignorant, laboring class "coolies," had begun immigrating to the West Coast as colonizers of the Pacific Rim. Many were well educated, with massive investments in corporations and real estate. Others from Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, and dozens of other countries seemingly overnight established and built retail businesses, bought homes, and transformed neighborhoods. As examples, Monterey Park, a former Jewish enclave, became the Western world's first Chinese suburban city. Elite San Marino, which once staunchly restricted Jews, became 46% Asian. Congregation Judea in the midst of the Jewish Fairfax area was transformed in 1975 into a robust Korean Presbyterian church. California State University, Los Angeles, in 1989 had the following student profile: of 20,000 students, 30% were Latino, 11.5% Asian, 11.5% black, and 30% white. The vice president for academic affairs of the state college system announced that: "Cal State-l.a. is probably close in its student body representation to what any university campus in California, public or private, is going to look like in the early 21st century." These demographic estimates were inescapably destined to be among the powerful determinants of the character of Jewish life in the coming century.
the jewish population of los angeles
By 1989, Los Angeles Jewry was stable after a period of rapid growth. Another 90,000 Jews had settled in neighboring Orange County. The Greater Los Angeles Jewish community was now numerically larger than the Jewish population of any country other than the United States, Israel, and the Soviet Union. Some of the population increase represented the sunbelt-driven migration from the East and Middle West to Florida and the West Coast. A substantial portion of the new immigrants came from Israel (probably 50,000, although estimates ranged as high as 200,000. The Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey found that there were 14,170 Israeli-born Jews in l.a. but 52,400 who self-identified as Israeli, those who were born elsewhere but grew up in Israel). The Hebrew-speaking newcomers settled in the Fairfax area, a traditional gateway for Jewish immigrants boasting the city's largest population, in North Hollywood and, once they had established themselves financially, in Encino/Tarzana and the Conejo Valley, adjoining the western San Fernando Valley, with over 40,000 Jews, one of the fastest-growing communities in the country. This influx engendered anxiety within the established community, which at least initially regarded the "yored" (Hebrew pejorative for émigré, meaning one who descended, left Israel) presence as an embarrassing and unfortunate abnegation of Zionism. Unlike other Jewish immigrant populations, resident Israelis were "transnational": although they might well remain in the U.S. indefinitely, they thought of themselves as Israeli citizens fully intending to end their collective sojourn in the Land of Promise for a return to the Promised Land. This state of "living on one's suitcases" rendered their commitment to local Jewish continuity naturally suspect. Differences in language, style, comportment, and patterns of communal affiliation also contributed to estrangement. Relations improved shortly after the Gulf War, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had once denigrated the émigré community as the "fallout of weaklings," retracted his characterization and expressed gratitude to the Los Angeles Israeli community for its ongoing solidarity. American Jews, meanwhile, began to view immigrant Hebrew-speakers not so much as the spiritually fallen and psychologically ambivalent (if not thoroughly tormented by desertion-induced guilt), but as a valuable transfusion of Jewish authenticity and vitality. Jewish institutions, most notably the Jewish Federation Council, the city's Jewish community centers, and some synagogues, launched efforts to absorb Israeli families, some providing organizational venues in which they could express their cultural and linguistic proclivities. Increasingly, Israeli Angelinos themselves realized they were likely to remain for the long run, and would do well to address the problematics inherent in transmitting their national, linguistic, and cultural identity to children raised and acculturated in the U.S. Hebrew speaking, Israel-centered scouting movements, after-school programming, and adult cultural activities thrived as a result. In 1996, community-minded Israelis formed the Council of Israeli Organizations, an arm of a nonprofit umbrella organization called the Promoting Israel Education and Culture Fund. Originally tasked with organizing the city's annual Israeli Independence Day Festival, which draws tens of thousands of Los Angeles-based Israelis, it reconstituted in 2001 as the Council of Israeli Community, with an agenda of fostering pro-Israeli rallies and more effective ties to the media and with other ethnic groups.
In 1991 2,900 Jews from the Soviet Union came to Los Angeles. By 1997, the numbers of Russian Jews arriving went to well below 1,000. Jews from the former Soviet Union were estimated at 24,500 according to the 1997 lajps, making this the third or fourth largest concentration after New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. Their presence in West Hollywood earned the neighborhood the nickname "Little Odessa." The Iranian Jewish presence is believed to number 18,000, the largest such concentration in the U.S. The Persian community, which has almost exclusively settled in the city's wealthy West Side and San Fernando Valley, is religiously, socially, and culturally distinct. Many have brought with them the skills of merchants. Others live in more humble circumstances, with trouble adjusting to their adopted country. Shops with Farsi and English signs dot the West Side. Their supermarkets and shops have the feel of Teheran. Eighty percent of the Iranian refugees coming to the U.S. resettled in l.a. and they transplanted to l.a. much of the leadership of the Tehrani Jewish community including the chief rabbi and Iranian Federation.
In addition, there are sizeable contingents from South Africa (the bulk of whom settled in Orange County and San Diego), Central Asia, South America, Australia, and Mexico. Like their Israeli counterparts, these immigrants have provided unique challenges to the Los Angeles Jewish community in matters of integration and acculturation. In contrast, a small but not insignificant community of Canadian Jews, most having arrived since the election of the separatist Parti Quebecois provincial government in 1976, many also highly trained professionals in pursuit of the material advantages offered by the American Dream, has blended into the existing community with such consummate ease as to render them nearly invisible.
Comprising half the Jews in California and perhaps as many as one in ten of the American Jewish population, Jewish Angelinos continue to enjoy pride of place in the finest sections of the city, including Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Westwood, the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, and Pacific Palisades. The Fairfax area continued to contain the largest single concentration of Jews in the city; Encino/Tarzana are a very close second. However, by 2005 the Fairfax area's Jewish ambience came under siege, in part due to the influx of other ethnicities and also because various Jewish storefronts found themselves having to move out due to exorbitant rents due to the development of a new shopping mall, The Grove, in the heart of the old Jewish neighborhood. In terms of Jewish ambience and vitality, the area has long been supplanted by Pico-Robertson and La Brea/Beverly – which is home to the more Orthodox community and has created the largest Jewish day school, Toras Emes, and numerous kolelim – some three miles to the southeast, which has emerged as the city's primary bastion of Orthodox Jewry. Synagogues, large and small, are found on Pico and Olympic Blvds. Elegant kosher restaurants and Judaica shops are also to be found along with fast food places, only distinguishable because of their kashrut certificate.
North Hollywood/Valley Village is a second Orthodox area, which also has many synagogues, restaurants, shops, etc.
Since the 1970s, Jewish Angelinos have played a major role in the political life of the community: the City Council, Board of Supervisors, State Legislature, and the House of Congress. In addition the Jewish community could count on the non-Jewish congressmen and senators to vote with friendly sensitivity on matters of Jewish interest. They were conspicuous in the cultural, philanthropic, and economic life of the city. Indeed, they were the most cohesive, best-organized white body in the city with ties to the instruments of civic power.
These new realities contrasted sharply with the years from 1900 to 1960, when no Jew was elected to the City Council or the Board of Supervisors or to represent California in Sacramento or Washington. Nor were Jews considered worthy to be mentioned in the society pages of the Los Angeles Times or in the published social register. Their new status now meant that the organized Jewish community was, as a minority, enjoined to protect and advance its own interests but equally responsible, as a principal member of the white establishment, to seek the peace of the city, recognizing, to paraphrase Jeremiah, that only in its welfare, would they be at peace. This double identity was bound to create ambivalence and tension in the Jewish community in the years ahead. The Waxman-Berman machine, led by two veteran Jewish Congressmen Henry *Waxman and Howard *Berman, drew Jewish support for political campaigns. Zev Yaroslavsky made a seamless move from Jewish leadership to county commissioner. Three members of the City Council were Jewish in 2005 including an African American Jew by choice and the son of an Italian father and a Jewish mother. National leadership of aipac has come from Los Angeles including Edward Sanders in the 1970s; he later served as the Jewish liaison for President Jimmy Carter. Lawrence and Barbara Weinberg played a unique role from Los Angeles in the expansion of aipac and Barbara, known as Barbie, in the establishment of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
A major implication for the local Jewish community, which became crucial by the turn of the 21st century, was that Los Angeles had become a multi-racial metropolis with ethnic ties to every race and region in the world. The Jewish community, representing some 15 percent of l.a. voters, had thrust upon it a double identity. It had the obligation to assert itself and protect its rights. But in a situation without precedent, it came to be seen by many ethnic groups, including its former allies in the African-American community and by the newly assertive Latino bloc it had hitherto overlooked, as an integral representative of the white establishment. While Jews and Hispanics shared some communal interests, such as quality schools, safe neighborhoods, economic development, and civil equality, they have parted on various religious and educational issues, and have clashed in the political arenas. Characteristically, Jewish liberals have proved vulnerable to charges within some Latino quarters that they are integrally right-leaning whites unsympathetic to Latino aspirations. This vulnerability, the result of demographic pressures, a discernible shift by Jews to the political right and, especially in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, growing insularity and wariness, portends a decline in Jewish political power. Valley Jews tend to be middle class, ethnically diverse, somewhat conservative yet still supportive of public schools. Despite their predilection for progressive politics, West Side Jews remain staunch members of the city's power elites, and retreated from the public school system during the late 1970s, when school busing generated "White Flight." The defeat, in 2002, of efforts by the San Fernando Valley to secede from the Los Angeles municipality helped forestall the dramatic dissipation of Jewish clout.
The arrival of the Hispanic population, coupled with the withdrawal of Jewish stores and landlords from African-American neighborhoods, tended to dilute Black-Jewish tensions in the political arena.
The Religious Community
Judaism in Los Angeles was decisively shaped by a number of rabbis of varying denominations who were drawn westward by personal visions of what they might accomplish in a city largely unbeholden to Eastern power structures and patterns of organization. In a community capable of providing considerable human and physical resources if properly motivated, these rabbis created an opportunity to concentrate their energies as religious leaders along lines of personal interests and concerns. They became what might be termed rabbi-institution builders, rabbi-communal leaders, rabbi-social activists, rabbi-educators, and rabbi-visionaries. The following is a sampling of the impact on Judaism in Los Angeles by a few of the over 200 Los Angeles area rabbis.
The Orthodox leaders in Los Angeles before World War ii had such little faith in their own future that their leading synagogue was called "the modern synagogue," and their significant events were given enhanced status by the participation of a local Reform rabbi or his president. The resurgence of Orthodoxy in post-war Los Angeles was fueled by some determined rabbis, who were confident that American Jews, however acculturated, would be receptive to a return to authentic tradition if it were attractively clothed in American values, if it secured serious media attention, and if it could be identified as the natural heir to the Jewish heart.
The most significant of centrist Orthodox synagogues, the Beth Jacob Congregation, was led by Rabbi Simon Dolgin who arrived in 1938 and relocated Beth Jacob from West Adams to Beverly Hills in the 1950s. He also established the Hillel School and had a distinguished career before moving to Israel in the early 1970s. He was one of the very few rabbis who moved to Israel, neither at the beginning nor at the end but at the prime of his American career, where he became director general of the Ministry of Religion and a rabbi in Ramat Eshkol.
Rabbi Marvin Hier moved into Los Angeles from Vancouver in 1977, intending to establish a yeshivah, but ultimately founded the *Simon Wiesenthal Center, which became the Los Angeles community's first national and international Jewish organization. Rabbi Hier came to Los Angeles just as what Jonathan Woocher termed "the Judaism of sacred survival" was coming to the fore, when the remembrance of the Holocaust and the protection of the State of Israel were central to Jewish identity. Taking the name of the world famous Nazi hunter, but running the organization in almost complete independence from Simon Wiesenthal, Rabbi Hier propelled the Holocaust center onto the world stage to stake out an independent claim as an activist leader in the fight against antisemitism. In 1993, the center opened its landmark 160,000-sqare-foot Museum of Tolerance, a $50 million high-tech exploration of racism, prejudice, antisemitism, and genocide (including the Turkish decimation of the Armenians and that of vast segments of Cambodian people by their own government), and broke ground in 2004 on a no less controversial sister institution, slated to cost $200 million, in Jerusalem.
When Rabbi Hier came, lay leaders of the Rambam School approached him to take charge of the school. It reopened as Yeshiva University Los Angeles (yula) and the school grew significantly. In 2002, Hier moved the yula contingent that had shared the Wiesenthal Center's original building on Pico Boulevard into a new $12.6 million facility and a second school for girls on Robertson Blvd. Hier himself has been alternately criticized and credited for commandeering the bread-and-butter issues of longer-established organizations. There is little doubt, however, in his ability to interject himself as a key player on the world stage and in his cultivation of prominent state legislators (Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger once called the diminutive Hier "my hero"). He developed a broad based membership organization, mirroring the tactics used by political organizers so successfully, and he presents a self-confident, right-of-center American Orthodoxy. Taking seriously the organization's mission of tolerance, he has kept the Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance open to all groups. For example, it hosted a 1997 exhibition on Jackie Robinson's integration of baseball. Much to the chagrin of Federation leadership, who have not fared well in the entertainment community, he has navigated Hollywood celebrity and mastered documentary film-making (the center has won several Academy Awards for Holocaust-related films produced by his in-house film unit). Hier is an unflagging Jewish juggernaut, feared, respected, and taken quite seriously. He is also a well-established spokesman on Jewish issues. Unlike many professionals who need clearance from lay leaders for statements and must achieve consensus, Hier operates with great freedom.
Hier was the first to establish a Los Angeles-based national organization that rivaled and soon outgrew in membership many long-established East Coast organizations. Instead of establishing himself as a West Coast branch of Yeshiva University and living in its shadows, Hier worked independently and over 15 years ago the school severed its ties with yu. The original hopes for a West Coast university-level campus did not materialize beyond the high schools for boys and girls and adult learning.
Los Angeles has two Holocaust Museums and a Memorial. In addition to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum was established by the Federation and influential survivors as the Martyrs Memorial Museum, and after a 1994 earthquake forced the Federation to renovate its building, the Museum never returned. It has been independent since 2004. A Memorial of Six Pillars has been built in Pan Pacific Park adjacent to the Fairfax neighborhood. It is the site of the annual community Yom Hashoah observance. The Wiesenthal Center hosts its own. There are significant Holocaust education programs also at the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which in 2006 became part of the University of Southern California, at ucla, and at the University of Judaism in addition to neighboring universities in Los Angeles suburbs such as Chapman University and Claremont-Mckenna College.
Rabbi Baruch Shlomo Cunin came to Los Angeles in the 1960s as the Rebbe's (Menachem Mendel *Schneersohn) emissary. His predecessor came in the 1950s, but did not last long. In subsequent years, Cunin became a major religious force in the state with an operating budget of $15 million from 50,000 contributors and was supported by a rabbinic staff of 106 impassioned young graduates of their yeshivah in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He established and controlled an imposing and growing array of synagogues, day schools, adult Torah study centers, and social projects such as a shelter for the homeless, a counseling center for battered women, and two drug treatment centers financed substantially by federal grants. Woven into the program were public relations sorties, featuring Judaism in the streets such as mitzvah mobiles, and Hanukkah lighting celebrations in shopping malls and city halls. The annual climax was a hyperkinetic telethon in which movie and television personalities vied for the mitzvah of raising five million dollars a year for their particularist form of hasidic Judaism. The death of Schneersohn in June 1994 split the Chabad movement between those who believe he had been and continued (despite his manifest physical demise) to be the long-awaited Messiah, and those who preferred to avoid unambiguous pronouncements as to his exalted status. However problematic theologically (the Rebbe's cult of personality, which he did little to contain during his latter years, sometimes skirted the Christological), such speculation has done little to daunt Chabad's outward expansion. The organization continues to inject itself into some of the least hospitable communities imaginable, which in Southern California include such hedonistic fleshpots as Malibu, Pacific Palisades, and Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Irvine, and Yorba Linda. There are now 79 Chabad centers statewide, and despite occasional setbacks and resistance, no lessening in zeal for achieving a hasidic version of Manifest Destiny. Indeed, Chabad's high birthrate and unceasing generation of successive waves of energized, inner-directed missionary cadres suggests that growth and expansion have become vital organizational imperatives, perhaps even linchpins of continued survival.
The official Jewish establishment, acutely conscious of the strategic necessity of maintaining the historic separation of church and state, was likewise periodically constrained to remain mute and resigned while Chabad aggressively broke down barriers between religion and the state in its public square religious practices, and while the Wiesenthal Center was prevailing on the California Legislature to contribute five million dollars to the Center's projected Museum of Tolerance. These rabbinical leaders, some of them affiliated with or coming out of the Ba'al Teshuvah movement, represented a new meld: totally Orthodox, totally American, rightward-leaning, willing to explore commonalities with similarly disposed Christian groups, technologically advanced, and with their work largely financed by non-Orthodox supporters.
Rabbi Nahum Braverman came to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s to establish a western outpost of *Aish Hatorah, a Jerusalem yeshivah located near the Western Wall and founded by an American rabbi, Noah Weinberg. In a few short years he created an outreach program of one-to-one Torah learning. He established a chain of study sessions in private offices and conference rooms and began the process of organizing Aish Hatorah synagogues. The students were prominent business and community leaders as well as film and tv industry celebrities. The program created a non-ḥasidic network of intellectual Ba'alei teshuvah (newly Orthodox), sympathetic to "authentic" Judaism and often prepared to support it, even though not necessarily embodying it in their lifestyles. Aish has proved especially popular among young singles, who attend Shabbat services, Shabbat dinners at the homes of local congregationalists, post-dinner lectures, and occasional "speed-dating" evenings.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin arrived from South Africa in 1977. Although only a young man he was already an engineer, physicist, airplane pilot, sailor, and Orthodox rabbi. Together with Michael *Medved, bestselling writer, movie critic on public tv and, subsequently, radio talk-show host, they took over a minuscule store front synagogue on the Venice beach, operated by and for a few remaining elderly Jews, and established the Pacific Jewish Center. It was an unusually strict Orthodox synagogue in which financial participation was voluntary, participation in Torah study compulsory, and outdoors adventuring a mitzvah. At first the members were overwhelmingly single; in time they married, moved into the neighborhood to be within walking distance of the synagogue, and so created a living and learning community, which former and disaffected members described as "cultlike." The congregation split in the early 1990s, ostensibly after a spat involving a decision to move the center's day school out of the area. Lapin subsequently left a truncated congregation to the administration of his brother, David, and to his longtime assistant, Rabbi Avi Pogrow. Lapin and Medved moved to the Seattle suburb of Mercer Island, where, as talk-show radio hosts, they established a small group dedicated to forging a pan-Jewish coalition with fundamentalist Christians, and to weaning American Jews from their Liberal affectations. Medved generated particular consternation within Jewish circles for his own impassioned defense of actor/director Mel Gibson, whose blockbuster film The Passion of the Christ was widely perceived as an antisemitic assault and reaffirmation of pre-Vatican ii charges of deicide. In 2003, David Lapin left for Washington, d.c., leaving pjc to the ministrations of Ben Geiger, a graduate of an ultra-Orthodox rabbinical school in Baltimore and the center's first full-time rabbi. Lapin accepted support from many sources included the Orthodox Jewish Washington lobbyist Jack Abramov.
On March 1, 2005 (20 Adar 5765), 2,000 men gathered in the new Walt Disney Concert Hall to celebrate the Siyyum ha-Shas, the seven-year cycle of studying a page of the Talmud each day, every day, which enables the devout and the persistent to complete the entire Talmud. If one panned the crowd in Los Angeles, one would have seen physicians and lawyers, accountants, real-estate investors, jewelers and professional men, as well as Jews from all walks of life, a cross section of Jewish life in Los Angeles. Even a few of the men – very few – earned their living in the entertainment industry. Many had come to Los Angeles only in the past three decades and all were comfortable in calling Los Angeles their home. Many, but not all, were raised in Orthodox homes. Others were the results of the success of the various outreach programs in attracting Jews to turn toward tradition.
While one would not ordinarily associate Los Angeles with the ultra-Orthodox community, there are some 5,000 families who constitute that community. They live in different neighborhoods on the West Side of Los Angeles, Hancock Park with its large and sprawling houses, Fairfax, the traditional Jewish neighborhood, Pico-Robertson with its large Orthodox community, and even Beverly Hills and Westwood. They live in North Hollywood and the Valley. They have established large schools for every segment of the community. Yeshiva Rav Isaacson/Toras Emes Academy is the largest day school in Los Angeles with 1,100 students, directed by Rabbi Yakov Kraus for more than three decades. Or Eliyahu Academy is another significant school. The Yeshiva Gedolah, the high school, occupies a prominent former Seventh Days Adventist Church on Olympic Blvd. in Hancock Park. Students can continue in the Kolel of Los Angeles. The Cheder of Los Angeles is for ḥasidic students who can go on to the hasidic kolel. The Beis Yaakov School is a high school for some 375 girls. Rabbi Avraham Teichman heads Agudat Israel on the West Coast. Dr. Irving Lebovics, a prominent dentist, is the leading lay leader of the Agudah on the West Coast. Rabbi Gerson Bess is regarded as the most prominent of the halakhic authorities.
In the Valley, the most prominent Orthodox synagogue is Shaarei Zedek, led by Rabbi Aron Tendler, the son of Yeshiva University's Rabbi Moshe Tendler. Emek Hebrew Academy is the home of more than 700 students. Valley Torah Center, headed by Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, serves some 300 students.
During the 1970s Reform rabbi Isaiah *Zeldin, who had come to Los Angeles to represent the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and subsequently became rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, left his congregation and founded the Stephen S. Wise Temple in the sparsely settled Mulholland Drive area of western Los Angeles, which soon became the epicenter of the community strategically situated between the Valley and the West Side. In the course of 15 years, the congregation grew in numbers and in program to become one of America's largest, with a membership of 3,000 families, with an annual budget in excess of $11 million, and a physical plant of monumental proportions. Its campus on ten acres of land was sui generis: a total of 1,300 students in its school system, ranging from pre-school to an elementary day school through grade six, an all-day junior high school, and since 1992, an 18,000 square-foot, $33 million high school replete with an impressive library and resource center; its parenting center; its faculty with four rabbis at the helm assisted by a staff of 250 permanent personnel; and imposing facilities that included an immense special parking structure, Olympic swimming facilities, and a variety of specially designed and constructed recreational areas. The schools, which provide at least an hour of conversational Hebrew daily and are quite Israel-centered in terms of curriculum, have received Tel Aviv University's 2003 Constantiner Award for Jewish Education, the 1990 biannual Zalman Shazar Prize from the Jerusalem-based Shazar Center for Jewish History, and its director, the 1990 Milken Family Foundation's Jewish Educator's Award.
Conservative rabbi Harold *Schulweis moved to the Encino area of the San Fernando Valley from Oakland. With a rare combination of philosophical profundity and Jewish social engineering genius, he established a series of programs which stamped his congregation as a creative center of Jewish life: a havurah program in which the bulk of the members participated; a para-professional counseling center whose first lay counselors were volunteers from the board of directors who studied and trained for several years for this opportunity to serve; a para-rabbinic training program in which the synagogue leadership similarly learned to become rabbinic aides qualified to meet with members and teach them how to be Jews at home as well as in the synagogue; an outreach program which accepted the inevitability of an increasing proportion of interfaith marriages in our open society and chose to deal with it on the basis of inclusivity rather than a posture of exclusivity; and an assistant rabbi, engaged by the congregation after her ordination in 1990, who was herself a Jew by choice. Most of these and other innovative experiments were emulated nationwide. In 1994, Schulweis called on his congregation to accept Jewish homosexuals and lesbians as equal and accepted members of the community. Some years later, he bucked longstanding Jewish tradition by launching an effort aimed at urging Gentiles not necessarily involved with Jewish life-partners to consider conversion to Judaism. It was Jewish outreach to the unchurched. Most recently, he initiated Jewish World Watch, an effort to inspire Jews to emulate Righteous Gentiles by intervening on behalf of distressed or physically threatened populations abroad. The organization has been active in generating assistance on behalf of populations in the Sudan and Darfur. In 2004, the 80-year-old Schulweis stepped down as senior rabbi, turning his pulpit over graciously to longtime colleague and friend Rabbi Edward Feinstein.
Some of the city's rabbis transcended their responsibilities to their synagogue by sharing their energies with the larger Jewish community. Rabbi Jacob *Pressman arrived in Los Angeles in 1946 to assist Rabbi Jacob Kohn at Sinai Temple. A few years later he left to join a small congregation, which grew to become Temple Beth Am, one of the large and influential Los Angeles synagogues. He helped establish Akiba Academy, one of the first day schools in the Los Angeles Conservative community and initiated Herzl School, the community's first non-Orthodox day school. At Beth Am, he created a k-8 day school that was named in his honor as the Rabbi Jacob Pressman Academy. Simultaneously he became a central figure in the building of Jewish institutions in the city. He was a key figure in the organization of the University of Judaism in 1947 and served as its volunteer founding registrar. He was one of the founders of Camp Ramah and the Los Angeles Hebrew High School, and helped start the Beverly Hills Maple Counseling Center as well as the forerunner of the Brandeis-Bardin Institute, in Simi Valley. He established the synagogue Israel Bond Appeal program and headed the synagogue division of Los Angeles Israel Bonds. He was chairman of the Los Angeles Board of Rabbis as well as of the Western States region of the Rabbinical Assembly. When Jews were threatening to leave the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood after the l.a. riots in the 1970s, Pressman went door-to-door to sign up 150 families and pledged that the synagogue would remain in the neighborhood if they would pledge to stay; as a result, the Carthay Circle and South Carthay neighborhood, once threatened, is now a thriving Jewish community composed of traditional Conservative Jews who walk to synagogue and walk their children to the Pressman Academy. At Beth Am, he permitted and enabled the creation of religious alternatives for more traditional Jews; the egalitarian Library Minyan is without a formal rabbi but is the religious home of many rabbis and scholars at the University of Judaism, Hebrew Union College, ucla, usc, and uc Northridge as well as rabbinical students at uj and huc. One holiday morning there were more than 75 rabbis, spouses of rabbis, and children of rabbis in attendance, a rarity for Conservative synagogues. Beth Am is now a Synaplex, offering multiple services: meditative services, family services, a Neshama Minyan with the melodies of Shlomo *Carlebach on Friday evening, as well as a mainstream Conservative service. Ten of Pressman's students became rabbis, including his successor Rabbi Joel Rembaum. Well into his eighties, Pressman is a master preacher, talented musician, and raconteur.
In 1997, after a period of changing leadership Rabbi David Wolpe took over as Sinai's senior rabbi. He introduced a single service called Friday Night Live that brings single Jews to synagogue for an exciting musical service. A captivating speaker, he ignites his audience.
Rabbi Maurice Lamm replaced Rabbi Dolgin at Beth Jacob Congregation in 1971. Under Lamm, the congregation became more observant as Orthodoxy become more observant. His congregants, who once rode to the synagogue, began walking if possible. Upon his retirement, Rabbi Abner Weiss, from South Africa, became spiritual leader of the congregation. He was also the representative of moderate Orthodoxy in Los Angeles communal, religious, and educational circles. Rabbi Weiss also took pride in the "upstairs minyan" in which younger members were given an opportunity to take charge of their own Sabbath service as a popular alternative to the more staid and formal sanctuary service. A psychologist who incorporated Kabbalah into his practice, Weiss departed for England in 2002; since that time, Rabbi Steven Weil has served as senior rabbi of Beth Jacob. Young Israel of Century City, initially a "break away" from Beth Jacob, was, by 2005, a well-established congregation of 400 members led, since 1986, by Rabbi Elazar Muskin. A few blocks away from Beth Jacob and Young Israel, in the Pico-Robertson area, B'nai David Judea Congregation, headed by Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky as by Daniel Landes before him, championed a progressive Orthodoxy, including greater opportunity for women's involvement in synagogue rituals.
Rabbi Harvey Fields, longtime senior rabbi of the venerable Wilshire Temple, the first and still arguably the largest Jewish congregation in Los Angeles, led his congregation in new directions. He became chairman of the Middle East Commission of the Jewish Federation Council. A congregation which historically had rejected many traditions now settled into a life style which was comfortable with Hebrew instruction, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, and a shofar. Under Fields' stewardship, music became a fixture of services, and a full-time cantor began to lead services in 1999. Despite the move toward more traditional forms of observance, Fields maintained his focus on issues pertaining to social justice and interfaith dialogue. He was instrumental, for instance, in the creation of Hopenet, a network of religious institutions in the Mid-Wilshire corridor that feeds about 200 people every Sunday out of the temple, and provides affordable housing, clothing, and furnishings. Fields stepped down in June 2003, handing over the reins he held for 21 years to Rabbi Steven Leder.
Rabbi Laura Geller is the senior rabbi of one of Los Angeles' most prominent Reform congregations. Temple Emanuel has a day school and innovative religious services including a Sabbath morning service that attracts many huc faculty members. By the size and the prestige of her congregation and by her own stature, she is the most prominent of the first generation of women rabbis in the United States.
A number of rabbis, mostly in the Reform movement, became leaders in movements dealing with peace, poverty, racial harmony, and aids. Rabbi Leonard Beerman established a congregation in the spirit and name of Leo Baeck, which over the years fostered an environment that made involvement in human concerns a normal congregational function. As one example among many, Rabbi Beerman led his congregation to join forces with the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena to establish a professionally run Interfaith Center to Reverse the Arms Race. For years they supported and maintained a peace movement, which gave serious attention to the world's ultimate long-term threat. When world events signaled a suspension of the arms race, both congregations shifted their energies to establishing a shelter for the homeless in downtown Los Angeles. Beerman retired in 1986, leaving the congregation to Rabbi Sanford Ragins, who would serve as senior rabbi for 18 years while maintaining an academic career teaching history and homiletics at huc-jir and at Occidental College, in Eagle Rock. Ragins welcomed intermarried, interracial, and gay and lesbian families into the communal fold and championed the peace camp in Israel and labor and interfaith cooperation in the U.S. He served as chair for the Central Conference of American Rabbis' Committee on Ethics, which investigates allegations of wrongful behavior by Reform rabbis, and taught German divinity students in Germany about Judaism. Ragins helmed his congregation until 2002, when Rabbi Kenneth Chasen, a former tv music supervisor and soundtrack composer who became a rabbi in 1998, took over as senior rabbi. Chasen's task at the 650-family-strong temple was to nurture its traditional ties to broad, generally liberal causes, while also serving young, sometimes apolitical, families seeking innovative, home-centered synagogue life.
Rabbi Alfred *Wolf, a long time associate of Rabbi Magnin at Wilshire Temple, set himself to bridge the gulf between the faiths. In 1975 he knit together the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles with the Southern California Board of Rabbis and the American Jewish Committee. Together they established the Los Angeles Roman Catholic/Jewish Respect Life Committee which annually issued pastoral statements on subjects like "reflections on abortion and related issues," "caring for the dying person," "the single parent family," "nuclear reality," and "a covenant of care." He was one of the architects of the Southern California Interreligious Council for rabbis, ministers, and priests, which met regularly with Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, and Bahai leaders. He also presided over the County Commission on Human Relations. When Pope John Paul ii came to Los Angeles on a formal visit in 1989, Rabbi Wolf was chosen on behalf of the rabbinate to speak to him and he said, "we urge you, as we urge all our friends, to assist us in the continuing struggle against antisemitism – and in securing peace in Israel – including full diplomatic relations with the Vatican." Rabbi Wolf, upon retirement after 36 years of active service, became director of the newly established *Skirball Institute on American Values. He died in 2004 at 88.
Rabbi Gary Greenebaum of the American Jewish Committee took over the chairmanship of the Police Commission at a time when police actions were dividing the Los Angeles community and alienating its African-American citizens. He wisely walked the minefield with skill, determination, and integrity.
Rabbi Allen Freehling of University Synagogue was deeply immersed in social action issues. He received the Los Angeles social responsibility award from the Los Angeles Urban League, and the National Council of Christians and Jews honored him with the Humanitarian Responsibility Award. He was on the Los Angeles Commission to draft an ethics code for Los Angeles city government. He received the National Friendship Award by the parents and friends of lesbians and gays in 1989. When the aids epidemic began to spread, Rabbi Freehling became Los Angeles' heroic voice on behalf of Jewish religious action for aids victims. He was the citywide chairman of the Committee for aids, the founding chairperson of the County Commission on aids, and the founding chair of the aids Interfaith Council of Southern California. In 1998, Freehling led an interfaith pilgrimage to the Vatican to discuss Jewish history and antisemitism with Pope John Paul ii. After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and other American targets, Freehling expended fresh energies reaching out to local Muslims and rejecting attempts to characterize them as monolithic apologists for terror. Freehling retired in 2003, after 30 years as senior rabbi, leaving his 900-family-strong congregation to Rabbi Morley Feinstein. Upon his departure, he announced his intent to engage in community building in the areas of human rights and civil liberties.
Los Angeles is also the home of several new age religious leaders and charismatic rabbis. Some are local figures with a local following and others are national and indeed international figures. Among the most prominent is Philip *Berg, who was influenced by an Israeli kabbalist by the name of Yehuda Brandwein. Rav Brandwein died in 1969. Beginning in Tel Aviv during the 1970s and expanding, after the Internet boom of the 1990s, to Los Angeles, Berg succeeded in popularizing Kabbalah and attracting media celebrities such as Madonna to his cause. Berg is at the helm of 50 centers claiming hundreds of thousands of paying adherents who help generate millions a year in revenue. The Kabbalah Centre directs its teachings to Jews and non-Jews alike. It has generated a "buzz" to borrow a term common in the entertainment community.
In immediate post-World War ii Los Angeles, there was no learning beyond bar mitzvah instruction and no employed Jewish scholars other than Dr. Samuel Dinin, who died in 2005 at the age of 103, then head of the Bureau of Jewish Education, and Rabbi Jacob Kohn (d. 1968) at Sinai Temple. Forty years later, the *University of Judaism was ensconced on 25 acres of land on Mulholland Drive, the Hebrew Union College was in the process of building a major cultural center in neighborly proximity, and Yeshiva University of Los Angeles (which is not affiliated with yu) was building a multi-story building on its site on Pico Boulevard. Additionally, ucla and the state universities had developed serious programs of advanced Jewish studies as an integral part of their academic offerings, and a substantial community of Jewishly committed academics was helping to transform a Jewish desert into a possible oasis of Judaism. This came about largely through the efforts of rabbi-educators who put their lifetime learning and teaching experience to the task of building Jewish educational institutions.
The Union of American Hebrew Congregations (uahc) in 1947 established in Los Angeles a college of Jewish studies to engage in teacher training and adult education. Five years later, the Cincinnati-based Hebrew Union College formed a degree-granting California school. Eventually, the school absorbed the uahc College of Jewish Studies into a School of Education and Jewish Studies. In 1957, freshly ordained Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk was appointed dean of the school. He enrolled at the University of Southern California Graduate School of Religion to get a doctorate in Bible study. While there, he became good friends with the dean of the School of Religion. Their joint dream of the future bore fruit when in time an academic reciprocity agreement was negotiated whereby huc would move to a major urban renewal site near usc, and the huc students would receive a dual usc/huc degree in selected graduate programs. huc in turn would serve as the Jewish studies provider for the university. The campus was built and dedicated in 1971.
The Rabbinical School was the centerpiece of the program. Joining it was the nation's first School of Jewish Communal Service, headed by Gerald Bubis, who launched the academic training specific to Jewish communal workers. The Rhea Hirsch School of Education graduated educational administrators and teachers. The Skirball Museum was transferred from Cincinnati to Los Angeles expanding considerably the educational and cultural horizons of the school. It now increasingly regarded itself, except for its rabbinical department, as an institution for the entire Jewish community. When Gottschalk moved to Cincinnati to become fifth president of huc, Uri D. Herscher became executive vice president of the Hebrew Union College-jir world-wide and dean of the local school. He took the lead in conceptualizing and implementing a plan to build an imposing huc Skirball Cultural Center and eventually established it as a separate, independent institution. David Ellenson, a long-time faculty member of the l.a. School, became the seventh president of huc. In the 1990s, the school, began ordaining rabbis, who no longer went to Cincinnati or New York to complete their training.
By 1990, the concept, the new campus, and the funds were securely in hand. The renowned Israeli architect Moshe Safdie was commissioned to design a cultural center on an acquired choice Mulholland area site. When it opened later in the decade, Herscher left Hebrew Union College to head the Skirball Cultural Center, which established itself as an independent, thriving cultural center.
The fruitful relationship between huc and usc reflected a growing, if unexpected rapprochement between the former wasp bastion and the Los Angeles Jewish community, which had long regarded the campus as a conservative Anglo-American redoubt inherently inhospitable to Jewish students and faculty. Although the university has often sought to downplay this aspect of its history, there was some merit in these perceptions, especially considered against the much warmer reception traditionally available across town at ucla (sometimes disparaged as "Jew cla").
An early president of the downtown Methodist campus, Joseph Widney, had in 1907 articulated a vision of Los Angeles (with usc at its forefront) as the world capital of Aryan supremacy. Rufus B. von Kleinsmid, usc's president from 1922 to 1946, and chancellor until his death in 1964, was widely rumored to have been a Nazi sympathizer. Various deans, including those of the medical and dental schools, alternately discriminated vigorously against Jewish enrollment (the Law and Medical schools were rumored to permit only one Jewish student a year during von Kleinsmid's tenure) or, in one episode involving the School of Dentistry in 1972, found themselves besieged by alumni charging pro-Jewish favoritism. In 1978, the university sparked another furor when it announced plans to accept a million dollars from Saudi Arabia for the King Faysal Chair of Islamic and Arab Studies (the plan, which entailed Saudi involvement in faculty appointments, was shelved after concerted protest from local Jewish organizations). In 1986, a campus fraternity was suspended for chanting anti-Jewish remarks outside the residency of a Jewish fraternity on Greek Row.
Today, however, some 11 percent of the student body (at 3,000 students, greater than every school in the California State University and University of California system, apart from uc Berkeley and Cal State Northridge) and a third of the faculty are Jewish. This is the result of ongoing, even unique, attempts by usc to escape its checkered past (and not incidentally, to attract Jewish financial support). By the turn of the 21st century, usc and huc had jointly established the Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life. This is reputedly the first academic research center on the West Coast to concentrate on contemporary issues in Jewish life, most notably the role that the American Jewish community has played in the development of the United States in general and the American West in particular. At the turn of the century, usc became the only university in the country, for instance, to hire a full-time Jewish student recruiter. At this juncture, the dean of religious life and the chairman of the board of trustees are Jewish. In October 2005, usc agreed to host Stephen Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, becoming the repository for 52,000 videotaped testimonies of Holocaust survivors and witnesses. Amassed since 1994, the archive is now the largest digital library in the world, containing testimonies from 56 countries in 32 languages and totaling 117,000 viewing hours. It is interesting to note that usc's vaunted film school did not accept the youthful Spielberg into its filmmaking program. The university subsequently awarded him an honorary doctorate and an appointment to its board of trustees.
ucla remains the largest college campus in Los Angeles. It hosts about 4,000 students who identify themselves as Jewish. The largest Jewish group at ucla is Hillel, which offers a range of student activity from Shabbat services to political advocacy and social action. Chabad has been active there for decades, and built one of its earliest local Chabad houses near the off-campus residencies in Westwood. In 2000, the university launched its ucla Center for Jewish Studies, an initially modest program intended, eventually, to offer graduate degrees locally and doctorates throughout the University of California system. In 2005, the center joined the Autry National Center in a new research program to explore the Jewish place in the city's cultural mosaic. By 2007, the university expects to put an Israel studies program in place under the direction of ucla political scientist Steven Spiegel, one of the field's eminent figures. The university has experienced considerable volatility between advocates and critics of Israel, and Jewish students there often feel they are on the front lines of confrontation with some Muslim and African-American students. Thanks largely to the efforts of long-time Hillel director Chaim Seidler-Feller, however, the campus has also seen the emergence of coalitions and joint programs involving moderate Jews, Muslims, and Arabs. The Jewish studies program, founded by noted Hebraist Arnold Band, thrives. There is a chair in Holocaust studies sponsored by the 1939 club. Its current incumbent is Saul Friedlaender who won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation's "genius award." Historian David Myers is among its faculty.
Jewish studies at California State University, Northridge (csun) enjoy a lengthy pedigree, dating back to 1969. In 2002, some 4,000 of the school's 31,000 students were estimated to be Jewish, and 400 students were registered in 14 different Jewish studies courses each semester. Jody Myers heads the program. In 2005, the Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program at csun offered 27 courses for students majoring or performing minors in Jewish studies. Jewish studies majors are also available at Cal State Long Beach.
The University of Judaism was founded in 1947 by the Jewish Theological Seminary in response to a visionary concept by Mordecai M. *Kaplan. He proposed to establish a Jewish institution with the academic rigor of a general university but devoted to specialized research, training, and education for Judaism defined as a civilization. It came into being just as Los Angeles was becoming a major center of Jewish life, second only to New York. At the same time, the Los Angeles Bureau of Jewish Education was prodding the seminary to provide them with a school that could qualify prospective teachers who would be needed for the city's growing Jewish school system. Additionally, the university planners saw the mission of the university as providing adult education, stimulating Jewish artistic expression, and offering continuing education to the young rabbis now flocking westward. jts Vice Chancellor Simon Greenberg volunteered to act as founding director, and Samuel Dinin as founding dean on behalf of the Bureau. David Lieber came to the University of Judaism in 1956 as dean of students, and in 1962 became president. Early on he formulated educational and management principles that guided him through the decades of university growth: uncompromising academic excellence; partnership with scholars and laity in the running of the school; unswerving attachment to the principle of pluralism in recognizing the legitimate diversities in Judaism and in the faculty; the ultimate establishment of a liberal arts college that would integrate both Jewish and Western cultures in one school and in one curriculum. The university was radically reconstituted. A new campus was built in West Los Angeles, at the epicenter of l.a. Jewry, between the Valley and the West Side, that included residence halls for individuals and families that in time transformed the university from a commuting to a residential campus, from a local and Western institution to a national and international center. The school embarked upon a major program of expansion and diversification. The Hebrew teachers college was replaced by a master's program in Jewish education that qualified teachers to serve as administrators and educators; the courses for rabbis were replaced by a graduate school in Judaica for prospective rabbis who studied for two years at the uj then spent a year in Israel and completed their training at the seminary in New York. A masters of business administration program was established under the direction of Dr. Judith Glass, whose purpose was to train future executives for Jewish and for notfor-profit secular institutions. Undergraduate students were grounded in both the Jewish and Western civilizations, with majors in a wide array of disciplines and qualified for graduate work in universities of their choice. The university's continuing education program grew to become the largest of its kind in the United States. Its annual catalogue of more than 50 pages described dozens of courses; an annual lecture series of six lectures held in five communities attracted a yearly audience of 25,000–40,000 persons; its elder hostel program was considered to be the most popular in the country. A vigorous arts program attested to the continuing concentration on the arts as being integral to Jewish education. Two new policy institutes were established in the late 1980s. The Wilstein Institute was an activist think tank that researched and recommended public policy on vital Jewish issues. In its first two years of existence, conferences on public policy were held in subjects relating to Jewish identity, crime and punishment, Soviet Jews in their homeland, and Jews and other ethnics in America. The Whizin Institute researched and experimented with new directions for the Jewish family, the synagogue, and the Jewish community. In the early 21st century, it added two small think tanks on Holocaust and contemporary Israeli studies.
By the 1990s, both the University of Judaism and the Hebrew Union College were thriving institutions with differing but also overlapping types of leadership and goals, which were beginning to establish modes of cooperation.
Robert *Wexler, a protégé of David Lieber, became president in 1992 and under his leadership he shaped uj as a nondenominational institution serving all Jews, which increases its attraction to some, but diminishes the enthusiasm of stalwarts of the Conservative movement. A noteworthy recent example of this commitment was Yesod, an intensive two-year biblical and Jewish studies program established in partnership with ten local Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist synagogues. The university believes that charges against uj for abandoning the Conservative movement are misplaced, and that apart from its rabbinical program and its involvement with Camp Ramah, it had always envisioned its mission as non-denominational. It also houses a mikveh used by non-Orthodox rabbis for conversion.
More than a half-century after its birth, the university has clearly set itself apart from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (jts) in New York City, the Conservative movement's preeminent entity for ordaining rabbis. In 1996 the University of Judaism received an endowment of more than $22 million dollars anonymously from a prominent Los Angeles Jewish family for the creation of its own rabbinical school, which is named the Ziegler School of rabbinic Studies. Instead of celebrating its creation and the expansion of opportunities for would-be Conservative rabbis, jts Chancellor Ismar *Shorsch forced a confrontation, which he lost, and the Seminary and uj parted ways. uj ordainees are automatically accepted into the Rabbinical Assembly and they are competing successfully with Seminary graduates for the same jobs. jts lost its monopoly on Conservative ordination. Ziegler students are perhaps less academically rigorous, especially when judged by the standards of Wissenschaft, but their spirituality is deepened and their training is wholesome and they are equipped to meet the religious needs of their congregants.
Created by Los Angeles-based rabbis in 2000, the Academy for Jewish Religion, California (ajr/ca) began with the intent of revitalizing Judaism. The Academy is non-denominational and deems itself pluralistic. In the fall of 2003, it enrolled 55 students. In 2005, it graduated five rabbis, two of them also cantors. Indeed, the academy hosts the only cantorial school west of the Hudson. The academy launched an innovative Jewish Chaplaincy Program to provide a vital and much-needed Jewish presence at hospitals, secular schools, police, fire and health departments, senior citizen centers, and other communal institutions.
In many areas of Los Angeles, the Jewish community has opted out of the public school system. The result has been a boon to Jewish day school education. There are now 10,000 students enrolled in Jewish day schools. For many non-Orthodox the debate is not between public education and private education but between a Jewish day school education and private school. Nine synagogues – five Reform: Emanuel, Wilshire Blvd., Stephen Wise, Temple Israel of Hollywood, and Beth Hillel; and four Conservative: Valley Beth Shalom and Adat Ariel in the Valley, Sinai/Akiba and Pressman Academy on the West Side – have day schools that are affiliated with the congregations and such an affiliation is central to the future of the congregations. There are two liberal high schools, the Milken School and the New Jewish Community high school both established by Dr. Bruce Powell. Orthodox schools, large and small, proliferate, among the 37 Jewish day schools of Los Angeles. yula has a high school for boys and one for girls. The girls' school became an independent school in Summer 2005, and it is expected that the boys' school will also become independent from Wie senthal by summer 2006. Shalhevet is a progressive Orthodox high school modeled after the teachings of Harvard psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, in which students participate in the governance of the school and, like Ramaz in New York, male and female students study together. It defines the liberal reaches of modern Orthodoxy. It was envisioned, established, and headed by Dr. Jerry Friedman who himself is a Harvard graduate and a prominent philanthropist.
The Jewish Federation Council
The Federation of Jewish Welfare Organizations was established in 1912 to serve as the disbursement, coordinating, and lobbying body for the 12 Jewish recipient agencies of the Los Angeles Community Chest. In addition the Federation took responsibility for raising modest sums for supplementary assistance. Under this arrangement only local Jewish needs were served. In 1929, responding to appeals from European and Palestine Jewry, and to local needs not supported by the Federation, a separate funding mechanism was established – the United Jewish Welfare Fund. Its first campaign year produced $93,000. By 1933, it became increasingly evident that there was need for a representative body that would be empowered to unite the Jewish community, including newer arrivals, around local concerns not addressed by the Federation or the Welfare Fund, such as Jewish education, youth organization, kashrut supervision, and newly formed synagogues. In response an umbrella body called the United Jewish Community was founded which in 1936 comprised 92 constituent organizations, congregations, and societies. In 1937, the United Jewish Community and the United Jewish Welfare Fund merged into a new body called the Jewish Community Council, which a few years later was given the authority to allocate the monies raised by the United Jewish Welfare Fund. There was a Federation and a Council. The Council became increasingly preeminent as it attracted the new leadership in the growing Jewish community, while the Federation remained the bastion of the traditional and largely German-Jewish émigré leadership; 156 of the 350 eligible Jewish organizations joined the Council. The new Jewish immigrants now arriving from the East Coast in increasing numbers tended to be politically liberal, equal-rights oriented, and devoted to Zionism and overseas needs. This contrasted strongly with the Federation of Jewish Welfare Organizations, which was conservative, local-needs oriented, and lukewarm to Zionism. The spectacular increase in fundraising from $2,750,000 in 1945 to $10 million in 1948, and from 33 to 58 thousand contributors, convinced the Federation leadership that their future was dismal, especially since Community Chest support, their major source of Jewish institutional income, was increasingly inadequate and increased public Jewish support was essential. The Federation and the Council negotiated for three years; the result was the Jewish Federation Council (jfc). In the decades ahead the Federation Council moved to become not only the spokesman but also the driving force behind Jewish community growth and development. It continued to expand its sense of community responsibility. Its goals originally were quantitative and defensive: raising more money from each contributor and from more contributors; dealing with emergencies that upset Jewish unity and harmony and so affect fundraising; and helping to maintain good relations in the community at large. In the wake of the Yom Kippur War, the Federation leadership began to consider the responsibilities of the Federation as potentially transcending practical needs. The Federation was already deeply involved in Jewish education. Its Bureau of Jewish Education guided, supported, subvented, and served as chief advocate for Jewish schools. Since its organization in 1937, it had striven to establish and raise standards, attract and increase financial support, and help to create a teaching profession. Under the initiative of Emil Jacoby, its director from 1983 to 1993, a number of programs were established which sought to raise the level and standards and effectiveness of Jewish education. However some thought more could be done to establish Federation responsibility for the welfare of Judaism as well as of Jews. Sensitive to the danger of crossing the line between religious autonomy and Federation responsibility, they suggested that the Los Angeles Federation formally accept responsibility for a community stake in what they termed "the quality of Jewish life." This was to be a revolutionary departure. Until now Jewish communities were divided into "organized" and "religious." Jewish organizational life mandated mutual independence between "church" and "state." In 1973 a Committee on Jewish Life was established by the jfc with the avowed goals of reducing tensions and adding to the potential cooperation between the communal and the congregational sectors of Jewish life. A year later the committee made its report and recommendations; as a result, in the fall of 1974, the Council of Jewish Life was established to implement the report. Its mandate at the time was to improve relationships between synagogues and the jfc; develop an outreach program to the unaffiliated including promotion of synagogue affiliation; and support of existing adult education programs. In succeeding years the Council of Jewish Life expanded its program, which aimed at "raising the quality of Jewish life." It established a number of commissions, which undertook projects with cultural, educational, and religious goals. It established a commission on synagogue affairs which organized synagogue councils in outlying areas, developed a task force on synagogue finance and administration, and circulated widely a letter written by the president of the jfc to welfare fund contributors describing the synagogue as "an indispensable link for the preservation and transmission of an authentic Jewish way of life" and urging affiliation with a synagogue. Nine hundred responses were received in response to this unprecedented appeal by a Jewish community organization, which openly committed itself to the synagogue as essential to the creative survival of Jewish life in America. Over the years the council established commissions that operated in areas considered significant. In 1988, they were adult Jewish education, the arts in Jewish life, the disabled, the Israelis, outreach to intermarried, outreach to singles, spirituality, synagogue funding. The Council, with funding from the Jewish Community Foundation, appropriated approximately $100,000 a year for support of synagogue proposals that were innovative. The grants were awarded by the committee on synagogue funding on a three-year basis. Grant requests by the end of the 1990s increasingly dealt with outreach concerns such as reaching the unaffiliated, the singles, the intermarried, and the disaffected. With the advent of the 21st century, however, the future of Jewish federations in general and l.a.'s in particular appeared to be both bleak and beyond the ability of commissioned studies and valiant slogans about the need for greater inclusion to easily reinvigorate. The bottom line is that its campaigns have not grown significantly while Jewish life has found other sources of Jewish support. The problem is not Jewish life in Los Angeles, which is thriving, but Jewish organizations formed in an earlier generation and enjoying less enthusiastic support from the younger generations.
In many respects, Los Angeles had become an innovative cauldron of new Jewish activity and organization entirely unbeholden to the East Coast, which in turn persisted in regarding itself as the sole arbiter of Jewish power in America and of national communal decision-making. It was this perceptual dichotomy, in fact, that resulted in several East-West spats that incensed the Los Angeles community. The first involved the Los Angeles regional chapter of the American Jewish Congress, which split from the national organization in 1999, reconstituting as the independent Progressive Jewish Alliance. Even more troubling was the impromptu dismissal, in 2002, of the Anti-Defamation League's regional director of 27 years' standing, David Lehrer, by the adl's national director, Abraham Foxman. The latter's decision to terminate Lehrer without stated cause was taken as an affront to the entire community, not least of all by the adl's regional board, which had achieved major strides in fundraising under Lehrer's stewardship, and resented being treated as a mere branch office. Lehrer was replaced by Amanda Susskind, a local attorney with a background in public policy.
Working against the community was the discovery that the Jewish population nationally was in decline. The Jewish population of Los Angeles has remained fairly constant from 1979 through today, despite significant immigration. The birthrate is extremely low. Affiliation rates, as in so many western communities, remain lower than those in the east. With intermarriage increasingly normative and the graying of the Jewish population proceeding farther apace than in many other ethnic communities, Jewish communal life and involvement inevitably became the purview of an increasingly smaller and self-limiting segment of the Jewish public. Secularization and assimilation occurred in parallel with fragmentation caused by a proliferation of new Jewish organizations and institutions; each determined to secure its share of an ever-diminishing pie. With Jews increasingly preferring to give to non-Jewish causes, federations became more dependent on a coterie of "big givers" for continued sustenance. In Los Angeles, attention to the needs and interests of this select, self-appointed, and sometimes self-serving few resulted not only in greater tensions between lay and professional leadership but in widespread malaise and alienation within the greater Jewish community.
Jewish Journalism Comes of Age in l.a.
The Jewish Journal is the flagship newspaper of the Los Angeles community. Prior to the Jewish Journal's appearance in 1986, Los Angeles had been served by three publications: the Jewish Community Bulletin, which had been the Federation's biweekly house organ, Heritage, a somewhat parochial, Israel-centered weekly established by Herb Brin in 1954, and the B'nai B'rith Messenger, aimed at the Orthodox community (the Israeli community, meanwhile, had its own Hebrew-language papers, notably Israel Shelanu, Shalom l.a., and local supplements of the Israeli dailies Yedioth Aharonoth and Maariv). The Jewish Journal was the brainchild of a group of "Benefactors" who had long lamented the community's lack of a first-class Jewish paper. Armed with its forerunner's 75,000-strong subscription list and with an assertion of editorial independence, the paper initially exhibited scant awareness of the scope of Jewish life in Los Angeles. The paper made some headway broadening its coverage during the 1990s, most notably through the efforts of the late Marlene Adler Marks and the late David Margolis, writers with profound roots and sincere interest in hitherto ignored, misunderstood, or otherwise denigrated segments of the community. It also stepped up its Israel coverage. It was only with the appointment of local journalist Rob Eshman as editor, however, that the Journal was finally able to more fully and inclusively reflect l.a. Jewry's diverse, variegated, and sometimes contentious character. Like many Jewish newspapers, its critics contend that it plays it too safe.
The Rise and Fall and Rise of the jccs
One of the earliest and most important points of entry into organized communal life in Los Angeles was the Jewish community center, the first of which, the Modern Hebrew School and Social Center, later renamed Soto-Michigan, came into being in Boyle Heights in 1924. A number of other centers followed, including one on West Adams, on Beverly-Fairfax, at City Terrace, and at Hollywood-Los Feliz. Initially underfunded and underused, these and subsequently created jccs were placed under the aegis of a centralized organization, the Jewish Centers Association (jca), in 1943. Subvented by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation Council, the jca alternately bristled under the Federation's pecuniary oversight while holding tightly to the reins of individual centers that generated funds locally and often resented turning these resources and control over their own programming to the jca. In 1952, the jca flouted local opposition by closing the more ardently Zionist and overtly Jewish Menorah Center and merging it with the more intercultural Soto-Michigan Center. Declines in the Jewish population of the city's Eastside, and political pressure against Soto-Michigan's ostensibly radical leadership, resulted in its closure soon after, and that of the West Adams center as well.
As Jews moved into the city's western reaches and into the San Fernando Valley to the north, new Jewish community centers cropped up in their midst, ultimately resulting in a network of seven jccs and a residential camp, three (Valley Cities, North Valley, and West Valley) in the San Fernando Valley alone. A joint jca-Federation study conducted in the early 1970s resulted in the withdrawal of funding in 1976 for the Hollywood-Los Feliz jcc and for the Israel Levin Senior Adult Center (later the subject of "Number Our Days," the Academy Award-winning documentary based on the work of the late Barbara Myerhoff). Community protests outside Federation headquarters at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard resultedin their reinstatement.
The jccs continued to muddle along, under-funded and undervalued, yet providing scarce services to segments of the community not quite established financially or sufficiently rooted in Jewish life to join synagogues, yet interested in childcare, programs for the elderly, scouting facilities for the children of Israelis, Jewish day camps, and other programs. Indeed, the Jewish pre-school program at Valley Cities jcc in Sherman Oaks developed under Bea Chankin Weisberg into one of the crown jewels of early childhood education in Los Angeles. During the 1990s, the jccs spiraled downward. Their programs and membership dropped dramatically despite steep cuts in Federation funding, from 25 percent to 30 percent of their budgets to 13 percent. The North Valley jcc in Granada Hills, meanwhile, had its mettle severely tested in 1999, after a shooting spree by white supremacist Buford Furrow on the camp children that wounded several children and camp counselors and killed a mailman several miles away. The center lost little time resuming operations and regaining its footing and the community's confidence. Bailed out with Federation loans on several occasions, the parent organization, the Jewish Community Center of Los Angeles, finally collapsed, ostensibly due to mismanagement, in 2001. Several of the city's prized jccs, valued more for their property than the services they provided, found themselves dragged onto the chopping block. The Bay Cities center in Santa Monica and the North Valley Center were ultimately sold, and the Conejo Valley Center closed up shop. The Westside and West Hills centers, both situated in extremely affluent neighborhoods, became independent. Their respective communities, meanwhile, rescued the centers in Silverlake and Sherman Oaks, at the last moment, although their continued existence is deemed tenuous. It is remarkable that in a city as affluent and as athletically and culturally oriented as Los Angeles, Jewish Community Centers are not thriving and came perilously close to extinction.
A Bounty of Innovative Institutions
Renowned (or notorious) as a capital of glitz and ostentation as well as of homelessness and hunger, in 1985, Los Angeles became home to an innovative response to the excess and overindulgence of some of its wealthier segments with the creation of Mazon. A non-profit, grassroots agency created in the aftermath of an Ethiopian famine, Mazon (Hebrew for "Sustenance") provides millions of dollars to over 300 hunger-relief agencies, including emergency food providers, food banks, multi-service organizations, and advocacy groups that seek long-term solutions to the hunger problem. Over $3 million are now culled annually from Jewish families and organizations as a self-imposed three percent tax on catered events. Founded by Leonard Fein, Mazon cites as inspiration the Torah's demands for justice and the rabbinic tradition of forbidding the commencement of life-cycle celebrations until the community's poor and hungry have been seated and fed. Since 1986, Mazon has provided more than $31 million to the hungry in the United States, in Israel, and in developing countries around the world.
Another noteworthy local innovation is Beit T'Shuva (Heb. "House of Repentance"), a recovery and reintegration center that seeks to integrate Jewish spirituality with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and with traditional psychotherapy. With a campus in West Los Angeles, Beit T'Shuva provides therapeutic in- and outpatient accommodations to alcoholics, substance abusers, and discharged prisoners. Beit T'Shuva began as an outgrowth of a non-profit organization called the Jewish Committee for Personal Service (jcps). That organization came into being in 1921 to provide social services to Jews in California mental hospitals and prisons. Forty years later, a donation from a jcps client led to the establishment of the Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center, which subsequently incorporated jcps as one of its programs. Harriet Rossetto, who joined the staff of jcps in 1984, discerned in an article by Dr. Abraham Twerski on Judaism and the Twelve Steps a possible antidote both to the recidivism of many of her patients and to the Jewish community's apparent lack of concern and support (many Jews erroneously believing that Jews as a rule did not suffer addictions). In 1987, with a grant from fema and a loan from the Jewish Community Foundation, Gateways Hospital bought an old house at 216 South Lake Street in Los Angeles and opened the doors of Beit T'Shuva. The original mission was to provide transitional living and reentry services to Jewish men being released from jails and prisons. The program has expanded its attentions in recent years to Jews struggling with addictive behaviors. A capital campaign raised five million dollars toward the purchase and renovation of a new facility, which opened in 1999. Two years later, Beit T'Shuva gained its independence from Gateways Hospital, becoming a constituent agency of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. Its spiritual leader is himself a Ba'al Teshuvah and uj ordainee Rabbi Mark Borowitz, who returned to tradition after his own incarceration.
Justice may be a Jewish imperative, but its pursuit in 21st-century America can be prohibitively expensive and beyond the grasp of most consumers, Jews and non-Jews alike. Enter Bet Tzedek (Heb. "House of Justice"), a five-day-a-week storefront community law office that dispenses free legal assistance to more than 10,000 Angelinos out of its Fairfax neighborhood headquarters, an office in North Hollywood, and 30 senior centers throughout the Greater Los Angeles region. With a staff of 55 and over 400 volunteers, the organization, founded in 1974, serves all eligibly needy residents of Los Angeles County, Jewish or otherwise. Bet Tzedek has been instrumental in fighting consumer fraud; in protecting employee rights; in assisting health-care providers and non-paid caregivers; in securing government benefits for eligible recipients; in combating slumlords and protecting tenants from unscrupulous landlords; in expanding elder law protection, and even in securing Holocaust reparations – they were the key organization to impact the way reparations are handled by the Claims Conference.
In 1982, Lowell and Michael Milken established the Milken Family Foundation. Active in education, medical research, and Jewish culture, the foundation has made noteworthy attempts to support and honor outstanding teachers locally and nationally, to foster school reform, and to generate enthusiasm for education as a lifelong process. The Milkens were also instrumental in founding the Milken Community High School, the crown jewel of the Stephen S. Wise Jewish school system.
In 2003, the foundation released the first of 90 projected compact disk recordings of Jewish music, under the aegis of the Milken Archives of American Jewish Music in New York City, established in 1990 to generate a $17 million compilation of over 600 pieces of Jewish music culled from over 350 years of American musical history. Of these, no less than 500are new recordings of lost or never-preserved music, commissioned from orchestras, choirs, and soloists in 15 cities in the U.S. and Europe. These include Sephardic liturgies from the American Colonial period; recordings of complete Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform services; Klezmer-influenced concert works; ecstatic Hasidic music; Yiddish theater work with reconstructed orchestrations; and works commemorating or otherwise influenced by the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel. Distributed under the Noxos recording label, initial offerings included works by Kurt Weill, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, David Krakauer, and Alberto Mizrahi, and orchestras led by such eminent conductors as Gerald Schwarz. The archive's artistic director is Neil W. Levin, of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Jewish life – religious and secular, cultural and intellectual – thrives in Los Angeles, a city with intense affiliations and also a high rate of non-affiliation. The challenge of the early 21st century is how to preserve the intense core of Jewish life while attracting to that core those with but the most marginal of Jewish affiliations. It is not a problem unique to Los Angeles, but one acute in Los Angeles.
M. Vorspan and L.P. Gartner, History of the Jews of Los Angeles (1970); H. Newmark, Sixty Years in Southern California (19303); M.R. Newmark, in: Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, 24 (1942), 77–97; 25 (1943), 5–65; 38 (1956), 167–84; S. Reichler, in: J. Meltz (ed.), Mount Sinai Year Book (1946); I. Soref, in: Reconstructionist, 18 (1952/53), 8–12; A. Laurie, "Social Adjustments of German Jewish Refugees in Los Angeles" (Thesis, University of Southern California, 1953); F. Massarik, Report on the Jewish Population of Los Angeles (1953); D. Bin Nun, Religious and Other Cultural Factors Affecting the Assimilation of Jews in Los Angeles (Thesis, University of Southern California, 1954); R. Glantz, Jews of California from the Discovery of Gold until 1880 (1960); E. Lipman and A. Vorspan, Tale of Ten Cities (1962); J. Turner, in: ajhsp, 54 (1964/65), 123–64; N.B. Stern, California Jewish History; a Descriptive Bibliography (1967).
[Max Vorspan /
Sheldon Teitelbaum (2nd ed.)]
Parks and Recreation
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
For Further Study
Location: Pacific Coast of southern California, United States, North America
Time Zone: 4 am Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Flag: Adopted in 1931, flag features the city seal centered on three panels (left to right): green symbolizing olive trees, yellow symbolizing orange groves, and red symbolizing grape vineyards.
Ethnic Composition: White, 75.7%; Black, 14%; Asian/Pacific Islander, 9.8% (1990)
Elevation: Sea level to 1,548 m (5,080 ft) above sea level
Latitude and Longitude: 34°05'N, 118°24'W
Climate: Mild temperatures year round, many sunny afternoons
Annual Mean Temperature: 18.7°C (65.3°F); January 12.6°C (54.5°F); July 20.3°C (68.5°F)
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall): 37.6 cm (14.8 in)
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 213 (downtown), 323, 310, 562, 626
Postal Codes: 90001–68; 90070–99; 90101
Located on Southern California's Pacific coast, Los Angeles has long been known as a city of dreams, a place for the dispossessed or disillusioned to start over and rebuild their lives. In the course of the twentieth century it grew to be the second-largest city in the United States and the hub of a five-county metropolitan area. A tourist magnet known for its sunny climate, beautiful beaches, and entertainment industry, Los Angeles in recent decades has experienced the downside of urban expansion, with its well-publicized air pollution, traffic congestion, and racial and ethnic tensions. Yet the city remains a colorful, thriving metropolis working to overcome the problems of suburban sprawl as it heads into a new century.
Los Angeles is located in southern California, on the Pacific Coast, with the Santa Monica Mountains to the north and the San Gabriel Mountains to the east.
Los Angeles is known for its crowded, labyrinthine freeway system, which offers access to the city through multiple north-south and east-west routes. The major north-south highways are I-5 (the Golden State and Santa Ana freeways), I-15 (which extends from the Canadian border to San Diego), US Highway 101 (the Ventura and Hollywood freeways), extending south along the Pacific coast from Washington State, and State Highway 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway), stretching along the coast from San Diego to San Francisco and beyond. East-west freeways include I-8, which runs between California and Arizona, I-10 (the San Bernardino and Santa Monica freeways), which traverses the country between Santa Monica and Jacksonville, Florida, and I-40, stretching from California to Tennessee.
Bus and Railroad Service
Amtrak provides service from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. The Sunset Limited travels cross-country between Los Angeles and New Orleans; the Coast Starlight, as its name suggests, follows a coastal route from southern California to Seattle; the San Diegan runs from Los Angeles to San Diego.
Los Angeles International Airport, known locally as LAX, is located on the west side of the city. With flights to over 60 major cities, it is the world's third-busiest airport when it comes to passenger service.
Due in large part to trade with the countries of the Pacific Rim, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Port System is the country's top-ranked shipping port in terms of both volume and value of goods handled. The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is a top shipping facility for air cargo. As the point of termination for several major rail lines, Los Angeles is also a busy rail freight center, and the city is also served by all major interstate trucking companies.
Los Angeles Population Profile
Area: 1,215 sq km (469.3 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 75.7% white; 14% black; 9.8% Asian/Pacific Islander
Nicknames: Tinseltown (Hollywood)
Description: Los Angeles-Long Beach PMSA
Area: 10,515 sq km (4,060 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 8
Percentage of national population 2: 4.7%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.1%
Ethnic composition: 75.2% white; 11.2% black; and 12.9% Asian/Pacific Islander
- The Los Angeles metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
- The percent of the United States' total population living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
What most people refer to when they say "Los Angeles" is more a sprawling collection of suburbs than a single city laid out according to an orderly plan. Nevertheless, Los Angeles does have a downtown, an area largely bounded by the Harbor Freeway, the Santa Monica Freeway, and Alameda street, with numbered streets running northwest to southeast, with several avenues running in the perpendicular direction. Located in this district are the Los Angeles City Hall, the Convention Center, the Los Angeles County Court, the Civic Centre, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Bus and Commuter Rail Service
Due to the sprawling layout of Greater Los Angeles, the city is widely known for its extensive freeway system and dependence on automobiles, rather than for its use of public transportation. However, the California Metropolitan Transit Agency (called the MTA) does run local and express buses, including a shuttle service from downtown called the Downtown Area Short Hop (DASH). L.A.'s MetroRail, largely used by com muters from the more distant suburbs, operates three color-coded rail lines, including a subway system that was launched in 1993.
|City Fact Comparison|
|Population of urban area1||13,129,000||10,772,000||2,688,000||12,033,000|
|Date the city was founded||1781||AD 969||753 BC||723 BC|
|Daily costs to visit the city2|
|Hotel (single occupancy)||$99||$193||$172||$129|
|Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)||$44||$56||$59||$62|
|Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)||$2||$14||$15||$16|
|Total daily costs||$145||$173||$246||$207|
|Number of newspapers serving the city||5||13||20||11|
|Largest newspaper||Los Angeles Times||Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar||La Repubblica||Renmin Ribao|
|Circulation of largest newspaper||1,067,540||1,159,339||754,930||3,000,000|
|Date largest newspaper was established||1881||1944||1976||1948|
|1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.|
|2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.|
|3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.|
Several companies offer bus tours of Los Angeles that include attractions such as the city's film studios, Sunset Strip, Hollywood, and homes of movie stars; a helicopter tour is also available. Special "theme" tours include a 3 A. M. insomniac's tour that takes in the Los Angeles Times building and the produce markets and Grave Line Tours, which takes visitors to sites associated with the deaths (by foul play and otherwise) of famous Hollywood stars. There are also separate tours of individual attractions, including movie and television studios and the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States, surpassed only by New York. In 1990, the population of Chicago was 3,486,000, with the following racial composition:75.7 percent white, 14 percent black, 9.8 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, 0.5 percent American Indian. Hispanics (an ethnic rather than a racial designation) accounted for 39.9 percent of the population. The 1994 population estimate for Chicago was 3,449,000. The population of the Los Angeles Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area was estimated at 9,145,219 as of 1997. The region's racial composition was listed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 as 75.2 percent white; 12.9 percent Asian/Pacific Islander; and 11.2 percent black (1996). Hispanics accounted for 43 percent of the metropolitan area population.
Downtown Los Angeles—home to the city's Chinatown, Koreatown, and Little Tokyo, as well as its barrios (Hispanic neighborhoods), and the predominantly black South-Central neighborhood—is known for its ethnically diverse population. Also located in the downtown area are the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic District and a modern commercial and civic center complete with modern high-rise buildings.
Hollywood, famed as the capital of the movie industry, has declined from its peak glamour days, especially around the fabled Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, but it is still the site of such show business shrines as the Walk of Fame, the trendy Melrose Avenue shopping district, and the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood of residential and commercial buildings. The area known as the Westside, located between Hollywood and the coast, is a more upscale area and home to such glamorous neighborhoods as Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Brentwood. It is also the site of the famous Rodeo Drive shopping area.
One of the most attractive and popular parts of greater Los Angeles is the coastal area, which stretches from Malibu in the north to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and encompasses over 97 kilometers (60 miles) of beachfront property. Besides Malibu, well-known communities here include Santa Monica, known for its Bohemian atmosphere; Venice, whose famous Ocean Front Walk is the place where skaters and others come to see and be seen; Marina del Rey, known for its excellent small-craft harbor; and Redondo Beach. Also located near the coast is the Los Angeles International Airport.
The remaining region is the San Fernando Valley ("the Valley"), home of the infamous "Valley Girl" image and slang popularized in the 1980s. Universal Studios is located here, in Universal City, and Burbank is nearby.
The area of present-day Los Angeles was first explored and settled by the Spanish in the eighteenth century. The city, originally called El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles ("the pueblo of our lady the queen of angels"), was founded in 1781. Over the next century, Los Angeles was successively under Spanish, Mexican, and American rule. Spanish rule ended in 1821 when Mexico achieved independence, and the young town, then a provincial outpost, came under its jurisdiction. Growing trade with the United States, as well as such marine enterprises as seal hunting and whaling, made Los Angeles California's largest town by the 1840s.
In the wake of the Mexican-American War of 1846, Los Angeles, along with the rest of California, became U.S. territory, and California was admitted to the United States as the thirty-first state in 1850.
The most significant milestone in the development of Los Angeles was the city's selection as the rail terminus for southern California. Rail linkage with San Francisco, completed in 1876, was followed by a population boom, as thousands flocked to the region, drawn by its temperate climate, unspoiled landscape, and available property, as well as cheap transcontinental fares resulting from rail price wars. A real estate boom rapidly drove up the price of land, but it had collapsed by 1887, destroying the hopes of speculators. However, the city continued to thrive, its economy spurred by the discovery of oil in 1892 and the development of agriculture. Its population grew to 50,000 by 1890 and then doubled to 102,000 by the turn of the century.
The film industry came to Los Angeles in the early twentieth century, with the opening of the first movie theater in 1902 and the establishment of Hollywood's first film studio in 1911. The first feature-length movie was directed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1913; the now world-famous "Hollywood" sign was erected in 1923; and the Academy Awards were inaugurated in 1929. The city's growing reputation as "Tinseltown" added yet another dream for newcomers to pursue by going west. The film industry continued to thrive during the 1930s, supplying relief from the woes of the Depression, which also brought a new wave of arrivals to the region, fleeing the dust bowls of the Midwest and seeking to rebuilt their lives. Major infrastructure projects assured a continued supply of water to desert-bound Los Angeles, in some cases triggering bitter and lasting disputes over the rights to water channeled to the region from further north.
A new era—the era of the automobile—opened for Los Angeles with the completion in 1940 of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, which laid the groundwork for the sprawling mass of freeways, and the car culture, that were to become an indelible part of the city's image and lifestyle. The growing dominance of the automobile and the spread of the defense-related manufacturing plants during World War II (1939–45) both helped trigger the suburban growth that was to change the physical landscape of L.A. in the postwar decades. Another development of the 1950s—the growth of television—at first was feared as a threat to the movie industry but proved an economic boon as the city became the headquarters of the popular new medium, as well as the growing recording industry, reinforcing its status as the entertainment capital of the world.
By the 1960s the golden image of Los Angeles had began to unravel, as unchecked urban sprawl led to environmental and social problems. Smog and pollution from automobiles and industry were recognized as serious threats to the quality of life in the area, and urban violence erupted in the black Watts neighborhood in August 1965. As the decade neared its end, the assassination of senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy (1925–1968) at the Ambassador Hotel following the 1968 Democratic primary election linked Los Angeles with yet more violence.
Strict air pollution guidelines were instituted in the 1970s, together with attempts to reduce pollution from autos by improving public transportation over the following decades, including the inauguration of a subway system in the early 1990s. In the 1970s and 1980s Southern California became a hub of the human potential and New Age movements, adding yet another facet—otherworldly eccentricity—to its multi-faceted image. At the same time, the region's economy thrived as the real estate, finance, and entertainment industries soared.
The 1990s in Los Angeles were marked by economic recession and recovery, and a series of sensationalistic events highlighting racial divisions in both the city itself and in the nation as a whole. First came the 1991 videotaping of four white police officers beating black motorist Rodney King, the 1992 Simi Valley trial in which the policemen were acquitted, and the ensuing three days of rioting and looting that left 50 persons dead and caused an estimated $1 billion in property damage. The 1994 Brentwood murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman was followed by the 1996 trial of former football star and actor O. J. Simpson, who was tried for and acquitted of the murders. Physically, the city was shaken by the 1994 the Northridge earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, that has required a major rebuilding effort.
The Los Angeles municipal government is headed by a mayor and a 15-member council, both elected to four-year terms. Los Angeles is also the seat of Los Angeles County, which is under the jurisdiction of a board of supervisors consisting of five members. A number of its districts, however, are self-governing.
In 1995, violent crimes reported to police (per 100,000 population) totaled over 2,000 and included 25 murders, 840 robberies, and 1,123 aggravated assaults. Property crimes totaled 5,645 and included 1,192 burglaries, 3,120 cases of larceny/theft, and 1,333 motor vehicle thefts.
Los Angeles is the seat of the top-ranked manufacturing county in the nation, producing a diverse array of items including aircraft and aircraft equipment, games and toys, gas transmissions and distribution equipment, guided missiles, space vehicles and propulsion units, and women's apparel. Service is the major employment sector, employing roughly one-third of the county's nonagricultural wage and salary workers. In 1998 the top employers in the county were county government, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the U.S. government, UCLA, and the U.S. Postal Service.
The economy of the city of Los Angeles is highly diversified, with strong sectors in services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, government, financial service industries, transportation, utilities, and construction. The entertainment and tourism industries also contribute significantly to the economy. The trade volume of its busy port is the highest in the nation and one of the highest in the world.
The Los Angeles economy took a downturn—together with the rest of California—in the early 1990s but rebounded later in the decade.
A booming population has brought nationwide recognition to Los Angeles and the surrounding area, but it has also brought increasing environmental problems, including water shortages and pollution and air pollution. The infamous L.A. smog was sighted by farmers as early as 1940. In 1990 the city was forced to impose water rationing on its residents for the first time, and it was expected to spend billions of dollars during the decade on pollution controls to comply with federal air quality standards.
The many rare wildlife species found within 161 kilometers (100 miles) of the Los Angeles metropolitan area include the California condor, one of the world's rarest birds, and the gray whale, whose annual southward migration to Baja, California, carries it to within 0.8 kilometer (0.5 mile) of L.A.'s Pacific coastline, drawing numerous observers, either in their own as part of organized whale watches.
Southern California's best-known physical feature is probably the San Andreas fault, only one of the geological faults in the state.
The best-known shopping district in Los Angeles is glamorous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Now augmented by the addition of a cobble-stoned walkway called Two Rodeo, or Via Rodeo, the area boasts shops sporting exclusive names, including Chanel, Armani, Ungaro, Christian Dior, Cartier, and Tiffany. Beverly Hills is also home to upscale retailers Neiman-Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barneys New York, all located nearby on Wilshire Boulevard. Other shopping venues include Melrose Avenue, the Westside Pavilion, Montana Avenue (in Santa Monica), and Abbot Kinney Boulevard (in Venice). Chinatown also offers a varied and colorful shopping experience that encompasses ethnic foods, clothing, and household items. A popular shopping destination in the district is the Chungking Mall. Popular malls in the greater Los Angeles area include the Citadel Outlet Collection, Century City, Beverly Center, and Topanga Plaza.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, serving a population of more than four million, is overseen by a seven-member elected school board. In the fall of 1998, the district enrolled a total of 607,143 students in grades K-12—the second-largest enrollment of any district in the country, second only to New York City. The Los Angeles system operated 420 elementary schools, 72 middle schools, and 49 senior high schools. The district's adult community schools, children's centers, and occupational and skills centers enrolled an additional 913,119. The district employed 67,169 persons, including teachers, support staff, and other certified personnel. It is the second-largest employer in Los Angeles County.
The two largest institutions of higher education in Los Angeles are the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC), respected as major research centers (and known locally as sports rivals). In addition to these two universities, the Los Angeles area is home to multiple campuses of both the University of California and the California State University systems, as well as a number of private colleges and universities, including Loyola Marymount University, the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), Pepperdine University, and Claremont College.
13. Health Care
The premier hospital in the Los Angeles area is Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center, which includes General Hospital and Women's and Children's Hospital. In 1998 the complex had a total of 1,330 staffed beds; 45,979 patients were admitted, and 744,933 were seen on an outpatient basis. The centrally located Cedars-Sinai Medical Center also has an outstanding reputation.
In 1995 the Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area had 114 community hospitals, with a total of 25,546 beds and 16,681 office-based physicians. The greater Los Angeles area, including Orange County, had 260 hospitals altogether in the mid-1990s, but this number was expected to decline with the growing trend toward hospital mergers. According to some reports, as many as one-third of the region's hospitals would close in the coming years or become part of large multi-hospital networks.
Since 1989 Los Angeles has had only one daily newspaper, the Los Angeles Times (circulation 991,480 weekdays and 1,361,202 Sundays), which has a distinguished history and a reputation as one of the leading newspapers in the nation. A number of regions in the metropolitan area have their own dailies, including the Daily News (San Fernando Valley), the News Pilot (San Pedro), the Daily Breeze (Torrance), the Evening Outlook (Santa Monica), and the Press Telegram (Long Beach). Two free alternative weeklies—the LA Weekly and New Times— cover entertainment and other topics of interest to L.A. locals. Weeklies are also published for the business community and the area's many ethnic communities. The area's two monthly magazines are the older Los Angeles Magazine and its younger rival, Buzz. Among the nationally distributed magazines published in Los Angeles is Bon Appetit.
All the major television networks have affiliated stations in Chicago, which has a total of seven commercial and public television stations, as well as some 30 am and FM radio stations.
Major league teams in most professional sports play in the Los Angeles area, although football fans have been without a home team since the Los Angeles Rams and Raiders departed for other cities in the mid-1990s. In baseball, the National League's Los Angeles Dodgers play at Dodger Stadium, and the American League's Anaheim Angels play at Anaheim Stadium. (Southern Californians can also attend games of the San Diego Padres.) Los Angeles has two NBA teams, the championship-winning Lakers, who play home games at the Staples Center, and the Clippers, who play at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Professional hockey is represented by the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, who play at the Staples Center, and the Disney-owned Mighty Ducks, who play at Arrowhead Pond. College-level sports are also popular, as fans follow the fortunes of the UCLA and USC teams, who field Division I NCAA teams in all major sports. Horse racing is held at Hollywood Park Racetrack and the Santa Anita Racetrack.
Los Angeles's warm weather and sunny climate encourage a wide range of athletic activities, especially water sports—including swimming, surfing, and boating—at its miles of municipal beaches along the Pacific coast. The city's parks offer golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, ball fields, and other facilities.
At more than 1,619 hectares (4,000 acres), Griffith Park is one of the nation's (and the world's) largest municipal parks. It is home to the famed Griffith Observatory and Planetarium, the 46-hectare (113-acre) Los Angeles Zoo, and the Ferndall Nature Museum, as well as a bird sanctuary, a transportation museum (Travel Town), and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage. For recreational purposes, the park also boasts an 85-kilometer (53-mile) bridle trail, picknicking and swimming facilities, a golf course, and bicycle rentals.
Hancock Park, near Wilshire Boulevard, is famed for its La Brea Tar Pits, ponds containing subterranean tar in which prehistoric mammoths, mastodons, bears, and other mammals were entombed, and their skeletons preserved for posterity. Today, life-size fiberglass replicas of mammoths, placed in the pond, can be seen not only from the park but also from Wilshire Boulevard, forming a startling contrast to its stores and restaurants. Other Los Angeles-area parks include the 243-hectare (600-acre) Elysian Park, the 13-hectare (32-acre) Westlake Park, and the Lincoln, Exposition, Echo, and Arroyo Seco parks.
In addition to its other parks, Los Angeles is home to the world-famous theme park, Disneyland, located in Anaheim.
17. Performing Arts
Although Los Angeles is best known as the world capital of television and motion-picture production, the traditional performing arts are also well represented. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Finnish-born music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, performs at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion during its regular season and at the Hollywood Bowl in the summer. The L.A. Opera is known for its innovative interpretations of operatic classics, and the Los Angeles Master Chorale performs at the Music Center during the concert season. Popular venues for theatrical performances are the Ahmanson Theatre, the Henry Fonda Theatre, and the Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum.
Los Angeles residents can attend a variety of performances in music, theater, and dance by touring artists at the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, New York's Joffrey Ballet maintains an office and a regular performance schedule in the city.
Founded in 1872, the Los Angeles Public Library System serves close to 3.7 million people, with an annual circulation of 10,964,844. Its book holdings total approximately 5.8 million volumes. The library moved into a new central building downtown in 1993 after its former home was destroyed by fire; the new building is the third-largest library in the country. The library system also operates 67 neighborhood branches. The areas in which it holds special collections include California in Fiction, Film Study, Fiction By and About Blacks, Japanese Prints, Orchestral Scores and Parts, Rare Books, and Automotive Repair Manuals.
The leading art museum in the Los Angeles area is the new J. Paul Getty Museum, which opened in 1997 in a building designed by Richard Meier. The museum, which houses the art collection of the famous tycoon, is noted for its antiquities, paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and contemporary collections. The Museum of Contemporary Art is devoted to art since 1940; the Armand Hammer Museum of Art, attached to the offices of Occidental Petroleum and founded by the company's CEO, has been praised for the quality of its visiting and contemporary exhibits.
Los Angeles is also home to a number of specialty museums. The West Coast branch of New York's Museum of Television and Radio is located in Beverly Hills, where visitors can view episodes of classic programs from the early days of television. The Museum of Tolerance, located in the Simon Wiesenthal Center, is an educational museum dedicated to exposing the evils of prejudice and encouraging open-mindedness toward all groups. Other museums in the region include the Hollywood Entertainment Museum, the Museum of Miniatures, the Petersen Automotive Museum, the California African-American Museum, the Autry Museum of Western Heritage (located in Griffith Park), the Japanese-American National Museum, and the Los Angeles Children's Museum.
The California climate and the glamour associated with the motion-picture and television industries, as well as Disneyland, make Los Angeles one of the nation's top tourist destinations. In 1995 approximately more than three million foreign travelers visited the city, ranking it second nationally in this category.
Martin Luther King Celebration & Parade
Tournament of Roses Parade & Rose Bowl
Chinese New Year's Parade in Chinatown
Golden Dragon Parade
City of Los Angeles Marathon
Los Angeles Bach Festival
Crystal Cathedral Glory of Easter
LA Fiesta Broadway
Renaissance Pleasure Faire
Cinco de Mayo Celebrations
Fiesta de las Artes
Late May-early June
Spring Boat Show
Concours on Rodeo
Great American Irish Fair & Music Festival
Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Pride Celebration
Mariachi USA Festival
Playboy Jazz Festival
Los Angeles Classic Jazz Festival
Malibu Art Festival
California Plaza's Moonlight Concerts
Mid-July to mid-September
Page Museum's Fossil Excavation at La Brea Tar Pits
Nisei Week Japanese Festival
African Marketplace & Cultural Faire
Koreatown Multi-Cultural Festival
Los Angeles City's Birthday Celebration
Alpine Village Oktoberfest
Los Angeles County Fair
Los Angeles International Film Festival
South Bay Greek Festival
Hollywood Christmas Parade
Christmas Boat Parade
Griffith Park Light Festival
Las Posadas Candlelight Procession
21. Famous Citizens
Well-known Los Angeles natives include:
Choreographer and director Busby Berkeley (1895–1972).
Child actor Jackie Coogan (1914–1984).
Actor Jackie Cooper (b. 1921).
Figure skater Linda Fratianne (b. 1960).
Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster (b. 1962).
Ballerina Cynthia Gregory (b. 1946).
Actor Dustin Hoffman (b. 1937).
Actress Marilyn Monroe (1926–62).
Sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–88).
Conductor Leonard Slatkin (b. 1944).
Baseball players Duke Snyder (b. 1926) and Darryl Strawberry (b. 1962).
Famous residents include countless film stars and directors, of whom some of the earliest were:
Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959).
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (1883–1939).
Mary Pickford (1893–1979).
CityView Los Angeles. [Online] Available http://www.cityview.com/losangeles (accessed October 14, 1999).
LA Directory. [Online] Available http://www.ladir.com/ (accessed October 14, 1999).
Los Angeles City Net. [Online] Available http://www.city.net/countries/united_states/california/los_angeles (accessed October 14, 1999).
LosAngeles.TheLinks.com. [Online] Available http://www.losangeles.thelinks.com/. (accessed October 14, 1999).
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Los Angeles Planning Dept.
221 N. Figueroa St., Rm. 1600
Los Angeles, CA 90012
200 N Main St., Rm. 800
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tourist and Convention Bureaus
Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau
633 W. 5th St., Suite 6000
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Los Angeles Business Journal
5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 170
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Los Angeles Magazine
11100 Santa Monica Blvd., 7th Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Los Angeles Times Times Mirror Square Los Angeles, CA 90053
Anderson, Donald A. Los Angeles: Realm of Possibility: A Contemporary Portrait. Chatsworth, CA: Windsor Publications, 1991.
Brook, Stephen. L.A. Days, L.A. Nights. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.
Cannon, Lou. Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD. New York: New York Times Books, 1997.
Cini, Zelda, Bob Crane, Peter Brown. Hollywood, Land & Legend. Westport, CN: Arlington House, 1980.
Davis, Mike. Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster. New York: Metropolitan Books, 1998.
Kaplan, Sam Hall. L. A. Lost & Found: An Architectural History of Los Angeles. New York: Crown, 1987.
Loh, Sandra Tsing. Depth Takes a Holiday: Essays from Lesser Los Angeles. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.
Miller, John. Los Angeles Stories: Great Writers on the City. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991.
Rieff, David. Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
Sonenshein, Raphael. Politics in Black and White: Race and Power in Los Angeles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993.
Thompson, Frank T. Los Angeles Uncovered. Plano, TX: Seaside Press, 1996.
Thorpe, Edward. Chandlertown: The Los Angeles of Philip Marlowe. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1983.
Los Angeles, Hollywood & Southern California. [videorecording] Finley-Holiday Film Corporation. Whittier, CA: Finley-Holiday Film Corp., 1993. 1 videocassette (40 min.)
Los Angeles: Economy
Los Angeles: Economy
Major Industries and Commercial Activity
California has always been known as an "incubator" of new ideas, new products and entrepreneurial spirit. Southern California has led the way in celebrating and nurturing that spirit. The people, institutions of knowledge, great climate and infrastructure have enabled the Los Angeles region to emerge as a leading business, trade and cultural center—a creative capital for the twenty-first century. The city is the largest manufacturing center in the West, one of the world's busiest ports, a major financial and banking center, and the largest retail market in the United States.
Los Angeles is the largest major manufacturing center in the United States, with 500,000 workers in manufacturing activities in 2003. The largest components are apparel (68,300 jobs), computer and electronic products (60,000 jobs), transportation products (54,600 jobs), fabricated metal products (49,900 jobs), food products (44,800 jobs), and furniture (27,400 jobs). The last few years have witnessed major economic expansion. The three-tiered, traditional economy (aerospace, entertainment, and tourism) has evolved into a well balanced, multi-tiered economic engine driven by unparalleled access to world markets.
Steel fabrication is the second largest industry in manufacturing, followed closely by fashion apparel. In the United States, only Detroit produces more automobiles than the Los Angeles area, a fitting statistic for the city with more cars per capita than any other in the world. The "big three" U.S. auto manufacturers, along with Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo, have all located design centers in Los Angeles. The manufacture of heavy machinery for the agricultural, construction, mining, and oil industries contributes significantly to the local economy. Los Angeles is also a major producer of furniture and fixtures, as well as petroleum products and chemicals, print material, rubber goods, electronic equipment, and glass, pottery, ceramics, and cement products.
Los Angeles is the nation's largest port in terms of value of goods handled and tonnage. Proximity to the major Pacific manufacturing nations—Japan, Korea, and Taiwan—and easy access to transcontinental rail and truck shipping, plus the large commercial facilities available at Los Angeles International Airport make the Los Angeles Customs District the largest in the nation. The city's prominence in international trade is evidenced by the nearly 50 U.S. headquarters of foreign companies located in the area.
The banking and finance industry in Los Angeles is one of the largest in the United States. More than 100 foreign and countless domestic banks operate branches in Los Angeles, along with many financial law firms and investment banks. Entertainment, in the form of film, television, and music production, is the best known industry in Los Angeles, focusing worldwide attention on the city and making Los Angeles a major tourist destination. Tourism employs more than 468,000 people in the entire metropolitan area.
Other prominent industries in the Los Angeles area include health services, education, high-technology research and development, professional fields such as architecture and engineering, and a large construction business, both commercial and residential.
Items and goods produced: agricultural and seafood products, aircraft and aircraft parts, furniture fixtures, ordnance missiles, electrical and electronic equipment, stone, clay, glass, apparel, textiles, toys, fabricated metals, rubber, plastic, motion pictures, petroleum, coal
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
LA's Business Team, part of the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, is a one-stop shop for business developers. Through strategic industry and government alliances, the Business Team links businesses to a network of opportunities including financing, tax incentives, real estate, low-interest loans, job training programs, permits, and more. It is also working to develop emerging industries in Los Angeles, such as the environmental technology and biomedical industries. The Team will even cross jurisdictional lines to open doors for businesses at the federal, state, and country levels. Financial incentives are available in Federal Empowerment Zones, State Enterprise Zones, and City Tax Free Zones. Businesses wishing to expand or locate in Greater Los Angeles will find assistance through the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.
Six business tax reforms were signed into law by the mayor in late 2001. These are designed to enhance the fairness of city tax laws by bringing more businesses into compliance while providing expedited and fair methods to settle tax disputes and assessments. To encourage local entrepreneurs, he has proposed exempting small start-up businesses from paying business taxes for their first two years of operation. The mayor's office also hosted a biomedical industry roundtable with more than twenty biomedical community leaders to discuss action the city can take to make Los Angeles more attractive to the industry.
Small- or medium-sized business may be eligible for technical assistance at one of the six Los Angeles Business Assistance Centers (BACs). The centers are operated by community based organizations and/or local colleges and universities and are funded by the City of Los Angeles Industrial and Commercial Development Division (ICD). Assistance is provided through a combination of in-house counselors, school faculty and private business professionals.
A variety of programs administered by state and federal sources are available to Los Angeles businesses. Those include: Manufacturers' Investment Credit, Partial Sales of Use Tax Exemption, In-Lieu Sales or Use Tax Refund, Research & Development Tax Credit, Net Operating Loss Carryover, Foreign Trade Zones, Recycling Market Development Zone, Childcare Tax Credit, Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Enterprise Zones, and others.
Job training programs
Private Industry Council (PIC) members appointed by the mayor encourage economic development through job training. The PIC works cooperatively with the Los Angeles City Council, Mayor's Office of Economic Development, Community Development Department, and California Employment Development Department to arrange for customized job hiring, recruiting, training, and retraining programs.
Greater Los Angeles was bustling with construction activity at the turn of the century. The Los Angeles downtown area has undergone a renaissance, with new museums, entertainment centers, sports venues, and more. Among the many projects were the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the new home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since the 2002-2003 concert season, and the New Catholic Cathedral, a $189 million Mother Church for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that was completed in 2002. Los Angeles Center Studios, a $105 million project described as the largest full-service independent film studio to be developed since the 1920s, began an expansion at the end of 2002 that added 900,000 square feet, including a full-service commissary, additional offices and meeting rooms, and eight additional stages.
Hollywood is being refurbished as well, with the famous Mann's Chinese Theatre having undergone a major renovation. A new shopping, dining, and entertainment center located in the heart of Hollywood is designed to mirror a 1916 classic movie set. The five-story, open-air complex, called Hollywood and Highland, includes the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, more than 60 specialty shops, public art exhibitions, six movie screens, restaurants, nightclubs, and the Kodak Theatre.
Economic Development Information: LA's Business Team, telephone (800)472-2278; email [email protected] Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, 515 South Flower Street, 32nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071; telephone (888)452-3321; fax (213)622-7100; email [email protected]
International trade is a major component of the Los Angeles area economy. The Los Angeles Customs District (including the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Port Hueneme, and Los Angeles International Airport) is the nation's largest, based on value of two-way trade. In 2003, this totaled $235 billion. Import and export shipping through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is expected to jump 140 percent by 2015. With its increasingly expanding air cargo system, LAX is set for major expansion in 2006. Several major transcontinental rail systems, used by a number of rail shipping companies, terminate in Los Angeles. The Alameda Corridor, a $2.4-billion, high-speed cargo rail system linked to the Port of Los Angeles and completed in 2002, will make it even easier to ship products across the globe. All of the major interstate truck companies maintain large facilities in the metropolitan area.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Los Angeles offers a diverse employment pool, with a wide range of schooling and skills. A large number of immigrants—international, national, and regional—provide a steady source of labor with strong links to important trading partners like Mexico and Asia. With Los Angeles International Airport serving as the so-called new Ellis Island for foreign immigration to this country, the metropolitan region has achieved a new ethnic and cultural diversity in its workforce.
Services, wholesale and retail trade, manufacturing, government, financial service industries, transportation, utilities, and construction contribute significantly to local employment. The County of Los Angeles is the top ranked county in manufacturing in the united States.
By the end of the 1990s biotechnology emerged as one of California's largest employers at 210,000 jobs, surpassing such traditional strongholds as aerospace and the entertainment industry. Greater Los Angeles already is home to significant biotech manufacturing. More than 2,500 companies in Southern California make pharmaceuticals and other medical products. Other major industries showing growth at the start of the twenty-first century are international trade and tourism.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Los Angeles-Long Beach metropolitan area nonagricultural labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 3,992,100
Number of workers employed in . . .
natural resources and mining: 3,800
trade, transportation, and utilities: 780,100
financial activities: 243,200
professional and business services: 561,000
educational and health services: 467,600
leisure and hospitality: 373,100
other services: 144,800
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $18.67
Unemployment rate: 5.8% (January 2004)
|Largest employers||Number of employees|
|Los Angeles County||93,354|
|Los Angeles Unified School District||78,085|
|University of California||36,354|
|City of Los Angeles||35,895|
|State of California (noneducation)||32,300|
|The Boeing Company||23,468|
|Ralph's Grocery Co.||17,211|
Cost of Living
Living costs in the metropolitan area are significantly higher than the national average.
The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Los Angeles area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $704,500
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 155.8 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 9.3%
State sales tax rate: 6.0% (food and prescription drugs are exempt)
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: 1.25%
Property tax rate: Varies according to location
Economic Information: Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, 350 South Bixel Street, PO Box 3696, Los Angeles, CA 90051-1696; telephone (213)580-7500; fax (213)580-7511
LOS ANGELES. Located in Southern California, Los Angeles is a world-class city featuring a diverse economy based on international trade, high-technology production, and the entertainment and tourist industry. As of the 2000 census, Los Angeles had a population of 3,694,820, making it the second largest city in the United States, as well as one of the most culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse places in the world.
The region was originally the home of Native American peoples such as the Tongvas and the Chumashes. A Spanish expedition led by Gaspar de Portolá passed through
the area in late July and early August of 1769. On 2 August they crossed the local river and named it after the Franciscan feast day celebrated on that date: El Rio de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de la Porciúncula (The River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula). In 1781 the Spanish founded an agricultural pueblo, naming it after the river. By the 1830s the city had become the principal urban center of Mexican California. Los Angeles's dominance was shattered by the discovery of gold in Northern California in 1848 and the subsequent gold rush, events that made San Francisco the leading city in California.
Well into the 1870s Los Angeles retained strong elements of its Hispanic past and a modest economy rooted in cattle raising and viticulture. However, the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876 and the Santa Fe Railroad in 1886 sparked explosive development. During the 1880s Los Angeles experienced a speculative land boom. While the initial boom collapsed fairly quickly, it left a solid infrastructure of development that supported the extraordinary population growth of the next few decades. Having only 11,183 residents in 1880, in 1920 Los Angeles boasted a population of 576,673. The largest number of settlers were from the midwestern states, relatively affluent and overwhelmingly native born and Protestant. They were drawn to the city by the promise of a pleasant, temperate climate and a more relaxed lifestyle. Many people also flocked to the region as tourists and health seekers, similarly drawn by the city's unique climate and location. While tourism and demographic growth fueled economic expansion, many civic leaders remained concerned about the lack of industrial diversity and the potential limitations upon continued population expansion.
Economic Expansion in the Twentieth Century
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the city witnessed significant infrastructure development; the city greatly improved its public transportation system through massive federal and local investments in the harbor at San Pedro and the creation of a far-flung system of interurban streetcars. At the same time, the city engaged on an ambitious quest to secure an adequate water supply. Faced with limitations imposed by a relatively arid climate, the municipality sought to exploit the water resources of the Owens Valley, located over two hundred miles to the north. With the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913, the city successfully obtained the water needed for future growth. The utilization of the aqueduct as a source of hydroelectric power also gave the city a plentiful supply of cheap electricity.
Continuing population growth and an increasingly diversified economy promoted Los Angeles's emergence as a key urban center for California. The discovery of major petroleum deposits in the 1890s led to the creation of refineries and the spread of drilling operations. At the turn of the century, the burgeoning movie industry took root there and quickly became a major employer. Equally significant were the factories established by national corporations. In 1914 Ford established a branch manufacturing plant in the region and other automobile and tire manufactures soon followed. The Southern California region also became the center of the emerging aircraft industry, including firms such as Hughes, Douglas, Lockheed, and Northrop. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s Los Angeles continued to grow, with continued supplies of cheap water and power being guaranteed by the completion of Hoover Dam in 1936. To take advantage of these resources, the city helped create the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Government spending associated with World War II and the subsequent Cold War offered even greater opportunities. The growing demand for military airplanes sparked a huge expansion of the aircraft industry. By the 1950s federal monies also flowed into businesses manufacturing rockets and electronics, leading to the evolution of a complex and profitable aerospace and high-technology sector. During this same period the development of an extensive freeway system facilitated the continued suburbanization of population and industry.
Diversity, Conflict, and Modern Problems
Over the course of the twentieth century, Los Angeles increasingly developed a complex social mosaic of cultures and peoples. By the 1930s Los Angeles had 368,000 people of Mexican origin, more than any city except Mexico City. At the same time Los Angeles became home to a large Japanese population, and after World War II, growing numbers of African Americans. While these communities enjoyed the economic opportunities available in the region, they were also often subjected to considerable
discrimination. Residential segregation helped create overcrowded minority communities that suffered from minimal access to basic public services, including education and health care, and limited access to political representation.
The 1940s saw rising levels of social and cultural tension. During the war years the city's Japanese American communities were profoundly disrupted by a 1942 federal order to exclude people of Japanese origin from the West Coast. Forced to abandon or sell their homes and businesses, they were relocated to hastily built inland camps. Wartime tensions were manifested as well in two ugly outbursts that targeted the city's growing Hispanic population, the Sleepy Lagoon Trial and the Zoot Suit Riots. In the postwar years the city's African American community became particularly frustrated by de facto segregation and declining economic opportunities. The growing suburbanization of industry and the lack of public transportation made it difficult for African Americans to find jobs, leading to relatively high levels of unemployment. This was compounded by a hostile relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. These frustrations exploded in 1965 with the Watts Riots, which left large parts of South Central Los Angeles in ruins.
There were other troubling undercurrents to the city's rapid development. Located in a geologically active region, earthquakes have long been a concern, but increasing population density progressively increased the
possibility for a truly massive disaster. Following the 1933 Long Beach earthquake the city reevaluated local building codes; changes were made that helped limit the destruction caused by the Sylmar earthquake in 1971 and the Northridge earthquake of 1994. However, there remain intrinsic limits to what engineering can accomplish.
Explosive population growth, coupled with a reliance on the automobile and a strong preference for single-family detached homes, contributed to growing problems of air pollution, traffic congestion, and spiraling housing costs. Efforts to cope with these problems have seen mixed results. The creation of the South Coast Air Quality Management District in 1975 undoubtedly helped ease problems of air pollution, but Los Angeles's environment remains seriously contaminated. Beginning in 1990 the city also began an ambitious project to improve its public transportation infrastructure by building a light-rail system, but this project has been repeatedly plagued by delays and cost overruns. The growing strain on public services, particularly on police protection and education, inspired significant civic discontent, highlighted by the efforts of the San Fernando Valley to gain municipal autonomy; a movement that, if successful, could halve the city's population and area.
The 1992 riots in South Central Los Angeles similarly indicate continued social tension within the city's racial and ethnic communities. Compounding these problems have been setbacks to the economy. Declining military spending in the late 1980s forced the downsizing of many aerospace firms, while growing competition from other high-tech manufacturing centers, such as Silicon Valley, and the rising cost of living have discouraged some businesses from locating in Los Angeles and have even prompted their flight to other locales. At the same time, the branch automobile and tire factories established in the 1920s and 1930s have been closed.
Continued Promise and Growth
Despite these persistent problems, Los Angeles still remains a city of opportunity for many people. Since the 1960s the city has become a key gateway for immigrants entering the United States. Much of this migration derives from Latin America and Asia, but it includes people from virtually every corner of the world. In some instances this extraordinary diversity has fueled social tensions, but the city has also benefited from the labor, knowledge, and capital provided by immigrants. The overt discrimination of the early twentieth century has waned and minority groups have gained a greater public voice. Indicative of this was the election of Mayor Tom Bradley in 1973. One of the first African Americans to serve as a mayor of a major U.S. city, Bradley held this position for twenty years until he retired in 1993. Since the late 1940s Mexican Americans have similarly gained increasing recognition in local government although by the 2000s they, like the population of Asian origin, remained somewhat underrepresented.
Economically, high-technology manufacturing continues to play an important role, although it has been supplemented in part by low-tech industries that take advantage of the city's deep pool of immigrant labor. The entertainment and tourism industries also remain important employers in the region, while the city's strategic location has made it a major financial and commercial nexus for the emerging Pacific Rim economy. The volume of container traffic handled by Los Angeles's harbor facilities has steadily grown, making this one of the largest ports in the world. Los Angeles has truly become a world-class city, reflecting both the hopes and frustrations of the age.
Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.
Fogelson, Robert M. The Fragmented Metropolis: Los Angeles, 1850–1930. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.
George, Lynell. No Crystal Stair: African-Americans in the City of Angels. New York: Verso Press, 1992.
Klein, Norman, and Martin G. Schiesel, eds. 20th Century Los Angeles: Power, Promotion, and Social Conflict. Claremont, Calif.: Regina Books, 1990.
Ovnick, Merry. Los Angeles: The End of the Rainbow. Los Angeles: Balcony Press, 1994.
Pitt, Leonard, and Dale Pitt. Los Angeles A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the City and County. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
Reiff, David. Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
Waldinger, Roger, and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, eds. Ethnic Los Angeles. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1996.
Los Angeles (lôs ăn´jələs, lŏs, ăn´jəlēz´), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. A port of entry on the Pacific coast, with a fine harbor at San Pedro Bay, it is the second largest U.S. city in population and one of the largest in area. Two mountain ranges, the Santa Monica and Verdugo, cut across the center of the city.
Economy and Transportation
Los Angeles is a shipping, industrial, communication, financial, fashion, and distribution center for the W United States and much of the Pacific Rim. It is also the motion picture, television, radio, and recording capital of the United States, if not the world, housing numerous studios. Once an agricultural distribution center, Los Angeles is a leading producer of clothing and textiles, aircraft, computers and software, paper, toys, glass, furniture, wire, biomedical products, electrical and electronic machinery, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and fabricated metal. Tourism, printing and publishing, food processing, and oil refining are also important.
Los Angeles has one of the busiest ports in the United States, with roughly half of its commerce coming from other nations, and its international airport is one of the world's busiest. The metropolitan area's vast freeway system has made Los Angeles the archetypal auto-dependent urban area. The huge number of motor vehicles, combined with the city's valley location, often creates dangerously high smog levels. A light-rail system (opened in 1990) and buses alleviate freeway congestion only a little; a new subway (completed 2000) also provides insignificant relief.
Maintaining an adequate water supply has long been a problem for Los Angeles. The city obtains most of its water from California's Central Valley to the north. In 1992 the city ended protracted litigation with environmentalists when it agreed to curtail water diversion in certain areas until ecological recovery had been achieved.
Communities of the Metropolitan Area
The vast Los Angeles metropolitan area covers five counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura) and encompasses 34,000 sq mi (88,000 sq km) with over 14.5 million people. As Los Angeles rapidly expanded throughout the 20th cent., it absorbed numerous communities and enclosed independent municipalities. Among the communities now part of Los Angeles are Central City, Hollywood, San Pedro, Sylmar, Watts, Westwood, Bel-Air, and Boyle Heights. Independent municipalities surrounded by Los Angeles include Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and San Fernando. Incorporated cities in the broader metropolitan region with populations of 80,000 or more include Alhambra, Anaheim, Burbank, Downey, El Monte, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Inglewood, Lakewood, Long Beach, Moreno Valley, Norwalk, Oceanside, Ontario, Orange, Oxnard, Pasadena, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Torrance, in addition to Los Angeles itself.
Points of Interest
In Los Angeles are the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and its Broad Contemporary Art Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA); the J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Museum Villa; the Hammer Museum at UCLA; and historical, film, industrial, and science museums. The large Music Center includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (1964), with four theaters; the Ahmanson Theater; the Mark Taper Forum; and, across Grand Ave., Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003), home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Also downtown is the monumental Our Lady of the Angels cathedral (2002), designed by Raphael Moneo, and Caltrans District 7 headquarters, designed by Thom Mayne. Los Angeles has botanical gardens and many parks, including Griffith Park, with a zoo and an observatory (including a planetarium), and Angels Gate Park, with the massive Korean Bell of Friendship. The La Brea Tar Pits are famous for Ice Age fossils. Other area attractions include the Santa Anita racetrack, Knott's Berry Farm, and Disneyland (at Anaheim). The motion-picture and television industries, the proximity of many resorts, theme parks, and beaches, and a climate that encourages year-round outdoor recreation attract millions of tourists annually. Among the city's many educational institutions are the Univ. of Southern California; the Univ. of California, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles and Northridge California State Univ. campuses; Occidental College; Loyola Marymount Univ.; Pepperdine Univ.; and the Colburn School of Performing Arts.
In 1982 the Los Angeles area gained its second National Football League franchise (the other being the Rams) when the Oakland Raiders moved to the city. In 1995, however, the Rams moved to St. Louis, and the Raiders subsequently returned to Oakland, Calif., leaving the city without a professional football team. In baseball, the National League's Los Angeles Dodgers and the American League's Anaheim Angels represent the area. The metropolitan area also has two National Basketball Association teams (the Lakers and the Clippers) and two National Hockey League teams (the Kings and Anaheim's Mighty Ducks).
The site of the city was visited by the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá in 1769, and in 1781 El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Porciuncula (Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula) was founded. Located on the Los Angeles River, the city served several times as the capital of the Spanish colonial province of Alta California and was a cattle-ranching center. In 1846 Los Angeles was captured from the Mexicans by U.S. forces. The arrival of the railroads (Southern Pacific in 1876; Santa Fe in 1885) and the discovery of oil in the early 1890s stimulated expansion, as did the development of the motion-picture industry in the early 20th cent.
During World War II Los Angeles boomed as a center for the production of war supplies and munitions, and thousands of African Americans migrated to Los Angeles to fill factory jobs. After the war massive suburban growth made the city enormously prosperous, but also created or exacerbated a variety of urban problems. In 1965, the African-American community of Watts was the site of six days of race rioting that left 34 people dead and caused over $200 million in property damage. Tom Bradley, the city's first black mayor, was first elected in 1973.
In the 1970s and 1980s Los Angeles experienced dramatic growth through immigration. In 1990 the Hispanic population of metropolitan Los Angeles was almost 5 million (almost 40% of the population) and the area's Asian population was over 1.3 million. In addition to an already well-established Japanese-American community, recent immigration has come from China, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, and other nations.
In the 1980s, violent gang warfare over the illegal drug (especially "crack" cocaine) trade became a serious problem for law enforcement officials. In Apr., 1992, the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers on charges of police brutality (they had been videotaped beating a black motorist) touched off race riots in south-central Los Angeles and other areas. Fifty-eight people died, thousands were arrested, and property damage totaled approximately $1 billion. Natural disasters have also taken their toll. Portions of Los Angeles are subject to wildfires and rockslides, and the 1994 earthquake centered in Northridge in N Los Angeles, which killed 72 and cost $25 billion, was only the latest to have caused damage to the city and surrounding areas. Attention was again riveted on Los Angeles during the O. J. Simpson trial, which ended in acquittal in 1995. In 2005, Antonio Villaraigosa was elected mayor, becoming the first Hispanic to hold the post since 1872; Eric Garcetti, elected in 2013 to succeed him, became the city's first Jewish mayor.
See R. M. Fogelson, The Fragmented Metropolis (1967); R. Banham, Los Angeles (1973); R. Steiner, Los Angeles: The Centrifugal City (1982); H. J. Nelson, The Los Angeles Metropolis (1982); S. L. Bottles, Los Angeles and the Automobile: The Making of the Modern City (1987); M. Davis, Los Angeles (1991) and Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (1998); B. Gumprecht, The Los Angeles River (1999).
Los Angeles: Recreation
Los Angeles: Recreation
The immense size of Los Angeles and the innumerable activities offered by the city make its attractions seem limitless. Different sections of the city offer a wide range of sights and diversions, from the more than 40 miles of city-operated Pacific beaches in the west to the mountains in the east and the vast urban areas in between. The downtown district not only forms one of the nation's most modern skylines, but also preserves many historic buildings. Some of the original structures in the city can be found in El Pueblo de los Angeles State Historic Park. To the east is Olvera Street, a Hispanic district that recreates the atmosphere of old Mexico's open-air markets. Chinatown is just north of the downtown area, and to the south Little Tokyo is the social, cultural, religious, and economic center for southern California's more than 200,000 Japanese American residents, the largest concentration of Japanese people outside of Asia.
Hollywood and other districts devoted to the film and television industry are among the most popular attractions in Los Angeles. Universal Studios Hollywood features guided tours of some of the world's most famous imaginary places, and live tapings of television shows can be viewed at several studios. The world's first psychological thrill ride—the Revenge of the Mummy—opens there in June 2005. Nearby Beverly Hills, an independent community completely surrounded by the city, is home to many film stars, where opulent mansions enjoy proximity to some of the world's most exclusive stores and restaurants. A trip to Los Angeles is not complete without a visit to the newly refurbished Mann's Chinese Theatre and the "Walk of Fame" sidewalk featuring the handprints and footprints of movie legends.
Griffith Park, the city's largest, features the Los Angeles Zoo, with more than 2,000 animals; Griffith Observatory, which contains two refracting telescopes; and the Greek Theater, a natural outdoor amphitheater. Hancock Park contains the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, where prehistoric fossil remains are displayed alongside life-size renditions of the species common to the area in prehistory.
Three of the nation's most popular theme parks are located in the Los Angeles area. Six Flags Magic Mountain is 25 minutes north of Hollywood in Valencia and features 260 acres of rides and family-oriented fun. Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park offers rides, attractions, live entertainment, shops, and restaurants. World-famous Disneyland, located in Anaheim, is home to eight imaginary lands, rides, adventures, and the famous Disney characters.
The Pacific oceanfront provides a variety of attractions, including carnival-like Venice Beach and Muscle Beach, home to hundreds of bodybuilders. Marina Del Ray, known as "L.A.'s Riviera," is the world's largest man-made marina. Catalina Island features island tours and a casino.
Arts and Culture
The performing arts thrive in the city of Los Angeles. Many consider it the entertainment capital of the world, where major television and film projects develop daily. One of America's premier symphony orchestras, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, performs during the winter at the new Walt Disney Concert Hall; the orchestra gives summer concerts at Hollywood Bowl, an open-air amphitheater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Los Angeles Opera and Master Chorale performs at the 3,197-seat Dorothy Chandler Pavillion.
Theater in Los Angeles benefits from the motion picture and television industry. Famous personalities can often be seen in area theaters, including the Henry Fonda Theatre, the Ahmanson Theatre, and the Center Theatre Group at the Mark Taper Forum. The internationally acclaimed Joffrey Ballet performs and maintains offices in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles area is filled with museums for every taste. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County features displays of paleontology and history, minerals, animal habitats, and pre-Columbian culture. The Page Museum located at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits is one of the world's most famous fossil localities, recognized for having the largest and most diverse collection of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. The Hollywood Wax Museum houses more than 350 wax figures depicting famous people. The California Museum of Science and Industry, one of the most visited museums in the West, includes the Mitsubishi IMAX Theatre, the Gehry-designed Aerospace Hall, Technology Hall, the Kinsey Hall of Health, and the California Science Center. The Los Angeles Children's Museum is a hands-on museum, designed to help children learn as they experiment with a number of exhibits. The history of California comes alive at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Griffith Park, the Southwest Museum, the Hollywood History Museum, and the Wells Fargo Museum. The early Spanish colonial history of the region can be experienced by visiting one of nine mission churches located in and around the city. The Museum of Tolerance is a high-tech, hands-on experiential museum that focuses on racism and prejudice in America and the history of the Holocaust through unique interactive exhibits.
The Museum of Contemporary Art houses a large permanent collection of approximately 5,000 objects in all visual media, ranging from masterpieces of abstract expressionism and pop art to recent works by young and emerging artists. Paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, decorative arts, and European and American photographs are on display at the J. Paul Getty Museum, which is undergoing a major construction project scheduled for completion in 2006. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art features permanent installations of pre-Columbian, Far Eastern, European, and American artwork, as well as a number of traveling exhibits. Other museums in the region include the California Afro-American Museum, the Armand Hammer Museum of Art at UCLA, and the many museums to be found on "Museum Row" on the city's west side.
Festivals and Holidays
Los Angeles' events calendar begins with the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day, an event featuring floral floats decorated by hand. Chinese New Year is celebrated each February in Chinatown with the Golden Dragon Parade and other celebrations. In March or April Olvera Street is host to a Blessing of the Animals festival on the Saturday before Easter. April features the spectacular Easter Sunrise services at the Hollywood Bowl and the annual Academy Awards event sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican festival in May, is celebrated in a number of places throughout the Southern California area. May also brings the Calico Spring Festival at Calico Ghost Town in Yermo and the elegant Affaire in the Gardens, a fine arts and crafts show in Beverly Hills. June features the Ojai Wine Festival in Ojai and the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. The Fourth of July is celebrated in a variety of ways throughout the city, including fireworks on the oceanfront. July also features the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa and the International Surf Festival on the South Bay. One of the oldest Japanese American festivals, the Nisei Week Japanese Festival occurs each August in Little Tokyo.
Los Angeles celebrates its birthday each September in the downtown Plaza, and Catalina Island hosts the Annual Art Festival, a September tradition since 1958. September also brings the L.A. County Fair in Pomona, a two-week celebration of agriculture and livestock featuring horse races and prize pies. Mexican Independence Day is also celebrated with a fiesta for three days in mid-September in El Pueblo de los Angeles State Historic Park. November features the Dia de Los Muertes, the "Day of the Dead," a traditional Mexican festival on the first of November. The holiday season begins in December with the Christmas Afloat Boat Parade and the L.A. Art Fair, offering for sale museum-quality artworks from around the world. Los Posadas, a traditional Mexican festival recreating the New Testament story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, takes place each year during the week before Christmas.
Sports for the Spectator
The 21,000-seat Staples Center is home to the National Basketball Association's Clippers and Lakers, and the National Hockey League's Kings. Baseball's National League Dodgers play an April-October season at a refurbished Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles is also home to the Women's National Basketball Association team, the Sparks, and Major League Soccer team, the Galaxy. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim professional baseball team and the Mighty Ducks professional hockey team play in nearby Anaheim.
Collegiate sports are represented by UCLA and USC, both Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) institutions; they field championship caliber teams in every major sport. The annual Rose Bowl, one of the major traditional post-season college football games, is played on New Year's Day in Pasadena. Hollywood Park and Santa Anita Park are both nationally known thorough-bred racing facilities.
Sports for the Participant
The Los Angeles area offers a broad range of activities for the athletically inclined. The miles of city-operated beaches along the Pacific are popular for swimming, surfing, and all forms of boating. Winter skiing areas are less than an hour's drive away from the city. The Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department operates several hundred parks that feature swimming pools, playing fields, golf courses, and tennis courts.
Shopping and Dining
Los Angeles is a shoppers' paradise, with more than 1,500 department stores as well as countless smaller specialty shops, a number of fashionable shopping plazas, and many large urban malls. An exclusive group of stores along Rodeo Drive is the most famous shopping district in the area, but there are a number of others, including Melrose Avenue, offering the latest and wildest trends in fashion. Westwood Village is a collection of interesting boutiques and restaurants that offers a thriving night life. The Beverly Center in West Los Angeles is one of the nation's busiest malls. Celebrity sightings there are not uncommon, and Japanese tourists come by the thousands to shop as part of planned sightseeing tours.
Ethnic specialty shops can be found in Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Chinatown, East Los Angeles, and on Olvera Street. The Farmer's Market and Shopping Village in downtown Los Angeles offers fresh produce, import shops, and elegant cafes. Westwood Village and the neighboring UCLA campus are a cultural and entertainment hub filled with shops, bistros, and architectural landmarks.
The Los Angeles area, home to some of America's finest restaurants, enjoys some 20,000 dining establishments, from fast food chains to exclusive gourmet restaurants frequented by Hollywood stars. Ethnic specialties from nearly every country in the world can be found in Los Angeles. Fresh seafood and beef, as well as produce from the nearby agricultural regions, are served in most of the city's restaurants.
Visitor Information: Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau, 633 West Fifth Street, Suite 6000, Los Angeles, CA 90071; telephone (213)624-9746
Los Angeles: History
Los Angeles: History
Spanish and Anglos Settle, Trade Industry Thrives
The area around present-day Los Angeles was first explored by Europeans in 1769 when Gaspar de Portola and a group of missionaries camped on what is now called the Los Angeles River. Franciscans built Mission San Gabriel about 9 miles to the north in 1771. In 1781, Felipe de Neve, governor of Alte California, founded a settlement called El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles, which means "the pueblo of our lady the queen of angels." In its early years, the town was a small, isolated cluster of adobe-brick houses and random streets carved out of the desert, and its main product was grain.
Although the Spanish government placed a ban on trading with foreign ships, American vessels began arriving in the early 1800s, and the first English-speaking inhabitant settled in the area in 1818. He was a carpenter named Joseph Chapman, who helped build the church facing the town's central plaza, a structure that still stands. After Mexico, including California, gained its independence from Spain in 1821, trade with the United States became more frequent. The ocean waters off the coast of California were important for whaling and seal hunting, and a number of trading ships docked at nearby San Pedro to buy cattle hides and tallow. By the 1840s, Los Angeles was the largest town in southern California.
City Becomes American Possession; Gold Discovered
During the war between the United States and Mexico in 1846, Los Angeles was occupied by an American garrison, but the citizens drove the fifty-man brigade out of town. The Treaty of Cahuenga, signed in 1847, ended the war in California, adding Los Angeles and the rest of California to American territory. The Sierra Nevada gold strike in 1848 in the mountains to the north of Los Angeles provided the town with a booming market for its beef, and many prospectors settled in the area after the gold rush. Los Angeles was incorporated in 1850 with a reputation as one of the toughest towns in the West. "A murder a day" only slightly exaggerated the town's crime problems, and suspected criminals were often hanged by vigilante groups. Lawlessness reached a peak in 1871, when, after a Chinese immigrant accidentally killed a white man, an angry mob stormed into the Chinatown district, murdering sixteen people. After that, civic leaders and concerned citizens began a successful campaign to bring law and order to the town.
The Southern Pacific Railroad reached Los Angeles in 1876, followed by the Santa Fe Railroad nine years later. The two rival companies conducted a rate war that eventually drove the price of a ticket from the eastern United States down to five dollars. This price slashing brought thousands of settlers to the area, sending real estate prices to unrealistically high levels. By 1887, lots around the central plaza sold for up to one thousand dollars a foot, but the market collapsed in that same year, making millionaires destitute overnight. People in vast numbers abandoned Los Angeles, sometimes as many as three thousand a day. This flight prompted the creation of the Chamber of Commerce, which began a worldwide advertising campaign to attract new citizens. By 1890, the population had climbed back up to fifty thousand residents.
Oil, Agriculture, Moving Pictures, Manufacturing Build City
In the 1890s, oil was discovered in the city, and soon another boom took hold. By the turn of the century almost fifteen hundred oil wells operated throughout Los Angeles. In the early 1900s, agriculture became an important part of the economy, and a massive aqueduct project was completed. The city's growth necessitated the annexation of the large San Fernando Valley, and the port at San Pedro was also added to give Los Angeles a position in the international trade market.
The motion picture industry thrived on the Los Angeles area's advantages after the first decade of the twentieth century, and by 1930 it had earned the city the nickname of "Tinseltown." Large manufacturing concerns also began opening factories during that time, and the need for housing created vast areas of suburban neighborhoods and the beginnings of the city's massive freeway system. The Depression and the midwestern drought of the 1930s brought thousands of people to California looking for jobs.
To accommodate its growing population, the city instituted a number of large engineering projects, including the construction of the Hoover Dam, which channeled water to the city from the Colorado River and provided electricity from hydroelectric power. The area's excellent weather made it an ideal location for aircraft testing and construction, and World War II brought hundreds of new industries to the area, boosting the local economy. By the 1950s, Los Angeles was a sprawling metropolis. It was considered the epitome of everything new and modern in American culture—a combination of super highways, affordable housing, and opportunity for everyone.
City Grapples with Pollution, Racial Unrest
The Los Angeles dream began to fade in the 1960s. Despite the continued construction of new freeways, traffic congestion became a major problem; industry and auto emissions created smog and pollution. Frustration over living conditions came to a head in August 1965, when riots erupted in the African American ghetto of Watts, and more unrest developed in the Hispanic communities of East Los Angeles.
Reacting to these new problems, the city adopted strict air pollution guidelines and took steps to bring minorities into the political process, culminating in the 1973 election of Mayor Tom Bradley, the city's first African American mayor. Over the next two decades, public transportation was improved, and a subway system was funded and began limited operations. The downtown area became a thriving district of impressive glass skyscrapers.
The city's reputation was severely tarnished by a rebellion that broke out in April 1992 following the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating an African American motorist—a beating that was captured on videotape by a bystander and broadcast worldwide. The ensuing melee left more than 50 people dead and resulted in an estimated 1 billion dollars in damage.
Los Angeles Enters Twenty-First Century
Los Angeles began to emerge from the recession of the mid-1990s, but like much of the country, the city was dealt another blow after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In response to the ensuing economic downturn, the mayor created the Los Angeles Economic Impact Task Force, which brought together business leaders from across the city to develop recommendations for strengthening the local economy. The result has been an increase in tourism, retail sales, and other continuing signs of recovery.
Historical Information: History Division, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007; telephone (213)744-3352
Los Angeles: Education and Research
Los Angeles: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the country's second largest district, with a K–12 student enrollment of more than 746,800. Geographically, it encompasses 704 square miles, an area that includes the City of Los Angeles and all or parts of 28 other cities, as well as some unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. Faced with unprecedented economic downswings and tremendous cuts from the State of California, LAUSD had to find ways to reduce spending in 2003 by more than 360 million dollars.
Los Angeles public schools began operating under the "90-30" system in the early 1990s. To save the costs of building new schools in a district that takes in 15,000 more students each year, students attend school for 90 days, then take 30 days off, year-round.
The following is a summary of data regarding Los Angeles public schools in Los Angeles as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 904,799 (includes adult schools and childrens' centers)
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 434
junior high schools: 78
senior high schools: 56
other: 14 multilevel; 21 magnet schools; 140 centers; 20 special education; 45 continuation high schools; 7 primary centers; 11 opportunity schools; 6 opportunity high schools; 1 newcomer school; 26 community adult; 5 regional occupation centers; 4 skills centers; 110 early education centers
Student/teacher ratio: 22:1
Spending per pupil: $6,719 (2001–2002)
Public Schools Information: Los Angeles Unified School District, 333 South Beaudry Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Colleges and Universities
The Los Angeles area is home to three campuses of the University of California system, seven from the California State University system, and twenty private colleges and universities. The two largest are the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and the University of Southern California (USC), nationally known as major research universities. Other prominent colleges and universities in the area include the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech), Loyola Marymount University, the Claremont colleges, Pepperdine University, and Mount St. Mary's College.
Libraries and Research Centers
The Los Angeles Public Library System operates 69 branches throughout the metropolitan area with a total of more than 6 million volumes. The main branch is the third largest public library in the country. The system also maintains holdings of maps, audio tapes, films and videos, art reproductions, mobile libraries, and special services for the visually impaired. Its special collections include California history, African American fiction, genealogy, Japanese prints, rare books, and the nation's largest collection of materials on food and drink, including several thousand menus, primarily from California restaurants.
Both UCLA and USC operate major libraries whose holdings number more than 6.2 million and 2.7 million volumes respectively. The Los Angeles County Law Library consists of 9 branches with a collection totaling more than 700,000 volumes in all areas of law and legal issues. More than 150 other specialized and private libraries serve the Los Angeles area.
Some of the most advanced research in the world is conducted at Los Angeles' three major institutions of higher learning (UCLA, USC, and the California Institute of Technology). Between 1923 and 2001, twenty Nobel prize winners came from Los Angeles institutions. Research activities are conducted in such fields as archaeology, oral history, folklore and mythology, international studies, AIDS, cystic fibrosis, schizophrenia, radiology and thalmology manufacturing automation, laser studies, marine sciences, sickle cell anemia, oncology, neonatology, astronomy, seismology, hydraulics, radiation, foreign policy, armament and disarmament, desert studies, and ocean studies. Los Angeles has become a mecca for researchers searching for ways to understand the changing character of America.
Public Library Information: Los Angeles Public Library System, 630 West Fifth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071-2097; telephone (213)228-7000
Los Angeles: Transportation
Los Angeles: Transportation
Approaching the City
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), just west of the downtown area, is the fourth largest airport in the world in terms of passengers handled, and the airport is served by dozens of major airlines with thousands of flights each year. Nearby Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport is served by six major airlines. Greyhound carries passengers to a terminal in downtown Los Angeles. Amtrak has invested $100 million in new passenger trains in recent years; its Pacific Surfliner carries passengers from San Diego through Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo.
Three interstate highways converge in the Los Angeles area: I-5 approaching from Canada in the north, I-15 from Las Vegas to the west, and I-10 connecting Los Angeles with Arizona and the Southwest. State Highway 1, the Pacific Coastal Highway, skirts the city along the ocean.
Traveling in the City
Los Angeles is perhaps best navigated by automobile, although the city's massive, complex web of limited-access freeways, one of the most extensive in the nation, still struggles to accommodate heavy commuter traffic. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has implemented a state-ofthe-art computer system to manage the city's street traffic, but Los Angeles is still among the places with the worst traffic in the nation, according to a study by Cambridge Systematics for the American Highway Users Alliance.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit operates frequent local and express bus service throughout the city and to major area attractions. It also operates Metro Blue Line light rail service, the new Metro Red Line light rail service to Hollywood, and the Metro Red Line subway. The Metro Orange Line began with construction of a bridge across the Los Angeles River and is slated for an August 2005 completion. The $880 million Metro Gold Line, which will add 6 miles of track, is scheduled to begin running in 2009. The Mid-City/Exposition Light Rail Transit Project is the newest proposed extension of the 62 station Metro Rail System; preliminary engineering design work began in 2003. The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation operates the DASH shuttle system; downtown DASH lines link major business, government, retail and entertainment centers within downtown. The Convention Center, the Garment and Jewelry districts, Olvera Street, the Metro Blue Line, and Union Station are easily accessible via DASH lines.
Los Angeles: Communications
Los Angeles: Communications
Newspapers and Magazines
Los Angeles readers are served by the morning Los Angeles Times. More than 100 foreign-language, special-interest, business, alternative, and neighborhood papers are published weekly in Los Angeles. La Opinion is the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States, with a daily circulation of 128,495. Los Angeles magazine, a monthly covering events and topics of importance to the metropolitan area, and a number of nationally distributed magazines, such as Guns and Ammo, and Bon Appetit are also published in the city.
Television and Radio
Sixteen television stations broadcast in the Los Angeles area. The 33 AM and FM radio stations broadcasting there feature a wide assortment of music, news, and information programming; stations broadcasting in surrounding communities are also received in Los Angeles.
Media Information: Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053; telephone (213)237-5000.
Los Angeles Online
City of Los Angeles Home Page. Available www.ci.la.ca.us
La Opinion. Available www.laopinion.com
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Available www.lachamber.org
Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.lacvb.com
Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. Available www.laedc.org
Los Angeles Public Library. Available www.lapl.org
Los Angeles Times. Available www.latimes.com
Allende, Isabel, The Infinite Plan (New York: HarperCollins, 1993)
Cameron, Robert W., Above Los Angeles (San Francisco: Cameron and Co., 1990)
Cole, Carolyn Kozo, and Kathy Kobayashi, Shades of Los Angeles: Pictures from Ethnic Family Albums (New York: Norton, 1996)
Gebhard, David, and Robert Winter, Architecture in Los Angeles (Gibbs M. Smith Inc., Peregrine Smith Books, Salt Lake City, UT, 1985)
Hacker, Andrew, Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal (New York: Scribner, 1992)
Moore, Charles, Peter Becker, and Regula Campbell, The City Observed: Los Angeles (Vintage Books, 1984)
Mosley, Walter, White Butterfly (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992)