Historical Timeline - Los Angeles Area

8,000 BC - 10,000 BC

The Chumash People, also known as the Chumash Indians settle in the Los Angeles Basin. Later they expand their settlements into Ventura County, the Channel Islands, and beyond.

300 BC - 500 BC

The Tataviam People, also known as the Tataviam Indians settle in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. Later they expand their settlements into Ventura County.

400 AD - 500 AD

The Tongva People, also known as the Tongva Indians settle in the Los Angeles Basin with their largest village located in what is now Downtown Los Angeles. Later they expand their settlements to include the Channel Islands, and parts of Orange County, and San Bernardino County.


Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo explores the coast of California on behalf of the Spanish Empire. He is the first European to set foot in what is now California. The area that is presently Los Angeles is claimed for Spain. The Chumash People, the Tataviam People, and the Tongva People do not have power to resist the Spanish. Upon the arrival of the Spanish, there are approximately 250,000 indigenous people in California and about 5,000 in what is now the Los Angeles Basin.


Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino explores the coast of California and starts mapping the area.


Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola establishes the first Spanish settlement which he names San Diego. He then leads an exploration north through what is now Los Angeles and establishes Monterey. While in Southern California, he explores what is now Santa Monica and Santa Clarita. Portola also names what is now the Los Angeles River, The River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels.


Father Junipero Serra establishes the Mission San Gabriel Archangel as the fourth of what would become 21 Spanish missions in California. The mission, located in present-day San Gabriel, was the base from which the City of Los Angeles was formed.


Eleven Mexican families settle near the Los Angeles River establishing Los Angeles. Felipe de Neve, the Spanish Governor of Las Californias names the city EI Pueblo Sabre el Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio de Porciuncula. The name is later shortened to Los Angeles. The city is incorporated in 1850, five months before California becomes a U.S. State.


Father Fermin Lasuen establishes Mission San Fernando, named for King Ferdinand of Spain. The mission is the seventeenth of the twenty-one Spanish missions in Alta California and is located in what is now the Mission Hills area of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.


The Mexican War of Independence ends with the end of Spanish rule in the territory of New Spain and the Independence of Mexico. California now becomes Alta California. The Chumash Indians, the Tatavian Indians, and the Tongva Indians do not have the power to resist Mexico.


Gold is discovered at Placerita Canyon near Mission San Fernando. The discovery leads to a population boom.


California declares Independence from Mexico and raises the California Bear Flag. Mexican Governor Pio Pico flees to Mexico and becomes the last governor of Alta California under Mexican rule. One of the wealthiest men in Alta California, Pio Pico purchases an 8,894 acre ranch in present day Whittier and builds the three story, 33 room hotel, Pico House in what is now Downtown Los Angeles. Pico House is now part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Monument.


The battle of Rio San Gabriel took place near the San Gabriel River about ten miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles. It was a decisive battle resulting in a victory for the United States.


The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed between the United States and Mexico ending the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War. The treaty gives the U.S. ownership of California and other territories. All California residents become U.S. citizens.

Los Angeles is incorporated and California becomes the 30th state. Los Angeles conducts a census. The population is 1,610.


St. Vincent's College becomes the first college in Los Angeles. It is located downtown across from SI. Vincent's Park, now Pershing Square. st. Vincent's College moves to the Westside of Los Angeles and becomes Loyola Marymount University.


SI. Vincent's Park is dedicated in Downtown Los Angeles. It is renamed Pershing Square in 1918 in honor of General John Joseph Pershing.


The Farmers and Merchants Bank of Los Angeles becomes the first bank established in Los Angeles.


Ventura County is created from land that was part of northwest Los Angeles County.


The University of Southern California (USC) is founded.

The Los Angeles Times is founded. The Southern Pacific Railroad links Los Angeles to the east coast.

Harvey Wilcox acquires 160 acres west of the Cahuenga Pass which he names Hollywood. Santa Monica is incorporated as a city. Pasadena is incorporated as city.


Monrovia is incorporated as a city in the San Gabriel Valley.


Edward Doheny discovers oil in Los Angeles setting off an oil boom in Southern California.


Griffith J. Griffith donates 3,015 acres of land to the City of Los Angeles which becomes Griffith Park, the largest urban park in the United States. He also bequeathed the money to build the Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre.


California becomes the third largest oil producing state with more than 500 operating wells in Los Angeles. Long Beach is incorporated as city.


Henry Huntington and Isaias Hellman purchase and consolidate five trolley lines into the Los Angeles Railway (yellow cars) and two years later establish the Pacific Electric Railway (red cars).


The population of Los Angeles reaches 102,479.


William Randolph Hearst establishes the Los Angeles Examiner. The name is later changed to the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. Hollywood is incorporated as a city.


Abbot Kinney develops the Venice Canals on Santa Monica Bay, naming the district Venice of California.


The first fossils are excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits located in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles. Glendale incorporated as a separate city.


The Southwest Museum of the Indian opens.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 319,198 making it the 17th most populous city in America. The residents of Hollywood vote to join the City of Los Angeles. Union members bomb the Los Angeles Times killing 10 and injuring dozens.


Burbank is incorporated as a separate city. San Fernando is incorporated as a city.


The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County opens. It is the largest museum of its kind in the western states. The Los Angeles Aqueduct is completed bringing inexpensive water to Los Angeles. San Gabriel is incorporated as a city in the San Gabriel Valley.


Beverly Hills is incorporated as a city.


Major areas of the San Fernando Valley are annexed to Los Angeles.


Culver City incorporates as a separate city.


The University of California, Los Angeles opens.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 576,673.


Torrance incorporates as a separate city in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles gets its first radio stations: KFI, KHJ, and KNX. The Hollywood Bowl opens.


The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum opens.


The population of Los Angeles reaches one million.


The Los Angeles Central Library opens in Downtown Los Angeles.


The Los Angeles City Hall opens in Downtown Los Angeles.


Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) opens in the Westchester neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Greek Theatre opens in Griffith Park.


Los Angeles hosts the games of the X Olympiad. Tenth Street is renamed Olympic Boulevard.


The Murphy Ranch, a 55 acre compound, is built in Pacific Palisades by Nazi sympathizers. In 1941, the compound is raided and 50 are detained.

The Griffith Observatory opens in Griffith Park.


The new Chinatown is opened just north of Bowntown Los Angeles and South of the future Dodger Stadium.

Union Station opens in Downtown Los Angeles north of the new Chinatown.


The Arroyo Seco Parkway (freeway) opens between Pasadena and Downtown Los Angeles.


The United States enters World War II. Los Angeles becomes a major manufacturing center in support of the war effort. Thousands of modern war planes are produced.


By order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Americans of Japanese ancestry are forced into "relocation camps". One of the large local detention centers is at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 1,970,358 passing Detroit as the fourth most populous city in America.


Lakewood incorporates as a city. The J. Paul Getty Museum is established.


Disneyland opens in Anaheim which is in Orange County.


The former Brooklyn Dodgers play their first game as the Los Angeles Dodgers.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 2,479,015 passing Philadelphia as the third most populous city in America.


Dodger Stadium opens in Chavez Ravine just north of Downtown Los Angeles and Chinatown. The last of the Red Cars ceases operations.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens in Los Angeles.


Marina del Rey, the largest man-made pleasure boat harbor in the world is dedicated. It opens to the Santa Monica Bay just south of Venice in Los Angeles. It becomes home to more than 6,000 private boats.


The Los Angeles Zoo opens in Griffith Park.


The Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area is established making it the nation's largest urban park at over 153,000 acres.


The Museum of Contemporary Art is founded in Downtown Los Angeles.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 3,005,072 passing Chicago as the second most populous city in America.


Agoura Hills incorporates as a city.


Los Angeles hosts the Olympics for the second time. West Hollywood incorporates as a city.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 3,485,398.


Calabasas incorporates as a city. Malibu incorporates as a city.


The Japanese - American National Museum opens in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. It is the only museum in the United States telling the story of Americans of Japanese ancestry.


The Museum of Tolerance opens in West Los Angeles. Its primary focus in on the Nazi Holocaust.


The Skirball Cultural Center opens in Brentwood as a museum of Jewish history and culture.


The City of Los Angeles designates a portion of East Hollywood as Thai Town. The population of Los Angeles reaches 3,694,820.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 3,792,621.


Construction starts on the Wilshre Grand Tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles. The building will be 73 stories.


The Los Angeles Rams NFL football team returns to Los Angeles.


The Los Angeles Chargers NFL football team returns to Los Angeles.


The population of Los Angeles reaches 3,898,747.


Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is built and serves as the mother church for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Los Angeles voters reject creation of a separate city of the San Fernando Valley, the Valley endorses secession.