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Los Angeles and Its Historical Events


Nicknamed the City of Angels, Los angeles is one of the most popular cities in the world today. It is estimated to have a population of more than 3.8 million people. The Metropolitan area is a home of estimated thirteen million residents. L.A. county is the most populated and most diverse county in the United States. It has also achieved the name ‘the Entertainment Capital of the World’ maybe because of the fact that it is home of Hollywood.

The Chinese Massacre of 1871

On 24th October 1871, in Chinatown residents of Chinese origins were brutally attacked by the hundreds of Latinos and Anglos which left most of them dead. This came to be known as The Chinese Massacre of 1871. The Massacre took place in the then known as Street of the Negroes. The Massacre was triggered by the murder of a local white rancher after he was caught in cross fire involving two Chinese factions. More than twenty Chinese people were killed in the riots.

The real cause of the riots is thought to be economic especially the unstable nature of the economy after the American Civil War. This led to high unemployment levels in the state of California. Another reason attributed to the Chinese Massacre was the high level of racism and lawlessness. The masscre saw ten roters brought to trial with eight convicted. Their convictions were however overturned due to legal technicality (Antonio 52).

1932 Summer Olympics

They were also oficially referred to as the Games of the X olympiad. Los Angeles was the only city worldwide to place a bid for this gamesmaybe due to the fact that they were held during the Great Deppression. The sports also saw a great number of athletes from many nations unable to attend this games because they simply coud not afford it. The Los Angeles Summer Olympics were preceded by the 1928 Summer Olympics of Amsterdam.

Due to the harsh economic conditions then, less than half of Amsterdam Summer Olympics participants made it to the Los Angeles games. The incumbent United States president even failed to attend the games. Herbert Hoover was the first sitting president not to attend Olympic games hosted by the United States. A total of a thousand three hundred and thirty two athletes from thirty seven countries participated in the Los Angeles Summer Olympics.

Some of the major highlights of the game include the use of the victory podium for the first time, the tenth street was renamed Olympic Boulevard, the participating teams in field hockey all won medals because there were only three, the olympic village was built, the japanese won all but one men swimming medals, and a Finnish star was barred from participating in the games because he was a professional. The United States won the Los Angeles Summer Olympics with a total of a hundred and three medals. The United States had a total of 41 gold medals, 32 silver medals, and 30 bronze medals. Italy trailed the United States with thirty sixx medals with France following closely with nineteen (Smith 45).

Battle of Los Angeles

On February 24, 1942 some eyewitnesses claimed that they saw unidentified flying objects over Los Angeles. This event sparked a massive anti aircraft artillery barrage. This event took place three months after the United States was attacked and entry in to the Second World War. The Unidentified flying objects have never been known todate. It was initially thought that the United States artillery barrage was targeted to the attacking force from Japan, then a major American enemy.

It was later to be seen as imaginary so as to benefit extraterrestrial aircraft and coastal industrial sites. A total blackout was ordered by authorities and air raid sirens were put on throughuout Los Angeles. Over fourteen hundred antiaircraft shells were fired against the unidentified flying objects. According to eyewitness reports, unidentified flying objects took about twenty minutes to move from Santa monica to above long beach. Six civilians were killed during the firing, three from direct shelling and three from heart attacks. A number of buildings were also destroyed by the shelling. The event attracted national media attention and coverarage.

Due to the war nerves existing at that period, there were rumors of a Japanese weather baloon, fire baloon, and a blimp. Those reports were later said to be misidentification. For instance, the Japanese fire baloons thought to have been seen at the time did not exist then (Davis 46). No debris of the claimed object or objects was found on the ground even after the intense shelling. Official response on claims of unidentified fying objects came fast with the Secretary of the Navy declaring the entire incident to be nothing but a false alarm. Majority of the press did not believe the Secratary of the navy and claimed that his report was intended to cover up the real truth.

The Army chief of Staff backed the Secretary of the Navy report but added that some airplanes maybe operated by the enemy could have been involved. This sparked many speculations running from the Japanese having a secret base in Mexico to the existence of Japanese submarines capable of carrying planes. The level of competence of the United States Army officers was greatly questioned. How could they have fired heavy artillery for almost an hour killing six civilians in the event without firing at anything in particular? The Battle of Los Angeles inspired the World War Two comedy ‘1941’ by Stephen Spielberg (Davis 51).

The Watts Riots

These were race riots that took place in 1965 in the Watts neighborhood in the month of August. Thirty four people were killed, a thousand and thirty injured, and 3952 arrrested. The Watts riots were sparked by an incident involving Marqutte Frye and Lee Minikus (a Highway Patrol Motorcycle officer). Marquette failed the sobrity test and the officer said he would impound his vehicle despite Marquette’s brother offering to drive the vehicle home. The incident onlookers became violent and started throwing rocks at the officers. Frye, his brother and their mother were arrested. The Fryes arrests sparked angy mob riots, violence, fights with the police, and burning of buildings.

Some Watts residents also started beating white motorists. Some rioters broke into stores and stole everything they could and then set the stores on fire. This made it particularly difficult for policemen to get involved. The LAPD police boss known as William Parker made the situation even worse by calling the rioters as “ monkeys in the zoo” (Cohen et al 22). Almost a thousand buildings were destroyed and forty million dollars worth of property. The California National Guard was called to control the riots with much success (Cohen et al 23).

Works Cited

Antonio, Ríos-Bustamante, Mexican Los Ángeles: A Narrative and Pictoral History, Nuestra Historia Series, Monograph No. 1. (Encino: Floricanto Press, 1992), 50-53.

Cohen, Jerry and William S. Murphy: Burn, Baby, Burn! The Los Angeles Race Riot, New York: Dutton, 1966.

Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Verso, 1990 p 42-59.

Smith, Catherine Parsons. Making Music in Los Angeles: Transforming the Popular.

Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. (A social history covering c. 1887-1940) p 28-48.


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