|This timeline was created as part of the 2009 Signs of Our Times Exhibit at the Studio for Southern California History.|
50,000 – 15,000 BC People of northeast Asia follow herds of caribou bison & mammoth and migrate across the present day Bering Strait. They move south along ice-fee corridors into the North American continent to what is now California.
12,500 Santa Barbara Islands Are Settled. The Santa Barbara Channel Islands are settled; archaeologists track fire-reddened earth from more than one hundred fire sites from this period.
10,000 Native Americans occupy the basin of Southern California.
7,000 The La Brea Woman is estimated to have lived now. The “La Brea Woman’s” skeleton is found in 1914 along with a broken grinding stone and the remains of a domesticated dog, both typical burial objects of the Chumash tribe.
3,000 (also known as Indian writing, picture writing and rock art) in Southern California. Tule Lake’s “Petroglyph Point” is one of most extensive areas noted for them, with over 5,000 individual carvings. Archaeologists estimate that dozens of generations of artists paddled out in canoes, sharp sticks or stones in hand, to leave their mark in the soft volcanic tuff of the region.
200 - 500 Continental drought provokes wide-ranging migration to Southern California.
458 Chinese records note the explorations of monk Hwui Shan who sails the Pacific and possibly reaches the coast of California. He sails north to Japan and the Kamchatka Peninsula, east to the Aleutians (present-day Alaska) and south along the Pacific coast, a region called “Fu-Sang” in Hwui Shan’s narrative of the voyage. The journey is recorded in official documents of the Sung dynasty for the year 499 upon his return to China. Hwui Shan and his party of four other monks reach Fu-Sang around the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.
1492 August 3 - Christopher Columbus sets sail to find a westward route to the east. On October 12 he becomes the 1st European to set foot in what is now the Dominican Republic.
1510 ‘California’ is first used in the Spanish novel Las Sergas de Esplandian (The Adventures of Esplandian) by Garcia Ordonez Montalvo. Its description of this mythical land is a harbinger of how the Spanish see Native Americans. “Know that to the right hand of the Indies was an island called California, very near to the region of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was populated by black women, without there being any men among them, that almost like the Amazons was their style of living. These were of vigorous bodies and The Warrior Queen Calafia, strong and ardent hearts and of great strength; the island itself the strongest in steep rocks and great boulders that is found in the world; their arms were all of gold, and also the harnesses of the wild beasts on which, after having tamed them, they rode; that in all the island there was no other metal whatsoever. They dwelt in caves very well hewn; they had many ships in which they went out to other parts to make their forays, and the men they seized they took with them, giving them their deaths, as you will further hear. And some times when they had peace with their adversaries, they intermixed with all security one with another, and there were carnal unions from which many of them came out pregnant, and if they gave birth to a female, they kept her, and if they gave girth to a male, then he was killed.”
1531 La Virgen de Guadalupe Hidalgo makes “miraculous” appearances to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City and also imprints her image on his apron as proof of her existence. She is also known as La Virgen Morena in Mexico and an important figure in Mexican American Catholicism and a lightning rod in Southwest politics and art. Her image is everywhere—look for her!
1542 Juan Cabrillo claims Southern California territory for the Spanish kingdom, beginning over three and half centuries of occupation. The Portuguese-born sailor goes on to “discover” the Catalina Islands, the sites of San Pedro and Santa Monica, and the Santa Barbara Channel Islands.
1579 Sir Francis Drake claims what is now San Francisco Bay for England.
1620 British colonists establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1769 The Sacred Expedition is launched. The Spanish claim Alta California (present day California) in the “Sacred Expedition,” when explorer Gaspar de Portolà reaches San Diego. With him are two Franciscan padres, Junipero Serra and Juan Crespi, who record the expedition and found the first mission. The Sacred Expedition is a religious & military project of missionization and colonization on behalf of Spain. Spanish citizenship is earned by Native Americans upon the acceptance of Christianity. Demographers estimate that between 300,000 & 1,000,000 Indians inhabit what is now California on the eve of colonization in the 18th century.
1771 Mission San Gabriel is founded.
1771 Construction begins on what later becomes known as the Gage Mansion in Bell Gardens, the oldest surviving home in Los Angeles County. Francisco Salvador Lugo begins building the adobe walls in 1771 and his son Antonio Maria Lugo receives the land (along with 29,514 acres) in 1780 from King Carlos V of Spain. Francisco and Antonio build the hacienda together. The home is now in the middle of a trailer park and housed within another building for protection.
1779 Teodoro de Croix, Commandant of the Interior Provinces of New Spain, issues instructions on how to recruit original settlers for the founding of the new pueblo. De Croix seeks married men and families who will earn 10 pesos each month and a parcel of land after ten years of settlement.
1781 November 19 - El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles Sobre el Rio de la Porciúncula, now the city of Los Angeles, is founded by California governor Felipe de Neve on behalf of King Carlos III of Spain.
1790 The Naturalization Act of 1790 provides the first rules for granting citizenship to the United States; the law limits naturalization to aliens who are "free white persons."
1804 Mission San Gabriel uses Native American labor to plant California’s first orange grove composed of 6 acres and 400 trees.
1810 The population of Los Angeles rises to 354.
1810 – 1821 September 16, 1810 - Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla ("the father of Mexican independence") launches the initial rebellion of the Mexican War of Independence, an armed conflict between the Mexican people and Spanish colonial authorities. The populist army nearly captures Mexico City but is defeated at Calderón. Peasant leaders like José María Morelos y Pavón, Mariano Matamoros and Vicente Guerrero lead armies of native and racially mixed revolutionaries against the Spanish and the Royalists. Ultimately, after a decade of loss it is the Royalists--made up of Mexicans of Spanish descent and other conservatives who bring independence. In 1820, liberals take power in Spain and the new government promises reforms to appease the Mexican revolutionaries. In response, Mexican conservatives call for independence as a means of maintaining their privileged position in Mexican society. In early 1821 both sides of the War agree to the Plan of Iguala that establishes Mexico as an independent constitutional monarchy and maintains the Catholic Church as the central religion. There are an estimated 400,000 – 500,000 deaths as a result. The end of this war places California under Mexican rule, otherwise known as the “California” period. Mural by Salvador Almaraz López in 2005.
1824 Mexico issues the Colonization Act of 1824 and provides the legal framework for the subsequent granting of ranchos, which increases after 1833.
1833 The Mexican government begins the secularization of the California missions. Of the missions’ eight million acres originally designated to converted Native Americans, approximately 500 land grants are created for influential families. Many former Mission Indians migrate to serve as farm labor throughout Southern California; in 1833 there are approximately 170 farms and 112 vineyards.
1837 – 1842 Native Americans plant over 100,000 grape vines for Jean Louis Vignes (for whom Vignes Street is named).
1839 Arcadia Bandini marries Abel Stearns. Born in 1825 in San Diego, Arcadia and her two sisters are considered the most beautiful women of California. The first US flag flown over the plaza in Old Town San Diego on July 29, 1846 is made by Arcadia. At 14 she marries 43-year-old Abel Stearns, one of the wealthiest men in Los Angeles. Stearns dies in 1871 and in 1874 Arcadia marries Colonel Robert Baker, owner of Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica & they settle in Santa Monica. When Arcadia dies in 1912 she leaves an estate of seven to eight million.
1841 The Workman Rowland Party is the first wagon train traveling across the continent to arrive in California.
1846 June 14 -The California Republic (also called the Bear Flag Republic) is the result of a revolt by Americans in the town of Sonoma against the authorities of the Mexican province of California; the Republic lasts less than a month. The revolt is instigated by John Fremont and then led by William Ide.
1846 -1848 On May 13,1846; the United States recognizes a state of war with Mexico. After the annexation of Texas in 1845, the United States and Mexico fail to resolve a boundary dispute. President Polk declares it is necessary to deploy forces in Mexico to meet a threatened invasion. The Mexican American war results in California becoming part of the United States, along with more than half of former Mexican land. The treaty formally ending the war, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, becomes an issue of contention in the future as existing Californian rights are not honored. There are an estimated 20,000 deaths as a result of this war. 25. 1847 Lieutenant-Colonel John C. Fremont and General Andrés Pico sign the Treaty of Cahuenga on the kitchen table of Tomás Feliz's six-room adobe house at Campo de Cahuenga (now North Hollywood). It allows the Californios who fought under the Mexican Flag to return home after giving up their artillery, and provides that all prisoners from both sides be immediately freed.
1848 Gold is discovered at Sutter’s Mill, California one week before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is signed, although news of the discovery does not reach the rest of the world for weeks. The discovery spurs a worldwide migration to California in 1849 and the term ‘49er’ is born.
1850 Los Angeles County is formed and initially comprises 4,340 square miles. The United States Census for Los Angeles measures its population at 3,530.
1851 In March Francisco “Chico” Lugo and his brother Francisco “Menito” Lugo are charged with the murders of Irishman Patrick McSwiggen and a Creek Indian named Sam in the Cajon Pass. The Lugo teenagers are sons of the wealthiest family in Southern California whose rancho includes much of San Bernardino County, which is then part of Los Angeles County. The Lugo case is the first known use of a jailhouse informant in a criminal case in Los Angeles; the sole witness against the Lugos is Ysidro Higuera, a prisoner in jail when he incriminates the Lugos. His statement is suspicious since the jailer George W. Robinson is an enemy of the Lugo family. The murders in the Cajon Pass occur when the Lugos pursue a band of Ute Indians from Utah who had stolen several hundred of their horses. The Anglo American theory of the murders is that the Lugo boys killed McSwiggen and Sam for misdirecting them in their pursuit of the Utes. Californios believe the twenty members of the pursuit party who say the Lugos could not have committed the murders since they are in full sight the entire time. In April a band of outlaws led by John “Red” Irving arrives in Los Angeles and camps in the Arroyo Seco. When Irving hears of the Lugo case, he approaches Antonio Maria Lugo and offers to break his grandsons out of jail for a price (rumored to be $10,000). Lugo rejects the proposition and infuriates Irving. Lugo’s lawyer, J. Lancaster Brent, makes a motion for bail in the District Court and when Irving hears of the motion he and his men surround the jail and demand $10,000 or threaten to kill the brothers. Brent organizes a group of Californios to guard them and unexpected help arrives when a group of United States soldiers arrive in the city on a routine march from San Diego. Brent asks the soldiers for assistance and the prisoners arrive safely. The Lugo case is ultimately dismissed by Judge Antonio Olvera of the Court of Sessions in October 1852.
1853 September 24 - The preserved heads of “bandits” Joaquin Murrieta and Manual Garcia are sold at auction today for $36 to satisfy a judgment. Joaquin Murrieta is a legendary figure from the early days of the Gold Rush. When he attempts mining, he faces racism and discrimination. He turns to crime and is portrayed as a Mexican patriot who resists American conquest. Murrieta leads a band called The Five Joaquins and together they are allegedly responsible for the majority of cattle rustling, robberies and murders committed in the Mother Lode area of the Sierra Nevadas between 1850 and 1853. In 1853 California Governor John Bigler signs a legislative act creating the "California State Rangers," whose mission is to arrest the Five Joaquins. In July, these rangers encounter a group of Mexican males near Panoche Pass in San Benito County and a confrontation occurs; two of the Mexicans are killed—one claims to be Murrieta and the other Garcia. The Rangers take Garcia's hand and Murrieta's head as evidence of their death and display them in a jar, preserved in brandy. The jar travels throughout California, where spectators can see the remains for $1.00. Seventeen people, including a priest, sign affidavits identifying the remains as Murrieta but a young woman claiming to be Murrieta's sister does not recognize the head and argues does not have her brother's characteristic scar. To complicate matters, numerous sightings of Murrieta are reported after his death. The jar and its contents are destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco.
1854 California’s Supreme Court decides People Vs. Hall and prohibits Chinese people from testifying in court on the basis that they are nonwhite—following an existing California statute.
1856 African American midwife Biddie Mason earns her freedom in California courts, after testing the state’s status as a “Free” state. She settles in Los Angeles and eventually co-founds Los Angeles’ African American Methodist Church. Mason is immortalized in a public art monument at 333 S. Spring Street.
1860 A House Divided. Although California is admitted as a free state in 1850, during the Civil War Los Angeles is a city divided. Asa Ellis (at right), a horticulturist, has two sons who fight for the Confederacy, and a third son who fights on behalf of the Union.
1860 California's famous mail courier service, the Pony Express, begins. It follows a route that starts in Missouri and ends in Sacramento, California. The trips, lasting more than ten days depending on weather conditions, are the first of a kind connecting California's communication system with the Midwest. Riders change mounts at postal stations, which are 15 miles apart. The fastest delivery is a trip in six days, delivering the news of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
1864 The Central Pacific Railroad Company recruits thousands of Chinese laborers from the Kwangtung Province in order to build the transcontinental railroad.
1870 California passes a law against the importation of Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian women for prostitution. This law is followed up by the Page Law in 1875, which extends it to a national level, further stereotyping Asian immigrant women as prostitutes and human chattel.
1871 October 24 - One of Los Angeles’ most violent racial conflicts erupts when two rival tongs, Nin Yung Company and Hong Chow Company disagree over possession of a young woman, Ya Hit. An Anglo police officer, Robert Thompson, intervenes in the conflict and is accidentally shot. Soon after, an Anglo saloonkeeper begins firing randomly at Chinese homes on Calle de los Negros (now Los Angeles Street). As news spreads, a vigilante mob pours into the area, attacks Chinese residents, and burns and loots Chinese property. One of the mob leaders is city councilman, George Fall. Los Angeles tax collector, Marshal Francis Baker is also present and tells participants to, “Shoot any Chinese who try to escape.” At the end of the night, 17 Chinese are lynched, and two more subsequently die from complications. Over 500 Angelenos participate in the attack. But the few who are convicted have their convictions overturned on a legal technicality.
1873 Charles Nordhoff publishes California: for Health, Pleasure, and Residence. A Book for Travellers and Settlers extolling Southern California’s ability to cure ‘Consumption’—the term then for tuberculosis. Little do his readers know, Nordhoff is paid by the Southern Pacific Railroad to serve as an objective advocate. Hundreds come to the region in search of a cure to the point that Los Angeles builds the first crematorium West of the Rocky Mountains in 1888 at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in order to attend to the dead.
1877 The nativist Workingmen’s Party is established in California and targets Chinese workers.
1884 Helen Hunt Jackson, a writer and activist for Native Americans in California, writes her famous fictional novel Ramona. Intending it to be the "Uncle Tom's Cabin of California," Ramona’s most enduring impact is the creation of several regional myths that stimulate tourism in Southern California and obfuscates Jackson’s original goals of reform. The novel is loosely based on the real life account of Ramona Lubo, whose husband is shot by a white man but Lubo (the only witness to the crime) cannot testify against him due to California’s law. The discovery of Lubo occurs in the early twentieth-century and further exploits Lubo’s life as tourists flock to see her, the grave of her husband, and take photographs of “the real” Ramona.
1887 The Southern Pacific Rail Road brings over 100,000 people to Southern California, initiating the first of the region’s many real estate booms. The Southern Pacific Railroad becomes embattled in a price war with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe with fares dropping from $125 to as low as a $1 from the Midwest to Southern California.
1889 January 4 - Assemblyman E.E. Edwards introduces a bill to separate part of Los Angeles County and create the County of Orange. It is named after its most promising new crop, the orange.
1893 The Bradbury Building is constructed at Third Street and Broadway in Los Angeles. Commissioned by Lewis Bradbury, the building is eventually designed by draftsman George Wyman, who is influenced by the utopian novel Looking Backward (1887) by Edward Bellamy. The novel describes that in the year 2000 the typical office building will be a "vast hall full of light, received not alone from the windows on all sides, but from the dome, the point of which was a hundred feet above ... The walls and ceiling were frescoed in mellow tints, calculated to soften without absorbing the light which flooded the interior." The Bradbury Building is the oldest commercial building in downtown Los Angeles and is featured in many television shows and films.
1898 The United States declares war on Spain. It wins the War and annexes Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico in 1899. The Spanish American War results in approximately 65,000 casualties.
1905 June 19 - Los Angeles Crocker Street residents protest the smell coming from the Saratoga Chip Company at 1144 Crocker Street. Residents complain of the horrible stench of lard and declare it must be hazardous to one's health to reside too close to such a foul odor.
1907 There are over 92 boarding houses in Los Angeles’ ‘Japan Town,’ demonstrating the roots of contemporary Little Tokyo and the bachelor societies that make up the Japanese immigrant community.
1910 February 24 - City Attorney Hewitt rules that Los Angeles city officials can no longer accept free rides on streetcars, except for "official business."
1910 Angel Island opens, and for 30 years serves as a point of entry to the United States for many immigrants. Like Ellis Island in New York, it processes the entry of people from different parts of the world. Unlike Ellis Island, it also serves as a prison for hundreds of Chinese immigrants. The immigration compound at Angel Island is built to enforce an exclusionary law passed in 1882.
1910 - 1911 The Mexican Revolution against autocrat Porfirio Diaz begins and is led by Francisco Madero. The liberal government established under Madero attempts to implement a program of reforms, a notable component is the breaking up of large estates and the parceling out of sections to the landless peasants. In 1913 Madero is assassinated in a counterrevolution on behalf of the landowners, led by General Victoriano Huerta. An estimated 250,000 people die as a result of this war and it signals a period of mass migration northward into the United States of over a million people in order to escape the war torn country.
1913 The California Alien Land Law is passed and prohibits "aliens ineligible to citizenship" (applying to all Asian immigrants) from owning land or property, but permits three-year leases.
1916 July 11 - State Fish and Game Commission patrolmen fine those dynamiting fresh and salt-water sources in the hopes of gaining fish. Although not a felony, those caught are fined a minimum of $200.
1920 The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote, is signed into law.
The Cable Act, also known as the “Married Women’s Citizenship Act,” is passed, stipulating that any American female citizen who marries an alien ineligible for citizenship (Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, or other men racially ineligible to naturalize) will lose her own citizenship.
1923 July 13 - The Hollywood sign is dedicated on Mount Lee in Griffith Park. Designed by Thomas Fisk Goff, each letter stands at approximately 30 feet wide by 50 feet high and the entire sign costs $21,000. It originally reads “HOLLYWOODLAND,” but by the late 1940s, high maintenance costs cause the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the City of Los Angeles Parks Department to eliminate “LAND” transforming it into the movie industry icon.
1923 The US Supreme Court rules that Japanese & Asian Indians are not eligible for citizenship.
1923 Long known for penning The Jungle (1906), socialist author Upton Sinclair is arrested for reading The Bill of Rights at Liberty Hill at 5th and Harbor in San Pedro during a International Workers of the World strike.
1923 Earle C. Anthony purchases two neon signs from French firm Claude Neon for his Packard car dealership in Los Angeles and introduces neon to the United States.
1924 The National Origins Quota Act barring any “alien ineligible to citizenship” calls for a set of permanent regulations that take effect in 1929. The total number of immigrants from outside the Western Hemisphere is restricted to approximately 150,000 annually. The Quota Act of 1924 restricts the number of people to settle in the United States. It limits immigration from Europe in any one year to two percent of the number of each nationality resident in the United States according to the Census of 1890.
1927 May 18 - Grauman's Chinese Theatre opens in Hollywood with Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings. A riot breaks out as onlookers try to see the stars entering the theater for the premiere.
1928 Construction on Los Angeles’ City Hall begins. The concrete for the 28-story structure is formed from sand from each of California's 58 counties and water from its 21 missions. A flexible compression zone separates each floor of the 454-foot building. City Hall is the tallest building in LA’s skyline until 1959 when the city lifts its ban on buildings taller than City Hall.
1929 The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is formed in Corpus Christi with the merger of three Texas organizations: La Orden de Hijos de America, the Knights of America, and the League of Latin American Citizens. Drawing its support largely from the urban middle class, it seeks to bring Mexican Americans into the main current of American society and combat discrimination in education, jobs, wages, and political representation. Strongly rooted in local communities, it promotes the learning of English, improvements in schools, and political power through voting.
1929 The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) is formed in California to fight for the civil rights primarily of Japanese Americans but also for the benefit of Chinese Americans and other peoples of color. With limited resources and virtually no experience in state or federal politics, the JACL takes it upon itself to set the course for civil rights for persons of Asian ancestry in the West Coast region of the United States, as well as at the federal level by combating congressional legislation aimed at excluding the rights of Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans. In California alone there are over one hundred statutes that limit the rights of anyone of Japanese ancestry.
1929 The US stock market crashes on Black Tuesday, causing worldwide depression. The Great Depression devastates the nation with high levels of unemployment and economic instabilities. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, New Deal seeks national economic recovery. One of the largest agencies under the new presidential order (No. 7034) is the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Between 1935 and 1943, the agency employs thousands of American citizens in an effort to alleviate the economic downturn. The WPA undertakes approximately 12,300 projects and shapes landscapes throughout the nation.
1930 - 1931 Charlotta Amanda Bass institutes the “Don’t Shop Where You Cannot Work” boycott of key Los Angeles businesses, using her newspaper The California Eagle as a way to spread information on racism.
1931 Amendment to the Cable Act declares that no American-born woman who loses her citizenship by marrying an alien ineligible to citizenship can be denied the right of naturalization at a later date.
1931 The Mei Wah (Chinese in America) Club, the oldest Chinese American women's club in Los Angeles is initially created by ten teenage girls who want a basketball team. Mei Wah expands to become a charitable organization, providing financial assistance to the refugees of war-torn China in the 1930s.
1933 Los Angeles’ original Chinatown is demolished to make way for Union Station. New Chinatown opens in1938.
1933 Rose Pesotta leads the International Ladies Garment Workers union of Los Angeles’ garment workers. Two thousand dressmakers meet and rally at the Embassy Auditorium at 851 S. Grand Avenue in downtown.
1934 Upton Sinclair fails in the gubernatorial race as the Democrat after a massive media campaign initiated by the film and newspaper industries. Sinclair's platform End Poverty in California (EPIC) galvanizes the support of the Democratic Party, and Sinclair gains its nomination. Conservatives in California see it as an attempted communist takeover of the state and use political propaganda portraying Sinclair as a communist. Sinclair is defeated by Frank F. Merriam in the election and abandons politics to return to writing, eventually earning a Pulitzer Prize. However, the race of 1934 is known as the first race to use modern multimedia campaign techniques like motion pictures and news agencies. Sinclair’s home in Monrovia is an historic landmark.
1935 Congress passes the Social Security Act and provides for a federal program of benefits to retired workers beginning at the age of 65 and a program of unemployed compensation administered by the state and federal aid to the state for various projects such as maternity and infant care services and assistance to crippled children and the blind.
1938 Harry Raymond, an investigator working with reformer Clifford Clinton (of Clifton’s Cafeteria on Broadway) investigates corruption in City Hall and the Los Angeles Police Department and is subsequently targeted with a car bomb; he survives the explosion and two Los Angeles Police Department officers are convicted.
1940 County population reaches 2,785,643.
1941 Los Angeles’ first freeway, the Arroyo Seco opens. It runs from downtown to Pasadena. Later, it is extended and given the name ‘110’.
1942 January 12 - Twelve of the twenty-four Mexican American defendants, arrested on trumped up charges in the "Sleepy Lagoon" case of the murder of José Díaz, are found guilty. All of their convictions are eventually overturned, but not before they serve nearly two years in San Quentin.
1942 February 24 - Executive Order 9066 is passed. West coast Japanese Americans are placed in internment camps, including two in California, Manzanar and Tule Lake.
1942 March 27 - A curfew is imposed in Orange County on all German and Italian aliens, and all persons of Japanese descent (who will be interned by April 7); requiring citizens to be in their homes between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.; they are also restricted in travel.
1942 – 1964 August 2, 1942 - Upon Japanese American internment, Mexican braceros are brought to the United States to replenish the agriculture labor force. The United States and Mexican governments institute this program. Thousands of Mexican workers head north to work from places such as la Comarca Lagunera, Coahuila and other important agricultural regions of México. They stop working their land and growing food for their families with the illusion that they will be able to earn a vast amount of money on the other side of the border. The Bracero program ends in 1964. The United States Department of Labor officer in charge of the program, Lee G. Williams describes it as a system of "legalized slavery."
1943 June 3 – 9. The Zootsuit Riots. Rioting servicemen conduct "search and destroy" raids on Mexican Americans in downtown Los Angeles, Chavez Ravine and East Los Angeles, at first targeting Mexican American Zoot suiters and later attacking any male who looks Mexican. Servicemen beat, strip and then shave the heads of their victims. The Los Angeles Police Department arrests the Zoot suiters and military personnel are never punished. The riots are exacerbated by The Los Angeles Times and eventually end when the United States military fears losing control of the city and places the servicemen under control. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt characterizes the events as “race riots" rooted in long-term discrimination against Mexican Americans which leads to an outraged editorial by the Los Angeles Times, accusing her of "race discord.” The city later denies race played a role in the events and bans the wearing of Zoot suits.
1945 Asian Indians & Filipinos are granted citizenship rights; quotas increase to 100.
1945 Despite the wartime ban against strikes, set designers from the Conference of Studio Unions strike against Warner Brothers film studio for 30 weeks. On October 5, also known as “Hollywood’s Black Friday,” picketing workers are attacked by executives and studio police, inciting “the Battle of Warner Brothers” at their Burbank studios. Producers pelt metal nuts and bolts from the roof and police hose workers and throw tear gas. Strikers overturn three cars in the melee. The strike ends and negotiations are never resolved. This bloody event leads to the passage of the 1947 Taft Hartley Act, which severely restricts workers abilities to strike and the power of unions.
1947 The United States Supreme Court bans restrictive covenants. Covenants are key to residential segregation and have exclusionary language written into the deeds of properties. Despite the ban, many real estate agents and homeowners maintain racist segregation until the 1970s. Below: text from the Los Angeles Title Insurance Company’s 1931 publication entitled: Building & Race Restrictions.
1947 June 10 - As a result of studies conducted on smog and pollution levels in the Los Angeles area, California Governor Earl Warren signs into law the Air Pollution Control Act and authorizes the creation of an Air Pollution Control District in every county of the state. 82. 1947 -1951 The Hollywood Ten refuse to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The hearings begin in 1947 and move to Los Angeles in 1951. The hearings are held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
1948 Perez V. Sharp: Andrea Perez, a Mexican American woman, and Sylvester Davis, an African American man, file a lawsuit against then Los Angeles County Clerk W.G. Sharp after Perez and Davis seek and are denied a marriage license from the Los Angeles County Clerk’s Office. Under state law, no marriage licensed can be issued between a “white” and a “negro” person. The case goes to the California Supreme Court and the couple successfully overturns California’s miscegenation laws.
1949 43,000 acres of Southern California’s orchards are razed to build suburban housing.
1953 The African American tenor saxophonist Buddy Collette works with other musicians to join Los Angeles’ Local 767 (African American) and Hollywood’s Local 47 (Anglo American) and begins the process of integrating the American Federation of Musicians.
1956 The Capitol Records Building is completed just north of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. Also known as “the House that Nat built” (referring to jazz great Nat King Cole--Capitol Records’ most popular star), the 13-story tower is designed by designed by Welton Becket and is the world's first circular office building.
1958 The Brooklyn Dodgers come to Los Angeles and build Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, a predominately Mexican-American community, shelving plans for a low-income housing project.
1961 Paul Williams designs the Encounter Restaurant at Los Angeles International Airport. It immediately becomes an icon for the city. Williams designs the building's135-foot-high parabolic arches to symbolize the optimism of a futuristic Los Angeles in the space age. In 1992 the Los Angeles City Council designates it a cultural and historical monument.
1963 The California State legislature passes the Rumford Act, also known as the "fair housing act," which declares racial discrimination in sales or rentals of housing to be against the law. The California Housing Association drafts in response to this act, the voter initiative Proposition 14, a state constitution amendment that repeals the Rumford Act. Although Proposition 14 passes by a 2 – 1 margin, it is eventually deemed unconstitutional and overthrown.
1964 – 1972 The Vietnam War begins and lasts over 11 years until 1975, dividing the United States and ultimately resulting in approximately 60,000 American casualties and a roughly estimated 1,500,000 deaths total.
1965 August 11 – African American Marquette Frye is pulled over by Los Angeles Police officers on suspicion of drunk driving. As he is arrested, a crowd gathers to contest the arrest. Frye’s mother and brother join the group protesting the arrest. The officers proceed to arrest Frye’s mother and brother. Someone throws a bottle at the police car, igniting the Watts Riots in South Central Los Angeles. The Riots result in 34 deaths and $40 million in property damage. The origins of the Riots are traced to long term police harassment, systemic economic inequalities, the balkanized neighborhoods caused by new freeways and the attempted repeal of the Rumford Act.
1965 – 1970 The National Farm Workers Association and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee form to create the United Farm Workers. Filipino and Mexican-American farm workers in Delano, California strike against area grape growers for equal wages for foreign workers. This historic strike lasts more than five years and results in signed contracts for more than 10,000 workers.
1965 President Lyndon Johnson signs the Immigration Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Cellar Act. It allows more individuals from the Eastern Hemisphere to enter the United States (including Asians, who had been hindered from entering). Under the Act, 170,000 immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere are granted residency, with no more than 20,000 per country. One hundred twenty thousand immigrants from the Western Hemisphere, with no “national limitations,” are also to be admitted and the Act includes a separate quota for refugees.
1968 March - Hundreds of East Los Angeles high school students walk out of class in protest of the poor quality of schools. Over the course of the next several days, hundreds more students from fifteen different schools follow. At the heart of the student protests are frustrations regarding educational conditions in public schools attended almost exclusively by Mexican Americans where dropout rates are astronomical and few graduates go on to college. Students demand bilingual education, more Mexican American teachers and administrators, and courses relevant to their Mexican heritage, not to mention improved cafeteria food. Ultimately, city officials do little to meet the student demands. Forty years later some of the same issues plague the Los Angeles Unified School District.
1970 Chicano Moratorium mobilizes 25,000 to protest War. Police attack protesters and a few hours later Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar is shot at the Silver Dollar Cafe. Salazar is killed instantly when a tear gas projectile hits his head. It is shot by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s officer through a curtain. In 2008 Salazar is honored on a US postage stamp.
1971 May 24 - The “People’s Lobby,” headed by Edward Kaoupal gathers a sufficient number of signatures to place an antipollution initiative on the 1972 November ballot that seeks to ban additives to gasoline, shut down polluting industries during smog alerts and stop coastal and offshore drilling.
1972 Womanhouse, one of the first feminist art installations is created in an abandoned house in Hollywood. Spearheaded by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, different women artists are given a room to explore contemporary women’s issues. In homage to the original and to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the exhibit we converted a dollhouse to express what women were facing in 2007 as part of the LA Women: A Record of Experience Exhibit. We learned of a similar project aimed at girls through the Santa Monica YMCA called Girl House conducted in 2006. The documentary here is a part of that project.
1975 The United States Supreme Court rules that women cannot be excluded from juries because of their sex.
1976 Construction is completed on the Bonaventure Hotel, the largest hotel in Los Angeles. It is 35 floors tall and designed and built by the Portman Company In 1991 social theorist Fredric Jameson uses the hotel as an example of the logic of postmodern social organization.
1978 California voters pass Proposition 13, regulating property tax and undermining the ability of legislators to create future tax initiatives for social services.
1980 Los Angeles County population reaches 7,477,503.
1983 Jackie Goldberg is the first openly homosexual Board Member of the Los Angeles Unified School District. She serves until 1991.
1984 Aurora Castillo, the great-great-granddaughter of Augustine Pedro Olvera, for whom Olvera Street is named, starts the Mothers of East Los Angeles (MELA), a community organization to protect East Los Angeles from environmental and public health threats. MELA successfully stops a prison from being built in East Los Angeles and halts the building of an incinerator and hazardous waste treatment plant, citing probable environmental threats.
1987 Los Angeles County’s agricultural basin is 32,000 acres, down from its height of 318,000 in 1942.
1988 Congress enacts the Civil Rights Restoration Act over President Ronald Reagan's veto. It prohibits sex discriminations throughout educational institutions receiving federal funds, restoring Title IX.
1989 The US Bank Tower, formerly the Library Tower and First Interstate World Center, is completed. One of Los Angeles’ most recognizable skyscrapers at 73 stories tall, it is located at 633 West Fifth Street. It is the ninth-tallest building in the United States, the tallest North American skyscraper west of the Mississippi River, the tallest building in California.
1991 The Persian Gulf War begins January 16 and ends February 28 and results in 467 American deaths.
1991 March 3 - Rodney King is arrested and beaten by a group of police officers on March 3. The incident, except for the first thirteen seconds after King stopped, is captured on video by a private citizen, George Holliday, from his apartment near the intersection of Foothill Blvd and Osborne St. in Lake View Terrace. The four officers are charged with use of excessive force.
1991 March 16 – Los Angeles grocery store owner Korean American woman, Soon Ja Du shoots and kills Latasha Harlin, a 15-year old African American girl in the back of the head as she is exiting the store. Seconds earlier, Harlin had swung at Ja Du after the storeowner grabbed her backpack. On November 15 - Superior Court Judge Joyce Harlin sentences Soon Ja Du to probation in the shooting death of Latasha Harlin.
1992 April 29 - The Rodney King trial takes place in Simi Valley with a jury of Ventura County residents — ten whites, one Latino and one Asian. The jury acquits the officers. Upon hearing the verdict, hundreds of Los Angelenos begin a protest that turns into a “live” televised six-day riot where 53 people die at a cost of $1,000,000,000.
1994 California adopts Proposition 187 and denies public services to undocumented immigrants.
1996 Proposition 209, banning affirmative action, is passed by California voters.
2006 Thanks in part to the organizing of Clare Marter Kenyon, the California Black Walnut and two other species are added to the Oak Tree Ordinance and placing them on the list of trees protected in Southern California.
2007 The City of Los Angeles agrees to pay former Los Angeles firefighter Tennie Pierce $1.43 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. African American Pierce had sued after a colleague slipped dog food into his spaghetti following a volleyball game in which Pierce repeatedly joked "Feed the big dog!" in reference to himself. In uncovering Pierce’s allegations, investigators discover a hostile atmosphere of hazing directed at African Americans and women in the Los Angeles Fire Department.