Sunday, December 03, 2006


It is rocket science
Oranges. Oil. Movies. Surfing. Space flight. L.A.'s tangled history is tough to sum up.
By Vicki Gallay
Times Staff Writer

December 3, 2006



1841 William Wolfskill planted the first local commercial orange groves on 2 acres east of what is now Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles.

1881 On Dec. 4, the Los Angeles Times began publication as the Los Angeles Daily Times. The first issue was four pages and cost 1 cent.

1886 The price of a train ticket between Kansas City and Los Angeles dropped to $1, sparking a major influx of visitors and newcomers to Southern California.

1890 Real-estate developers and members of Pasadena's high society held the first Rose Parade, complete with horse-drawn carriages covered with flowers.

• Edwin T. Earl invented the refrigerated railcar with ventilating devices that enabled the shipping of oranges to the East Coast.

1892 Edward L. Doheny and Charles A. Canfield started digging for oil near Echo Park. They hit pay dirt in 1893.

1893 The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce organized the Semi-Tropic Fruit Exchange, subsequently called the Southern California Fruit Exchange, to systemize the marketing of oranges across the nation.

1895 The first saber-toothed tiger fossil was found at Rancho La Brea — the site later known as the La Brea Tar Pits.




1905 With 5,000 grower members, representing 45% of California's citrus industry, the Southern California Fruit Exchange was renamed the California Fruit Growers Exchange. Three years later, exchange growers began their first major advertising campaign, coining a new brand name for their fruit: Sunkist. The Sunkist name was adopted for use on the highest quality oranges.

1907 Rodeo Drive, one of Beverly Hills' most famous thoroughfares, was constructed.

• George Freeth, an Anglo-Hawaiian, introduced surfing to California at Redondo Beach.




1910 For the first time, Hollywood purchased the rights to a novel from a publisher, making a deal with Little, Brown & Co. for Helen Hunt Jackson's "Ramona." The fee was $100.

1914 With the success of D.W. Griffith's film "The Birth of a Nation," Los Angeles became the center of the motion picture industry.

• The new Los Angeles Port opened in San Pedro.




1921 A national advertising campaign promoted Southern California as equally delightful in the summer as in the winter. The All-Year Club of Southern California had as its executive chairman Harry Chandler, president and general manager of the Los Angeles Times.

• Simon Rodia, an unemployed Italian immigrant welder, began work on what would be known as the Watts Towers. He completed the project in 1954.

1922 The Hollywood Bowl opened, hosting its first performance and its first Easter sunrise service.

1924 On March 17, four Douglas airplanes departed on the first round-the-world flight, helping Southern California become a center for aircraft production.

• On the crest of Mt. Washington, five miles from downtown Los Angeles, the international headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship was established by Paramahansa Yogananda. He lived and worked at the center for nearly 30 years, making his lectures, writings and recorded talks available worldwide.

1927 Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford became the first stars to put their footprints and handprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

• The downtown Tower Theater was the first Los Angeles motion picture house equipped with Movietone, a process that synchronized pictures with sound. The theater opened at 8th Street and Broadway with the film "What Price Glory?"




1930 A Mexican marketplace opened as a tourist attraction on Olvera Street, part of an effort to revive downtown Los Angeles' rundown historic core.

• Mines Field — the future LAX — was dedicated and opened as the official airport for Los Angeles.

1932 Howard Hughes founded Hughes Aircraft as a division of Hughes Tool Co. (Toolco) in Burbank.

1934 Writer and social activist Upton Sinclair began his unsuccessful run for the governorship, championing the EPIC (End Poverty in California) cause. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. described the smear tactics of Sinclair's opposition as the "first all-out public relations Blitzkrieg in American politics."

1935 The Farmers Market opened at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles' Fairfax district.

• On Dec. 17, the Douglas Aircraft Co. rolled out the DC-3. The plane would later become a workhorse during World War II.

1936 The Wilmington oil field started producing. Currently, it is the fifth-largest oil field in the state.

• Caltech students and coworkers tested their first liquid propellant rocket motor. Their work led to the creation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

1937 Amelia Earhart of Toluca Lake vanished in the Pacific while attempting a round-the-world flight.

1938 On the beach in Santa Monica, a group of acrobats, gymnasts, bodybuilders and recreational athletes began gathering to enjoy the sun and fresh air. Soon, the area — nicknamed Muscle Beach — would become the most celebrated center of physical culture in Southern California.

1939 Nathanael West published his novel "The Day of the Locust," a pessimistic look at Los Angeles. Raymond Chandler published the first of his Philip Marlowe detective novels, "The Big Sleep." John Fante published his landmark Los Angeles novel, "Ask the Dust."




1940 On Dec. 30, a 6-mile stretch of the Arroyo Seco Parkway — now the Pasadena Freeway — opened, becoming the first freeway in the Western United States.

1942 A federal program brought Mexican agricultural laborers — braceros — into Los Angeles to make up for wartime labor shortages. The program ended in 1964.

1946 The first Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor opened in Glendale after Irwin Robbins became partners with his brother-in-law Burton Baskin.

• Kaiser Community Homes started building three-bedroom, single-family tract housing in Westchester, part of West L.A., North Hollywood and Ontario for veterans returning from World War II. The builders completed 10 new houses a day.

1947 The "Hollywood Ten" were charged with contempt of Congress for their refusal to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

• Elizabeth Short — the "Black Dahlia" — was murdered, in a gruesome case that sparked sensational press coverage and remains unsolved to this day.

• Paramount Pictures' experimental station W6XYZ became the first commercially licensed television station west of the Mississippi. The call letters were changed to KTLA, and Bob Hope announced the first broadcast.

1948 In-N-Out Burger became California's first drive-through hamburger stand when it opened in Baldwin Park.

1949 In September, Billy Graham introduced his evangelistic ministry to Los Angeles. The revival meetings were held in a huge tent at Washington Boulevard and Hill Street.




1950 The largest private land development in the nation began just north of Long Beach, with a plan for the 17,150-home community of Lakewood.

1951 Jack LaLanne, fitness guru, brought exercise to television.

1952 CBS built "Television City," the first studio designed exclusively for video production, on Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax district.

1955 On July 17, Disneyland opened with 28,154 visitors.

1958 At its San Gabriel plant, Wham-O manufactured a plastic hoop in a variety of bright colors, and the hula hoop was born. About 25 million were sold in four months.

1959 The movie "Gidget" promoted surfer chic.




1968 On March 1, the Brown Berets planned and participated in the East L.A. "walkouts" or "blow outs," in which thousands of students left their classrooms to demonstrate for quality education for Latinos.

• On June 5, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a candidate for president, was shot at the Ambassador Hotel after celebrating his victory in the California Democratic primary. He died the following day.




1972 The gang the Bloods began to form as a rival to the Crips. Throughout the 1970s, tension between the Bloods and Crips grew, as did the number of gangs. In 1974, there were 70 gang-related homicides in Los Angeles, and by 1978, there were 45 Crips gangs in the city and 15 Bloods gangs.




1980 The late Mark Hughes started Herbalife out of the trunk of his car. The health-product company later moved to a small storefront in Beverly Hills before eventually growing into a billion-dollar enterprise.

1982 Wolfgang Puck opened Spago in West Hollywood.

• The Valley Girl craze swept the country, fueled by a spoof song from Frank and Moon Unit Zappa.

1988-91 Latino amnesty: A million illegal immigrants, including 318,000 agricultural laborers, got legal status.

1989 Junk bond dealer Michael Milken was indicted in federal court on racketeering charges.




1991 The police beating of motorist Rodney King was videotaped by a local resident in Lake View Terrace.

1993 The last original Bob's Big Boy, on Riverside Drive in Burbank, was declared a State Point of Historical Interest.

• Citywalk opened at Universal Studios.

1994 On Jan. 17, a magnitude 6.6 Northridge earthquake rocked Southern California, with property damage in the billions of dollars.

1997 The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Pathfinder project provided close-up photographs from Mars.

• The Getty Center opened in the Santa Monica Mountains area of Los Angeles.




2002 The Grove retail and restaurant complex opened next to the Farmers Market in L.A.'s Fairfax district.

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