BY: JULIE CHUNG
When you think of the West Coast, the first city that comes to mind is Los Angeles. Even as an LA native, my words can never do this great city justice. You hear about how dangerous or dirty this city is, but even with all the talk of LA’s flaws, more and more people come here every day.
Although this is the second largest city in the United States, it certainly didn’t start that way. LA was actually a small pueblo town with humble beginnings.
The city was founded by the Spanish governor of California, Felipe De Neve, to establish a civil town that would support the string of military pueblos along the coast of Calif. The city of LA was officially founded on Sept. 4, 1781.
LA was originally part of Spain, then later belonged to Mexico after it won its independence from Spain. The city eventually came into the possession of the U.S. after the Mexican-American War, with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
The city grew steadily while in the possession of the U.S. When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941 the city witnessed a period of explosive growth and expansion.
During World War II, LA grew rapidly due to the growing needs of the U.S. war effort. Many factories needed workers which drew many migrants in from all over the country. World War II helped LA become an industrial and financial giant.
Skip forward to the Rodney King Riots in 1992 –one of the darkest times in LA history. What started off as an incident caught on tape concerning racism and police brutality, spread to lootings, arsons, civil disobedience and deaths. The riots spread to neighboring areas as well, and lasted nearly two weeks.
“I’d just moved from Korea to LA a year before the riots happened,” said Hye Seung Chung, an LA resident of 23 years. “It was scary. People stayed home and listened to the radio or watched the news…people were on roofs with guns to guard their homes, people stole and set fires, and grocery stores were constantly packed because people wanted to stock up.”
Racial tensions seem to have improved since the early ‘90s, especially since one of the biggest things LA is known for is our diversity. Yes, there are pretty distinct divides among races in the city, but there haven’t been severe riots since.
Aside from our gloomier history, LA is a city with such prominence that the Olympics were even held here. Twice.
When a city hosts the Olympics, many deal with challenging economic strains as an aftermath.
During the 1932 Olympics, the US won the most gold medals and the LA Memorial Coliseum became known as the Olympic Stadium.
LA may not be rich, but hey, we continue to strive and we still remain the most populous city in California.
Let’s fast forward to current day LA.
It’s really impossible to sum up in words what defines LA, or what’s so great about it.
As rapper Tupac Shakur put it, “To live and die in LA, it’s the place to be. You got to be there to know it, what everybody wanna see.”
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes LA one of the greatest cities, and that’s part of its charm – it’s only something locals would understand.
If I tell you to take 405 north until you meet the 110, then switch onto 10 west, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about and how to get there.
Like I said, it’s a local thing!
“I love the weather; it’s very predictable because of the lack of seasons,” LA resident Erica Halpert said. “I love how we can be at the beach but then also be in the mountains within half an hour. We have such a rich culture and people of every ethnicity.”
We do have the most beautiful weather year round, palm trees, we have Hollywood (although we try to avoid Hollywood and Highland at all costs), we’re just minutes away from the beach, we have the best nightlife, celebrity sightings are a usual thing, we absolutely love talking about how much we hate traffic, and who can forget about our sports?
The LA Lakers are one of the most recognizable teams worldwide, Kobe Bryant being one of the most popular and well-known athletes in the world. When someone speaks of purple and gold, you know it’s about the Lakers. Can you tell me what color the Milwaukee Bucks are? Exactly.
Not only do we have a prestigious basketball team, but we have two. As well as two baseball teams. And on top of that, we’re trying to bring back an NFL team. It’s extremely costly and difficult for a city to host a team, let alone multiple, and that’s why not every city has one. That should serve as proof that LA is a great city.
There are movies made about us. We have Hollywood at our fingertips. Most celebrities come to live here. Thousands of people dream of living here. The richest people in the United States want to live in LA – that should speak volumes. And not to mention, no one else has a collection like the Hollywood stars and handprints. This is why we’re the center of entertainment.
We go crazy for In-N-Out Burgers, we will stand in line for an hour at Pink’s Hot Dogs if we have to.
We never remember to move our cars for street cleaning, colorful graffiti — vandalism or not —decorate our city, hipsters unite in Echo Park, and everyone is somehow “in the industry.”
This list may seem meaningless to anyone else, but to us, it’s a glimpse into our lives as locals. LA residents are bonded together by nature. We share so many things just by the fact that we live together in this amazing city.
Like every other city in the world, we have our faults. And the media won’t hesitate to point it out. Sure, LA drivers are rude, traffic never improves, and Hollywood seems overrated and pretentious.
But we’re so much more than that and our flaws are a part of our appeal.
We live in the city of angels, the city where hopes and dreams become reality. It’s a competitive city that shows no mercy, but we love it nonetheless and we choose to stay here. We stay because we’ve seen the beauty of Los Angeles and all that it has to offer. Everyone’s fantasy is our reality.
This is our home.