More than 1,500 years ago, when the Tongva people established settlements in the Los Angeles basin, their main village, Yang-Na, was right in the heart of today’s Downtown Los Angeles, near City Hall. By the late 18th century, there were Spanish settlements near the river known as Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula (River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula) and in 1781 Felipe de Neve, the Governor of Spanish California, named the Mexican settlement El Pueblo Sobre el Rio de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula. Before long, it was simply Los Angeles.
With a population of 141 in 1841, Los Angeles experienced its first boom in 1842 with the discovery of gold at Placerita Canyon. By 1850, the city was incorporated and California became a state. As expansion continued nearly unabated in all directions, Los Angeles became a hub of oil production, rail transportation, roads and agriculture. And with those thriving industries came a population hungry for education, entertainment, recreation and all the cultural landmarks for which the city is today renowned worldwide. By 1890, the population was 50,000; ten years later it had more than doubled and by 1910 it stood at more than 319,000. It topped a million in 1924; in 2014 the estimated population was 3.9 million.
Today, Downtown Los Angeles is a thriving and vibrant community where classic low-rise structures, such as the Library, are preserved, while dazzling new architecture attracts attention from around the world. With districts known for their cultural or merchandise history – fashion, financial, seafood, toys, gallery row, jewelry, Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and so on – Downtown is known for its museums, restaurants, performance venues and its metropolitan appeal to a growing number of residents.
Since 2000, the Downtown resident population has doubled, with 2014 estimates at 52,400 and 5,200 residential units under construction. From restored warehouses to luxury lofts, Downtown living confirms what Randy Newman said back in 1983: “I Love L.A.”
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