From humble beginnings

I am a proud native-Angeleno.  Though I now live two hours away in Palm Springs, Los Angeles is mine, like no other place in the world could be.  I was born there in 1966, and lived there for forty-one years.

The top misconception about the place held by non-Angelenos is that it’s a city — it’s not, it’s more like twelve cities haphazardly stapled together bisected by a mountain range, with arteries called freeways carrying its teaming life to and fro.  To give you some idea of the scale we’re talking about here:  the city of Boston fits entirely inside the Echo Park/Silverlake/Los Feliz neighborhood, St. Louis is swallowed whole by just the west end of the San Fernando Valley, and teeny-tiny little Manhattan is a mere fraction of Los Angeles City Council District 15 (so much for the so-called “Big” Apple!).

The City of the Angels (translation of “Los Angeles”) is as diverse as it is large.  More than 200 languages are spoken in Los Angeles, and El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula (the city’s full name, given it by Spanish conquistadors, it's translated "town of our lady the Queen of Angels of the River Porciúncula”) is home to just as many cults and religions as it is ethnicities and nationalities.  Los Angeles is like an all-you-can-eat humanity buffet, but watch out — some of it has been sitting out for awhile and may have gone bad.

While it is a thriving metropolis today, this, the earliest known photograph of Los Angeles from the mid-19th century, circa 1860 (above), shows its humble beginnings.  Facing southeast from Fort Moore Hill toward La Plaza (now downtown), behind the Alameda (public walkway or promenade) can be seen a massive sycamore tree dating back to the 15th century known as El Aliso — a sacred gathering place for Los Angeles' indigenous Tongva people whose tribal leaders traveled from their villages across what is now Southern California to confer and resolve disputes.

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