From the ancient La Brea Tar Pits to the state-of-the-art TransformersTM: The Ride-3D, read on for a timeline of the incredible history of Los Angeles.
Circa 38, 000 BC - Los Angeles has been pulling in visitors for tens of thousands of years, as a future fossil is trapped inside what are now the historical La Brea Tar Pits.
Circa 8000 BC - Chumash people settle the Los Angeles basin.
Circa 300 BC - The Tataviam (later Fernandeno) people inhabit what is now the San Fernando Valley.
Circa 500 AD - Tongva Indians settle in the Los Angeles basin. Some accounts say they displaced the Chumash. By the 16th century, the region’s main village will be called Yang-Na, near present-day Los Angeles City Hall.
1542 - Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo navigates the coast of California. He calls present day San Pedro Bay the “Bay of Smokes.”
1602 - Sebastian Vizcaino of Spain explores the California coast and meets some of the locals.
1769 - Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola explores the area to open up a land route to the port of Monterey and establishes the first Spanish settlement in the area. The settlers name the local river Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula (River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula).
1771 - Father Junipero Serra establishes the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, later moved to the present-day city of San Gabriel.
1781 - A group of 11 families comprising 44 Mexicans settles by the river. Felipe de Neve, Governor of Spanish California, names the settlement El Pueblo Sobre el Rio de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula. The name is shortened rather quickly.
1797 - Father Fermin Lasuen founds Mission San Fernando, named for King Ferdinand of Spain. It later becomes home to the largest adobe structure in California, 30, 000 grape vines and 21, 000 head of livestock.
1805 - The first American trading ship arrives at San Pedro Bay, south of the Pueblo.
1821 - Mexico achieves independence from Spain.
1841 - History of Los Angeles’ first census shows a population of 141.
1842 - California’s first discovery of gold is made at Placerita Canyon, near Mission San Fernando, prompting LA’s first population boom.
1846 - Pio Pico is sworn in as governor of the California, in Los Angeles. Out-of-towners begin to mispronounce his name (it’s PEE-koh).
1847 - Battle of Rio San Gabriel. The United States takes control of Los Angeles. Treaty of Cahuenga is signed in the pass between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.
1848 - Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Mexico formally cedes California to the United States, and all residents are made U.S. citizens.
1849 - That other California Gold Rush. Settlers flood the state, creating great demand for beef from Los Angeles-area ranchos.
1850 - Los Angeles is incorporated as a municipality, and California becomes the 30th state in the union.
1852 - The Gilmore Adobe is built at the site of the current Original Farmers Market, where it still stands.
1854 - The first Jewish services in history of Los Angeles are held.
1855 - Los Angeles gets its first schoolhouse.
1865 - Civil War ends. African Americans begin heading to Los Angeles in significant numbers.
1865 - Los Angeles’ first college, St. Vincent’s (now Loyola Marymount University), is established. Today Los Angeles County has 42 colleges and universities.
1866 - Los Angeles Town Square is established; it will later be renamed Pershing Square.
1868 - The beginning of the famous nighttime view of Los Angeles, with the arrival of streetlights.
1869 - Southern California’s first railroad is constructed, connecting Downtown Los Angeles with San Pedro Bay, 21 miles away.
1870 - Whites outnumber Hispanics and Native Americans for the fist time in Los Angeles.
1871 - First rail link established between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
1871 - Isaac Newton Van Nuys buys 60, 000 acres of land in the southern San Fernando Valley.
1872 - Ventura County is established, ceded from a section of northwest Los Angeles County.
1872 - The Los Angeles branch of the First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church is established.
1873 - Hired by Southern Pacific rail baron Henry Huntington, journalist Charles Nordhoff writes the book California for Health, Pleasure and Residence. Today a street bears his name in the San Fernando Valley.
1873 - The city’s first synagogue in history is built.
1873 - The first trolley line in the city opens.
1873 - The seedless navel orange is introduced to California from Brazil.
1874 - Los Angeles gets its first streetcar. It’s horse-drawn. The first electrified streetcars will debut in 1887.
1876 - Cathedral of St. Vibiana opens.
1877 - Thanks to new refrigerated boxcar technology, California oranges cause a sensation in St. Louis. Agriculture begins to replace ranching as the mainstay of the local economy.
1878 - Los Angeles County Bar Association is established.
1880s - Citrus, wine grapes and other fruits and vegetables are grown in the Los Angeles area. The area of present-day Beverly Hills is largely bean fields, Hollywood is fig orchards.
1880 - Founding of the University of Southern California. Its sports teams are known as the Methodists or the Wesleyans until 1912, when a columnist wrote that they “fought like Trojans.” The name sticks.
1881 - The Los Angeles Times debuts as the Los Angeles Daily Times.
1881 - The Southern Pacific Railroad links Los Angeles directly with the eastern United States for the first time.
1881 - Los Angeles has its first recorded snowfall.
1880s - Westlake Park is built, later renamed MacArthur Park after the World War II general.
1883 - Los Angeles gets its first conservatory of music.
1885 - The Santa Fe Railroad opens a second line linking Los Angeles with the rest of the nation.
1886 - Harvey Henderson Wilcox purchases 160 acres of land west of the Cahuenga Pass for a planned residential community. He names it Hollywood, after the estate of an acquaintance of his wife, Daeida.
1886 - The price of a train ticket between Kansas City and Los Angeles falls to one dollar, prompting another population boom.
1889 - USC and St. Vincent’s College play the first college football game in Los Angeles.
1890 - Los Angeles population: 50, 000 (a new record in the history of LA).
1890 - The official flag of Los Angeles is designed.
1892 - Edward Doheny discovers oil at “Greasy Gulch, “ near Westlake Park. Soon oil is discovered all over the Los Angeles area.