This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Why Los Angeles is called the city of angels


If you speak a little Spanish, you know that the words "Los Angeles" means "The Angels". And if you're a serious history buff you know that the full name of the city is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles", which translates to English as "The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels".

As important a city as Los Angeles is now, it really wasn't very important when it was established as just another little town in New Spain in 1781. My research is showing that it mostly went by the name of El Pueblo (the town), and was occasionally referred to as Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is such a modern city nowadays that it's nearly impossible to imagine it as a little dusty pueblo, which it was. When I lived in Los Angeles in the 1980s people scoffed at me when I told them that Los Angeles was older than the nearest mall, or doughnut shop. I started with Hollywoodland, which was a subdivision built in the 1920s. When I lived in Santa Barbara, I visited the mission there, and also the one in Ventura. In the San Fernando Valley, I visited Los Encinos.

I've always been fascinated with Los Angeles. It's such a wildly complex place that I know that I'll never really be able to get my arms around it (as Raymond Chandler once said), but I'm going to try.

Image above: Los Angeles in 1873, the intersection of Main, 9th, and Spring Streets.


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