This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

When Los Angeles was called El Pueblo


If you're fan of Los Angeles history, you know that the full name of LA is "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora, la Reina de los Angeles" (the town of our Lady the Queen of the Angels) and that it was named by Spain.

I just finished reading the book "Two Years Before the Mast", and while I can't recommend it as a thrilling page-turner, for someone like me who's interested in California history, it's wonderful. It's just the ordinary day-to-day life of a young man on a ship that sails from Boston, Massachusetts to California in 1835-36. At that time, California was owned by Mexico (they had kicked the Spanish out), but of course the language of the land was still Spanish. The author, who was just doing a couple of years of adventuring before he went to college, describes in wonderful detail what the coast of California was like then, from San Diego to San Francisco. But what really caught my eye was when he was talking about the area that I know about - Los Angeles.

Well, he didn't call it Los Angeles, he called it El Pueblo. When the ship stopped at San Pedro, he mentions going up to El Pueblo. The harbor at San Pedro is still there, and for reference, El Pueblo in 1835 would be downtown Los Angeles.

Interestingly enough, in the chapter after the end of the book, called 24 Years After the Mast, he visits California again in 1859, when it was part of the United States. I noticed that he calls El Pueblo Los Angeles at that time. He was in his forties on his second trip, so probably only the old-timers were still using the name El Pueblo. So it's fair to say that it's been Los Angeles since 1859, and probably the whole time that it's been part of the United States.

His son added a chapter in 1911, called Seventy-Five Years After the Mast, and it's fascinating to see the changes that California went through so quickly. Based on what he and his father had seen, he wonders about the future of California, and imagines that it's going to grow a lot. He was right!


Image at the top of this post, El Pueblo, California, now known as LA.

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