Happy Birthday, Los Angeles!

September 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Great Seal of the City of Los Angeles

The Great Seal of the City of Los Angeles

On this day in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de la Reina de los Angeles (The Town of Our Lady, Queen of Angels) was founded. You know it as Los Angeles, the second-largest city in the United States.

Despite having attained the age of 232, Los Angeles is still perceived as a “young” city, insufficiently historical and urban. Yet it is considerably older than Chicago (1883), America’s third-largest metropolis, a city that hasn’t been called young since Carl Sandburg’s time.

The subtext of “young” Los Angeles is that its Native American and Spanish (i.e., Mexican) periods somehow don’t count. To those who believe this, the City of Los Angeles began in 1847. But by that measure, the French origins of St. Louis (1764) would be discounted, as would the Dutch origins of New York (1625).

It’s time to realize that not all cities in the United States are modeled after European ones, or want to be. Los Angeles, the largest non-European city in the United States, reflects the New World in its architecture and Asia and Latin America in its vibrant, polyglot culture. Perhaps the 21st century will give it the respect it deserves.

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