June 15th, 2008

A Trip to Los Angeles

by Don

At a California race track in the 1860s, a gifted English eccentric named Eadweard Muybridge set up a row of cameras with shutters tripped by wires and successfully took the first serial photographs of a horse ranning. This was the beginning of the motion picture industry, which quickly progressed with the development of a camera using cel-luloid film and a projection device for screening 10-minute films. The first American motion picture studios were located in New York, but when Thomas Edison attempted to gain a monopoly on the industry in 1909 by claiming patents on many of the technical elements involved, a number of independent producers moved their studios to a suburb of southern California where they could flee to Mexico if faced with legal injunctions. in a few short years, Hollywood became the movie capital of America, if not the world.

Today, Los Angeles is home to countless studios in the motion picture, television, radio and recording fields, and the amire of Hollywood endures, the city’s landmark buildings and beaches having appeared in countless films and television shows över the years. Los Angeles is the second largest U.S. city in both population and area, and is one of the nation’s busiest ports and a leading producer of a huge range of goods, from aerospace equipment to household furniture, but in the public con-sciousness it is first and foremost the home of Hollywood. Back in the 18th century, America’s future entertainment capital was a cattle-ranch-ing center and capital of the Spanish colonial province Alto California. Founded in 1781 as The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula, the settlement was captured from the Mexicans by U.S. forces in 1846. Los Angeles enjoyed steady growth following the com-pletion of two intercontinental railroads and the discovery of oil in the late 1800s. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 spurred the growth of its port, and the city boomed during World War II, when thousands of African-Americans arrived to fiil factory jobs. Growth continued after the war, and the expanding city absorbed surrounding communities. The influx of immigrants of various ethnic backgrounds, including Hispanics and Asians, created a cosmopolitan and sprawling metropolis that now encompasses five counties and över 15 million people. The only majör U.S. city without a public transportation sys-tem, Greater Los Angeles is a land of freeways, cars and traffic conges-tion. The dense smog this creates, however, has not dulled the glamour and glitz of Tinseltown.

Getting Around – Los Angeles Harbor, situated in San Pedro Bay, is one of the world’s greatest manmade harbors, built with breakwaters, channels, piers and wharves. Downtown Los Angeles is 21 miles due north of Los Angeles Harbor, and Hollywood is 7 miles northwest of downtown. The Los Angeles International Airport is about 20 miles from Los Angeles Harbor.

Shopping & Dining – Beverly Hills’ three-block stretch of Rodeo Drive between Santa Monica and Wilshire Boulevard is L.A.’s most famous shopping strip. in addition to the specialty stores and fashion boutiques on Rodeo Drive and surrounding streets, department stores in the vicinity include Barneys New York, Neiman-Marcus, Robinsons-May and Saks Fifth Avenue, ali located on Wilshire Boulevard. Other shopping venues in the L.A. area include the seaside community of Santa Monica where the pedestrian-only 3rd Street Promenade is lined with boutiques and restaurants.

Beaches – The reclusive, and exclusive, resort area of Malibu is where many of the show business stars own homes along a beach escarpment overlooking Santa Monica Bay. Santa Monica, south of Malibu, has three miles of oceanfront beach. Its famous pier, with its 46-horse carousel, was built in 1906 and has appeared in numerous films, including The Sting. The main attraction at Venice City Beach is the mile-and-a-half boardwalk, dotted with street entertainers and bustling with cyclists and rollerbladers. Just south of the beach is Marina Del Rey, an enormous man-made marina.

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