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Los Angeles:
Knowing how L.A. became so unique

Los Angeles is truly a unique place. There is no other city like it.

This situation results from L.A.'s history—both from how it was located and from the settlement patterns that came after American rule.

Early California coastal cities under Spanish rule grew up adjacent to Roman Catholic mission churches with one notable exception.

Los Angeles located itself some 12 miles to the west of the spiritual influence of the San Gabriel Mission, and it has thumbed its nose at conventional behaviour ever since. This is part of what makes Los Angeles so interesting to visit.

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Once Los Angeles came under United States rule, order and stability still did not trump personal freedom, situation that never completely changed. L.A. was to a large degree lawless in its early days and compared to some cities remains somewhat so.

By this, we do not mean that there is more violent crime than in other large cities. It's just that there has been less government intrusion into individual lives.

After the exhausted Mexican Army defenders of California lost their final battle to a mixture of American soldiers and settlers, the Mexican residents of Los Angeles threw a multi day party—for both sides. This party to some extent has continued ever since.

As time passed, the arrival of the first transcontinental railroad to reach southern California brought a boom of transplants who stayed for the mild winter climate and opportunities in new industries.

Without the roots and the conventional behaviour fostered by lifetime neighbours, southern California culture became as open to change as any place in the world, and has remained so.

Unlike in the more staid eastern U.S., a remarkable tolerance for differences developed in the Los Angeles area. Here, to a large degree, one was able to do her or his "own thing" as long as it did not interfere with others.

(There are exceptions. For example, in the immediate Los Angeles area, you do not find the clothing-optional beaches so commonly found in Europe.)

Moreover, the economic and social class differentiation that ruled daily life in the eastern United States, Canada, and Europe had a much weaker influence here. People tend to group together because they share interests—not because they have similar size bank accounts. You see this today in Silicon Valley, as well as in southern California, although sadly this may be changing somewhat.

Today, of course, California values and behaviour are disseminated throughout the world by its entertainment industry, called just "the industry" in Los Angeles. As the southern California poet Richard Armour once wrote,

"So jump for joy
Be blithe and gay,
Or weep my friends with sorrow
For what California is today
The rest will be tomorrow"

Richard Armour may have been right. This can be frightening at times, but you have to know that a future based on California culture will always be interesting.

Dr. Voyageur guarantees that no one will ever be bored in southern California, one of the most fascinating urban areas in the world.

For more introduction to your L.A. area visit:

Go to >> Introduction to your visit
Go to >> Choosing your base
Go to >> Santa Monica
Go to >> Finding the perfect beach

For additional L.A. information:

Go to >> Off the beaten track L.A.
Go to >> L.A. at night
Go to >> Disneyland
Go to >> Links to the most useful information

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