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It is rocket science

Oranges. Oil. Movies. Surfing. Space flight. L.A.'s tangled history is tough to sum up.

December 03, 2006|Vicki Gallay | Times Staff Writer



1841 William Wolfskill planted the first local commercial orange groves on 2 acres east of what is now Alameda Street in downtown Los Angeles.

1881 On Dec. 4, the Los Angeles Times began publication as the Los Angeles Daily Times. The first issue was four pages and cost 1 cent.

1886 The price of a train ticket between Kansas City and Los Angeles dropped to $1, sparking a major influx of visitors and newcomers to Southern California.

1890 Real-estate developers and members of Pasadena's high society held the first Rose Parade, complete with horse-drawn carriages covered with flowers.

* Edwin T. Earl invented the refrigerated railcar with ventilating devices that enabled the shipping of oranges to the East Coast.

1892 Edward L. Doheny and Charles A. Canfield started digging for oil near Echo Park. They hit pay dirt in 1893.

1893 The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce organized the Semi-Tropic Fruit Exchange, subsequently called the Southern California Fruit Exchange, to systemize the marketing of oranges across the nation.

1895 The first saber-toothed tiger fossil was found at Rancho La Brea -- the site later known as the La Brea Tar Pits.




1905 With 5,000 grower members, representing 45% of California's citrus industry, the Southern California Fruit Exchange was renamed the California Fruit Growers Exchange. Three years later, exchange growers began their first major advertising campaign, coining a new brand name for their fruit: Sunkist. The Sunkist name was adopted for use on the highest quality oranges.

1907 Rodeo Drive, one of Beverly Hills' most famous thoroughfares, was constructed.

* George Freeth, an Anglo-Hawaiian, introduced surfing to California at Redondo Beach.




1910 For the first time, Hollywood purchased the rights to a novel from a publisher, making a deal with Little, Brown & Co. for Helen Hunt Jackson's "Ramona." The fee was $100.

1914 With the success of D.W. Griffith's film "The Birth of a Nation," Los Angeles became the center of the motion picture industry.

* The new Los Angeles Port opened in San Pedro.




1921 A national advertising campaign promoted Southern California as equally delightful in the summer as in the winter. The All-Year Club of Southern California had as its executive chairman Harry Chandler, president and general manager of the Los Angeles Times.

* Simon Rodia, an unemployed Italian immigrant welder, began work on what would be known as the Watts Towers. He completed the project in 1954.

1922 The Hollywood Bowl opened, hosting its first performance and its first Easter sunrise service.

1924 On March 17, four Douglas airplanes departed on the first round-the-world flight, helping Southern California become a center for aircraft production.

* On the crest of Mt. Washington, five miles from downtown Los Angeles, the international headquarters of the Self-Realization Fellowship was established by Paramahansa Yogananda. He lived and worked at the center for nearly 30 years, making his lectures, writings and recorded talks available worldwide.

1927 Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford became the first stars to put their footprints and handprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

* The downtown Tower Theater was the first Los Angeles motion picture house equipped with Movietone, a process that synchronized pictures with sound. The theater opened at 8th Street and Broadway with the film "What Price Glory?"




1930 A Mexican marketplace opened as a tourist attraction on Olvera Street, part of an effort to revive downtown Los Angeles' rundown historic core.

* Mines Field -- the future LAX -- was dedicated and opened as the official airport for Los Angeles.

1932 Howard Hughes founded Hughes Aircraft as a division of Hughes Tool Co. (Toolco) in Burbank.

1934 Writer and social activist Upton Sinclair began his unsuccessful run for the governorship, championing the EPIC (End Poverty in California) cause. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. described the smear tactics of Sinclair's opposition as the "first all-out public relations Blitzkrieg in American politics."

1935 The Farmers Market opened at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles' Fairfax district.

* On Dec. 17, the Douglas Aircraft Co. rolled out the DC-3. The plane would later become a workhorse during World War II.

1936 The Wilmington oil field started producing. Currently, it is the fifth-largest oil field in the state.

* Caltech students and coworkers tested their first liquid propellant rocket motor. Their work led to the creation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

1937 Amelia Earhart of Toluca Lake vanished in the Pacific while attempting a round-the-world flight.

1938 On the beach in Santa Monica, a group of acrobats, gymnasts, bodybuilders and recreational athletes began gathering to enjoy the sun and fresh air. Soon, the area -- nicknamed Muscle Beach -- would become the most celebrated center of physical culture in Southern California.

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