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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

1939 Nathanael West published his novel "The Day of the Locust," a pessimistic look at Los Angeles. Raymond Chandler published the first of his Philip Marlowe detective novels, "The Big Sleep." John Fante published his landmark Los Angeles novel, "Ask the Dust."




1940 On Dec. 30, a 6-mile stretch of the Arroyo Seco Parkway -- now the Pasadena Freeway -- opened, becoming the first freeway in the Western United States.

1942 A federal program brought Mexican agricultural laborers -- braceros -- into Los Angeles to make up for wartime labor shortages. The program ended in 1964.

1946 The first Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor opened in Glendale after Irwin Robbins became partners with his brother-in-law Burton Baskin.

* Kaiser Community Homes started building three-bedroom, single-family tract housing in Westchester, part of West L.A., North Hollywood and Ontario for veterans returning from World War II. The builders completed 10 new houses a day.

1947 The "Hollywood Ten" were charged with contempt of Congress for their refusal to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

* Elizabeth Short -- the "Black Dahlia" -- was murdered, in a gruesome case that sparked sensational press coverage and remains unsolved to this day.

* Paramount Pictures' experimental station W6XYZ became the first commercially licensed television station west of the Mississippi. The call letters were changed to KTLA, and Bob Hope announced the first broadcast.

1948 In-N-Out Burger became California's first drive-through hamburger stand when it opened in Baldwin Park.

1949 In September, Billy Graham introduced his evangelistic ministry to Los Angeles. The revival meetings were held in a huge tent at Washington Boulevard and Hill Street.




1950 The largest private land development in the nation began just north of Long Beach, with a plan for the 17,150-home community of Lakewood.

1951 Jack LaLanne, fitness guru, brought exercise to television.

1952 CBS built "Television City," the first studio designed exclusively for video production, on Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax district.

1955 On July 17, Disneyland opened with 28,154 visitors.

1958 At its San Gabriel plant, Wham-O manufactured a plastic hoop in a variety of bright colors, and the hula hoop was born. About 25 million were sold in four months.

1959 The movie "Gidget" promoted surfer chic.




1968 On March 1, the Brown Berets planned and participated in the East L.A. "walkouts" or "blow outs," in which thousands of students left their classrooms to demonstrate for quality education for Latinos.

* On June 5, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a candidate for president, was shot at the Ambassador Hotel after celebrating his victory in the California Democratic primary. He died the following day.




1972 The gang the Bloods began to form as a rival to the Crips. Throughout the 1970s, tension between the Bloods and Crips grew, as did the number of gangs. In 1974, there were 70 gang-related homicides in Los Angeles, and by 1978, there were 45 Crips gangs in the city and 15 Bloods gangs.




1980 The late Mark Hughes started Herbalife out of the trunk of his car. The health-product company later moved to a small storefront in Beverly Hills before eventually growing into a billion-dollar enterprise.

1982 Wolfgang Puck opened Spago in West Hollywood.

* The Valley Girl craze swept the country, fueled by a spoof song from Frank and Moon Unit Zappa.

1988-91 Latino amnesty: A million illegal immigrants, including 318,000 agricultural laborers, got legal status.

1989 Junk bond dealer Michael Milken was indicted in federal court on racketeering charges.




1991 The police beating of motorist Rodney King was videotaped by a local resident in Lake View Terrace.

1993 The last original Bob's Big Boy, on Riverside Drive in Burbank, was declared a State Point of Historical Interest.

* Citywalk opened at Universal Studios.

1994 On Jan. 17, a magnitude 6.6 Northridge earthquake rocked Southern California, with property damage in the billions of dollars.

1997 The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Pathfinder project provided close-up photographs from Mars.

* The Getty Center opened in the Santa Monica Mountains area of Los Angeles.




2002 The Grove retail and restaurant complex opened next to the Farmers Market in L.A.'s Fairfax district.

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