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Trekking back to the birth of L.A.

September 01, 2006

An 8.6-by descendants of Los Angeles' settlers will form the centerpiece of historic reenactments, music and celebrations to mark the 225th anniversary of the city's founding on Sept. 4, 1781. In this final installment of a yearlong series of graphics leading up to the anniversary, here is a look at the festivities planned through Monday:

Spain claims land: Explorer Juan Cabrillo sails into the Bay of San Pedro and claims the area for the Spanish crown.

Founding of pueblo: Gov. Felipe de Neve recruits 44 pobladores, or settlers, who create a pueblo in a Tongva Indian area. Within five years, land grants lead to a few ranchos and a cattle industry. (City pop.: 44)

City of Los Angeles: Elevated from a pueblo to a city, Los Angeles is designated the capital of Alta California, Mexico's northern-most region. Breakup of the missions expands the rancho system. By 1836, the population would grow to 2,228. It later would drop.


Statehood: California becomes a state two years after the U.S. annexes Alta California. L.A.'s cattle business booms. Crime is rampant. (City pop.: 1,610)

Revival: A Mexican marketplace opens as a tourist attraction on Olvera Street, to revive the run-down historic core. (City pop.: 1,238,048)


The 225th city founding celebration at the historic core

Background: To assure Spain's 18th century claim to the land and provide food for its military outposts, Gov. Felipe de Neve decided to create agricultural settlements at what would become San Jose in the north and Los Angeles.

The story: The Spanish governor drew up plans for the southern pueblo on Tongva Indian lands, offering money and property to several farming families from Sonora who agreed to join. He met with the 11 men, 11 women and 22 children at San Gabriel Mission and set out Sept. 4, 1781 to found el Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles.

The outcome: The modest, easily flooded adobe town center was changed and relocated over time. What in 1790 was 28 households and 139 people grew within a decade to 70 households and 315 people. Today, it is a city of nearly 4 million people at the heart of one of the world's top 10 metropolitan areas.

Free bus transportation: Pickup and drop-off point for walk participants to San Gabriel is at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Main Street. First pickup begins at 5:15 a.m. and every 20 minutes until 6 a.m., back to San Gabriel, 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Olvera Street: Named after Agustin Olvera, L.A. County's first judge (1877)

Avila Adobe: The 1818 in-town house of the Rancho La Cienega own-ers, Heavily damaged by the 1971 Sylmar quake, it was rebuilt and opened as a museum in 1977.


To learn more:



Monday's walks

Each year, descendants of the original settlers reenact the journey from San Gabriel Mission to El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. This year as many as 3,000 people are expected.

There will be two walks and a procession. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to join settlers' descendants for the 8.6-mile traditional leg, starting from San Gabriel Mission, 428 S. Mission Drive, San Gabriel. A rally will kick off the walk at 6:45 a.m., with actor Tony Plana as master of ceremonies.

People on the three-mile course will join the rest of the walkers at Lincoln Park, 3501 Valley Blvd., about 9 a.m.

Finally, the procession, including other public officials, will join the main march at 10 a.m. near Alameda Street and Cesar Chavez Boulevard. To join the walk or get more city information, go to:


The anniversary celebrations

At El Pueblo Historic Monument, 125 Paseo de la Plaza


10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Festivities include appearances by Mexican singer Pepe Aguilar and Mickey Mouse; performances by Xipe Totec, Mariachi Infantil, folk dancers and Bobby Rodriguez's Latin Big Band.

At San Gabriel Mission

Marking the 235th anniversary of the founding of the mission, a celebration will take place on the grounds from a 6 p.m. bell-ringing ceremony tonight through Sunday night. Mission ground events also include:


9 a.m. Children's and pets costume contest.

10:30 a.m. Blessing of the animals.

11 a.m. - 4 p.m. History reenactments in mission gardens.

4:30 p.m. History reception: Los Pobladores 200, with members of an association of descendants of the original L.A. settlers.

6 p.m. Birthday cake celebration.


9:30 Founders' Memorial Mass in the old mission church.

11 a.m. - 4 p.m. History reenactments in mission gardens

11:15 p.m. Closing ceremonies.

For more information, call the mission office at (626) 457-3035 or go to:


Sources: City of Los Angeles, USC Information Services Division, San Gabriel Mission, Los Pobladores 200, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. Graphics reporting by Cheryl Brownstein-Santiago, Lorena Iniguez

Recent regional explainer graphics are available at

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