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In 1951, Caltech students Stan Wilks and Dave Twining watch the glow of an early morning atomic bomb test at the Nevada Test Site, seen from Mount Wilson, about 300 miles away. During the 1950s, 120 Nevada atomic bomb tests were conducted, about half of them in the dark early morning hours, giving Los Angeles, even though 300 miles away, more than 50 early morning "atomic sunrises."
A 1920 Los Angeles Tuberculosis Association health camp for Los Angeles girls in San Gabriel Canyon, north of Azusa. Much of the camp funding came from the Junior Red Cross. Notice the diversity.
In World War II, the Germans were said to call it der gabelschwanz-teufel (the fork-tailed devil) and the Japanese ni hikōki, ippairotto (two planes, one pilot). It had long range and fearsome firepower and, under best conditions, was one of the fastest fighter aircraft in the world. Here, in 1942, a P-38 Lightning pursuit plane is prepared for delivery to the U.S. Army Air Corps in the test hangar of Burbank's Lockheed aircraft plant. More than 10,000 of these were built in Burbank by the end of the war.
Circa 1930. Shoeshine boys working in the Old Plaza in Los Angeles (now El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument).
Circa 1907-1914. Postcard promoting Southern California's beautiful winter weather and scenery in what would later be known as Lincoln Park in Los Angeles. This image is from our collection of more than 600 vintage postcards about Los Angeles County (1906-1960) that we will soon bring online in a permanent digital exhibit. More information here.
1942. Two women meet on a Hollywood street. Their skirts were a bit shorter than pre-war styles in order to preserve more fabric for the war effort (and cuffs disappeared from men's trousers). Angelenos in 1942 were facing two and a half years of uncertainty and hardships from rationing as America entered World War II. The Los Angeles metropolitan area, however, would become the fastest growing in the United States. Its giant aircraft industry was now flush with government contracts. Women and African Americans were finding industrial jobs in large numbers. Military personnel began streaming into Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Yet, new tensions also flared with the Latino community, stoked by visiting servicemen. Whole neighborhoods disappeared as 80,000 Angelenos of Japanese ancestry were ordered to internment camps by the government (two thirds of all interned Japanese Americans were from the Los Angeles area). More than 5,000 Angelenos would ultimately lose their lives in the war. 1942 Los Angeles was a new boom town, but not without new shame and pain.
1908. At this time, Venice, California, was an independent city (annexed by the City of Los Angeles in 1926). The Abbot Kinney Pier or Venice Pier pictured here opened in 1906 at the foot of Windward Avenue, featuring a dance hall (seen at upper left). By 1910, the pier was an amusement destination with a minature railway, aquarium, game booths, rides and sideshows (such as the "Hugo the Monster" attraction). A ferris wheel and roller coaster were later added. Unfortunately, just days before Christmas 1920, a gas heater in the dance hall exploded, igniting a fire that ultimately destroyed the pier.
1890. Santa Monica Monica Beach visitors. It wasn't until the 1930s that beach swimwear began fully exposing arms, legs, necklines and some portion of the back. Even men did not go shirtless in the water until then.
Circa 1905. A portrait of Chinese laborers in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles. At the time, persons of Chinese descent numbered about 4,000 in Los Angeles. About five years earlier, the Boxer Rebellion, a violent anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian revolt in China, was renounced by Chinese in Los Angeles. Also in 1905, Sun Yat-Sen, a physician educated in the U.S. and leader in the campaign to establish a republic in China, visits Los Angeles.
1925. Introduced professionally into Southern California in the early 1890s, baseball went on to be widely played throughout Southern California in the early 20th Century by neighborhood teams such as the Boyle Heights Stars.
1969. Chicano Moratorium Committee demonstrators outside a military recruiting office on Broadway in Los Angeles. Protestors charged that young Latinos were disproportionately dying in the Vietnam War even as grievances of injustice and discrimination continued back home.
1911. California's first all-woman jury in Los Angeles County hears charges against a newspaper editor for printing indecent language.
Circa 1918. Portrait of an unidentified African American family, taken on the steps of their Los Angeles home. African Americans in Los Angeles County, like African Americans everywhere else in the country, faced no small amount of racism, but overt discrimination was generally not as bad in Los Angeles as in most other places in the country. In fact, the first African American elected to a state legislature in the Western U.S., Frederick M. Roberts, was elected from Los Angeles to the California Assembly in 1918 – and not solely by African American voters.
Circa 1944. Rail passengers stream into Union Station in Los Angeles (then known as Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal). Opened in 1939, the station was the latest but last built of America’s great train stations and, not long thereafter, experienced a massive surge in rail passengers during the war years (1941-1945). There were not only large numbers of military personnel transiting through Los Angeles but also new arrivals seeking work in Southern California's bustling war industries.
Circa 1884. An open stage coach parked outside the Pico House in Los Angeles. At the time, Pico House was the most elegant hotel in Southern California. Pico House remains a part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in Downtown Los Angeles.
1942. Two "Rosie the Riveters" lunch together at the Douglas Aircraft Plant in Long Beach. Nacelle parts for heavy bombers are in the background. Among the types of aircraft built by these women were the B-17F ("Flying Fortress") heavy bomber, the A-20 ("Havoc") assault bomber and the C-47 heavy transport plane.
Class of 1895, Los Angeles High School. The high school, founded in 1873, is Los Angeles County's oldest public high school. One young women in the photo, then Alice G. Hall (later Alice G. Harrison), 63 years later left her entire estate to her beloved school. Her legacy trust today continues to support the school and its students.
1942. Newly arrived young woman in Hollywood, possibly aspiring for movie stardom, waiting on the street for a bus.
1914. African-American Los Angeles firemen of Hose Company Number 4 pose in front of their station at 129 S. Loma Drive (Westlake).
Circa 1886. Don Antonio Coronel (Los Angeles mayor, 1853-1854) playing guitar to his wife, Dona Mariana Coronel.
1979. Then former California Governor Ronald Reagan and President Gerald Ford meet in the President’s Suite at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.
1910. Portrait of a Los Angeles African American family. Parents Jerry and Henrietta, children Jerry Jr., Grace, Sterling.
Circa 1884. A group of children pose outside an early private school at the Mission San Fernando near Los Angeles.
Circa 1905. Downtown Los Angeles traffic. The view is on Spring Street, looking north from 4th Street.
From the early mission period through the 1860s, Mestizo and Native American vaqueros managed huge herds of cattle and horses across the ranchos of Los Angeles County. The scene portrayed above is believed by some to depict ranchero Ignacio del Valle at a cattle round-up at his Rancho Camulos that covered what is now Newhall.
1973. Youngsters relaxing at a Marina del Rey beach create a Christmas tree from a discarded tree and litter.
1941. Newspapers about Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor sold in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles on December 7. Less than three months later, persons of Japanese ancestry were ordered "evacuated" to "relocation" camps.
Circa 1942. Dora Miles and Dorothy Johnson assembling World War II bombers and transports in Long Beach for Douglas Aircraft Company.
1915. Newsboys seven-year-old "Red" (left) and nine-year-old brother on street in Los Angeles near Southern Pacific Depot. The older brother was said to be the "boss fighter of 5th Street.".
1920. Pianist Gertrude Ross and singer Anna Ruzena Sprotte conducted the first music performance at the site that would become the Hollywood Bowl. They arranged for the piano and platform to be trucked into the bowl-shaped canyon that was then called Daisy Dell.
Circa 1930s. First African American Los Angeles County Deputy, Julius Loving, flanked by two other African American deputies (R.C. Robinson and the other unidentified). Appointed in 1899, Julius Loving (center) became the first African American Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy. He also became a jail innovator with a jail store and training and arts programs for inmates.
Circa 1920s. Grand Central Market in Downtown Los Angeles celebrated its 100th Birthday, October 2017.
July 4, 1902. Passengers boarding an electric railcar in Long Beach on opening day for the Pacific Electric Railway.
1942. Because of Executive Order 9066, a Japanese-American family waits for a train in Los Angeles to take them to the Manzanar Relocation Center in the Owens Valley.
1904. The entire Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) posing in front of the Old County Courthouse.
Note Lucy Gray in front (dark dress) with daughter Aletha Gilbert. Matron Gray was the first female LAPD employee who primarily handled female prisoners.
1970. Long Beach State students, as part of the growing Chicano movement or El Movimiento, perform anti-war guerilla street theatre.
1925. One of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department "Night Squads.” These detective units responded to early morning major crimes during the 1920s. Old County Courthouse in background.
Visit our Historical Timeline of Los Angeles County for more historical images.