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Los Angeles County
1963 to 1979

Buildings burn on Avalon Boulevard in Watts during the riots, 1965. Courtesy of New York World-Telegram.

America's New Big City


The first African Americans, Billy G. Mills, Gilbert W. Lindsey and Tom Bradley, are elected to the Los Angeles City Council. The Los Angeles Dodgers sweep the New York Yankees to win the World Series. Leslie N. Shaw is appointed Postmaster General of Los Angeles and becomes the first African American appointed as such for a major American city. Aerospace ranks for the first time in Los Angeles as the leading industry. The Vincent Thomas Bridge opens, connecting San Pedro with Terminal Island. The Baldwin Hills Dam suffers a catastrophic failure, releasing the Baldwin Hills Reservoir into the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Five people die in the flood and 277 homes are destroyed. The story is covered live on television from Los Angeles station KTLA’s helicopter, making it the first news event in history covered live on television from the air.

Vincent Thomas Bridge. Photo courtesy of Tucker Axum III.


Hawaiian Gardens and Lomita are incorporated as cities. The Music Center for the Performing Arts opens. The Southern California Rapid Transit District (RTD) is established. Buses become the only mode of rapid transit adopted. The Bracero Program, an effort begun in 1942 to bring in laborers from Mexico, ends.

Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. Photo by Tavo Olvos & the Historic American Buildings Survey, courtesy of Library of Congress.


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art opens. An incident at a traffic stop involving a white LAPD officer and an African American man ignites into a riot in the predominantly African American community of Watts that lasts for six days. 34 people are killed (31 by police gunfire), 1,032 are injured, 3,952 are arrested, and 600 buildings are damaged or destroyed. Property damage estimates come to $40 million ($323 million, 2019 value). The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Minnesota Twins to win another World Series.

California National Guard direct traffic away from riot-affected areas of South-Central Los Angeles during Watts Riots. Courtesy of National Guard Education Foundation.


Rioting again erupts in the troubled Watts District. The Los Angeles Zoo opens. Busch Gardens opens.

Entrance to the Los Angeles Zoo. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.


At midnight, New Year's Eve, Los Angeles police raid LGBTQ Bars Black Cat Tavern and New Faces in Silver Lake and beat up and arrest a number of patrons. On Feb. 11, the incident leads to the largest organized LGBTQ protest in U.S. history until that date as 200 demonstrators protest the police abuses outside the Black Cat Tavern. The Forum is opened. The Los Angeles Kings professional hockey team is formed. The passenger liner Queen Mary docks at its new home in Long Beach. The Mark Taper Forum opens. The City of Los Angeles Department of Airports signs an agreement with the City of Ontario (California) to officially make Ontario International Airport a part of Los Angeles' regional airport system.

The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.


Carson is incorporated as a city. Latino students from high schools in the East Los Angeles area (Wilson, Garfield, Roosevelt, Belmont, Lincoln and Jefferson) and Venice High School stage the largest mass protests by high schoolers in American history to protest poor treatment of schools with large Latino populations. The events become known as the East L.A. Walkouts. A month later, 13 walkout organizers are arrested and charged with disrupting public schools. Senator Robert Kennedy, the Democratic candidate for president, is assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel ballroom as he celebrates his victory in the California Democratic primary. The first congregation of the Metropolitan Community Church, a religious denomination that affirmed LGBT people, is founded in Los Angeles by Troy Perry.

Wounded Robert F. Kennedy Attended at Ambassador Hotel, 1968

Senator Robert F. Kennedy, wounded, on the floor comforted by busboy Juan Romero to the left. Los Angeles, June 5, 1968.
Still from film by the U.S. Secret Service, courtesy of the National Archives.


Floods and mudslides cause 91 deaths and $400 million in damage. The Los Angeles Times wins a Pulitzer gold medal for its investigation of city corruption. After 68 years of operation, Angels Flight Railway ceases operations. Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty wins re-election against opponent Tom Bradley in a racially charged campaign. Actress Sharon Tate and six others are found brutally murdered. Charles Manson and six of his followers are tried for the murders a year later. Manson and three female followers are convicted and receive death sentences. Their sentences are never carried out in the wake of California’s later retreat from capital punishment. The first message is sent over the ARPANET from UCLA to Stanford Research Institute, giving birth to the internet.

Internet, ARPANET, UCLA, Los Angeles, 1969

ARPANET processor and terminal at UCLA in 1969. Photo from Michael Wingfield Collection in Kleinrock Internet History Center repository at UCLA Library.


The U.S. Census records 2,816,061 people in the City of Los Angeles and 7,032,075 people for all Los Angeles County. TWA begins flying the first wide-bodied jet service (Boeing 747s) out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) between L.A. and New York. The Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center is established in Lincolns Heights in the closed Lincoln Park and its decayed boathouse. The center’s founding was led by actress Margo Albert and trade union activist Frank Lopez. Lopez’s wife, Ann Lopez, is said to have raised the $36 for the non-profit incorporation fee by knitting and selling a poncho. From 20,000 to 30,000 people march down Whittier Boulevard as part of the anti-Vietnam War Chicano Moratorium to rally at Laguna Park (present-day Ruben Salazar Park) in East Los Angeles. At some point, police declare the demonstration an illegal assembly and attempt to disperse the crowd with tear gas. Angry demonstrators respond by clashing with police and destroying nearby commercial properties. Four people are killed by police, 60 injured, and $1 million worth of property is damaged. A police tear gas projectile fired into a nearby bar during the confrontation kills award-winning journalist and television newsman Ruben Salazar. A strike by Los Angeles City schoolteachers paralyzes the school system for four and a half weeks. Superior Court Judge Albert Gietelson sets September 1971 as the deadline for Los Angeles City schools to become fully desegregated. Judge Gietelson later faces an assassination attempt and is then defeated for re-election. His court edict continued to stand. The Los Angeles Fire Department puts its first paramedic ambulance into service at Fire Station 53 in San Pedro. Later this year, all City of Los Angeles ambulances are transferred to the fire department.

Long Beach State students, as part of the growing Chicano movement or El Movimiento, perform anti-war guerilla street theatre, 1970.
The group, "El Teatro Popular de la Vida y Muerte," were performing at the 1970 Chicano Moratorium in East Los Angeles when police began tear-gassing demonstrators.
Photo by Manuel B. Herrera Jr., La Raza Magazine.


A 6.6-magnitude earthquake centered in Sylmar causes 65 deaths and $505 million in damage. Another Great Bel Air Fire consumes 84 luxury homes. The Chrysler auto plant in the City of Commerce closes. The Palmdale Air Terminal is dedicated and opens air service into Palmdale.

Collapsed highway overpass following 1971 San Fernando earthquake. Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey.


The Los Angeles County/Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center opens. An archeological Indian village site is discovered on the Long Beach State University campus. The Los Angeles Lakers defeat the New York Knicks to win their first NBA championship. Monty Manibog, a Filipino American attorney who, besides being the first Filipino American to pass the bar in the U.S., is elected to the Monterey Park City Council and becomes the first Filipino American elected to office in the U.S. Realtor Fred Hsieh begins buying properties in Monterey Park for resale to Chinese immigrants, beginning the evolution of the San Gabriel Valley into America's "Suburban Chinatown."

Player Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers (and future coach & general manager), 1972. Photo by Malcolm W. Emmons & The Sporting News Archives via Wikimedia Commons.


Rancho Palos Verdes is incorporated as a city. Despite yet another racially charged campaign, Los Angeles City Councilman Tom Bradley defeats incumbent Sam Yorty to become the first American non-Anglo to become mayor of the City of Los Angeles. Los Angeles experiences the Simi Valley Earthquake. Loyola University and Marymount University merge to form Loyola-Marymount University.

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, 1973-1993. Photo courtesy of Brody2786 via Wikimedia Commons.


Attempting to capture the kidnappers of heiress Patty Hearst, police surround and storm a Southeast Los Angeles house on East 54th Street occupied by Symbionese Liberation Army members. After a furious televised gunfight, the house catches fire (probably due to tear gas canister) and burns to the ground. One SLA member is killed by police outside the house and five other bodies are found in the ashes, having died from burns, smoke inhalation and gunshot wounds. Patty Hearst is not among them. The incident ranks among the most ferocious police gunfights in U.S. history with a total of 9,000 rounds exchanged (5,000 from police and 4,000 from SLA members). No police officers are injured. The Los Angeles Ballet is established. The Los Angeles City Council eliminates "sexist" titles from city jobs. The J. Paul Getty Museum moves to Malibu.

Getty Villa in Malibu. Los Angeles Almanac Photo.


The LAPD agrees to destroy secret files that were kept on 5,500 citizens. Emperor Hirohito of Japan visits Los Angeles. The Big Tujunga Fire burns almost 47,000 acres. The Southern California Air Quality Management District (AQMD) is formed. The Pacific Design Center (the Blue Whale) opens. The George C. Page Museum opens next to the La Brea Tar Pits. The first discovery in California of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly (Medfly), a serious agricultural pest, is made in Los Angeles. The fly was believed to have arrived via illegally imported contaminated fruit.

Entrance to La Brea Tar Pits Museum (George C. Page Museum). Los Angeles Almanac Photo.


La Cañada Flintridge is incorporated as a city. Los Angeles begins experimenting with freeway carpool lanes on the Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10). An oil tanker explodes in Los Angeles Harbor killing five people and injuring 50. Under the direction of artist Judith Baca, hundreds of teenage artists begin painting what would become the 2,435-foot-long mural "Great Wall of Los Angeles," a depiction of the history of Los Angeles painted along the concrete channel walls of the Tujunga Wash in North Hollywood. The project continues through seven more summers to 1983.

Freeway carpool lane. Photo courtesy of California Department of Transporation.


Lancaster is incorporated as a city. The Oakland Raiders (future Los Angeles Raiders) defeat the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Tommy Lasorda becomes manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Los Angeles television station KNBC’s “Telecopter,’ with pilot Francis Gary Powers and cameraman George Spears aboard, crashes in Encino, killing both men. Pilot error is determined to be the cause for the crash. Powers was the U2 spy plane pilot shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers Manager, 1976-1996. Photo by Phil Konstantin, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


La Habra Heights is incorporated as a city. Los Angeles area fires claim 40,000 acres and destroy 270 homes. Congress creates the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. Pasadena hosts its first Doo-Dah Parade. The Los Angeles Fire Department graduates its first three woman paramedics.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Photo courtesy of National Park Service.


Los Angeles experiences severe flooding and mudslides.