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.
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.
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 6,000 buildings are damaged or destroyed. Property damage estimates come to $40 million. The Los Angeles Dodgers defeat the Minnesota Twins to win another World Series.
Rioting again erupts in the troubled Watts District. The Los Angeles Zoo opens. Busch Gardens opens.
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.
Carson is incorporated as a city. 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.
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 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. The anti-Vietnam War Chicano Moratorium march at Laguna Park (present-day Ruben Salazar Park) in East Los Angeles erupts into a riot after police attempt to disperse the crowd with tear gas. Three are left dead, 60 are injured, and $1 million worth of property is damaged. A police tear gas projectile fired into a nearby bar during the confrontation kills 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Los Angeles experiences severe flooding and mudslides.