The Tongva and Chumash Native American tribes were the first to occupy Los Angeles thousands of years ago. 1542 saw the arrival of the first Europeans led by Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. 227 years later on August 2, 1769, Gaspar de Portola and Juan Crespi a Franciscan missionary, arrived at the present site of Los Angeles.
In 1771, Junipero Serra constructed the Mission San Gabriel Archangel in what is today known as San Gabriel Valley. Six years later Felipe de Neve who was the then governor of California suggested that the present site of Los Angeles be developed into a pueblo and on September 4, 1781 the town was officially founded and named as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula (The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels on the Porciúncula River). The settlers who came to live there were known as the Los Pobladores and a major proportion of them had Italian and African ancestry. By 1820, the town saw the number of its residents increase to 650.
Los Angeles was made the capital of Alta California during the Mexican rule, under Governor Pio Pico. Later during the Mexican-American War, Americans seized control of the land from the Californios ending Mexican Rule over the region, and resulting in the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga in 1847.
In 1892 oil was discovered in Los Angeles and by 1923, the city became a major contributor to the world’s petroleum.
The population of Los Angeles all the while was growing and by 1900, the number had reached 102,000, exerting a pressure on the city’s water supply. Under the directions of William Mulholland, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was constructed by 1913, thereby easing that pressure.
The motion picture and aviation industries grew in the 1920s, and in 1932, the city played host to the Summer Olympics. In 1984 the city hosted the Summer Olympics again and it was billed as the most financially successful one in history, despite it being boycotted by 14 Communist countries.
The remaining decades of the 20th Century saw the construction of many skyscrapers in Los Angeles, the arrival of heavy metal music, an increase in drug trades and gang warfare, racial tensions, and the Northridge earthquake which resulted in 72 deaths and damages worth $12.5 billion.