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California’s largest city is Los Angeles situated on the southwest coastal area of the state and ranks as the second largest city in the United States, next to New York City.  It grew rapidly, more than any other U.S. city, from 1850 with 1,600 people to 1.5 million in 1940 and 3.75 million in 2010.  Many people of Los Angeles County moved there from other parts of the U.S. or other countries.  They often seek good jobs, escape from political conflict, and are attracted to its scenic location, pleasant climate, and outdoor way of life. 

Los Angeles is the industrial, financial, and trade center of the western United States. Along with Chicago and New York, it is one of the largest manufacturing centers of the U.S. The Los Angeles area has thousands of factories, and traditionally aerospace has been one of the area’s chief industries, involving the manufacture of aircraft, spacecraft, and related parts and equipment. Before the downturn of the 1990s, the aerospace industry attracted more engineers, mathematicians, scientists, and skilled technicians to Los Angeles than any other U.S. city.

The Hollywood district of Los Angeles has been known as the motion-picture capital of the world, filmmaking reaching its peak in the mid-1940s, when television began attracting much attention.

Los Angeles has rich deposits of petroleum which industry dates back to the 1800s when the first oil wells were drilled. It ranks as one of the nation’s top oil-refining centers and is also a major manufacturer of oil-field equipment. Los Angeles is a leading producer of clothing, computers, furniture, rubber, and tires. Other products include chemicals, electric equipment, glassware and pottery, iron and steel, toys, and travel trailers. The construction industry and publishing and printing also became important. It is also a major center of the music-recording industry with dozens of record companies.

The Port of Los Angeles is one of the nation’s chief fishing ports and largest fish-canning centers of the world. The Port of Los Angeles handles a greater annual value of cargo than any other United States port. This cargo includes foreign imports and exports as well as goods to and from other U.S. ports. It handles much of the trade coming from Japan, Australia, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Southeast Asia. Also, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) handles large amounts of domestic and international cargo. It ranks second only to New York in retail trade and is the West Coast’s chief wholesale distribution center.

Los Angeles is the leading financial center of the West Coast, consisting of several major banks as their headquarters. Also headquartered are dozens of insurance companies.

The city has one of the world’s most extensive freeway systems comprised of a 1,080 kilometer (670 miles) network of high-speed expressways through Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties. Morning and evening rush hours can jam the city’s freeway system.

Since 1989, Los Angeles has sought to improve their public transportation as part of a long-term plan, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates a bus and rail system throughout the county. In addition, a separate rail system called Metrolink serves passengers travelling to and from surrounding counties. Two major railroads, the BNSF Railway and the Union Pacific serve Los Angeles and use the famous Los Angeles Union Station located at the eastern edge of the city’s downtown area. The huge railroad terminal was built in the style of California’s early Spanish missions with tiled roof and patios.

The Los Angeles Public Library is among the nation’s largest libraries. Museums include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Natural History Museum in Exposition Park, and the California Science Center. Also in Exposition Park are the Sports Arena, California State Exposition Building, and the National Guard Armory.

The Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County symbolizes the city’s cultural leadership. As part of the Civic Center it consists of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and the two theaters Ahmanson Theater and Mark Taper Forum. There are two open-air theaters, the Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theater in Griffith Park. The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra performs as well as dance performances, operas, and plays. Thousands of artists, actors, writers, and musicians live in Los Angeles offering creative people an atmosphere that encourages freedom of expression.

The greater Los Angeles area has six major professional sports teams, two each in baseball - Dodgers and Angels; basketball - Lakers and Clippers; and hockey - Kings and Ducks. (NFL football teams are in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Diego). Also is the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team and the women’s professional basketball team, the Sparks. Los Angeles was the location for the Summer Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984, and hosts the Los Angeles Marathon each year.

Facts and data of Los Angeles from the 2013 World Book Encyclopedia.