Skip to main content

The History of Los Angeles

Historically, the areas of present day Los Angeles was home to the Chumash and Tongva Native American tribes. On September 4, 1781 a group of settlers consisting of 14 families numbering 44 individuals of Native American, African and European heritage journeyed more than one-thousand miles across the desert from present-day northern Mexico and established a farming community in the area naming it "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula" which in English translated to "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula". Over time this community would grow under the flags of Spain, Mexico and eventually the United States to become one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world, the City of Los Angeles. 

Today, the original pueblo is commemorated as a Los Angeles Historical Monument. The El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is a living museum that continues to fulfill its unique role as the historic and symbolic heart of the City, reflecting the Native American, African American, Spanish, Anglo, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and French cultures that contributed to its early history.  Of the monument’s twenty-seven historic buildings, eleven are open to the public as businesses or have been restored as museums. Visit for more information on the area and how to plan a visit.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is the birthplace of Los Angeles!  The historic district offers free museums, exhibits, and the world famous Olvera Street marketplace.

The Official Seal of Los Angeles

original city seal logo

The official seal for the City of Los Angeles was designed by Herbert L. Goudge, a deputy city attorney, and officially adopted on March 27, 1905 via Ordinance 10,834.

The coat of arms in the center of the seal displays 4 different images representing 4 different stages of Los Angeles' history;

  • The 1st quarter displays the stars and stripes of the American flag signifying its status as a city in the United States of America since 1848.
  • The 2nd quarter displays the grizzly bear flag of California signifying its history as part of the California Republic from 1846 to 1848.
  • The 3rd quarter displays the eagle holding a serpent from Mexico's coat of arms signifying Mexican rule from 1822 to 1846
  • The 4th quarter displays the Castile and León from Spain's coat of arms signifying Spanish colonial rule from 1542 to 1821

The coat of arms are surrounded by images of olives, grapes, and oranges, representing the 3 major crops of Los Angeles historically. The fruits are surrounded by a 77-bead rosary representing the part played by the Spanish missions in the early years of Los Angeles.

The Official Flag of Los Angeles

city of los angeles flag with city seal placed in the middle

The original flag of the City of Los Angeles was designed in 1931. Ordinance 70,000 officially established the City’s own flag, then known as the "Fiesta Flag" on July 22, 1931, designed for the City's 150th birthday (Sesqui-Centennial).

The 8' x 12' banner has a taffeta background of notched stripes of red, goldenyellow, and green. The red represents the vineyards, the golden-yellow depicts the orange groves, and the green symbolizes the olive trees. The colors of the flag are also found in the flags of Spain and Mexico, whose past was very important in the early history of Los Angeles. The replica of the City Seal is shown in the center of the flag.

The flag was designed by Roy E. Silent and E.S. Jones of Los Angeles. Raising of the flag occurred in April 1937, eighty-seven years after incorporation of the City. The flag was presented to Mayor Frank E. Shaw by Isadore B. Dockweiler, President of the La Fiesta Association.