Skip to primary navigation Skip to content Skip to footer
Back to Blog

The Roots of Los Angeles

The history of Los Angeles is more than just the history of the Entertainment Industry. People settled here long before stars walked the red carpets. There are so many places to visit in Los Angeles where you can learn about the roots of this great city. So while you are here, take a look at some of our favorite spots that show the rich history of LA. You will be glad you did!

El Pueblo De Los Angeles National Monument

A historic district located in the oldest part of Los Angeles, El Pueblo De Los Angeles was founded in 1781 by families who came from the Gulf of California and established a pueblo that eventually became the city of Los Angeles. Who knew that this early community of 44 people would become a city of of over 3 million people over 200 years later? Now the original pueblo is a historic park of abut 44 acres. This park includes the city’s oldest structures as well as Avila Adobe which is Los Angeles’ oldest surviving residence. Popular sites of this area are the plaza, La Placita Church, Olvera Street, the old Plaza firehouse as well as many other historic sites. You can get lost in the history of Los Angeles here.

The Hollywood Sign

Probably THE most iconic landmark in Los Angeles. This beacon of the entertainment industry has been around since the 1920’s. It wasn’t, however, supposed to denote anything about entertainment. The original sign was actually an advertisement for a housing development on the hill below.
Each of the 13 letters was 30 feet wide and approximately 43 feet tall and lit up at night.  While the housing development eventually failed due to the Great Depression, the sign still stayed and the city eventually removed the “land” from the title to create the now famous sign, “Hollywood”. Now the sign is over 90 years old and it just goes to show, you never know when a star will be born or how long it will last in Hollywood.

Union Station

The largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States, Union Station was designed by The Parkinsons and built in 1926. It is a combination of Dutch Colonial, Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne architecture. While it is considered small in comparison to other Union Stations, its grand designs make it seem large, open and airy.  While it is still a major hub for travel, it has also become a popular wedding and reception site in recent years. You might just recognize this last “great American train station” from several scenes in the hit movie “The Italian Job” as well as “Pearl Harbor” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”.

Griffith Observatory

We couldn’t make list of famous LA Landmarks without mentioning The Griffith Observatory. The most visited public observatory in the world, the Griffith Observatory hosts around 1 million people a year. It is one of the first institutions in the United States that was dedicated to public science and is still a national leader in public astronomy. Entrance to the Observatory is free as was stipulated in the will of Griffith J. Griffiths who left the land to the city. While at the Observatory, you can view shows at the Samuel Oshchin Planetarium for a nominal fee or participate in monthly public star parties, daily talks and presentations, and periodic special events. Last, but certainly not least, you can view the spectacular, sweeping views of Los Angeles from atop this amazing part of Los Angeles. As most landmarks in Los Angeles, The Griffith Observatory is also a movie star. It’s where James Dean gave one of his iconic performances in “Rebel Without a Cause” and Charlie’s Angels kicked into action in “Full Throttle”.where meteors crash to earth in “Transformers” and is also the setting for the welcome center of “Jurassic Park”.

The Miracle Mile

Originally a dirt road with barley fields and oil wells on either side,  developer A.W. Ross purchased land in the area in 1920. He wanted to develop the land into retail shopping and called it Wilshire Boulevard Center.  Given that this was 1921, cars were not the usual mode of transportation, and trains didn’t go as far as this area, so many of Ross’ usual investors and friends laughed at him for his folly. More importantly, they would not give him any money to develop the area. Ross had vision, though, and he believed that the personal motorcar, which was gaining popularity, would change how and where people shopped — and  he was right. It did not last forever, unfortunately, and eventually the Miracle Mile went into disrepair. The city later revamped the area, however, and is now known as LA’s “Museum Row” . You can find some fun and interesting museums such as The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, The Peterson Automotive Museum and the Craft and Folk Art Museum along what used to be this dirt path in Los Angeles. Like everything else the Miracle mile is weaved into the great history of Los Angeles and is a wonderful place to visit.

Come see all of these places and learn a lot about the history of Los Angeles on a tour with LA Insider Tours!  Choose from our All LA in a Day or Build Your Own Tour of any length and choose exactly what you want to see. We have had a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor since 2011 and all of our tours are completely private, custom tours with just you and your family — like your friend in LA taking you around town.
Call us at 800-549-6625 or email us today to book!