The year was 1862. A photographer – no one knows his name – stood atop Fort Moore Hill and took the first picture of our Los Angeles. The population was about 4,400. It was practically empty. Vineyards. Some orchards. A house here and there. In the distance, just outside the city, sprawling cattle and sheep ranches gave testament to the city’s Spanish and Mexican heritage. Yet, although its environs were sparse, Los Angeles was one of the few urbanized areas in the entire region.
Tough times were ahead, with a devastating drought that lasted from 1862 to 1864. But by 1920, Los Angeles County was ranked first in the nation in the value of its agricultural output.
L.A. kept growing, and its expansion reached a fevered pitch in the years immediately following Word War II. From 1945 to 1957, sub-dividers carved 462,593 separate lots out of agricultural land in Los Angeles. By the end of this thirteen years, almost the entire San Fernando Valley had been urbanized.
Today, Los Angeles is one of the world’s great cities, and these historic photographs show just how far we’ve come. It was a beautiful place. Still is, in our opinion … just in a different way.