Los Angeles, California, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Los Angeles, California, USA

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Full name - El Pueblo Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, which can be translated as - The Town of Our Lady Queen of Angels of Porciuncula. Otherwise known as The City of Angels. Or Los Angeles... for short.

Since the city's foundation in 1781 by Franciscan missionaries, the city has grown to an area of 10,515km squared1, with a population of 9,138,7892, making it the largest city on the western edge of North America, and one of the largest cities in the world.

While all of this gives the traveller a bit of useful information, it fails to convey a real sense of what LA is all about. It does nothing for the senses. It fails to tell you about the satisfying smells from the Mexican restaurants, the sounds of the cars going absolutely nowhere, the feel of a .45 pressed against the small of your back.

Metropolitan Los Angeles lies in a smoggy bowl, bisected by the Santa Monica Mountains. It is a seemingly endless vista of boulevards and strip malls, a surreal blend of porn shops and boutiques, a smorgasbord of glitz and sleaze. It is a tense crucible of class and racial conflict, built in a sun-baked tectonic popcorn popper, a La-la land of wealth and broken dreams.

The Patchwork City

Los Angeles is like a quilt. There are very pretty gold lamé panels sewn next to greasy burlap. Hollywood is a glitzy and glamorous place, filled with famous theatres, restaurants, and studios. North Hollywood, on the other hand, is better known for hookers3 and crack4in good quantity. Beverly Hills, the cradle of the rich and conceited is just over the hills from Van Nuys, the boudoir of the US porn industry.

Los Angeles is the largest city in the world that lacks a viable public transportation system. Recently, efforts have been made to build a subway system. The idea of building an underground rail system in seismically-active territory5 calls into question the mental stability of the city planners. Most of LA's development came after the advent of the automobile, so the streets are wide and plentiful. But since everyone has to drive, cars spend a lot of time not actually going anywhere.

Most cities this size have an impressive and well-known skyscape. LA's may be well known, but it is hardly impressive. This is due to the seismic activity in the area. It was illegal for many years to build beyond a certain floor level, but this has been lifted due to engineering advances. Central Los Angeles only has a few skyscrapers, but these have been strategically located to make approaches to LA International Airport more adventurous.


  • Universal Studios
    A film industry theme park.

  • Mann's Chinese Theatre
    'The most famous motion picture theatre in the world' is most famous for its collection of celebrity handprints.

  • The Queen Mary
    Once the queen of the seas, now a 400 room hotel.

  • Rodeo Drive
    Where the gladiators of chic do battle.

  • The Simon Wiesenthal Center
    A museum dedicated to the memory of the holocaust.

  • The Getty Museum
    An American oil mogul's collection of European art.

  • The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum
    A place of pilgrimage for western movie fans.

  • The Museum of Chinese American History in Los Angeles
    How the West was really won.

  • Live taping
    Be a part of the audience of your favourite US network TV show.

1Los Angeles-Long Beach Metropolitan Area, based on 1995 census information.2Los Angeles-Long Beach Metropolitan Area, based on 1995 census information.3People who rent their bodies to others for the purpose of sexual gratification.4Crack is an illegal product of the coca plant, used as a means of temporary escape. Dangerous and permanent side-effects make it a poor substitute for bus excursions.5Southern California is justly famous for its earthquakes.

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