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URL: www.unm.edu/~rt66/chic/trvl.html
Modified: July 19, 2001

University of New Mexico

Driving L.A. by surface is like swimming through a lake, when you canít see the distant shore. You go and go and go on faith, with no end in sight. The largest freeways, fourteen lanes wide, swirl below and above Route 66. Traffic sweeps along. Drive long enough, and you lose sight of your destination--if you ever saw it, through the haze.

Despite its mass, L.A. is a mirage, living on borrowed water and vegetation, with no natural harbors. Eucalyptus, Palm trees--even oranges were imported. And water! The scarcity has been clear for decades. In l980, Los Angeles had 60% of the stateís population; but only 1.7% of stateís water came here from local sources.

Itís surprising that L.A. even survived its younger days, since most early cities sprung up in areas with a strong water source already present.

Still, L.A. reigns as Californiaís largest city, though itís more accurately described as a collection of communities, rather than one city. It began as one small pueblo and has grown now to well over three million people. Often called the "City of Angels," perhaps it is best described as a city of dreams and dreamers.

First visited in 1769 by Spain, the area was officially occupied in 1781. Governor Felipe de Neve and eleven families founded El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles (the Village of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels). In the early 1800s, Mexico won independence from Spain, and L.A. served as the capital of the Mexican province of Alta California. In 1847, it was the last place to surrender to the United States in the Mexican War.

That original community spread, branching out across the land. The people established the farms and cattle ranches, and these endeavors thrived.

Today, the city is a true metropolis supported by nearly as many industries as there are people. Perhaps most prominent in the cityís reputation is the entertainment industry. More than three-fourths of all American films are produced in L.A. This plus the many major radio and television companies that saturate the city make L.A. the entertainment capital of the West. Other key businesses are tourism, world trade, and a variety of industries.

Always growing, always dreaming, the city just gets bigger and bigger. This does provide some problems, such as the ongoing water dilemma mentioned above. However, past these issues, the city has become what it is because people want to live there. They go because they dream of something, whether they are actors or artists or computer gurus. They stay because the city offers a unique possibility: to live in a place where the West meets glamour, where dreamers meet realities and more dreams.

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