Most of the city sits in a broad basin that stretches from Santa Monica along the shoreline across the southern portion of the county and into Orange County. On the other side of these hills are two heavily developed valleys, the San Fernando Valley to the northwest of Central L. and the San Gabriel to the east, which today are filled with suburban neighborhoods.The basin is the most intensely developed part of the region, with a strong grid pattern of streets and freeways that's evident from the air. North of the valleys are the steep San Gabriel Mountains, which reach a high enough elevation that their peaks are sometimes coated with snow in the winter. Prior to European contact, the Los Angeles basin was occupied by the native Tongva people, a set of hunter-gatherer tribes that were spread across much of Southern California.Nearby are the studios, shops, and entertainment of the Fairfax District.Gateway Cities The mostly suburban and industrial southern region of the county, bordering Orange County.South Bay The beachfront and harbor communities of the county south of LAX, with popular surfing beaches, the picturesque coastline of Palos Verdes, and the launching point for ferries to Catalina Island.Westside The affluent area of Los Angeles made famous by television and movies, where the elite of the entertainment industry reside.Los Angeles remained a small ranch town for several decades, passing to Mexican and then to American rule in 1847 in the wake of the Mexican–American War.Los Angeles was immediately turned into a boomtown with the completion of railroads to the region, first the Southern Pacific Railroad from the north in 1876 and then the Santa Fe Railroad from the east in 1885, establishing the city as a railroad hub of the west.
California's most populous city and the second most populous city in the United States (after New York City), Los Angeles is spread across a broad basin in Southern California surrounded by vast forested mountain ranges, valleys, the Pacific Ocean, and nearby desert.
Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have quipped, "Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles," a quote that has since been repeated both by those who love and hate L. The "City of Angels" is a city of sharp contrasts, home to people who hail from all parts of the globe and an important center of culture, business, media, and international trade.
However, it's most famous for being a major center of the world's television, motion picture, and music industry, which forms the base of the city's status and lures visitors for its show business history and celebrity culture.
Home to the upscale communities of Bel-Air, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, West Hollywood, the high-end shopping of Beverly Hills, the classic film studios of Culver City, and the popular seaside towns of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. metropolitan area spreads across portions of five counties and includes numerous smaller cities, some of which are regional centers of their own, like Burbank, Pasadena, Long Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Riverside and San Bernardino.
The city of Los Angeles is huge, stretching from the suburbs of the San Fernando Valley in the north to the Port of Los Angeles in the south, a distance of almost 50 miles. Some of these cities were founded around the end of the nineteenth century and grew alongside Los Angeles, and even today retain distinct identities.