Additional Bibliography

Early History


Mitchell, John L. "Diversity Gave Birth to L.A." in the Los Angeles Times22 August 2007. An interesting and enlightening family history of the descendents of one of the original founders of El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles on 4 September 1781: Luis Manuel Quintero.

Bean, Walton. California:  An Interpretive History.
  New York:  McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968.

Caughey, John and LaRee Caughey, editors.  Los Angeles: Biography of a City.  Berkeley, CAUniversity of California Press, 1977.

Description: Los Angeles, City of Angels. A city with a remarkable history, over 200 years old. Interwoven with the Caughey's commentary are over 100 of the choicest essays on Los Angeles. The saga of cowtown turned post-war metropolis unfolds before the reader.

"A beautiful array of literary and historical pearls hung on a chronological strand reflecting the foundation, development, and growing maturity of the most cussed and discussed city in America."--Pacific Historical Review

"A feast for readers of Southwestern history and literature! The Caugheys, both deeply immersed in the field, have produced an anthology which through imaginative selections 'on historical guidelines tells the city's kaleidoscope story.' It is not the whole story and it represents a distinctive viewpoint, but it is a collection unique for the history and variegated experience of Los Angeles."--Los Angeles Times

"Its intelligent combination of essays reveals much about Los Angeles which does not always find its way into socio-historical texts about the area. The editors' remarks preceding each essay expertly bind the book together. I suspect it will wind up as one of the more dog-eared volumes on my shelf."--Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles

Deverell, William.  Whitewashed Adobe:  The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of its Mexican Past. Berkeley, CA:  University of California Press, 2004.

Pitt, Leonard. The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-Speaking Californians, 1846-1890Los AngelesUniversity of California Press, 1966.

Singleton, Gregory.  Religion in the City of Angels: American Protestant Culture and Urbanization, Los Angeles 1850-1930. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1979.

Fogelson, Robert. The Fragmented Metropolis:  Los Angeles 1850-1930. Harvard University Press, 1967.   Outline available at: 


The 20th Century and Beyond


Wild, Mark.  Street Meeting: Multiethnic Neighborhoods in Early Twentieth-Century Los Angeles.  University of California Press, 2005.

Book Description

Immigrant neighborhoods of the early twentieth century have commonly been viewed as segregated, homogeneous slums isolated from the larger "American" city. But as Mark Wild demonstrates in this new study of Los Angeles, such districts often nurtured dynamic, diverse environments where residents interacted with individuals of other races and cultures. In fact, as his engaging account makes clear, between 1900 and 1940 such multiethnic areas mushroomed in Los Angeles. Street Meeting, enriched with oral histories, reminiscences, newspaper reports, and other sources, examines interactions among working-class Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Italians, African Americans, and others, reminding us that Los Angeles has been a multiethnic city since its birth. This study further argues that these ethnic interactions played a crucial role in the urban development of the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.

From the Inside Flap
"This insightful analysis of ethnoracial contact and social networks among immigrants and racial groups in the central districts of Los Angeles is the product of new thinking. Wildís conclusions are fresh and sound."--Tom Sitton, coeditor of Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s

"This stimulating and exciting book is a work of synthesis that draws on dozens of previous theses and studies, as well as reminiscences, oral histories, testimony, and other first-person accounts. The result is an original and persuasive interpretation of the West's most important city."--Carl Abbott, author of The Metropolitan Frontier: Cities in the Modern American West

Burgess, Stanley M., and Gary B. McGee, editorsDictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1988.  Includes interesting information about the birth of the Pentecostal movement in Los Angeles in 1906, the birth of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and some of the main people involved.

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McWilliams, Carey. North From Mexico:  Spanish-Speaking People of the United States.  New YorkGreenwood Press, 1968.

McWilliams, CareySouthern California Country.  New York:   Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1946.   Re-edited and published as:
Southern California, an Island on the Land.
Santa Barbara, CA:  Peregrin Smith, 1973.  

One Review:  This probably the only book about Southern California that adequately portrays both the humanity of the forces that created its societies and the viciousness of the powers that shaped them.

Sitton, Tom, and William Deverell, eds. Metropolis in the Making: Los Angeles in the 1920s. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2001. 
SOURCE:  Urban History Review,  March, 2003  by Angela Blake

Tom Sitton and William Deverell's collection of essays on Los Angeles in the 1920s represents an important step forward for historical research on the West coasts most important twentieth-century metropolis.  The editors have drawn together many members of the new generation of scholars on L.A., from the disciplines of history, urban planning, and religious studies.

Davis, Mike. City of Quartz:  Excavating the Future in Los Angeles, Vintage Books, 1990 (also published by Verso in 1990 and 2006)

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles is a 1990 book by Mike Davis examining problems facing Los Angeles. The underlying material was originally intended as a Ph.D. submission in completion of the requirements for his history doctorate, but it was rejected.  Davis completed the work and found a publisher for it, and it became a standard text in many courses in urban sociology.

The book is a historical, economic, and cultural dissection of Los Angeles, its residents and their lifestyles and their interactions with real estate developers.  Davis contrasts the campaigners for "slow growth" with the needs of minorities living on the margins and the never ending growth of Los Angeles with environmental considerations.  Given its origin as a Ph.D. dissertation, the book is well-annotated.

City of Quartz, and various stories from the work, are occasionally cited in local newspaper articles in the Los Angeles Times, the now-defunct New Times LA, and particularly, LA Weekly.  The edition of the book published in 2006 contains a preface detailing changes in Los Angeles since the work was written in the late 1980s.


City of Quartz covers the history of Los Angeles' modern era.  What sets this book apart from other histories of Los Angeles is that Davis devotes much time to the history of Los Angeles' street gangs, a culture that has become synonymous with Los Angeles.  It was and still is the most thorough history of Los Angeles street gangs going back to the 1940s up through the development of the Crips and Bloods.  If you are researching gangs, trying to unravel its formation process, and just want to learn about the diverse city of Los Angeles, this is a must read.

In this excellent book on Los Angeles, Davis reconstructs the city's "shadow" history, analyzes its economy, and brilliantly reveals the power relationships that exist behind the scenes.  From the offshore Japanese capital to the local gangs, from the L.A. Police Department to the homeless people on the streets, the author introduces most of the players in the life of the city, both the powerless and those who run the show.   City of Quartz is a masterful account of how real and paranoid fear plays a role in the deconstruction of the city's public sphere to secure its "chosen people."   Davis argues that authoritarian control of the public space, the fragmentation of the landscape caused by the physical "protection" and isolation of specific areas, and the growing use of surveillance cameras are leading to a militarization of the landscape.  Davis, as a native son, affectionately criticizes the city where the past has been erased, dreams have failed, and the image rarely maps into reality--the city that so many Americans love to hate.


Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los AngelesNo one has ever vilified Los Angeles like Davis does. Doubtless, this is why City of Quartz has been such a success.
Mike Davis peers into a looking glass to divine the future of Los Angeles, and what he sees is not encouraging: a city--or better, a concatenation of competing city states--torn by racial enmity, economic disparity, and social anomie. Looking backward, Davis suggests that Los Angeles has always been contested ground. In the 1840s, he writes, a combination of drought and industrial stock raising led to the destruction of small-scale Spanish farming in the region. In the 1910s, Los Angeles was the scene of a bitter conflict between management and industrial workers, so bitter that the publisher of the Los Angeles Times retreated to a heavily fortified home he called "The Bivouac." And in 1992, much of the city fell before flames and riot in a scenario Davis describes as thus: "Gangs are multiplying at a terrifying rate, cops are becoming more arrogant and trigger-happy, and a whole generation is being shunted toward some impossible Armageddon." Davis's voice-in-a-whirlwind approach to the past, present, and future of Los Angeles is alarming and arresting, and his book is essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary affairs. --Gregory MacNamee

See other reviews:

Also, the 2006 Verso edition includes a new Preface by Mike Davis and a critique of the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles:  “New Confessions” (Chapter Six, pp. 321-372).

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Avila, Eric. Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles.  University of California Press, 2006.

Book Description
Los Angeles pulsed with economic vitality and demographic growth in the decades following World War II. This vividly detailed cultural history of L.A. from 1940 to 1970 traces the rise of a new suburban consciousness adopted by a generation of migrants who abandoned older American cities for Southern California's booming urban region.  Eric Avila explores expressions of this new "white identity" in popular culture with provocative discussions of Hollywood and film noir, Dodger Stadium, Disneyland, and L.A.'s renowned freeways.  These institutions not only mirrored this new culture of suburban whiteness and helped shape it, but also, as Avila argues, reveal the profound relationship between the increasingly fragmented urban landscape of Los Angeles and the rise of a new political outlook that rejected the tenets of New Deal liberalism and anticipated the emergence of the New Right.
Avila examines disparate manifestations of popular culture in architecture, art, music, and more to illustrate the unfolding urban dynamics of postwar Los Angeles.  He also synthesizes important currents of new research in urban history, cultural studies, and critical race theory, weaving a textured narrative about the interplay of space, cultural representation, and identity amid the westward shift of capital and culture in postwar America.

From the Inside Flap
"In Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight, Eric Avila offers a unique argument about the restructuring of urban space in the two decades following World War II and the role played by new suburban spaces in dramatically transforming the political culture of the United States.  Avila's work helps us see how and why the postwar suburb produced the political culture of 'balanced budget conservatism' that is now the dominant force in politics, how the eclipse of the New Deal since the 1970s represents not only a change of views but also an alteration of spaces."--George Lipsitz, author of The Possessive Investment in Whiteness

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Rieff, David.  Los Angeles: Capital of the Third WorldNew York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.

Review:  Rieff's premise seems to be that Los Angeles is wrestling with its high level of immigration, soon to result in a white minority. And he appears somewhat miffed that people are going about their daily lives in the face of this encroaching reality.

Rieff seems to want to debunk the notion that this influx of people from all over the world means that L.A. has a bright future as the "gateway to the Pacific Rim." But he barely mentions the real ill effects of immigration--social services strained to the breaking point, poor health care, and disgraceful public schools. Instead, he just seems peeved that some people dare to be optimistic.

Rieff doesn't bother to puncture that optimism by discussing exactly where he thinks L.A.'s future lies. He's more interested in attitudes, and he reserves much scorn for the white middle class living on Los Angeles's Westside--the people wo put him up during his stay in Los Angeles (hey--you're welcome).

They live "in a First World way on Third World prices," he says, meaning that they reap the benefits of cheap labor to tend their children, clean their houses, mow their lawns, park their cars, and clean their high-rise offices. Meanwhile, they jog or go to the gym instead of getting their exercise in the back yard, as they would if they were truly integrated beings.

Worse, according to Rieff, these bourgeois yuppies don't truly interact with the immigrants working for them. This is because they're products of television, and on TV, families in sitcoms don't have servants, yet their houses stay clean anyway. Of course, the author didn't spend any systematic time with the immigrants; he just did things like sit with an attendant in the valet parking lot for a few hours.

Yes, there are a lot of rich jerks on the Westside of Los Angeles (and in the many other middle class areas of the city), and yes, people on the planet Earth tend to be concerned with parochial things like their own circle of friends and their neighborhood. This is particularly true in a city like L.A., which unlike Manhattan, say, has a large middle class sharing space with a huge immigrants population--and with remarkably little xenophobia. Yet Rieff seems to be saying that L.A. residents who aspire to own a home with a little patch of walled-in green around it are racists.

Rieff flirts with a real issue now and then, as when he talks about whether the new wave of immigrants will assimilate in a different way than previous waves, but here, too, he's relentlessly conclusion-free. He obsesses about some sort of mass psychology of can-do-ism, with a tone of "Boy, are they in for a surprise . . ." Angelenos, he keeps saying, seem to have an illusion that they can control their own destiny, that things will work out. If these mass psychologies really exist, it's hard to believe they differ that much from city to city, or even nation to nation. Will New Yorkers be less capable of solving their problems because they're more "Old World" and cynical? Rieff keeps seizing on ephemeral cultural attitudes and trying to turn them into determinants of history.


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Deverell, William and Greg Hise, editors.  Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Metropolitan Los Angeles. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006.

“Since ancient times, great cities have been shaped by their environments.  But cities have also exacted their price.  In these astute and very necessary essays, leading experts who are also good writers tackle important questions regarding the origins, rise, present circumstances and future sustainability of the second largest metropolitan region in the nation. No one can understand the City of Angels and its attendant communities without reference to this pioneering book.” —Kevin Starr, University Professor and Professor of History, University of Southern California, Author, Americans and the California Dream series.

"A powerful and compelling insight into how the greater Los Angeles area from prehistory to the present has succeeded, failed, and compromised at environmental sustainability." —Norris Hundley, UCLA

"Covers the subject with absolute thoroughness, capturing the full extent of LA’s physical sprawl and cultural diversity. The book also offers insight into the ongoing debate about LA’s current and evolving relationship with nature." —Mike Logan, Oklahoma State University

Book Description
Most people equate Los Angeles with smog, sprawl, forty suburbs in search of a city-the great "what-not-to-do" of twentieth-century city building. But there's much more to LA's story than this shallow stereotype.  History shows that Los Angeles was intensely, ubiquitously planned.  The consequences of that planning-the environmental history of urbanism--is one place to turn for the more complex lessons LA has to offer.

Working forward from ancient times and ancient ecologies to the very recent past, Land of Sunshine is a fascinating exploration of the environmental history of greater Los Angeles.   Rather than rehearsing a litany of errors or insults against nature, rather than decrying the lost opportunities of "roads not taken," these essays, by nineteen leading geologists, ecologists, and historians, instead consider the changing dynamics both of the city and of nature.

In the nineteenth century, for example, "density" was considered an evil, and reformers struggled mightily to move the working poor out to areas where better sanitation and flowers and parks "made life seem worth the living."

We now call that vision "sprawl," and we struggle just as much to bring middle-class people back into the core of American cities. There's nothing natural, or inevitable, about such turns of events. It's only by paying very close attention to the ways metropolitan nature has been constructed and construed that meaningful lessons can be drawn.  History matters.

So here are the plants and animals of the Los Angeles basin, its rivers and watersheds. Here are the landscapes of fact and fantasy, the historical actors, events, and circumstances that have proved transformative over and over again. The result is a nuanced and rich portrait of Los Angeles that will serve planners, communities, and environmentalists as they look to the past for clues, if not blueprints, for enhancing the quality and viability of cities.

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General Histories

Ethington, Philip J. Into the Labyrinth of Los Angeles Historiography: From Global Comparisons to Local Knowledge:

Ethington, Philip J., History Department, University of Southern California. Los Angeles and the Problem of Urban Historical Knowledge.  A Multimedia Essay to Accompany the December Issue of The American Historical Review, published by the, December 2000:

Pearlstone, Zena.  Ethnic L. A. Beverly Hills, CA:   Hillcrest Press, 1990.

Waldinger, Roger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, eds. Ethnic Los Angeles. Russell Sage Foundation, 1996.

Warner, R. Stephen and Judith G. Wittner, editors.  Gatherings in Diaspora:  Religious Communities and the New Immigration.  Philadelphia:  Temple University Press, 1998.  Several chapters deal with immigrant communities in the Los Angeles area:  Hindus, Iranian Jews, Mayans and Hispanics.

Wollenberg, Charles, editor.  Ethnic Conflict in California History.  Los Angeles:   Tinnon-Brown, 1970.

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Last updated on 22 September 2007