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LA History The earliest residents of the Los Angeles area were Gabrieleo and Chumash Indians who arrived in the desert region between 5000 and 6000 BC The first European known to have visited the LA basin was Portuguese sailor Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who cruised the coast in 1542 but it wasnt until the late 18th century that the real influx began In 1769 the Spanish governor of California Don Gaspar de Portola and Franciscan father Junipero Serra led an expedition north from San Diego looking for places to build missions and Christianize Californias heathen natives Eventually 21 California missions were established along El Camino Real The Kings Highway two of them in what was to become Greater Los Angeles the Mission San Gabriel Archangel 1771 and the Mission San Fernando Rey de Espaa 1797 In 1781 the missionaries chose 44 settlers from San Gabriel to establish a new town on the banks of a stream about 9 miles 15km southwest of the mission They named the settlement El Pueblo de Nuestro Seora la Reina de los Angeles del Ro Porcincula The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of the Porciuncula River after a saint whose feast day had just been celebrated Los Angeles as the pueblo became known developed into a thriving farming community Upon Mexican independence in 1821 many of that new nations citizens looked to California to quench their thirst for private land By the mid-1830s the missions had been secularized and a series of governors began doling out hundreds of free land grants thus giving birth to the rancho system The prosperous rancheros quickly became Californias bigwigs while immigrants from the United States became the merchant class By the mid-1830s there were still only 29 US citizens residing in Los Angeles Most Easterners hadnt heard about California until 1840 with the publication of Richard Henry Danas popular Two Years Before the Mast an account of
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