History of Los Angeles

Form of Government

Los Angeles City Seal

City Seal

Los Angeles City Flag

City Flag
City Boundary Map

The City of Los Angeles is a Mayor-Council-Commission form of government, as originally adopted by voters of the City of Los Angeles, effective July 1, 1925 and reaffirmed by a new Charter effective July 1, 2000.  A Mayor, City Controller, and City Attorney are elected by City residents every four years. Fifteen City Council members representing fifteen districts are elected by the people for four-year terms, for a maximum of two terms. Members of Commissions are generally appointed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the City Council.  General Managers of the various City departments are also appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. Most employees of the City are subject to the civil service provisions of the City Charter.

The basic law of the government of the City of Los Angeles is found in the City Charter, first adopted by a vote of the people in 1924, effective July 1, 1925, and subsequently amended from time to time. In 1999, the voters approved a new City Charter that addresses government in this new century. The Charter provides for a mayor-council type of municipal system, the Mayor being the executive branch and the Council the legislative. The governmental machinery consists of approximately 42 departments and bureaus which are headed by General Managers or advisory or controlling Boards or Commissions appointed by the Mayor subject to confirmation of the Council. The Board of Public Works is the only full-time board.  The new City Charter, effective July 2000, provided for the creation of a Citywide System of Neighborhood Councils. The goal of the Neighborhoods Councils is to promote public participation in City governance and decision-making process to create a government more responsive to local needs.

The History of Los Angeles

Historically the areas of present day Los Angeles was home to the Chumash and Tongva Native American tribes. On September 4, 1781 a group of settlers consisting of 14 families numbering 44 individuals of Native American, African and European heritage journeyed more than one-thousand miles across the desert from present-day northern Mexico and established a farming community in the area naming it "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula" which in English translated to "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula". Over time this community would grow under the flags of Spain, Mexico and eventually the United States to become one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world, the City of Los Angeles. 

Today, the original pueblo is commemorated as a Los Angeles Historical Monument. The El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is a living museum that continues to fulfill its unique role as the historic and symbolic heart of the city, reflecting the Native American, African American, Spanish, Anglo, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and French cultures that contributed to its early history.  Of the monument’s twenty-seven historic buildings, eleven are open to the public as businesses or have been restored as museums. Visit http://elpueblo.lacity.org for more information on the area and how to plan a visit.

Los Angeles Today

Today, Los Angeles has a population of nearing four million people, an area of 465 square miles, 7,366 miles of streets, water and power brought from mountains hundreds of miles away, and thousands of publicly-owned structures of various types. The friendly lanterns that once hung at the door have been replaced with electrolier lights and utilitarian lights. Adobe houses have been replaced with modern buildings and residences, volunteer police and fire departments have been succeeded by highly trained, properly equipped, and well organized municipal forces, and mud flats have been dredged to become one of the world's busiest harbors at Wilmington and San Pedro.