About History of California State With Large Population and Densely Populated Cities Like San Francisco and Los Angeles
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An issue that I find interesting and significant to understanding California as a place is congestion. As painful as it is for Californian’s residents to admit traffic, rules over the lives of everyone who lives in the state. Especial those of who live in densely populated cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles where sitting in traffic can make up a good portion of a commuter’s day. While many seem to think of California traffic as a modern inconvenience, many fail to realize that traffic is only symptom of congestion. In the first half of this essay I plan to chronologically explore the past events having led to the congestion of California and in the second half I will examine California’s current state.
In order to understand California’s congestion, we must understand the history that has led to the state’s large population and densely populated cities. Many of us seem to think that California has only become densely populated in the last several centuries however, according to Päivi Hoikkala and Eileen V. Wallis authors of Chronicling California “as least 300,000 and perhaps as many as one million [Native] people lived in California, making it one of the most densely populated areas of what is now the United States” (p.2). While this number seems small compared to the forty million that currently live in the state, it is clear that even before the arrival of European settlers, that California has always had a dense population.
According to a scholarly journal by S. Robert Aiken the first Spanish mission was built in 1796, in what is now San Diego. After the first one was completed, they would continue to build twenty more missions spanning southern California’s coast serving as anchoring points for the Spanish empire. The missions were the beginning of the colonization of California, they served as the centers of the ranchos and pueblos that would shelter and support the growing number of Spanish settlers. Later these small pueblos would be the foundations for what would become some of the densest populated areas in California.
Spain held control of California for as long as it could but, according to “Mexican California” published by Library of Congress Bulletin, in 1808 Spain’s American colonies began fighting for independence. When Mexico won its independence in 1812 it gained control of Spain’s American colonies. Under the rule of Mexico, they introduced the ranchero culture which centered around the raising of cattle. Mexico also allowed for less restrictive trade and during this time those living in California became more reliant on the foreign merchants that would arrive because. It was during this period that the small pueblo of Los Angeles developed the begins of a merchant economy. In the journal “The Merchants of Los Angeles: Economics and Commerce in Mexican California” published by Southern California Quarterly stated this less restrictive trading is responsible for the growth of the Los Angles economy during this period. It was this potential economy and the many natural harbors that made the United States want California.
Driven by manifest destiny and the desire to take possession of California’s assets the United states eventually went to war with Mexico and won in 1848. According the University of San Francisco in 1847 there were only 457 people living in a small colony called Yerba Buena before gold was discovered in the American river in the following year. When news of the discovery spread it started a migration called the gold rush, people from all over the world made the journey to California for a chance to unearth their fortune. According to the “The Forty Niners” published by Library of Congress Bulletin the following year there one hundred thousand people visited California, this resulted the small colony quickly expanded into a large city. By the year 1860 the city had a population of three hundred thousand people becoming the largest and most congested city in California. The following year construction of the central pacific rail road began with the goal to connect the east to the west and was finished in 1869 however, according to Thomas J. Osborne author of “Pacific Eldorado” the importance of this event was over shadowed by the completion of the Suez Canal that same year.
In the early 1900’s san Francisco was in the process of reconstruction after the 1906 earthquake and Los Angeles was in the middle experiencing large growth. Los Angeles’ various industries brought lots of wealth to the area and was transitioning from an agricultural economy to a cosmopolitan city. Most of the population increase during this time was due to the climate the sunny weather enticed many people to the region and by 1920 had surpassed San Francisco’s population (Hoikkala 128). The 1930’s the new deal brought great changes to Los Angeles the biggest was the constructions of the freeways, which would later become the most congested in the country.
During the 1940’s the United States was at the beginning of WWII, having declared war with Japan after the attack on pearl harbor. California’s location on the pacific made it the site of war time production and industry. Every industry was now in war time production, San Francisco bay provided the perfect place the construction of war ships because of their inter connected shipyards and Southern California’s clear weather also made it perfect for the aircraft manufacturing to take place. With all this production there was a need for a larger work force and demand dew in workers from all over the country and “attracted more than 1.5 million new migrants to the state between 1940 to 1944” (Hoikkala 195). This rapid change in the state’s population strained resources and struggled to meet the demands for housing. According to “Development of the California Dream: 1941 – 1950” in the rush to provide hosing new developments were poorly planed out in relation to one another. When the war ended in 1945 the state was left with 9.3 million residence.