By the early 1920s, the population of Southern California had surpassed that of Northern California, and Los Angeles was in the midst of a period of unprecedented growth. This period of growth was accompanied by a number of conflicts and a high crime rate, with some of these conflicts being racial in nature. For example, it was common practice for the city's mayor, councilmembers, and lawyers to accept contributions from madames, smugglers, and gamblers. The mayor's top aide was even involved in a protection scam, while thugs with connections to the Eastern Mafia were involved in often violent conflicts over smuggling and horse racing.
The mayor's brother was even selling jobs at the Los Angeles Police Department. In the summer of 1943, the Zoot Suit riots occurred, during which Mexicans were attacked. Between 1920 and 1930, the population of Los Angeles more than doubled from less than 600,000 to over 1.2 million. Oil was an important factor in this growth, as were disputes between city and county governments that delayed any response to a massive storm in 1938 that flooded Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Social critic Mike Davis argued that attempts to revitalize downtown Los Angeles reduce public space and further alienate poor and minority populations. The history of Los Angeles began in 1781 when 44 colonists from New Spain established a permanent settlement in what is now downtown Los Angeles.
This settlement was authorized by Viceroy Antonio María de Bucareli and named by the Spanish governor of Las Californias, Felipe de Neve. For its first 120 years, the Los Angeles River provided the city with plenty of water for homes and farms. The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce feared that the South Pacific would control the port, so it tried to favor the location of San Pedro, leading to the Fight for the Free Port. Otis Chandler and his allies achieved a change in state law in 1909 that allowed Los Angeles to absorb San Pedro and Wilmington using a long, narrow corridor of land to connect them to the rest of the city. The movie business certainly played a role in the development of Los Angeles during the 20th century, but it was also fueled by the oil industry. In 1787, Governor Pedro Fages laid out his instructions for the Los Angeles People's Body Guard.
The first racially restrictive pact in Los Angeles dates back to 1902 and used the term “non-Caucasian” to prevent people of color from living in that home. Although Los Angeles County never suffered bombardments or enemy invasions, it became an integral part of the United States Theater on the night of February 24 to 25, 1942 during the false battle of Los Angeles which took place one day after the Japanese naval bombing of Ellwood in Santa Barbara, California 80 miles from Los Angeles. The city gained nationwide notoriety in 1871 when angry mobs killed about 20 Chinese residents during an event known as the Chinese Massacre. The city of Los Angeles remained primarily within its original 28 square mile (73 km) concession until the 1890s. In 1820, El Camino Viejo route was established from Los Angeles crossing the mountains to the north and up the west side of San Joaquín Valley to east side San Francisco Bay.