The second largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, was originally inhabited by indigenous tribes such as the Chumash and the Tongva. In 1542, the area was colonized by Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Two centuries later, Gaspar de Portolà and the Franciscan missionary Juan Crespí traveled to the Monterrey prison to settle in Southern California. In 1781, a group of 44 settlers led by Governor Felipe de Neve arrived in what is now Los Angeles.
The settlers were mostly of Mexican descent, but also included African Americans and Europeans. They were married couples and heads of households who were given lots of houses and fields to settle in. The original Olvera street plaque commemorating Los Pobladores had for many years omitted any reference to the African heritage of the Settlers. The coat of arms in the center of the seal shows 4 different images that represent 4 different stages in the history of Los Angeles; from its original inhabitants to its settlers, from its ranching community to its oil tycoons and Hollywood fame seekers.
The descendants of the original inhabitants came to identify themselves as mixed race or, among the most socially prominent, as Spanish. The official founding date of Los Angeles is September 4, 1781, when, according to tradition, the forty-four inhabitants met at the Mission of San Gabriel together with two priests from the Mission and set out with an escort of four soldiers to the site that Father Juan Crespí had chosen more than a decade earlier. Mason, a historian of Los Angeles and early California, discovered the ethnic richness of the Town of the Queen of Los Angeles through extensive research.