La Plaza de Los Angeles, as it was in 1869. The dirt road on the left is now N. Main Street, still in heavy use today.  In the upper right, you can look straight down the famous Olvera Street.

Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles

In 1846 Los Angeles was a frontier village in the northwest territory of the nation of Mexico. It was known then as El pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, the Town of the Queen of the Angels…  Only one hundred years later, the American city of Los Angeles was a sprawling urban phenomenon, an economic giant and culturally influential around the world. The story of how Los Angeles made itself into a powerful and famous city, the events that shaped it and the people who built it, has never received a comprehensive treatment in public television and digital media… until now.

In four one-hour television documentary episodes and companion multi-platform project, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles tells the compelling story of the remarkable and often painful transformation of Los Angeles from 1850 to 1950 through an innovative multi-ethnic and multi-racial prism. It reveals a city that from its Native American, Spanish and Mexican beginnings and throughout the takeover by Anglo Americans was racially and ethnically diverse, and its people creative and determined. Where despite continuing segregation, discrimination, ethnic tensions and even sometimes violence, Los Angeles’ predominant Anglos and its Mexicans, Asians and other minorities found ways to collaborate and fashion one of the most magnetic and important cities of the world.

The example of Los Angeles’ astonishing rise illuminates the multi-cultural struggles and triumphs of this American city, as it offers important historical perspectives for the American nation now grappling with epic immigration and profound demographic changes.

Aerial view of the newly built Los Angeles City Hall in 1928. You can see La Plaza in the lower right corner and just imagine how much the city had grown in a mere 60 years.