Men and women raising their glasses at a bar | Los Angeles Examiner Photographs Collection, University of Southern California Libraries

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Nine Cool SoCal History Facts We Learned This Year

Southern California may have a reputation for being a place to forget one's past, but its neighborhoods and streets are teeming with history. Here are nine pivotal moments that unfolded here.

Shindana Toy Company changed the toy industry by showing how black dolls should really be made.

See how Shindana Toy Company caught the attention of such bigwigs as Mattel with their ethnically correct dolls. Watch "Lost LA" S4 E6: Shindana Toy Company."

Griffith Park has been the site of the state’s first gay rodeo, a municipal prison farm and the largest veteran’s housing project in the country, among many others. 

Learn more about its many iterations on "Lost LA" S4 E1: Griffith Park.

Without Roz Wyman, the Dodgers might never have come to L.A.

Rosalind Wyman checks home base and the general view at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in preparation to receive the Dodgers for Opening Day. | Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images
Learn more about Roz Wyman's amazing life and pivotal role in bringing the Dodgers to L.A. in this article. | Los Angeles Examiner/USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images

The country's largest native palm trees can be found in California.

Palm trees surrounding water at Thousand Palms Oasis
Most palm trees are purely ornamental, but the country’s largest native palm trees can be found only here in California. Read this "SoCal Wanderer" article to find out where to find them. | Nicolas/Flickr/Creative Commons License

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Pío Pico was an Afro-Mexican politician whose name is emblazoned all across the region. His life was a rollercoaster ride that changed L.A. forever.

Pío de Jesus Pico and his wife, María Ignacia Alvarado Pico, in 1852, with two of their nieces, María Anita Alvarado (far left) and Trinidad Ortega (far right).
Pico Boulevard, Pico-Rivera, Pío Pico State Historic Park. These places wouldn’t have their names were it not for the Afro-Mexican politician, land baron and entrepreneur, Pío Pico, who climbed to the highest reaches of the political realm and was one of the wealthiest men of his time. He also held three different nationalities without ever leaving present-day Southern California, thanks to the tumultuous political movements of the time. Find out more about this dramatic figure in this article. | Courtesy of the Seaver Center for Western History Research, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Catalina was once home to a seafaring Tongva people.

Catalina was once home to the Tongva people who built plank canoes called ti’ats that could hold three to 30 paddlers to cross the 20 miles to the mainland. Learn what wisdom we could learn from their connection with the ocean and Channel Islands on "Tending Nature" S2 E1: Rethinking the Coast with the Ti'at Society.

Los Angeles is just as important in gospel music history as Chicago and Detroit.

Los Angeles’ gospel music roots date back to the early 1900s when African Americans made up just over 2% of the city’s population. Lean more on "Artbound" S10 E4: How Sweet the Sound - Gospel in Los Angeles.

One of NASA's longest-serving female employees started out as a human computer, and she continues to work today.

One of the longest-serving women in NASA with more than 50 years of experience still goes to work at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She’s a mother, but also an awe-inspiring scientist. Watch this clip and learn more on "Blue Sky Metropolis."

Windsurfing owes its birth to the aerospace industry.

Without the knowhow of a SoCal engineer, this iconic California pasttime wouldn't have been realized. Watch this clip and learn more on "Blue Sky Metropolis."

Top Image:  Men and women raising their glasses at a bar | Los Angeles Examiner Photographs Collection, University of Southern California Libraries 

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