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Timeline: History of the Los Angeles Times

This timeline was originally published on pbs.org in 2009. It has been edited to reflect current events.

 

The groundbreaking documentary "Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times," traces the explosive emergence of multi-ethnic, modern Los Angeles during the single-family reign of four publishers of the Los Angeles Times.  This annotated timeline uses archival images to present historical moments important in shaping Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Times.

 

December 4, 1881

First edition of Los Angeles Daily Times newspaper.

la daily times
December 4, 1881 edition of Los Angeles Daily Times.

1884

In 1884, the novel Ramona, set in Southern California, becomes a national bestselling magnet. It is accused of conjuring a colorful Spanish past and ignoring the region’s Mexican and indigenous heritage.

1885

Santa Fe Railroad reaches Los Angeles.

1886

L.A. Times distributes first Midwinter edition throughout the country.To encourage Americans to relocate to Los Angeles, a nationally distributed edition of the newspaper touts all that the region has to offer.

1886

Harrison Gray Otis buys out his partners and becomes sole owner of the Times Mirror Co. Once under his total control, he made his newspaper the primary instrument of the city’s development.

 

harrison gray otis

Harrison Gray Otis, Founding Publisher of the Chandler Dynasty, was a pioneer newspaperman who would rather fight than make a profit. | Courtesy The Huntington Library

1888

Harrison Gray Otis founds the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

1890

First Tournament of Roses Parade. A New Year’s celebration was launched by Pasadena Valley Hunt Club to showcase California’s mild winter weather. At a club meeting, Professor Charles F. Holder announced, “In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.”

 

Pasadena's exclusive Tennis Club entered this float in the 1893 Tournament of Roses Parade. Photo courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Pasadena's exclusive Tennis Club entered this float in the 1893 Tournament of Roses Parade. | Photo courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.

1892

Irish oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny, along with partner Charles A. Canfield, drill the first successful well in Los Angeles, setting off the oil boom in the region.

1895

L.A. booster Charles Fletcher Lummis launches Land of Sunshine magazine.

 

Cover of 'The Land of Sunshine,' 1894
Cover of 'The Land of Sunshine,' 1894

1899

Construction begins on Port of Los Angeles. Congress approves $3 million for a man-made harbor in the seaside town of San Pedro. The engineering feat takes seven years to accomplish; the port was open to free trade and monopolized by no one.

1900

Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) forms.

1903

William Randolph Hearst starts rival newspaper, the Los Angeles Examiner.

1910

Bomb destroys L.A. Times building, killing 21 employees. On October 1, 1910, a suitcase full of dynamite explodes in an ink supply closet at Times headquarters. The bombing is carried out by labor organizers in response to the Times’ overwhelmingly anti-union sentiments.

 

timesbombing.jpg
Bombed-out building of the Los Angeles Times at First Street and Broadway, 1910 | Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Los Angeles Public Library

1913

Owens Valley aqueduct brings water to Los Angeles. Los Angeles Water Department Chief Engineer William Mulholland masterminds a 233-mile-long aqueduct to reroute water from Owens Valley to Southern California.

 

boom_4.jpg
"There it is. Take it." By Los Angeles Times Staff. | © 1913 Los Angeles Times. Reprinted with permission.

 

1914

Charlie Chaplin shoots his first film, Making a Living, in L.A. Times building. Chaplin plays Edgar English, a lady-charming swindler; the film predates hi iconic derby hat and small mustache.

1917

Harrison Gray Otis dies.

1919

Los Angeles produces 105 million barrels of oil. Modern Los Angeles materializes during the decades of the 1920s, in part thanks to the availability of oil and the recent popularity of the automobile. Harry Chandler and his business partners are instrumental in luring Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and Goodyear to what is becoming the nation’s largest auto market. For fuel, Chandler organizes several syndicates to drill for oil.

 

Story continues below

1920

Los Angles passes San Francisco as the largest city in California. Los Angeles, with a population of 576,673, becomes the largest city in California; by 1920, San Francisco had only 506,676 residents.

1921

Harry Chandler founds All-Year Club to promote tourism. Chandler, in collaboration wit other booster associates and with funding from the county board of supervisors, begins to promote year-round Southern California tourism.

1921

Donald Douglas builds three planes for U.S. Navy. Chandler, wanting the city involved in the budding aircraft industry, takes a $15 thousand gamble on a young barnstorming engineer named Donald Douglas. One year later, the government orders 25 planes and Douglas builds a factory on land leased from Chandler. Douglas Aircraft launches Los Angeles’ 60-year domination of the aerospace industry.

 

Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo plant workers Richard Springfield and William Ung constructing a plane together, between 1935 and 1945. | Library of Congress
Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo plant workers Richard Springfield and William Ung constructing a plane together, between 1935 and 1945. | Library of Congress

1922

Norman Chandler marries Dorothy Buffum. Norman and Dorothy meet while in college at Stanford University. Although Dorothy comes from a successful and politically active family, Norman’s sisters disapprove of the marriage; five of his six sisters refuse to attend the wedding. It is the first public evidence of a Chandler family divide.

1922

L.A.’s first radio station, KHJ, broadcasts from Times building. The station, originally owned by the Los Angeles Timesm, goes on the air. The station’s call-sign stands for ‘Kindness, Happiness and Joy.’

1923

Harry Chandler erects Hollywoodland realty sign. Chandler leads the real estate syndicate that firs develops one-time farmland called Hollywood. The Hollywoodland sign, initially intended for promotional purposes, has become a Los Angeles icon.

 

Security Pacific National Bank Collection | Los Angeles Public Library
Security Pacific National Bank Collection | Los Angeles Public Library

1923

Aimee Semple McPherson dedicates Angelus Temple. Aimee Semple McPherson builds the “megachurch” Angelus Temple in Echo Park. She chooses Los Angeles, in part, because she believed people from all over the country would come to the city to hear her preach and then return home and spread the Foursquare gospel.

1930

L.A. Chamber of Commerce opens “historic” Olvera Street. Olvera Street, an ersatz historic mercantile district created as a kind of ethnic theme park by the Chamber of Commerce, opens. At the same time as Olvera Street is being developed, discrimination in housing markets and employment against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans continues to plague the city.

 

Performers at Olvera Street ca. 1936 | Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library
Performers at Olvera Street ca. 1936 | Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library

1932

Los Angeles hosts 10th Olympic Games. Harry Chandler muscles the city into building an 80,000 seat memorial coliseum. His plan to bring the world to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to the world comes to fruition when the city is selected to host the 1932 summer Olympics.

1933

Harry Chandler backs mortgage on Hearst’s San Simeon estate. Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst’s self-indulgent has put his media empire on the brink of collapse. Offering his beloved San Simeon castle as collateral, he receives a $600,000 loan from a Los Angeles bank controlled by Harry Chandler.

 

Hearst Castle.
Hearst Castle. | Photo courtesy of Hearst Castle®/California State Parks.

1934

Socialist author Upton Sinclair runs for California governor. Noted author and socialist Upton Sinclair draws considerable support in his 1934 bid to be California’s governor. The Times denounces him on a daily basis, running front-page stories that quote Sinclair novels out of context, giving the impression he is anti-Christian and endorses sexual promiscuity. In the end, Sinclair is overwhelmingly defeated.

1937

L.A. Department of Water & Power becomes largest municipal utility in the country. The L.A. Department of Water & Power continues to be the largest municipal water and power utility in the United States, delivering water and electricity to 4 million residents and businesses as of 2018.
 

1937

Norman Chandler institutes the nation’s first comprehensive benefits package for his employees. Deeply dedicated to the Times employees, Norman Chandler creates a benefits package to support and protect his workers.

 

norman chandler

Norman Chandler, third publisher of the Chandler Dynasty, in front of corporate headquarters. Under Norman, the Times remained pro-business and firmly Republican. | Courtesy The Huntington Library

1940

Arroyo Seco Parkway becomes nation’s first urban freeway.

 

Arroyo Seco Parkway 15
The Arroyo Seco Parkway was renamed the Pasadena Freeway in 1954. The freeway is also known as State Route 110. | Image courtesy of the USC Digital Library

1941

Citizen Kane premieres. Citizen Kane, widely seen as a critical commentary on the life and career of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, opens in theaters. In response, Hearst prohibits the film from being mentioned in any of his newspapers.

1943

Zuit Suit Riots. A series of riots occur during World War II, when racial tensions rise between white sailors and Marines stationed in Los Angeles and Latino youths who live there.

 

For several days in June 1943, uniformed members of the U.S. armed forces rioted throughout Los Angeles, targeting young men in zoot suits. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
For several days in June 1943, uniformed members of the U.S. armed forces rioted throughout Los Angeles, targeting young men in zoot suits. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.

1943

First recognized “smog attack. ”On July 26, 1943, a brown cloud forms over Los Angeles, reducing visibility to three blocks.

Courtesy of UCLA Library Special Collections - Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive
Courtesy of UCLA Library Special Collections - Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive

1944

Harry Chandler dies on September 23, 1944 of coronary thrombosis. He is 80 years old. By his order, all of his business and personal files are burned.

 

harry chandler

Harry Chandler, second publisher of the Chandler Dynasty, was Los Angeles’ largest landowner, and an inspiration for the villain of the 1974 film "Chinatown." | Courtesy The Huntington Library

1946

L.A. Times endorses Richard Nixon’s successful candidacy for U.S. Congress. The Los Angeles Times launches the career of Richard Nixon. Political editor Kyle Palmer, known as the “Kingmaker,” helps orchestrate Nixon’s successful campaigns for Congress and the Senate by ruthlessly attacking Nixon’s democratic opponents as soft on communism and by implication un-American.

1947

Black Dahlia murder.The gruesome and much-publicized Los Angeles murder of Elizabeth Short.

 

Black Dahlia murder scene (altered photograph), ca. 1947 | Image: Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library
Black Dahlia murder scene (altered photograph), ca. 1947 | Image: Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library

 

1948

Norman Chandler launches KTTV (Times Television). KTTV, jointly owned by the Times Mirror Company and CBS, goes on the air. The Times Mirror Company will eventually sell the station in 1963 to Metromedia.

1951

William Randolph Hearst dies. The newspaper magnate dies at the age of 88 in Beverly Hills.

1951

Dorothy Chandler spearheads a fund drive for the failing Hollywood Bowl. In the summer of 1951, the famed Hollywood Bowl closed due to financial issues. Chandler is selected by the Symphony Association and the county supervisors to chair an emergency committee to raise funds for the venue. She organizes a series of “Save the Bowl” concerts and promotes the campaign daily in the Los Angeles Times. The campaign is successful — the Bowl reopens, and the legend of Dorothy Chandler as cultural matriarch is born.

 

dorothy chandler

Dorothy Buffum Chandler, wife of Norman Chandler, and cultural matriarch of modern Los Angeles.  | Courtesy The Huntington Library


1953

Los Angeles becomes center of defense/aerospace industry throughout Cold War. The nation’s need for aircraft production during the Cold War period creates a thriving defense industry in Los Angeles.

1955

Disneyland opens. The theme park, designed and built by Walt Disney, opens in Anaheim.

 

Main Street, USA
Main Street, USA, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of flickr user Tom Simpson. Used under a Creative Commons license.

1957

TIME magazine votes L.A. Times the second worst newspaper in the country. Not known for its caliber of journalism, the Los Angeles Times is named one of the worst papers in the nation.

1958

Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles.

 

The Man Who Moved
Local officials greet Walter O'Malley (center, with hat and glasses) upon his arrival in Los Angeles after the 1957 season on October 14. County supervisor Kenneth Hahn (far left) and L.A. City Council Member Rosalind Wyman (at top) were two of the politicians most responsible for making the Dodger deal happen. | Photo: Courtesy LAPL/Herald-Examiner Collection

1959

Dorothy Chandler brings USSR’s Bolshoi Ballet to U.S. The Bolshoi Ballet Company, among the oldest ballet companies in the world, performs in the United States.

1960

Otis Chandler is named publisher of the Los Angeles Times

1961

Los Angeles Times runs a 5-part series exposing the reactionary bigotry of the John Birch Society.

1962

L.A. Times wins first Pulitzer Prize for reporting. The Los Angeles Times is awarded the first of what would be 44 Pulitzers to date.
 

1962

Richard Nixon loses race for California governor. When Nixon loses the 1962 race for California governor, he blames the press and lashes out against the Los Angeles Times.

1963

Otis Chandler triples editorial budget in the three years he has been editor. Otis Chandler dedicates more funds in order to turn the Times into a first-rate national paper.

 

otis chandler
Otis Chander, Fourth Publisher of the Chandler Dynasty, transformed the Los Angeles Times from a conservative paper into a Pulitzer Prize-winner. | Courtesy The Huntington Library

1964

Dorothy Chandler’s Music Center opens. Emboldened by her successful campaign to save the Hollywood Bowl, Dorothy Chandler raises funds to develop three venues in which to showcase theater, music and dance. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion opens its doors on December 6, 1964. The rest of the complex — including the Mark Taper Forum and the Ahmanson Theater — is completed in April 1967.

 

Construction of the Los Angeles Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 1962
Construction of the Los Angeles Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in 1962. | Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA Library, Digital Collections/Creative Commons License

1964

Times Mirror Company goes public on New York Stock Exchange. The Los Angeles Times, through the parent Times Mirror Company, becomes the first family-owned newspaper to sell stock on the New York Stock Exchange.

1964

TIME magazine votes L.A. Times among top ten newspapers in country.

1965

Watts Rebellion. A large-scale six-day rebellion erupts in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, sparked by the police arrest of three black residents. The Watts Rebellion give Otis Chandler the chance to demonstrate that the Times is no longer the newspaper that once promoted Los Angeles as “The White Spot of America.” The Times coverage of the rebellion is extensive and focuses on understanding the roots causes of the insurrection.

 

Police and community relations came under scrutiny during and after the riots, particularly by Lt. Governor Glen Anderson. I Photo courtesy of the California State University, Dominguez Hills archives -- Watts Then and Now exhibit.
Police and community relations came under scrutiny during and after the rebellion, particularly by Lt. Governor Glen Anderson. I Photo courtesy of the California State University, Dominguez Hills archives -- Watts Then and Now exhibit.

1969

Charles Manson murders. The infamous Tate/LaBianca murders are carried out by Charles Manson and members of his cult.

1970

Ruben Salazar dies. Shortly after the Watts Rebellion, the Los Angeles Times hires its first Mexican-American journalist. In 1970, while covering a Chicano demonstration against the Vietnam War, Salazar is struck by a tear gas canister and dies. Some still debate whether his death was an accident.

 

ruben_salazar_top.jpg
Ruben Salazar

1973

Norman Chandler dies at the age of 74 from throat cancer.

1973

Chinatown premieres.The acclaimed film noir directed by Roman Polanski is released. The film, which takes place in 1930s Los Angeles, loosely depicts the city’s controversial struggle for water rights in Owens Valley.

1973

Tom Bradley becomes first African-American mayor of major U.S. city, eventually serving Los Angeles for 20 years.

 

Mayor Tom Bradley
L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1984. | Photo: L.A. Times/UCLA Library Digital Collections/Creative Commons License

1977

L.A. Times publishes more advertising than any other newspaper in the world for the 25th consecutive year.

1977

L.A. Times foreign and domestic news bureaus total 31. By 1977, the Los Angeles Times has 31 offices in the United States and around the world. Circulation reaches one million and advertising revenue continues to make it the most profitable daily in America.

1980

Otis Chandler appoints Tom Johnson as first publisher outside of the Chandler family.

1980

Times Mirror Co. becomes second largest media empire in the world behind TIME-LIFE.

1984

Los Angeles hosts 23rd Olympic Games. The Summer Olympics returns to the city of Los Angeles for a second time.

 

olympic coliseum los angeles 1984
Olympic Coliseum, Los Angeles 1984

1992

L.A. Rebellion. A series of rebellions erupts after a jury acquits four Los Angeles police officers of beating a black man, Rodney King, after a high-speed pursuit.

 

L.A. Riots
"The second day of the Riots on 3rd street I photographed this guy running past a burning Jon's market with a shopping cart full of diapers. I affectionately call this image 'A Huggies Run'." | Kirk Mckoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

1997

Dorothy Chandler dies at the age of 96.

2000

Tribune Co. buys Los Angeles Times/Times Mirror Co. for $8.3 billion

2006

Otis Chandler dies.

2016

Tribune Publishing changes its name to Tronc.

Jan. 2018

The Times newsroom votes overwhelmingly to form a union.

Feb 2018

Tronc announces the sale of the Los Angeles Times to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong.

 

LA News Patrick opt 4
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong | Still from "SoCal Connected: The News Blues"

 

Top Image: Los Angeles Times Headquarters, circa 1972. Everything that goes into making a city function as an entity of power – real estate, development, transportation – the Times was at the center of it. | Courtesy The Huntington Library

 

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