Los Angeles County, California

Los Angeles County, officially the County of Los Angeles, is the most populous county in the United States and in the U.S. state of California, with more than ten million inhabitants as of 2018. It is the largest non–state-level government entity in the United States. Its population is greater than that of 41 individual U.S. states. It has the third-largest metropolitan economy in the world, with a Nominal GDP of more than $700 billion. It has 88 incorporated cities and many unincorporated areas and, at 4,083 square miles (10,570 km2), it is larger than the combined areas of Delaware and Rhode Island. The county is home to more than one-quarter of California residents and is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the United States. Its county seat, Los Angeles, is also California's most populous city and the second most populous city in the United States, with about four million residents.

History

Brochure for Los Angeles, c. 1930.

Los Angeles County is one of the original counties of California, created at the time of statehood in 1850. The county originally included parts of what are now Kern, San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo, Tulare, Ventura, and Orange counties. In 1851 and 1852, Los Angeles County stretched from the coast to the state line of Nevada. As the population increased, sections were split off to organize San Bernardino County in 1853, Kern County in 1866, and Orange County in 1889.

Prior to the 1870s, Los Angeles County was divided into townships, many of which were amalgamations of one or more old ranchos. They were:

Geography

Los Angeles and adjacent counties
Los Angeles County before the secession of Orange County in 1889.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has an area of 4,751 square miles (12,310 km2), of which 4,058 square miles (10,510 km2) (85%) is land and 693 square miles (1,790 km2) (15%) is water. Los Angeles County borders 70 miles (110 km) of coast on the Pacific Ocean and encompasses mountain ranges, valleys, forests, islands, lakes, rivers, and desert. The Los Angeles River, Rio Hondo, the San Gabriel River and the Santa Clara River flow in Los Angeles County, while the primary mountain ranges are the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Gabriel Mountains. The western extent of the Mojave Desert begins in the Antelope Valley, in the northeastern part of the county.

Most of the population of Los Angeles County is located in the south and southwest, with major population centers in the Los Angeles Basin, San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley. Other population centers are found in the Santa Clarita Valley, Pomona Valley, Crescenta Valley and Antelope Valley.

The county is divided west-to-east by the San Gabriel Mountains, which are part of the Transverse Ranges of southern California, and are contained mostly within the Angeles National Forest. Most of the county's highest peaks are in the San Gabriel Mountains, including Mount San Antonio 10,068 feet (3,069 m)) at the Los Angeles-San Bernardino county lines, Mount Baden-Powell 9,399 feet (2,865 m), Mount Burnham 8,997 feet (2,742 m) and Mount Wilson 5,710 feet (1,740 m). Several lower mountains are in the northern, western, and southwestern parts of the county, including the San Emigdio Mountains, the southernmost part of Tehachapi Mountains and the Sierra Pelona Mountains.

Los Angeles County includes San Clemente Island and Santa Catalina Island, which are part of the Channel Islands archipelago off the Pacific Coast.

Lakes and reservoirs

Major divisions of the county

National protected areas

Demographics

Los Angeles County had a population of 9,818,605 in the 2010 United States Census. This includes a natural increase since the last census of 583,364 people (i.e., 1,152,564 births minus 569,200 deaths) and a decrease due to net migration of 361,895 people. Immigration resulted in a net increase of 293,433 people, and migration from within the United States resulted in a net decrease of 655,328 people.

The racial makeup of Los Angeles County was 4,936,599 (50%) White, 1,346,865 (13.7%) Asian, 856,874 (9%) African American, 72,828 (0.7%) Native American, 26,094 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 2,140,632 (21.8%) from other races, and 438,713 (4.5%) from two or more races.

Non-Hispanic whites numbered 2,728,321, or 28% of the population. Hispanic or Latino residents of any race numbered 4,687,889 (48%); 36% of Los Angeles County's population was of Mexican ancestry, 3.7% Salvadoran, and 2.2% Guatemalan heritage.

The county has a large population of Asian Americans, being home to the largest numbers of Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, and Thai outside their respective countries. The largest Asian groups in Los Angeles County are 4.0% Chinese, 3.3% Filipino, 2.2% Korean, 1.0% Japanese, 0.9% Vietnamese, 0.8% Indian, and 0.3% Cambodian.

Historical population
CensusPop.
18503,530
186011,333221.0%
187015,30935.1%
188033,381118.0%
1890101,454203.9%
1900170,29867.9%
1910504,131196.0%
1920936,45585.8%
19302,208,492135.8%
19402,785,64326.1%
19504,151,68749.0%
19606,038,77145.5%
19707,041,98016.6%
19807,477,4216.2%
19908,863,16418.5%
20009,519,3387.4%
20109,818,6053.1%
2019 (est.)10,039,1072.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2018

Race and ancestry

The racial makeup of the county is 48.7% White, 11.0% African American, 0.8% Native American, 10.0% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 23.5% from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. 44.6% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. The largest European-American ancestry groups are German (6%), Irish (5%), English (4%) and Italian (3%). 45.9% of the population reported speaking only English at home; 37.9% spoke Spanish, 2.22% Tagalog, 2.0% Chinese, 1.9% Korean, 1.87% Armenian, 0.5% Arabic, and 0.2% Hindi.

The county has the largest Native American population of any county in the nation: according to the 2000 census, it has more than 153,550 people of indigenous descent, and most are from Latin America.

As estimated by the Public Policy Institute of California in 2008, Los Angeles County is home to more than one-third of California's undocumented immigrants, who make up more than ten percent of the population.

Los Angeles County is home to the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia.

2000

Map of Los Angeles County showing population density in 2000 by census tract

At the 2000 census, there were 9,519,338 people, 3,133,774 households, and 2,137,233 families in the county. The population density was 2,344 people per square mile (905/km2). There were 3,270,909 housing units at an average density of 806 per square mile (311/km2).

Of the 3,133,774 households 37% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48% were married couples living together, 15% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32% were non-families. 25% of households were one person and 7% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.61.

The age distribution was 28% under the age of 18, 10% from 18 to 24, 33% from 25 to 44, 19% from 45 to 64, and 10% 65 or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.0 males.

Income

Percent of households with incomes above $150k across LA County census tracts.

The median personal earnings for all workers 16 and older in Los Angeles County are $30,654, slightly below the US median; earnings, however vary widely by neighborhood, race and ethnicity, and gender. The median household income was $42,189 and the median family income was $46,452. Males had a median income of $36,299 versus $30,981 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,683. There are 14.4% of families living below the poverty line and 17.9% of the population, including 24.2% of under 18 and 10.5% of those over 64. Los Angeles County has the highest number of millionaires of any county in the nation, totaling 261,081 households as of 2007.

The homeownership rate is 47.9%, and the median value for houses is $409,300. 42.2% of housing units are in multi-unit structures. Los Angeles County has the largest number of homeless people, with "48,000 people living on the streets, including 6,000 veterans.", in 2010. As of 2017 the number of homeless in the county of Los Angeles increased to nearly 58,000.

Religion

In 2015, there were over two thousand Christian churches, the majority of which are Catholic. Roman Catholic adherents number close to 40% of the population. There were 202 Jewish synagogues, 145 Buddhist temples, 48 Muslim mosques, 44 Baháʼí Faith worship centers, 37 Hindu mandirs, 28 Tenrikyo churches and fellowships, 16 Shinto worship centers, and 14 Sikh gurdwaras in the county. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has approximately 5 million members and is the largest diocese in the United States. In 2014, the county had 3,275 religious organizations, the most out of all US counties.

Law, government, and politics

Charter of the County of Los Angeles, with amendments through March 2002

Government

The Government of Los Angeles County is defined and authorized under the California Constitution, California law and the Charter of the County of Los Angeles. Much of the Government of California is in practice the responsibility of local governments such as the Government of Los Angeles County.

The county's voters elect a governing five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The small size of the board means each supervisor represents over 2 million people. The board operates in a legislative, executive, and quasi-judicial capacity. As a legislative authority, it can pass ordinances for the unincorporated areas (ordinances that affect the whole county, like posting of restaurant ratings, must be ratified by the individual city). As an executive body, it can tell the county departments what to do, and how to do it. As a quasi-judicial body, the Board is the final venue of appeal in the local planning process, and holds public hearings on various agenda items.

As of 2020, the Board of Supervisors oversees a $35.5 billion annual budget and over 112,000 employees. The county government is managed on a day-to-day basis by a Chief Executive Officer and is organized into many departments, each of which is enormous in comparison to equivalent county-level (and even many state-level) departments anywhere else in the United States. Some of the larger or better-known departments include:

The Grand Avenue entrance of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs – offers consumers in the county a variety of services including: consumer and real estate counseling, mediation, and small claims counseling investigates consumer complains, real estate fraud and identity theft issues. The department also provides small business certifications and helps entrepreneurs navigate the process of opening a business.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services – administers foster care
  • Los Angeles County Fire Department – provides firefighting services for the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, as well as 58 cities.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Health Services – operates several county hospitals and a network of primary care clinics,
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health – administers public health programs including STD programs, smoking cessation, and restaurant inspection. In the majority of the county LACDPH puts letter grades relating to the food cleanliness and safety of a restaurant in the front window of restaurants.
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services – administers many federal and state welfare programs
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Works – operates countywide flood control system, constructs and maintains roads in unincorporated areas
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney – prosecutes criminal suspects.
  • Los Angeles County Office of the Public Defender – Defends indigent people accused of criminal offenses.
  • Los Angeles County Probation Department
  • Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department – provides law enforcement services for the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, as well as 42 cities.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, despite its name, is not a County department. Technically it is a state-mandated county transportation commission that also operates bus and rail.

Politics

Los Angeles County vote
by party in presidential elections
YearGOPDEMOthers
202026.8% 1,145,53071.0% 3,028,8852.1% 89,950
201622.4% 769,74371.7% 2,464,3645.8% 200,201
201227.8% 885,33369.6% 2,216,9032.4% 78,831
200828.8% 956,42569.1% 2,295,8531.9% 65,970
200435.6% 1,076,22563.1% 1,907,7361.3% 39,319
200032.3% 871,93063.4% 1,710,5054.1% 112,719
199630.9% 746,54459.3% 1,430,6299.7% 233,841
199229.0% 799,60752.5% 1,446,52918.4% 507,267
198846.8% 1,239,71651.8% 1,372,3521.2% 32,603
198454.5% 1,424,11344.3% 1,158,9121.1% 29,889
198050.1% 1,224,53340.1% 979,8309.6% 235,822
197647.7% 1,174,92649.6% 1,221,8932.5% 62,258
197254.7% 1,549,71742.0% 1,189,9773.2% 90,676
196847.6% 1,266,48046.0% 1,223,2516.3% 168,251
196442.5% 1,161,06757.4% 1,568,3000.0% 1,551
196049.4% 1,302,66150.2% 1,323,8180.3% 8,020
195655.3% 1,260,20644.2% 1,007,8870.3% 7,331
195256.2% 1,278,40742.7% 971,4081.0% 24,725
194846.5% 804,23247.0% 812,6906.4% 112,160
194442.6% 666,44156.7% 886,2520.5% 8,871
194040.5% 574,26658.1% 822,7181.2% 18,285
193631.6% 357,40167.0% 757,3511.3% 15,663
193238.5% 373,73857.1% 554,4764.2% 41,380
192870.2% 513,52628.7% 209,9451.0% 7,830
192465.5% 299,6757.3% 33,55427.1% 124,228
192069.1% 178,11721.5% 55,6619.3% 23,992
191650.5% 135,55442.5% 114,0706.8% 18,297
19121.3% 2,18133.3% 55,11065.3% 108,005
190856.7% 41,48330.2% 22,07613.0% 9,518
190466.5% 32,50720.5% 10,03012.9% 6,346
190055.1% 19,20037.7% 13,1587.1% 2,490
189649.6% 16,89147.1% 16,0433.2% 1,108
189244.8% 10,22635.6% 8,11919.4% 4,434
188854.6% 13,80540.0% 10,1105.3% 1,349
188451.6% 5,59543.2% 4,6835.0% 551
188047.9% 2,91446.9% 2,8535.1% 316
187645.7% 3,04254.3% 3,616
187251.1% 1,31247.8% 1,2281.1% 27
186837.7% 74862.3% 1,236
186442.7% 55557.3% 744
186020.3% 35640.0% 70339.7% 697
185637.8% 52152.4% 7219.8% 135
185246.4% 49753.6% 574

Overview

Los Angeles County tends to favor the Democratic Party. Even when California was a state that favored the Republican Party, the county would go for the Democratic nominee. It has voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election cycle since 1988. However, it did vote twice for Dwight Eisenhower (1952, 1956), Richard Nixon (1968, 1972), and Ronald Reagan (1980, 1984) the latter two of whom were California politicians. From 1920 to 1984 it was a bellwether county that always voted for the eventual national winner. Since 1984, it has only voted against the national popular vote winner in 1988 and 2004. In 2008 and 2012, sixty percent of the electorate voted for Democrat Barack Obama. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton won 71% of the vote, marking both the largest margin of any Democratic victory in the county as well as the largest percentage of the electorate ever won by a single candidate in the county.

Voter registration

In the United States House of Representatives, Los Angeles County is split between 18 congressional districts: In the California State Senate, Los Angeles County is split between 15 legislative districts: In the California State Assembly, Los Angeles County is split between 24 legislative districts:

On November 4, 2008, Los Angeles County was almost evenly split over Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The county voted for the amendment 50.04% with a margin of 2,385 votes.

Legal system

The Los Angeles Superior Court, is the county's court of general jurisdiction, while the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California may hear cases where federal jurisdiction is present. Both are headquartered in a large cluster of government buildings in the city's Civic Center.

Historically, the courthouses were county-owned buildings that were maintained at county expense, which created significant friction since the trial court judges, as officials of the state government, had to lobby the county Board of Supervisors for facility renovations and upgrades. In turn, the state judiciary successfully persuaded the state Legislature to authorize the transfer of all courthouses to the state government in 2008 and 2009 (so that judges would have direct control over their own courthouses). Courthouse security is still provided by the county government under a contract with the state.

Unlike the largest city in the United States, New York City, all of the city of Los Angeles and most of its important suburbs are located within a single county. As a result, both the county superior court and the federal district court are respectively the busiest courts of their type in the nation.

Many celebrities have been seen in Los Angeles courts. In 2003, the television show Extra (based in nearby Glendale) found itself running so many reports on the legal problems of local celebrities that it spun them off into a separate show, Celebrity Justice.

State cases are appealed to the Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District, which is also headquartered in the Civic Center, and then to the California Supreme Court, which is headquartered in San Francisco but also hears argument in Los Angeles (again, in the Civic Center). Federal cases are appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which hears them at its branch building in Pasadena. The court of last resort for federal cases is the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Crime

The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates

Other statistics

Crime in 2013

  • Homicides: 386
  • Thefts: 54,971
  • Burglaries: 17,606
  • Car Thefts: 15,866
  • Robberies: 10,202
  • Violent Crimes: 20,318
  • Rapes: 843
  • Assaults: 8,976
  • Murders: 297

Economy

Employment by industry in Los Angeles County (2015)

Los Angeles County is commonly associated with the entertainment and digital media industry; all five major film studiosParamount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios—are located within the county. Numerous other major industries also define the economy of Los Angeles County, including international trade supported by the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, music recording and production, aerospace and defense, fashion, and professional services such as law, medicine, engineering and design services, financial services and more. High-tech sector employment within Los Angeles County is 368,500 workers, and manufacturing employment within Los Angeles County is 365,000 workers.

The following major companies have headquarters in Los Angeles County:

Education

The Los Angeles County Office of Education provides a supporting role for school districts in the area. The county office also operates two magnet schools, the International Polytechnic High School and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. There are a number of private schools in the county, most notably those operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

Colleges

Universities

Sites of interest

L.A. County Fair at dusk, 2008
Photo of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art during its 2005 Ancient Egypt exhibit.

The county's most visited park is Griffith Park, owned by the city of Los Angeles. The county is also known for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, the annual Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the La Brea Tar Pits, the Arboretum of Los Angeles, and two horse racetracks and two car racetracks (Pomona Raceway and Irwindale Speedway), also the RMS Queen Mary located in Long Beach, and the Long Beach Grand Prix, and miles of beaches—from Zuma to Cabrillo.

Venice Beach is a popular attraction whose Muscle Beach used to attract throngs of tourists admiring "hardbodies". Today, it is more arts-centered. Santa Monica's pier is a well known tourist spot, famous for its Ferris wheel and bumper car rides, which were featured in the introductory segment of the television sitcom Three's Company. Further north in Pacific Palisades one finds the beaches used in the television series Baywatch. The fabled Malibu, home of many film and television stars, lies west of it.

In the mountain, canyon, and desert areas one may find Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, where many old Westerns were filmed. Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains is open for the public to view astronomical stars from its telescope, now computer-assisted. Many county residents find relaxation in water skiing and swimming at Castaic Lake Recreation Area – the county's largest park by area – as well as enjoying natural surroundings and starry nights at Saddleback Butte State Park in the eastern Antelope Valley – California State Parks' largest in area within the county. The California Poppy Reserve is located in the western Antelope Valley and shows off the State's flower in great quantity on its rolling hills every spring.

Museums

Entertainment

Music venues

Amusement parks

Other attractions

Other areas

Transportation

Major highways

Air

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), located in the Westchester district, is the primary commercial airport for commercial airlines in the county and the Greater Los Angeles Area. LAX is operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), an agency of the City of Los Angeles.

Other important commercial airports in Los Angeles County include:

The following general aviation airports also are located in Los Angeles County:

The U.S. Air Force operates three airports in Los Angeles County:

Rail

Los Angeles is a major freight-railroad transportation center, largely due to the large volumes of freight moving in and out of the county's sea port facilities. The ports are connected to the downtown rail yards and to the main lines of Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe headed east via a grade-separated, freight rail corridor known as the Alameda Corridor.

Passenger rail service is provided in the county by Amtrak, Los Angeles Metro Rail and Metrolink.

Amtrak has the following intercity Amtrak service at Union Station in the city of Los Angeles:

Union Station is also the primary hub for Metrolink commuter rail, which serves much of the Greater Los Angeles Area.

Light rail, subway (heavy rail), and long-distance bus service are all provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

Sea

The county's two main seaports are the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. Together they handle over a quarter of all container traffic entering the United States, making the complex the largest and most important port in the country, and the third-largest port in the world by shipping volume.

The Port of Los Angeles is the largest cruise ship center on the West Coast, handling more than 1 million passengers annually.

The Port of Long Beach is home to the Sea Launch program, which uses a floating launch platform to insert payloads into orbits that would be difficult to attain from existing land-based launch sites.

Ferries link the Catalina Island city of Avalon to the mainland.

Communities

Cities

There are 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County. According to the 2018 Estimate, the most populous are:

Largest cities, 2018 Estimate
CityPopulation
Los Angeles
3,990,456
Long Beach
467,354
Santa Clarita
210,089
Glendale
201,361
Lancaster
159,053
Palmdale
156,667
Pomona
152,361
Torrance
145,182
Pasadena
141,371
El Monte
115,586
Downey
112,269
West Covina
106,311
Norwalk
105,120
Burbank
103,695

Unincorporated areas

Census designated places

Unincorporated Communities

Proposed Communities

See: Los Angeles Almanac MAP: Unincorporated Areas and Communities of Los Angeles County

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Los Angeles County.

county seat

See also

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Los Angeles County, California, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.