5 Historical Facts You Didn’t Know About Los Angeles

February 12, 2017 5:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

(Credit: Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

(Credit: Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)


Just when you think you know all there is to know about Los Angeles, you find out there’s a lot more. As with any big city, there are some humorous and some very dark secrets that only enthusiasts and historians may know. Sure, everyone knows that the Hollywood sign originally read “Hollywoodland” and Los Angeles was first named “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Rio Porciuncula” (The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River). But did you know there was actually a “Battle of Los Angeles” in 1942, or that LA was the first city to measure the speed of light? No? Well, here are five more facts about Los Angeles you probably didn’t know.
(credit: Tiffany L./yelp)

(credit: Tiffany L./yelp)


The LA Coroner’s Office Has A Gift Shop 
Los Angeles County Department Of Coroner
1104 N. Mission Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90033
(323) 343-0512
www.mec.lacounty.gov

The L.A. coroner’s office has a gift shop. If you have friends and family with a dark sense of humor, you can pick up a few gift items that will really make them laugh. The gift shop is called Skeletons in the Closet and caries T-shirts with chalk outlines on them, body bags, beverage travel containers that read “body fluids” and a coffin couch that is quite comfortable. There are also some gag gifts and decorations perfect for Halloween.

(credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


How Los Angeles Became The Movie Capital Of The World

Every wonder why Los Angeles became the movie capital of the world? Aside from the beautiful weather and vast landscaping, it was in fact to get away from the strict and costly patents of Thomas Edison in New Jersey. Before the turn of the century, Thomas Edison held most of the country’s film patents relating to motion picture cameras and it became a monopoly. Anyone who didn’t use Edison equipment for filmmaking was subject to costly litigation. Up to one third of independent filmmakers headed West to avoid Edison’s lawsuits and became the pioneers of the Hollywood movie industry we know today.

(credit: Shutterstock)

(credit: Shutterstock)


The Walt Disney Concert Hall Was A Driving Hazard

The Walt Disney Concert Hall was designed by Frank Gehry and cost $274 million and more than a decade of time to be completed. The structure was considered an architectural masterpiece. However, many of the exterior walls of the concert hall were made of stainless steel. As part of the aesthetic design, many of the steel walls were given a matte finish. The ones that weren’t reflected light into neighboring areas, creating “hotspots” which caused hundreds of traffic accidents and raising sidewalk temperatures as high as 140°F. They fixed the problem by lightly sanding the panels to reduce reflection.

(credit: Checubus/shutterstock)

(credit: Checubus/shutterstock)


The Original Iron Man Was A Mafia Crime Boss

L.A. was home to the original Iron Man. No, not the Marvel hero. During the 1920s L.A.’s organized crime family was lead by Joseph “Iron Man” Ardizzone, who was believed to be the first crime boss of what was known as the “Mickey Mouse Mafia.” Ardizzone kept the alcohol flowing during prohibition and controlled illegal gambling as well as loan sharking, drugs and murder. It’s not clear why Ardizzone was called Iron Man. Some speculate it was because he was a cold-blooded killer having amassed a body count of 30 men, or in jest that he was made of iron for surviving several attempts on his life. Whatever the reason, Ardizzone disappeared in October of 1931 and was declared dead by his wife seven years later.

(credit: Shutterstock)

(credit: Shutterstock)


LA Has The Steepest Street In All Of California

While there are just a handful of very steep streets in L.A., like Baxter and Fargo (and that crazy section of Sweetzer at Sunset in West Hollywood), there is a lesser-known but very steep street called Eldred. Constructed in 1912 and located near the Mt. Washington Highland Park border, Eldred St. has a 33 percent elevation grade, which is 1.5 percent higher than the steepest streets in all of San Francisco. It’s also registered as the third steepest street in the United States.

Related: LA’s Best Unusual & Unique Museums

Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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