southern california history

Chinatown opened on 20 June 1974.

Written by Robert Towne (with Jack Nicholson in mind for the part of J.J. Gittes) – who was inspired by Carey McWilliams’ history Southern California Country: An Island on the Land (1946). Producer Robert Evans and director Roman Polanski argued about the ending of the film. Evans wanted a happier, more triumphant ending. Polanski refused and wrote the final scene himself (Towne was initially critical of film’s ending, but ultimately decided that “Polanski was right”).

Polanski had hired cinematographer William Fraker (who had worked with Polanski on Rosemary’s Baby), but Evans fired Fraker and replaced him with John A. Alonzo (he was nominated for an Academy Award).

Chinatown was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but only won 1, for best screenplay.


I was excited for the butterfly exhibit, unfortunately it sold out *cried in Spanish*. Anyways my day was pretty good! I was so giddy when I saw the dinosaur exhibit, BUT I HONESTLY WISH NICOLE WOULD HAD BEEN THERE SITTING NEXT TO ME. I PROBABLY WOULD HAD BEEN LAUGHING THE WHOLE TIME AND PEEKING IF SHE WAS LAUGHING TOO! IT WAS A REALLY GOOD EXHIBIT PROBABLY BC IM A FREAK FOR DINOSAURS 10/10 FR! *inserts a dino emoji*.

SP 4412 GS-2 Daylight, SLO-Horseshoe Curve 
July 4th, 1937

The curve near Cuesta has just been reballasted. As the new Daylight tried to round the upgrade curve the locomotive drivers could not gain traction. Finally a 2-10-2 was called out from San Luis Obispo to add a little tractive effort.


“When a girl was born in 1910, her mother sighed…”

Women’s History Month kicks off today, so we’re highlighting a former Angeleno who was once hailed as “a living symbol of the new Chinese woman”: journalist Betty Wang, who arrived in L.A. in 1934 to study at USC.

You might think 2000 was ancient – think “Oops! … I Did It Again” and clunky CD players – but try going eight decades back.

Chinese women were once “something to be owned” – first by her parents, then her husband, Wang wrote in an article published in 1934 in the L.A. Times.

“Tradition bound our feet. Home was our world. We had a dozen men to rule us.”

And what did Chinese women do, other than homemaking? “She tottered around, embroidered, read poems if she was educated, and sat.”

So it’s easy to see how Betty was a symbol of modernity in 1934. She majored in sociology and graduated from the University of Shanghai. Then she worked as a reporter for the China Press in Shanghai before coming to Los Angeles to study at USC. 

“Now, the world is our home. Thank god – for your Western World. Chinese women have changed.”

Sure, there’s still progress to be made – in California, women make 84 cents for every man’s dollar – but women have made amazing strides toward equality since then. Women are CEOs. Women lead countries. Women head school districts, create businesses and spearhead humanitarian efforts around the world. Next year, a woman might even become the next president of the United States. 


Know about an interesting Angeleno (or place in Los Angeles) we should highlight for Women’s History Month? Tag us with #WeAreLA or tweet us @latimes.

coming soon, a collaboration with Lauren Lollie Nelson

[ The Human Use of Human Fish follows a single mother/amateur vlogger as she navigates and negotiates the precarity of neoliberalism. The play is about conspiracy, dolphins, Southern California, and the history of cybernetics…. ]