It’s known as the ‘City of Angels’ and is widely recognised as the entertainment capital of the world. You may also be familiar with it as ‘Tinsel Town’ or even ‘La-La-Land’, but one thing we know for sure is that whatever name it goes by, Los Angeles is a city that’s certainly never dull.
It’s the world-famous home of Hollywood, paradise to the stars and the epitome of ‘cool’. We’ve all seen the Hollywood sign, we know about the Lakers and we’ve even heard the moans about terrible LA traffic – but there’s so much about this crazy city that you’ve probably never heard of!
View of Downtown LA. Picture via Flickr
Did you know that when LA was founded, its full name was ‘El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Rio Porciuncula’, which means ‘The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River’ – quite the mouthful!
Did you know that LA became the entertainment capital of the world in a bid to get away from Thomas Edison? No? Well, Edison, who lived in New Jersey at the time, was in possession of most the country’s film patents; so, filmmakers sought sanctuary in the West, in LA, to avoid Edison’s battles regarding intellectual property rights.
And did you know that if Los Angeles were its own independent country, its economy would be bigger than Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Sweden’s!
Seriously, there are so many quirky things to learn and see in the city of LA, we’d be here all year if we were to try to name them all. So, for all you trendy la-la-lads and ladies, we’ve picked eight of our favorites. Here are the things we think every student should know before moving to high school in LA:
1. The City of Angels is home to the coolest homes and buildings in the whole of the United States – and you probably will have seen them in some of your favourite movies!
Seriously, you don’t have to be an architect to realise LA is an architectural dream – you just need to open your eyes! The city is widely considered to be home to some of America’s most impressive buildings, beating the likes of other U.S. metropolitan juggernauts like Chicago, and even New York.
Here are some LA buildings you definitely need to check out:
The Downtown Los Angeles Public Library is an architectural feat. The historic Goodhue Building was constructed in 1926 and is now widely recognised as one of LA’s most iconic landmarks. The Richard Riordin Central Library Complex is the third largest public library in the United States in terms of books and periodical holdings, and is definitely worth a visit!
The Ennis House, the last and largest of the four concrete-block houses completed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924. The building has become iconic to the city of LA as it served as the location in a number of Hollywood Blockbusters, including Ridley Scott’s visual spectacular Blade Runner. It has also appeared in 90s TV cult-classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jackie Chan favorite Rush Hour, and has even been represented in our favorite cartoon town South Park.
The Story Book Houses of Los Angeles, an architectural style that was all the rage in the 1920s and 30s, leaving many fantastical buildings scattered across the city. Prompted by imagination and magic, or blue sunny skies and daydreams, these are the houses that make you feel like you’ve entered another world. These mystical buildings include the Witch’s House, the Charlie Chaplin Cottages – in which the famous man himself once resided – and the Snow White Cottages, which housed one of Disney’s key animators for Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) and is rumored to have been the very inspiration for the fairy tale woodland cottages featured in the movie.
Make sure you bring your camera so you can take full advantage of some of the most amazing photo opps this city has to offer!
2. LA is a legitimate champion, ranking No.1 in the USA for a host of different things…
You bet’cha! LA is one of America’s most notorious cities, and to build up such an esteemed reputation, the city has invested a lot of time and money into really being the BEST!
Getty Museum. Picture via Wikimedia Commons
Here are just a few things for which LA has been ranked first:
- The Port of Los Angeles has been ranked the most active in the nation;
- LA is home to the most musical acts in America;
- It is the city that hosts the most sports training facilities in the USA;
- LA’s Getty Museum is ranked the best private museum in the world;
And this diverse cultural melting-pot is also home to the biggest Korean, Hispanic, Japanese, Thai and Native American populations in America, making it one of the most multicultural cities in the world in which to live and study.
3. LA is a shopper’s paradise!
You better believe it! LA is of course the home of Rodeo Drive, arguably the world’s most costly and sophisticated retail hub, but it also hosts the trendiest flagship stores, unique boutiques, and bargain-boasting enclaves, the likes of which your wallets have NEVER seen!
For cutting edge fashion beyond Beverly Hills, check out the endless options on Melrose Ave., the hottest trend-setting Sneaker stores on Fairfax, and the Fashion District in Downtown. If you’re looking for some of the best bargains for thrifty and unique style, there’s always the UCLA Thrift Shop, the Council Thrift Shop, Squaresville, or the enormous St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store near Dodger Stadium just to name a few that will boost your style but NOT break your bank.
But why stop there?! LA is a shopping haven and you can rest assured there’ll be shops entirely dedicated to your style, no matter how weird or wonderful.
4. The city is home to the Time Travel Mart… arguably the COOLEST shop in the world, and a wealth of other shopping spots to claim your quirky LA memorabilia…
More food for the imagination in the heart of Los Angeles! All proceeds from this mind-boggling shop go to 826LA, a non-profit organisation that supports students’ aged 6-18 years with both creative and expository writing skills, and helps teachers get their students inspired.
It’s really the only place to get hold of a fresh dinosaur egg, to purchase that much needed tin of Mammoth Chunks, or even obtain those crucial pills to stop the dreaded time travel sickness…
Other great shops include Sweet! Hollywood, where you can experience Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for real; Wacko Soap Plant which features a cool selection of off-the-wall books, gifts, toys, handmade soaps and crafts from local artisans; and Cinema Secrets, a professional Hollywood cosmetics store where you can stock up on crazy wigs and costume supplies to your heart’s content!
But the list doesn’t stop there – get out! Explore! Find the craziest stores this up-beat city has to offer!
5. LA is a playground for adventure…
LA receives 40 million visitors who bring in over $15 billion worth of tourism revenue each and every year – what is it about the city that keeps them coming back? Well, there’s just so much to see and do in this bustling metropolis that people have to come back just to tick all the attractions off their list!
Disneyland California Adventure. Image via Flickr
On top of LA’s five major theme parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios, the city is also home to 10 world-reputed professional sporting teams and dozens of fun-filled zoos and aquariums. But, with more than 75 miles of glorious, sun-streaked coastline and beaches, on top of 24 thousand acres of open green space and parkland, there is also so much fun to be had in this city without having to spend a dime!
6. All that glitters…creates jobs!
You may know that Hollywood is known as the entertainment capital of the world, but did you know that this means that the LA area is responsible for the production of almost $50 billion in film and entertainment sales annually?
This is probably directly related to some impressive facts about LA: It has the highest rate of income growth in the country, the most freelance creative workers and musicians in the country, and Los Angeles was also listed as the tenth top city in the nation recently in terms of job growth, with an increase of 2.61% over last year. And before anyone gets that far? Los Angeles is ranked first in the nation for most residents with at least a Bachelor’s degree. There are a lot of creative, smart, and motivated people in La-La-Land!
7. LA is home to the coolest Museums in America…
Visit the Hollywood Museum, home to the most extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world, and ranked the Number 1 tourist destination in LA weekly. If that doesn’t quite float your boat, try the Pasadena Bunny Museum; the Petersen Automotive Museum; the Los Angeles Police Museum; or the Museum of Jurassic Technology, all of which promise a unique glimpse into fascinating and unfamiliar worlds!
LACMA. Image via Pixabay
Of course, LA is home to your more conventional museums such as The Getty, the LACMA and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and the Broad Museum, all world-renowned hubs for art and history. As far as museums go, LA has pretty much got it covered!
8. LA is greener than you think!
Los Angeles has a reputation for its traffic and subsequent smog, but the city is full of people working towards positive change. LA is home to over 500 Energy Star buildings and leading the industry in green building over the past five years. The city was also recently named #1 for solar power, which is incorporated into many of the city’s largest plans including the famous Staples Center, home to the LA Lakers, Clippers, and Kings!
Hiking at Griffith Park. Image courtesy of American University Preparatory School
In addition to green energy, LA’s natural landscape provides green space in the heart of the city. At 4,310 acres, Griffith Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America. Hikers can enjoy dozens of trails all year round thanks to the beautiful Southern California weather. If Griffith Park isn’t challenging for enough, Runyon Canyon, Temescal Canyon, and Malibu Canyon all offer hiking trails with stunning views at the top!
With miles and miles of coastline, thousands of acres of parks, hundreds of miles of hiking and bike riding trails, LA definitely boasts more stunning natural landscape than you might think!
AUPS. Image courtesy of AUPS
This article was sponsored by American University Preparatory School (AUPS), the first and only preparatory high school in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Students live together on site in a safe, inclusive and family-like environment that makes the best of the city’s coolest locations and attractions – like the Walt Disney Concert Hall that is home to the Los Angeles philharmonic orchestra and some of the world’s finest musical offerings.
The school is uniquely positioned to provide domestic and international students with a truly unique set of academic and social skills that will take them far in America’s top colleges, universities, and conservatories. AUPS’s interdisciplinary curriculum, steeped in the rich artistic and cultural environment of Downtown Los Angeles, is the perfect setting for developing young (emerging) global leaders.