The city of Los Angeles has a long and storied history, and its name is no exception. The Spanish governor called the settlement El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula, or The City of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula. This name was later shortened to Los Angeles, and it has been used ever since. In 1999, the charter of the City of Los Angeles was ratified by voters, creating a system of advisory neighborhood councils to represent the diversity of stakeholders in the area.
These councils are relatively autonomous and spontaneous, as they identify their own boundaries, establish their own statutes, and elect their own officials. There are currently about 90 neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. Residents of Los Angeles also choose supervisors for supervisory districts 1, 2, 3 and 4.In addition to the rail service provided by Metrolink and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan, the Los Angeles Transportation Authority has intercity Amtrak passenger trains. The city's main train station is Union Station, located just north of the city center.
The city also contracts directly for local and commuter bus service through the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT). As home to Hollywood and its entertainment industry, numerous singers, actors, celebrities and other artists live in several districts of Los Angeles. The city is also rich in native plant species due to its diversity of habitats, including beaches, wetlands and mountains. Latino street gangs such as Los Sureños (a Mexican-American street gang) and Mara Salvatrucha (which mainly has members of Salvadoran descent) originated in Los Angeles.
The city has a diverse economy and is home to companies in a wide range of professional and cultural fields. It also hosts the annual Academy Awards, the Primetime Emmys, the Grammy Awards and many other entertainment industry awards. Los Angeles is often characterized by the presence of low-rise buildings, unlike New York City. Despite city congestion, the average daily travel time of travelers in Los Angeles is shorter than in other major cities such as New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago.
As with much of the southwestern United States, the area surrounding what is now Los Angeles once belonged to Spain. Between 1908 and 1915, however, the Los Angeles City Council created several exceptions to the extensive prohibitions that applied to three residential areas in order to allow some industrial uses to emerge. Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean climate, its ethnic and cultural diversity, its Hollywood film industry and its extensive metropolitan area. It is also home to Port of Los Angeles (also called WORLDPORT LA), which occupies 30 km of land and water along 43 miles (69 km) of coastline.
Outside some centers such as Downtown, Warner Center, Century City, Koreatown, Miracle Mile, Hollywood and Westwood, skyscrapers are not common in Los Angeles. The area is also subject to phenomena typical of a microclimate which cause extreme temperature variations in close physical proximity to each other. As part of its creative industry, four major broadcast television networks (ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC) have production facilities and offices in several areas of Los Angeles. There are numerous additional colleges and universities outside city limits in the greater Los Angeles area including the Claremont Colleges consortium which includes some of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the United States.
The area that became Los Angeles was home to Chumash and Tongva indigenous peoples before it was claimed by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo for Spain in 1542.