Happy Birthday, Los Angeles! But is the Story of the City's Founding a Myth?

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Happy Birthday, Los Angeles! But is the Story of the City's Founding a Myth?

L.A. as Subject's latest contribution to KCET.org features images related to the 1781 founding of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, an event shrouded in myth and local lore:

September 4 marks the traditional anniversary of the 1781 founding of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles (The Town of the Queen of the Angels).

In a scene that will be reenacted this Saturday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and descendants of the pueblo's original colonists, the 44 founding pobladores (townspeople) marched as a group from Mission San Gabriel Arcángel to the historic Los Angeles Plaza at the southern end of Olvera Street. There, Governor Felipe de Neve welcomed the procession and presided over a grand ceremony commemorating the town's founding. It was a celebration worthy of the birth of a great city.

Except that none of it actually happened.

In recent decades, scholars have turned to journals, correspondence, maps, official records, and other carefully preserved eighteenth-century documents to piece together the actual story of the agricultural settlement's founding. And, like Romulus and Remus, the traditional narrative has proven to be more myth than fact: the original pobladores arrived separately at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, some settled the townsite as early as June 1781, and September 4 was likely an arbitrary date that Neve used in his report to his superiors—one that was marked with little pomp and circumstance.

Keep reading the full post at KCET.org.