This timeline highlights some of the important events that happened in or affected Los Angeles between 1930 and 1985.
1930 Olvera Street and LAX open.
David Alfaro Siqueiros, Mitin en la calle / Street Meeting, 1932, Archivo CENIDAP/INBA
Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco paints his first mural in the U.S. at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Learn more about it here.
1932 David Alfaro Siqueiros, another Mexican muralist,
completes three murals in seven months while visiting
California. These include América Tropical, Portrait of
Mexico Today and Street Meeting.
1939 Union Station opens. Its development displaces L.A.’s
original Chinatown, which moves to its present-day
1941 The U.S. enters World War II
Dorothea Lange (U.S., b. 1985- d. 1965)First Braceros, ca. 1942 Source: Dorothea Lange Collection, Oakland Museum of California, City of Oakland. Gift of Paul S. Taylor
1942 The Bracero Program, which brings Mexican laborers
to the U.S. as short-term agricultural contract workers,
1942 The Sleepy Lagoon murder trial results in the arrest of
300 Mexican American youth. Twelve are convicted for
the murder of José Diaz at a reservoir near Maywood in
Southeast L.A. The sentences are overturned in 1944
due to lack of evidence.
1942 Walt Disney Animation Studios produces Saludos Amigos,
a film commissioned by the Department of State to repair
relations between the U.S. and Latin American countries.
Executive Order 9066 is enforced. Japanese Americans are
evacuated from the city center, including Little Tokyo.
They are deported to internment camps outside of
1943 The Zoot Suit riots begin when European-American
sailors attack Mexican American youth wearing the
banned suits. WWII rationing of fabric marks the suits
as unpatriotic and frivolous.
Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USF34-011543-D.
John Ferrell (U.S.)Washington, D.C. Soldier inspecting a couple of "zoot suits" at the Uline Arena during Woody Herman's Orchestra engagement there, 1942
1950 The Labyrinth of Solitude by Mexican writer Octavio Paz
is published. It contains essays inspired by the time the
author spent in Los Angeles, such as “El pachuco y los
1954 “Operation Wetback” deports 3.8 million Mexicans and
Mexican Americans. Watts Towers is completed by
1955 Speedy Gonzales, a cartoon starring a “Mexican” mouse,
wins the 1955 Academy Award for Best Short Subject,
Cartoons. Disneyland opens.
1958 The Brooklyn Dodgers move to Los Angeles and become
the L.A. Dodgers
1960 The Lakers move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles
Cris Sanchez, Farm Worker Rally in Salinas, 1970, Source: CDE Cesar Chavez Research Center (CA Dept of Education)
1962 The National Farm Workers Association, which will later
become the United Farm Workers Union, is founded by
César Chávez and Dolores Huerta in Delano, California.
1964 The Vietnam War begins. The Bracero Program, which
brought more than three million Mexican workers to
the U.S., ends.
1965 The United Farm Workers begins a grape boycott in
support of farm workers in the San Joaquín Valley.
As the boycott receives national attention, consumers
across the U.S. refuse to buy grapes.
Burning Buildings During Watts Riots, 1965, Source: New York World Telegram
1965 The 1965 Immigration Act abolishes quotas and instead
focuses on reuniting the families of immigrants already in
the U.S. Immigration is primarily from Latin America and
Asia. The Watts Riots begin and last for five days.
1967 The whitewash that covered the Siqueiros mural América
Tropical begins to peel off. A new generation of artists is
inspired by the work of Siqueiros.
1968 Robert Kennedy is assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel
in Los Angeles.
1968 10,000 Mexican American students walk out of East L.A.
high schools to protest racism.
1970 Chicanos stage the “Chicano Moratorium Against the
Vietnam War” which draws over 20,000 to the streets
of Los Angeles. L.A. Times columnist Rubén Salazar is
murdered by police officers later that day.
1971 The performance art group, ASCO, is formed in East
Los Angeles. They remain active until 1985.
1976 Judy Baca begins painting the Great Wall of Los Angeles.
Yolanda Lopez (U.S., b. 1942) Portrait of the Artist as la Virgen de Guadalupe, Oil pastel on paper, 1978, courtesy of the artist
1978 Yolanda López attains international celebrity for her
series of images based on the Virgen of Guadalupe.
1979 Guillermo Gómez Peña, a recent immigrant from
Mexico City, presents his performance piece The
Loneliness of the Immigrant.
1979 Mexican artist Mónica Mayer studies at the Woman’s
Building in L.A. as a part of the Feminist Art Program.
1981 John Valadez paints Broadway Mural in Downtown
1984 The XXIIIrd Olympiad takes place in Los Angeles.