56 Vintage Photos of California During the Early 20th Century

California is a state in the Western United States. California borders Oregon to the north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and the Mexican state of Baja California to the south. With over 39.5 million residents across a total area of approximately 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), it is the most populous and the third-largest U.S. state by area. It is also the most populated subnational entity in North America and the 34th most populous in the world. The Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second and fifth most populous urban regions respectively, with the former having more than 18.7 million residents and the latter having over 9.6 million. Sacramento is the state’s capital, while Los Angeles is the most populous city in the state and the second most populous city in the country (after New York City). Los Angeles County is the country’s most populous, while San Bernardino County is the largest county by area in the country. San Francisco, which is both a city and a county, is the second most densely populated major city in the country (after New York City) and the fifth most densely populated county in the country, behind four of New York City’s five boroughs.

The economy of California, with a gross state product of $3.2 trillion as of 2019, is the largest sub-national economy in the world. If it were a country, it would be the 37th most populous country and the fifth largest economy as of 2020. The Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation’s second- and third-largest urban economies ($1.0 trillion and $0.5 trillion respectively as of 2020), after the New York metropolitan area ($1.8 trillion). The San Francisco Bay Area Combined Statistical Area had the nation’s highest gross domestic product per capita ($106,757) among large primary statistical areas in 2018, and is home to five of the world’s ten largest companies by market capitalization and four of the world’s ten richest people.

Prior to European colonization, California was one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in pre-Columbian North America and contained the highest Native American population density north of what is now Mexico. European exploration in the 16th and 17th centuries led to the colonization of California by the Spanish Empire. In 1804, it was included in Alta California province within the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The area became a part of Mexico in 1821, following its successful war for independence, but was ceded to the United States in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. The western portion of Alta California was then organized and admitted as the 31st state on September 9, 1850, following the Compromise of 1850. The California Gold Rush started in 1848 and led to dramatic social and demographic changes, including large-scale immigration into California, a worldwide economic boom, and the California genocide of indigenous people.

Notable contributions to popular culture, for example in entertainment and sports, have their origins in California. The state also has made noteworthy contributions in the fields of communication, information, innovation, environmentalism, economics, and politics. It is the home of Hollywood, the oldest and largest film industry in the world, which has had a profound effect on global entertainment. It is considered the origin of the hippie counterculture, beach and car culture, and the personal computer, among other innovations. The San Francisco Bay Area and the Greater Los Angeles Area are widely seen as centers of the global technology and entertainment industries, respectively. California’s economy is very diverse: 58% of it is based on finance, government, real estate services, technology, and professional, scientific, and technical business services. Although it accounts for only 1.5% of the state’s economy, California’s agriculture industry has the highest output of any U.S. state. California’s ports and harbors handle about a third of all U.S. imports, most originating in Pacific Rim international trade.

The state’s extremely diverse geography ranges from the Pacific Coast and metropolitan areas in the west to the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east, and from the redwood and Douglas fir forests in the northwest to the Mojave Desert in the southeast. The Central Valley, a major agricultural area, dominates the state’s center. Although California is well known for its warm Mediterranean climate and monsoon seasonal weather, the large size of the state results in climates that vary from moist temperate rainforest in the north to arid desert in the interior, as well as snowy alpine in the mountains. All these factors lead to an enormous demand for water. Over time, droughts and wildfires have increased in frequency and become less seasonal and more year-round, further straining California’s water security. (Wikipedia)

Looking north on Broadway from near 3rd Street showing streetcars, Los Angeles, California, 1900
Osen and Hunt Auto Factory, San Jose, California, 1900
The beach and Cliff House in San Francisco, California, 1902
Hotel Virginia in Long Beach, California, 1905
San Francisco, California, 1906
Downtown Los Angeles on Spring and First Street as it looked in the early 1900s.
Huntington Beach Pier, 1910.
Seal Beach Amusement Park, 1919.
A streetcar in San Diego in 1915 on 5th and Broadway.
Catalina Island in the early 1900s.
The view of the Redondo Beach pier and pavilion, 1915.
Venice, CA in 1913 on Windward Avenue. The banner is announcing a game between the Chicago White Sox and Venice Tigers.
Town of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island with new Metropole Hotel and Grand View Hotel, 1905
Venice Beach Amusement Park in the early 1900s.
Santa Barbara in the early 1900s. A view of the downtown area on State Street is pictured here.
Santa Monica in the early 1900s on 3rd and Broadway. The Bank Building is pictured here.
Ruins of City Hall after the earthquake in San Francisco, California, 1906
View of North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley from the Santa Monica Mountains, 1909.
View of Hollywood in 1905, looking west by southwest from Laughlin Park.
Highland and Franklin in Hollywood, 1903.
Glendale as it looked in 1915 on Brand Boulevard.
San Pedro in 1907 on a commercial stretch of Beacon Street between 5th and 6th Street.
Highland Avenue north of Hollywood Boulevard, 1906.
Rural East Hollywood, 1905.
Long Beach Pike, 1915
Long Beach Pier, 1905
A glimpse of Santa Ana circa 1910 at Fourth Street and Main during the Ringling Bros. Circus parade.
Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Drive, 1911.
The Cahuenga Valley from Normandie and Melrose, 1900.
Cabbage packing industry near the Whittier Brick Company, California in 1910
Horses and carriages on the beach near the Long Beach Pier, 1900.
Visitors to Long Beach model their bathing suits, 1910.
The Fresno Brewing Company in 1913.
A Santa Monica beach scene in the early 1900s at the North Beach Bath House.
Sunbathing at Long Beach in front of the Bath House wearing suits, dresses and hats! 1900s
By the Long Beach Bath House, 1906
El Centenario Cafe, Los Angeles, early 1900s
Huge crowds surround the All Night And Day Bank on the corner of Spring Street and Sixth Street, Los Angeles, 1910
The rock quarry at Folsom State Penitentiary, California, 1910
Avalon Bay, California, 1910.
First National Bank, corner of Greenleaf and Philadelphia in Whittier, California, 1907
Ostrich at Cawston Ostrich Farm in South Pasadena, California, 1910s
In the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 1900
Market Street and Palace Hotel, San Francisco, 1900
A day’s catch at Big Lagoon, California, 1908
Pedestrians in downtown Los Angeles in the early 1900s with Grand Ave. trolley car in background. This photo was published in the Jan. 3, 1950 Los Angeles Times.
Maypole dance at Mills College in Oakland, 1910
View of the pier and pavillion at Redondo Beach, 1915
The corner of Olive and 5th Streets, downtown L.A. in 1910.
Panoramic view of Avalon Harbor, showing steamboat at center of harbor, Santa Catalina Island, 1910
Panoramic view of Avalon Harbor from the north, showing boats in the harbor, Santa Catalina Island, 1900
Pasadena, looking north along Fair Oaks Avenue from Colorado Street, 1910
Fair Oaks Avenue looking south from Colorado Boulevard. Pasadena, 1903
Bathers at Long Beach, 1910
Ocean Park Beach in Santa Monica, 1914
Long Beach, 1919

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