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Life in Southern California
 

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Nineteenth-century Southern California little resembled the bustling metropolitan atmosphere that exists in the region today.  Northern California's population and economy virtually exploded during the Gold Rush, but Southern California remained relatively unpopulated and undeveloped until much later in the century.

According to the census of 1850, less than ten percent of the state's population resided in Southern California.  Cattle ranching, rather than gold mining, dominated the region's economy, and geographic distance from the state capitol made good governance difficult.  In 1859, Governor John Downey described Southern Californians as "an agricultural people, thinly scattered over a wide extent of country.  They complain that the taxes upon their land and cattle are ruinous." 


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"Kuchel and Dresel's California Views, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, 1857," drawn by Kuchel & Dresel, printed by Britton & Rey. Ephemera  Collection, California State Archives.

 "Kuchel and Dresel's California Views, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, 1857," drawn by Kuchel & Dresel, printed by Britton & Rey.

This lithograph depicts the City of Los Angeles and several of its buildings as they appeared in 1857.  Eventually rail transportation, the rise of the citrus industry, and vigorous promotion of Southern California's healthful climate drew more people to the area.  By the year 2000, over sixty percent of California's population lived in this region.

Ephemera Collection, California State Archives



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