Thursday 14 July 2011

The America project - California

California (CA) size 160,700 sq.m population 37.3 million

Bordering states Orgeon, Nevada, Arizona (3)
State capital Sacramento
Most populous city Los Angeles
Other notable places San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Fresno, Long Beach
Notable landmarks and natural features Yosemite National Park; Death Valley; Sierra Nevada; Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Statehood 9th September 1850 (31st)

Ten famous Californians
Cher (singer and actress; born El Centro, 1946 -)
Dian Fossey (zoologist; born San Francisco, 1932-1985)
Gene Hackman (actor; born San Bernadino, 1930 -)
Steve Jobs (businessman; born San Francisco, 1955 -)
Billie Jean King (tennis player; born Long Beach, 1943 -)
Randy Newman (musician and songwriter; born Los Angeles, 1943 -)
Richard Nixon (politician, 37th President of the USA; born Yorba Linda,1913-1994)
Brian Wilson (musician; born Inglewood, 1942 -)
Tiger Woods (golfer; born Cypress, 1975 -)
Don Van Vliet (musician and artist; born Glendale, 1941-2010)

Three important events

1. San Francisco earthquake (18th April 1906)
California sits on the eastern edge of the Pacific Ring Of Fire, recently in the news of course for its causing the Japanese tsunami in March. California's faultline - the San Andreas Fault - is probably the most famous geological faultline in the world and San Francisco residents are always mindful of The Big One. This was A Big One. It measured 8 on the Richter Scale but what made it particularly devastating was that it ruptured the city's gas mains, causing a monumental fire which destroyed 490 city blocks. An estimated 3425 people died, the highest ever death toll for a natural disaster in US history.

2. Birth of Hollywood (1910)
The American film industry began in New York and was ruled over by the gimlet money-making eye of Thomas Edison, whose inventions and technology had made it all possible. As his financial demands squeezed creativity ever tighter, pioneering director D.W. Griffith looked west to find a new place to shoot. What he discovered was a small village just outside of Los Angeles, mostly given over to growing oranges. Here the light was perfect and the sun shone for 300 days out of the year. Within a decade, every major motion picture house was based in Hollywood.

3. Los Angeles Riots (29th April - 4th May 1992)
Los Angeles is something of a tinderbox of racial tension, and when ignited by a spark the results can be very spectacular. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, the Watts area of the city erupted into an enormous conflagration. In 1992, the trigger was footage of the police brutally beating a black motorist, Rodney King. In the 6 days of rioting, looting and arson, US$1 billion of damage was done and 53 people were killed.

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