CityDig: Los Angeles Was Once a Small Adobe Backwater

Ord Survey, Edward E.C. Ord, 1849. Click image to see full map

It was about this time of year in 1849 when Edward Otho Cresap Ord and his historically underrated assistant, William Rich Hutton, set out to survey the young city of Los Angeles. They dragged their Gunter’s chains over the mustard weed and across the old pueblo’s 17,172 acres. The Golden State had just joined the Union—which meant taxes were due to Uncle Sam—and the L.A. City Council was broke. To scrape up the cash,...

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