What caused southern California to become such an attractive destination?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,980
SoCal
Ever since at least 1880, California's center of population gravity has steadily moved southwards:



Whereas California's main population base was in northern California in the late 19th century, this significantly changed during the 20th century and beyond--when a lot of California's population growth occurred in southern California. Why exactly did southern California grow so rapidly over the last 140 or so years? Indeed, why did northern California lose some of its appeal?

Also, as a side question--was there any other city in southern California that could have become the central population hub of southern California like Los Angeles became in real life?
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,488
Dispargum
The movie industry (which would later morph into TV as well) chose LA because they could shoot outdoors year round and at the time, (the 1910s) unemployment was high in LA so there was lots of cheap labor for building sets, sewing costumes, etc.

Southern California agriculture got a boost with the invention of refrigeration. California can grow fresh fruits and vegetables year round and refrigeration allowed this fresh produce to be shipped anywhere in the country without canning or other forms of preservation.

LA has a nicer climate than San Francisco*, but LA has almost no natural source of water. Mulholland completed the Los Angeles Aqueduct system in the 1910s thereby removing a major bottleneck to LA's growth potential.

* "The coldest winter I ever passed was a summer in San Francisco" - Mark Twain
 

Edratman

Forum Staff
Feb 2009
6,702
Eastern PA
The answer is water. The great climate is responsible for people wanting to live there, but the municipal efforts to expand the water supply is the reason supporting the population growth.

LA averages about 15" of rainfall (not quite desert), and is situated on a small river, the LA river. This simply wasn't enough water to support of large metropolis and agriculture. In 1913 the LA Reservoir was completed, channeling the water from the Owens River to LA. The Metropolitan Water District was formed in 1928 to vastly expand the water supply system for a growing LA.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,980
SoCal
Same as Florida, warm weather almost year round, nice beaches, and very shady real-estate practices.
Why's the last part attractive?

The movie industry (which would later morph into TV as well) chose LA because they could shoot outdoors year round and at the time, (the 1910s) unemployment was high in LA so there was lots of cheap labor for building sets, sewing costumes, etc.

Southern California agriculture got a boost with the invention of refrigeration. California can grow fresh fruits and vegetables year round and refrigeration allowed this fresh produce to be shipped anywhere in the country without canning or other forms of preservation.

LA has a nicer climate than San Francisco*, but LA has almost no natural source of water. Mulholland completed the Los Angeles Aqueduct system in the 1910s thereby removing a major bottleneck to LA's growth potential.

* "The coldest winter I ever passed was a summer in San Francisco" - Mark Twain
Very interesting information!

BTW, where did the water for the Los Angeles Aqueduct system come from? From the Colorado River?
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
21,980
SoCal
The answer is water. The great climate is responsible for people wanting to live there, but the municipal efforts to expand the water supply is the reason supporting the population growth.

LA averages about 15" of rainfall (not quite desert), and is situated on a small river, the LA river. This simply wasn't enough water to support of large metropolis and agriculture. In 1913 the LA Reservoir was completed, channeling the water from the Owens River to LA. The Metropolitan Water District was formed in 1928 to vastly expand the water supply system for a growing LA.
Makes sense. BTW, I'm surprised that southern California hasn't stopped growing even nowadays. I wonder if and when we are going to have a severe water crisis here. :(
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,528
Las Vegas, NV USA
The aircraft and aerospace industry gave the LA area a boost. Civic leaders pushed the climate and availability of labor at lower costs than in the east or midwest. The water issue was solved (at the time) with the aqueduct system. One of the best light rail systems ever built promoted real estate development. Sadly it was replaced by the freeway system after WWII.

Southern California Aerospace Industry - Hughes Historic District