World War II was the driving force behind the making of modern Los Angeles. The aircraft and shipbuilding industries provided jobs for minorities and women, setting a precedent for the rise of aerospace and other high-tech industries to come. As GIs returned to live there, the population surged by more than a million during the 1950s. But growth brought the rise of labor unrest, and discrimination against women and minorities in the workforce and in housing.
Even before the war, Los Angeles was famous as the home of Hollywood, but it became a center for electronic media, first for radio and then television, and ultimately, virtual-reality entertainment. The music industry was also a major part of the growth in LA’s creative industries.
Los Angeles’ cultural life was also transformed postwar as major institutions matured or emerged on the scene: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty, the Hammer, the Broad, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Music Center in downtown, augmented by the Disney Concert Hall, is the axis of a cluster of wide-ranging music and performing arts sites spread across the metropolitan area. As well, the city’s educational institutions rank among the finest in the nation, including the University of California at Los Angeles, the California Institute of Technology, and the campuses of the State University of California.
Join lecturer Bill Keene as he examines the social and economic forces that made Los Angeles the powerhouse it is today.
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