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Comparison of New York and Los Angeles

Free essay On every coin released by the government of the United States, it is possible to read three Latin words: E Pluribus Unum. This phrase is translated from Latin as “Out of many, one”. It is considered the motto of the country. Its presence on the coins is meant to remind people that the United States is a country made up of many parts. The United States of America is a union of equal states that have voluntarily united into a single whole. It is a country with 50 states and a great number of big and small cities. All of them are different in terms of their history and culture. Indeed, each state differs from its history, nature, lifestyle, architecture, and even laws because apart from federal laws, there are also local ones. The legislation is rather different in each state based on the history of the state and the ethnic composition of its inhabitants. In such a way, the history of the United States of America is mainly the history of each state. Thus, it is highly important to know every state of the country. The purpose of the current paper is to compare the history, culture, and architecture of such famous American cities as New York and Los Angeles.

History of New York

New York and Los Angeles are considered some of the largest cities in the world. They are also the most famous cities on the planet. The authors David Halle and Andrew Beveridge state that “New York and Los Angeles are the nations’ two largest cities and urban regions” (1). Therefore, it is important to compare them. Despite the fact that the capital of the United States of America in Washington, D.C., many people from other countries consider New York the most important city in the country. It is located on the Atlantic coast in the south-eastern part of New York State. The city is divided into five districts – Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan, which were merged into one city. Manhattan is considered the most famous district of the city as the main attractions are located there. New York was founded at the beginning of the XVII century and initially, it was called New Amsterdam. In the past, on the territory of the present-day New York, Indian tribes lived. The first European inhabitants appeared in 1624 when a Dutch company specializing in the fur trade was founded in New Amsterdam (Kupperberg 15). Thus, the region was originally inhabited by immigrants from the Netherlands. It is interesting to note that in the names of the surrounding areas in New York, such as Harlem, traces of the Dutch people’s settlements are still preserved. Nevertheless, these days, it is difficult to find a Dutchman on the streets of New York. Despite this fact, this city is home to a large number of other nationalities. It is considered home to the largest Jewish community in the world. In 1664, the governor gave the city to the British in exchange for the Suriname colony (Kupperberg 29). The Duke of York immediately renamed the city to New York. Since that time, the city is known as New York.

Almost 100 years later, in 1776, there was the largest battle of the American Revolution in Brooklyn (Kupperberg 41). However, the Americans were defeated in it. The city became the British military and political headquarters. Only seven years later, the Americans again became in possession of the city. In the XIX century, the size of New York rapidly increased (Kupperberg 55). It was associated with the huge influx of immigrants from different countries. During this period, the architectural development of the city plan was created. In 1835, New York became the biggest city in the United States (Kupperberg 55). Since the beginning of the XX century, the city has grown into the most influential industrial and financial center in the world. In the 1930s, several skyscrapers were built in New York. During this time, it became the first metropolis in the world that exceeded the mark of 10 million inhabitants (Kupperberg 56). Return of the veterans after World War II and safeguarding of New York during the war marked the postwar economic boom and the growth of large residential areas. New York with its Wall Street and the United Nations headquarters occupied the leading political and economic position in the country and the world in general.

History of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is part of the state of California. The name of this city can be translated as “a city of angels”. It is considered the second American city in terms of the population size being home to the representatives of all nationalities of the world. The history of New York and Los Angeles is highly different. First of all, Los Angeles was occupied by Europeans earlier than New York. Besides, the first settlers of New York were the Dutch while those of Los Angeles were the Spaniards. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo is the name of the captain of the first ship from Europe who crossed the ocean in search of new lands (Guinn and Beck 5). In July 1542, his crew landed in the bay which now bears the name San Diego (Guinn and Beck 5). At that time, there was a settlement of Indians Yang-Na. In the book A History of California and an Extended History of Los Angeles, it is written that “the Indians were of the good statue and fair complexion, the women being somewhat less in size than the men and of pleasing countenance” (Guinn and Beck 15). The next guest from Europe reached these territories only in 227 years (Guinn and Beck 6). The Spaniards organized a small colony and afterward, the village was founded. By 1820, a small colony turned into a rather large settlement, which was inhabited by more than 600 people (Guinn and Beck 37). Since that time, this European colony began to rapidly develop.

Unlike New York, which was once the territory of England, in the history of Los Angeles, there was a period when the area belonged to Mexico. As a result of the Mexican-American War and the Peace Treaty in 1848, the settlement became part of the US territory and in two years, it received a status of the city (Guinn and Beck 54). Clearly, it was a turning point, which predetermined further development of the city. The second half of the XIX century marked the period of the rapid development of trade, transport network, and agriculture in Los Angeles (Guinn and Beck 64). Discoveries of oil reserves attracted finances to the city and the number of inhabitants grew exponentially. Similarly to New York, World War II also played a significant role in Los Angeles as many scientists moved here from Europe (Guinn and Beck 98). This fact also contributed to the rapid development of the city. In such a way, Los Angeles has a long history that contains both bright and dark events.

The Architecture of New York

New York is a relatively young city and its planning is not burdened by centuries-old formations of architectural and historical eras. Skyscrapers constitute the basis of the modern architecture of New York. Although skyscrapers are now common all over the world, the architectural appearance of New York is commonly associated with super-high buildings. The city has more than 5,500 high-rise buildings, about 50 of which have a height of over 200 meters (Halle and Beveridge 327). By the number of buildings, New York is inferior only to Hong Kong. Therefore, skyscrapers are a real landmark of the city.

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Except for numerous skyscrapers, New York City is also rich in other architectural objects. The main symbol of New York is the Statue of Liberty. It is also the symbol of the whole country. It is one of the most recognizable statues in the world. It depicts the ancient Greek goddess Liberty, which is the embodiment of independence and freedom. In the left hand of the statue, there is a tablet on which the date when the country gained independence is written. In the right hand, there is a burning torch. The Statue of Liberty is made of large sheets of copper (Halle and Beveridge 330). It contains a large number of hidden symbols. For example, it is viewed that the flame of the torch illuminates the whole world. The crown on the head of the statue symbolizes the sun and seven teeth on it are seven continents and seven oceans. Thus, the Statue of Liberty is really a symbol of the whole world.

Another important object of the city is Central Park. As mentioned above, the population of the city began to grow fast in the XIX century and people lacked fresh air and green area in the rapidly developing city. Therefore, it was decided to project a big park that would be another hallmark of the city. Central Park covers an area of 840 acres (Halle and Beveridge 331). The northern part of the park represents a wilderness area while the southern part is a regular park. The park contains many objects of architectural structures. They include a two-level terrace, Bethesda Fountain, and the Gothic bridge. It is worth noting that the bridge was built in the second half of the XIX century (Halle and Beveridge 331). Its name is derived from the decorative elements that are reminiscent of the ornaments of the old Gothic cathedrals. In addition to architectural objects discussed above, the city of New York is famous for other constructions and monuments that attract tourists from all over the world.

The Architecture of Los Angeles

Los Angeles also attracts many people from different countries to admire the architecture of the city. The architecture of Los Angeles is different from that of New York. It is mainly explained by the fact that this city is considered the American and world’s capital of show business. In the book New York and Los Angeles, it is stated that “New Yorkers looking at Los Angeles are blinded by the angelic light, confused by the lack of a center and intoxicated by the sexy superficiality” (Halle and Beveridge 469). A great number of stars live in Los Angeles. The sign of Hollywood is a symbol of the state of California. A famous sign is located on the hill of Mount Lee. Tourists have a chance to admire the sign and take photos as the view of the inscription opens best from a viewing platform in Griffith Park. Many people come to see this sign.

A common architectural feature of Los Angeles and New York in the presence of skyscrapers. It is obvious that Los Angeles does not have such a great number of them as New York but some of the buildings are extremely famous and popular among tourists. It primarily applies to Watts Towers. These towers are one of the symbols of Los Angeles. They represent a complex of 17 buildings that are up to 30 meters high (Halle and Beveridge 470). In their construction, interesting building materials were used such as broken glass, steel bottoms of bottles, seashells, and tiles. It is worth noting that the creator of the towers, Simon Rodia, was not even an architect. Despite this fact, he constructed the world-famous towers. The US Bank Tower is another high-rise symbol of Los Angeles. It is a 73-story skyscraper and its main characteristic is a light facade and stepped architecture (Halle and Beveridge 470). Therefore, it is true that skyscrapers can be called outstanding architectural monuments of the XXI century.

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Similarly to New York, Los Angeles has many parks. In addition, there is also one famous park. However, in contrast to New York with its big green park, the most famous park in Los Angeles is associated with its status as the capital of American cinematography. It is called Universal Studios Hollywood. It is a place that is advisable to visit for the 3D show based on such films as The Terminator and The Mummy, jet skiing, and travel on the river, on the banks of which dinosaurs walk (Halle and Beveridge 472). There are also horror houses, family rides, and tours to see decorations of the studio. It allows visitors to learn how their favorite movie was shot. This park is as popular as Central Park in New York.

General Atmosphere in New York and Los Angeles

It is difficult to refer to Los Angeles as just a city and even a metropolis. Rather, it is the common name for a dozen small cities, districts, and neighborhoods. It is virtually impossible to survive in a place like this without a personal car. When each of the twenty million local residents has a car, it is impossible to avoid such problems as road congestion. In New York, the situation is different. Only taxi drivers and residents of neighboring New Jersey have cars. The main urban transport is the subway that operates round the clock and can take passengers to the most distant suburbs. Thus, in Los Angeles, the main transport includes cars while in New York, it is the subway.

Lifestyle is extremely different in these two cities. Residents of Los Angeles do not like to rush and appreciate quiet hours. Everyone knows in this city about the latest news regarding fashion, dieting, and sports. People in Los Angeles enjoy spending time outdoors and do not tolerate to work at full stretch. New massage centers and meditation studios are opened in the city on a regular basis. It is part of the urban subculture. New York is completely different. The city lives in an eternal rush. People constantly make deals, meet with partners, and discuss new projects. Such a way of life is totally reflected on the external appearance of the local people. Thus, it is another difference between these two cities.

The glory of Hollywood gives no rest to a great number of people and, thus, many young people from all over the world come to the city in hopes of success. As a result, Los Angeles has gained fame in the city, where few people have full-fledged work. Most people usually find various alternate projects and wait for the rare chance to get to the heart of the world film industry. However, according to the research, only 3% of the Los Angeles population works in the movie industry. In New York, the situation is different. When a person has a high-paid job, he/she clearly knows the future prospects. However, it is not enough. A person still needs to prove that he/she is doing something worthwhile. New Yorkers are not surprised by the education at the University of the Ivy League and work for the best international companies. It can be seen that these cities have a completely different attitude to work.

Another differing aspect between these two cities is the weather that influences a way of life of the residents. In Los Angeles, it is rather comfortable to live all year round. The sun shines the whole year round and, therefore, the residents of Los Angeles do not experience emotional fluctuations when seasons change. In New York, there are traditional winter and seasons follow each other in the customary manner. Such a factor as the weather may seem insignificant. Nonetheless, it is proved that the weather greatly influences the mood and the state of the health of people. Thus, in Los Angeles, people get sick less often than in New York. It is associated with the number of sunny days per year. This factor also has a great impact on the mental health of people. It is known that in the areas with more sunny days, people are friendlier and have fewer emotional problems.

In regard to these cities, it is said that while New York rises up, Los Angeles grows in breadth. In Los Angeles, people have to spend more hours in cars, while in New York people have to pay more money for a small room. In New York, people become part of the urban ecosystem, where concrete structures with high-tech parks and squares are organically intertwined. These days, High Line Park is considered a favorite modern city park for many residents. It was built on an abandoned overground subway branch giving new life to the whole quarter of New York. In Los Angeles, the situation is different. The city is located on a hilly area between the ocean and the mountains. Los Angeles is in a zone of high seismic activity. Earthquakes happen in this region about two hundred times a year. For this reason, the city authorities frequently limit architects. In most parts of the city, it is prohibited to build high-rise buildings. The construction of a new house on the hills can become a great problem. As a result, the city adapts to the surrounding nature and does not change it. Reserves move to the settlements, while parks are transferred to the residential neighborhoods. A concrete freeway web connects different parts of the city. These aspects related to the architecture of the cities make Los Angeles and New York completely different.


From the point of view of the government, the United States is a single country. However, the fact that it consists of 50 different states makes this country unique. Every state is different and all of them have something in common at the same time. The paper provides a comparison of two American cities – New York and Los Angeles. They are considered two of the most important cities on the map of the United States of America. It can be seen that these two cities are different in a number of ways and similar in some others. Both of them were once part of other countries. They are both cosmopolitan and economically developed. Their architecture is rich in skyscrapers and parks. It is significant to note that Los Angeles and New York have contrasting cultures and their citizens are the bearers of radically different values and habits. However, most important is that these two cities have gained enormous fame within the country and beyond its boundaries.

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