This is one of the earliest dated photo I could find of Los Angeles at the public library site. It's circa 1869, and shows the Plaza from a hill.
Julian Chavez--for whom Chavez Ravine is named--was elected to Los Angeles' City Council on July 3, 1850, and resigned only 8 weeks later. I don't know why. Fifteen years later, he was elected to the City Council and served for a year on several committees. He continued in public service into the 1870s.
He's one of over 40,000 individuals who have been elected or appointed to work for our city over the past 162 years.
That's the kind of information you can find out on the City Officials Historical Database, now online. Dates of elections, what kinds of committees we had back then--boring to some, invaluable to others.
If you like this kind of research, check out the Database's Reference page, which has links to all sorts of sites. This Introduction Section and a User Page explains how to use the database. Compiling lists of all the city's office holders started in the 1930s, under the New Deal.
Weird to imagine that such records didn't formally exist before then. Did we simply rely on memory? Private grants allowed this project to go online.
Guess where I was for the last week? Two hints: Touring the nation's capital on a Segway is tremendous fun. Being caught in a storm while on a sightseeing boat in the Potomac at night is not.