Los Angeles, California in the 1920s.

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The Los Angeles (LA) of the roaring 20s was very different from present day LA. Developing technology helped the burgeoning film industry emerge to become a major industry, with Hollywood at its center. Up until that point, LA was heavily agricultural. According to LAcounty.gov:

For about a half century between San Fernando’s 1874 founding and the 1920s, the community was considered an “agricultural gem” set in the San Fernando Valley.

Oil speculation also attracted tremendous interest during this period, which, combined with the growth of the film industry, led to significant population growth in LA. When the decade opened, the population of the City of Los Angeles was 576,673. At the close of the decade, it had more than doubled (+115%) to 1,238,048. Over the same period, the population of Los Angeles County grew from 936,455 to 2,208,492, up 136%, according to the LA Almanac.

Some of the growth came from people relocating to LA, attracted by new opportunities and the glamour of working in the film industry. Some of the growth also reflected LA County’s ongoing efforts to annex local towns, in part, to help it develop a more economical and scalable water system. Pre-development LA had access to what LAgov.com calls “an ample and reliable water supply” until the 1920s, but the rapid expansion of the population and ongoing industrial development put pressure on that supply. LA was faced with the prospect of building new, costly infrastructure to secure its water supply, which led to the “Water Wars” of the 1920s.

In 1923, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford helped fight LA's proposed annexation of Beverly Hills. In addition to Fairbanks and Pickford, the anti-annexation platform included celebrities such as Will Rogers and Rudolph Valentino.

Many of the old-time residents of LA and Beverly Hills looked down on the film industry and the actors who were rising to prominence. Nevertheless, these celebrities helped thwart LA's plan to annex Beverly Hills.

Toward the end of the decade, silent films gave way to “talkies,” which enabled the film industry to grow even more rapidly. The first film ever released with sound, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, debuted in 1927.

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