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The city of Los Angeles is the heart of the second largest metropolitan area in the U.S. While it's most famous for Hollywood, that is just one aspect of this sprawling and highly diverse city.
Downtown – once the center of LA, it fell into disrepair over the last few decades and was primarily a business center and home to the homeless... though recent years are seeing a revival, and trendy hotels, bars, shops and restaurants are making it a place to be again.
Eastside – a funkier area north of downtown and east of Hollywood that's rapidly being taken over by hipsters
Harbor Area – home of the largest sea port in the States, and the launching point for trips to Catalina Island
Hollywood – the place where dreams are made. It's received quite a makeover in recent years, sparked by the construction of Hollywood & Highland and the return of the Academy Awards.
South Central – gang-infested area known for producing the Bloods, Crips, MS-13 and other gangs. Many of L.A.'s rap stars come from South Central. Well-known for the '92 riots.
Westside – generally more affluent area of town, many of it's inhabitants "refuse to go East of La Cienega".
Greater Wilshire – Wilshire Blvd didn't invent the car, but it certainly put it on the map - the first gas station in the country was at Wilshire & La Brea
See also Los Angeles County for destinations in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Check the weather forecast for Los Angeles from NOAA.
Even before O.J. drove the Bronco or "The Terminator" became governor, Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles."
The Los Angeles metro area has been a "boomtown" since the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1876, first attracting "the folks" from the Midwest with a blessedly warm and dry climate--and becoming a gateway to a remarkable diversity of immigration from throughout the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
L.A. is a sprawling megalopolis; one could start in one end of L.A. and drive for more than two hours without leaving the county's influence. The metro area includes smaller cities, such as Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena and Long Beach, which were founded around the end of the nineteenth century and retain distinct identities. Geographically, there is very little logic as to what is part of the city of L.A.; for example, Hollywood is not a separate city--it is part of the City of Los Angeles--but adjacent West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are not part of the city.
The city's primary newspaper is the Los Angeles Times. The free LA Weekly comes out on Thursdays and is a good source for concerts and other local information. Local areas may have their own free papers as well.
The Los Angeles area is served by six major commercial airports and more than a dozen private airports.
Los Angeles International (IATA: LAX) is the major gateway. The airport is huge, with nine terminals, and the only way to get from terminal to terminal (other than walking) is to use the free "A" shuttle buses that run in a loop between the terminals.
1 America West, Southwest, US Airways
2 Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian, KLM, Northwest, Virgin Atlantic
3 Alaska, ATA, Frontier, Horizon, Midwest, Spirit
4 American, Qantas (Sydney)
5 Delta, Air Jamaica, China Southern
6 Continental, Aeromexico, some United international flights
8 United Express
B aka Tom Bradley International Terminal, serves most international carriers
There are also two executive terminals for commercial, private and corporate aircraft, Mercury and Landmark. Both are served by air taxi and air charter firms such as Great Circle Aviation to LAX and going to other destinations such as San Diego and San Luis Obispo. Air charter firms have much shorter check-in times (closer to 10 minutes) with the departure time customized for each flight and set by the passengers for that trip, and no long security lines, but they often charge a premium for the time savings.
In L.A., an automobile is nearly essential, and connections to and from the airport are poor. There is no direct train service, although there are free shuttle buses to Aviation Station on the Metro Green Line, and half-hourly LAX FlyAway shuttles to Union Station. Taxis to downtown L.A. cost $45 and take 30 minutes in good traffic, but can be far slower in rush hour. On your return to the airport, be sure to arrive two hours before your flight as queues for security are often notoriously long and time-consuming.
The others are Long Beach Airport (IATA: LGB), Bob Hope (Burbank) Airport