Los Angeles ( (listen); Spanish: Los Ángeles; Spanish for "The Angels"), officially the City of Los Angeles and often known by its initials L. A. , is the most populous city in California, the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City, and the third most populous city in North America. With an estimated population of nearly four million, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California.
Even before the rolling blackouts, or O.J.'s ride in the infamously-slow Bronco chase, or Arnold "the Terminator" Schwarzenegger became governator of the state, 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 some "folks" from the Midwest and East Coast with warm winters, becoming a gateway to a remarkable diversity of immigration from throughout the Pacific Rim and Latin America. The city of Los Angeles is huge. From the Sylmar district in the north to the Port of Los Angeles in the south, the drive can be close to an hour and a half long; possibly longer once traffic is factored in. The L.A. metropolitan area includes smaller cities, such as Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena, Long Beach, Anaheim, and Riverside some of which were founded around the end of the nineteenth century and retain distinct identities. Geographically, some district names in the city of Los Angeles are so common, that they are believed by some to be separate cities when in fact, they are actually neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Hollywood, Van Nuys, Encino, and Bel-Air are just some well-known examples of neighborhoods that are actually within Los Angeles and not separate entities, while West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, for instance, are actually independent cities.