Today KCET Departures kicks off a new series called "The Laws That Shaped LA" with the story of why Los Angeles was originally established 30 miles inland, by the Los Angeles River, instead of in a more beach-proximate location, like, say, Long Beach. Turns out it's those Laws of the Indies again (they're also responsible for Downtown's askew grid), which were issued in 1573 by King Phillip II of Spain and "regarded as the first urban planning manual to reach the Americas." Urban planner James Rojas explains to KCET that Spanish New World cities had to be built "twenty miles from the sea ('to avoid any attacks from pirates,'...), near a freshwater source ('the L.A. River') and close to a native tribe ('for labor')." Rojas says that makes LA's settlement pattern uniquely Spanish--if the Dutch or English had settled the area, the original Los Angeles probably would have been somewhere near Long Beach, which had two rivers, plentiful resources, and a larger native population.
· Laws That Shaped L.A.: Why Los Angeles Isn't A Beach Town [KCET]
· Downtown Isn't Drunk, It's Following the Laws of the Indies [Curbed LA]