There are some trivia facts about Los Angeles that almost everybody knows. Like the fact that we don’t walk practically anywhere in this city. There are more cars than people in L.A. Or that restaurants won’t serve food after 9 p.m. But I bet there are a few fun facts about Los Angeles that might have slipped by you, even if you are an Angeleno.
Fun Facts About Los Angeles
Some of these fun facts are quite a culture shock if you travel here from other parts of the world, so get ready to for some surprises.
 Los Angeles’s name was not always “Los Angeles”
When Los Angeles became a city, its full name was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Porciúncula .” That would translate to “The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River.” The city’s name officially changed in 1850 when Los Angeles became an American city.
 Los Angeles has some nicknames
Los Angeles has a few nicknames. The best know is the City of Angels. Less know ones are the Big Orange, the City of Flowers and Sunshine and LA LA Land.
 The Hollywood Sign didn’t always say “Hollywood”
The Hollywood Sign is one of the most iconic sights in Los Angeles and visiting it should definitely be at the top of any Los Angeles itinerary. But the worldwide symbol of the U.S. movie industry has a very dull and uninteresting beginning.
Many people believe the Hollywood Sign was part of a movie set, but it was actually an outdoor billboard for a real-estate development.
The original Hollywood sign initially read “Hollywoodland.” 4,000 20-watt bulbs illuminated the sign. Over the decades, the sign fell into complete disrepair.
In 1949, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce removed the last four letters and restored it. But despite the restoration, the sign began to deteriorate again. By the 1970s the the Hollywood sign was an absolute wreck. The municipality even decided to tear it down completely.
In 1978, none other than Hugh Hefner, the Playboy magazine founder, stepped in and raised funds to rebuild the sign and preserve the iconic landmark.
 L.A. wasn’t always the home of the film industry
The City of Angels is famous for being the land of show biz, but it hasn’t always been that way. The original location of the entertainment industry was in Atlantic City. So why did it move to L.A.? Basically to get away from Thomas Edison.
Edison held most of the country’s film patents and established a monopoly on all aspects of filmmaking. In Los Angeles filmmakers found freedom from his claims, cheap land and plenty of labor.
 There are secret tunnels under the city
Did you know there is an underground maze of tunnels under Downtown Los Angeles? Yes, that’s true. If you take a tour of Los Angeles your guide will probably tell you about them.
The tunnels run from Temple and Spring streets to 1st Street and Grand Avenue. Some are abandoned subway underpasses. Others date back to the Prohibition era when people used them for smuggling liquor to some of the shady establishments in Los Angeles.
There are some creepy stories about these tunnels. Some say Mafia mobsters used them to store dead bodies. Others say the police used them as a hideout place for transport prisoners and large sums of cash.
Due to the many earthquakes in California, these tunnels are now mostly closed off. However, there are some that remained open and are sometimes used as film locations.
 Los Angeles has some pretty weird laws on the books
• In Los Angeles there is a law against licking frogs. The Law came in power after some teenagers in Los Angeles found out that a certain type of toad’ skin contains hallucinogens.
• Doing it doggystyle is a crime in Los Angeles. The law only applies to dogs who mate within 500 yards of a church. The act punishable by a fine of $500 and/or six months in prison.
• In Los Angeles it’s illegal for a man to beat his wife with a strap wider than 2 inches without her consent. Attention husbands: make sure she puts it in writing before you pull out your belt!
 Oscar Fun Facts and Trivia
Since 1950, Oscar winners cannot officially sell their statuette. Before taking home the Oscar, the laureates have to sign an agreement according to which they can’t sell their trophy without first offering it back to the Academy for one dollar.
The Kodak Theatre –the tenth and current venue of the Academy Awards– has a capacity of 3322 seats. On the night of the Oscar ceremony, as not all those who are invited show up, the Academy employs seat fillers to make sure that every single space is filled.
Who are these mysterious fillers? Are they paid? As it appears they are hired by the Academy for an undisclosed amount. The “fillers” also have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent them from talking about their experience.
 There is a mysterious Magic Castle in L.A.
It’s true! There is an exclusive and mysterious Magic Castle with performance parlors, secret doors and mysterious illusions. This may be one of the best kept secrets in Los Angeles. Since 1963 this private club housed in an old Victorian mansion has served as the home base for the Academy of Magical Arts.
The Magic Castle hosts fancy old-fashioned dinners and magic shows. Sadly, entrance is for members and their guests only, so you have to be lucky enough to know someone in order to experience it. Reservations and formal attire are required and photography is not allowed.
If you are ever in town and would like to find out more fun facts about Los Angeles, buy a ticket for the LA Hop On Hop Off Big Bus Tour.
The tour bus is particularly nice to take if you visit Los Angeles in December, when the city is dressed up for the Hollidays.
There are four routes to choose from and the guides are fun and knowledgeable. With so many lines, you can get to see almost anything in LA that you’d like to see. The buses were easy to spot and hassle-free to go from one to another. It’s the perfect way to see the city in a short amount of time.
Planning a visit to L.A.? Read these posts next:
Best Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles
How to Spend an Incredible Day in L.A.
Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles
Vasquez Rocks – the Ultimate Guide to L.A.’s Iconic Park
These facts were super cool to learn!! I’m super disapointed about the rule about licking frogs though. It was one of my many hobbies, but now that I’m moved to LA, I’m afraid I’ll have to give it up.
Hahaha!I’m sure you’ll enjoy living in L.A. even without licking frogs.
I will admit this – there are so many of these things that I did not know about LA. The original name is actually difficult to remember. And weird laws indeed. Finding the whole tunnel bit interesting too. Thanks for this enlightening post.
These are some pretty cool facts, most of which I didn’t know, about LA. I did not know it is called the City of Angels although I have heard the name La La Land, of course. Also, that the Hollywood sign was actually Hollywoodland earlier. And the original name of Los Angeles seems almost impossible to remember and pronounce haha!
First of all, your blog layout is gorgeous! May I ask what theme you are using? The cover photo of LA is so gorgeous (the long exposure shot). Did you take that? But is it really true about that in Los Angeles it’s illegal for a man to beat his wife with a strap wider than 2 inches? Does this mean beating your wife is actually legal? Also, why would anyone want to sell their Oscar statuett? This is sooo weird, I had no idea about these laws. I am still trying to figure out if this is a sarcastic post lol but some of the other laws you list seems quite reasonable. I knew about the more cars than people, how depressing! Still, LA is on my bucket list.
Many questions to answer, Ann! The law about beating your wife with a wider than 2 inches strap is ridiculous indeed. However, beating her it a narrower one doesn’t make it legal.It probably just falls under another law (hahaha!) As for selling the Oscar statuettes, many of these actors end up poor at some point in their life because of spending more than they make. Then that happens, start selling their possessions and eventually end up by selling their Oscars.
Los Angeles is where my other relatives lives and they like the city because of the weather. It was fun reading these fun-facts, and enjoyed many movies about it. The City of Angels is one of the destination I wish to visit someday, and be part of its story.
This is a fantastic post! I love learning about the quirks of a location. I knew a few of these facts — the official first name, the Hollywoodland sign, and the mysterious castle — but I love that you included others that were obscure. I definitely wish there were tours available for the underground tunnels. They obviously aren’t available for safety reasons. I think they have something similar to that in Minneapolis and Chicago too that relates to the Prohibition Era.
I’ve only been to Los Angeles once and many years ago, and only knew one of these facts! That’s so interesting that Atlantic City was once the home of the film industry. Very funny and weird law about the doggy style, and needing consent from the wife to get beaten by a belt?!! I liked most the fact about the underground tunnels; I’d never have known!
Awesome article! I have been to Los Angeles over a dozen times, but I just found out all these things I never knew!
Some of these facts blew my mind! I never knew that there were hidden tunnels under Los Angeles! I couldn’t help but laugh at some of the weird laws of L.A. The mysterious Magic Castle sounds so intriguing! I would love to visit it someday
What a great idea on the hop on hop off bus in LA. We love seeing a city on these buses. I am so glad that Los Angeles changed its name, can you imagine writing that every time or these days typing it every time. Some great new information here on LA, thanks for sharing.
The Magic Castle – I’d always wanted to go (my cousin even took up magic as a hobby thinking he’d get to go that way). After moving away, I had almost forgotten about it! I’ll have to call my cousin and see if he ever got in. 🙂
I’ve been invited once. It’s fun.
Great interesting facts about LA in Cali. I’m from California and there are a few facts I did not know. Looking forward to visiting the Magic Castle. I have heard it is amazing. Thanks for sharing!
That was such an interesting post. I completely enjoyed reading it and I never knew about these facts. City of Angels super cool name! Beating wife with belt, unbelievable. Licking frog skin and doing it doggy style are super funny.
These are fun facts for sure, who knew licking a frog could be outlawed? I actually have a friend who is a professional seat filler! He goes every year – and it took time for him to get on the official roster – but he was persistent. I’ll have to remember to go out early for dinner in LA – I didn’t know this!
I didn’t know any of these facts about LA! I found it interesting how Los Angeles wasn’t originally called that. I am also super interested to see the tunnels under the city although as you say some of them are closed. I would not want to be down there during an earthquake however!
This is such a fun post! I’ve never gotten the chance to visit LA, but now I know its really called The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River I think I’ll make the effort. And the Big Orange too – would never have guessed that. I love visited quirky underground stuff, so I’m really interested in the fact there are so many tunnels under the city!
Totally didn’t know that LA was first named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Porciúncula – lol a bit more of a mouthful than it currently is! Cool facts! I also didn’t know that the Hollywood sign had been shortened, or that there were tunnels underneath the city. LOL on the weird laws – I think in Texas it’s illegal for a person to have intimate relations with a fish. I’m like what happened to make them need that law!!
This is interesting – and hilarious and crazy! I didn’t know most of it. So next time I’m going to LA I’ll refrain from licking frogs; too bad, since that’s one of my favorite activities when travelling 😉
Indeed interesting! I’ve known LA as one of the most vibrant and entertaining cities in the USA. The magic castle, so mysterious that drives the curiosity in me. Magic shows and fancy dinners, I wonder how does it take to be a member there? XD
Marcus and Mel
Glad they shortened the name! I’ve heard about the original name of Hollywood and remember driving past the Magic Castle when we were there. Didn’t know about the tunnels and the doggy thing (although it would be quite weird if we did know that!). Anyway, we’ve been to LA a couple of times and would love to go back soon.
So interesting! I was living just outside LA for three years but didn’t learn these facts. Had no idea Hugh Hefner came to the rescue of the Hollywood sign. Glad he did, since its iconic to the area. I’m not sure, but I though on Groupon I had once seen tickets to explore underground tunnels (maybe it was in Seattle) but it would be so cool if they did small tours for it. Definitely going to miss living near such a great city!
Sandy N Vyjay
These are some really interesting facets of Los Angeles that we did not know about. The history of the iconic Hollywood sign is fascinating. I was really intrigued to know that the film industry slowly shifted from Atlantic City to Los Angeles to ‘escape’ the ‘clutches’, of Edison’s patents. A fascinating read indeed.
So much fun stuff to discover in Los Angeles. Did you know that the Kodak Theater was renamed The Dolby Theater now that Kodak is in bankruptcy? I had no idea about the tunnels but they sound pretty interesting, as long as there isn’t an earthquake!!
No, I didn’t know that, Elaine. Maybe I should correct it in the text. Thanks for letting me know.
I had no idea about the mazes and tunnels running under the city. That’s really interesting. I’ll keep an lookout for these in movies now!
OMG, I didn’t know half of these things! What a great round-up of trivia on Los Angeles. I didn’t know all about the tunnels underneath LA – I knew there was a lot of prohibition activity, but this adds an extra layer of intrigue! And a law about licking frogs?! LOL! Only in America 😉
Wow, fantastic you shared some really good gems and I enjoyed reading the post and learning more about LA Anda!
I learned a lot about LA from this, Anda. Fun and informative! And some of it hilarious. So if you are a dog from out-of-town and you don’t know about the no mating close to a church law, so you do it, who gets thrown in jail if you can’t pay the fine, you or your owner? I laughed out loud at that law. Only in LA. Thanks for a fun read. 🙂
Yea, exactly. Only in L.A.
Thanks for sharing with us and it’s interesting to know that it is actually illegal to do it doggy style in front of a church :P! Besides, even since I watched AHS I was fascinated about the interesting houses and mansion all about the city ~ guess there are still a lot to explore.
Ohh.. These are some pretty fun and interesting facts indeed! I’ve always thought that LA would be all glitz and glamour, late nights and fun parties! I honestly didn’t expect restaurants to close early here or that it has some weird laws. The magic castle is very intriguing too.
I better brush up on my LA history bc a lot of this I didn’t know! And of course it had to be Hugh Hefner to save the Hollywood sign!
Hahah, this is interesting! No licking frogs and no doggy style close to a church…hilarious! I guess, this happens only in La La Land, huh? 🙂
Jenn and Ed Coleman
These are some pretty cool facts. I knew the film industry in California was a fly by night affair, but I didn’t know the were avoiding Edison. I always wondered if the early aerospace companies were doing the same thing, trying to avoid East Coast laws and regulations. I have heard about the redline to the sea and the lost tunnels and grammy seat fillers. There are a lot of things you can sneak into in LALAland if you have the right connections.
Thanks for sharing some new facts about LA. I knew most of the names but had not heard “City of Flowers” before. I did not know that the film industry started in Atlantic City or moved because of Edison. And I will make sure to lick no frogs when I visit LA next!
So fun Anda! Learned a lot from reading your post. Didn’t know about the tunnels or the weird laws. I do not about the Magic Castle. One of my coworkers is a magician and he has some sort of membership to the castle. He can get invitations to others. For what I have heard, a lot of people want to attend a performance in the castle but it is not that easy to get tickets.
That’s crazy that there are more cars than people!!! How is that even possible? I guess that explains all the pollution and traffic jams there…
Wow, I didn’t know that Los Angeles has so much secrets that are still unknown to many. I truly find your post interesting as this will help us know the reason behind the existence of Los Angeles. I would love to visit and amble around that tunnel if I get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
We’ve been to Los Angeles several times and we never knew that there are hidden tunnels under the city! We live in Naples where there’s a whole city underground, but the creepy stories about the L.A. tunnels would scare me a bit!
Never knew about these fun and not so fun facts 0f Los Angles! 🙂 Permission to belt wife with a wide belt… unbelievable! Licking frogs? Really?! This was one great read.
Very interesting! I had no idea about most of these facts. They will make for some great cocktail conversation later!
I’ve only visited LA once properly, the next time I confess I sped the heck out of there to other parts of the US of A. I found LA somewhat too brash and intimidating, even though I’m a city girl too. So it’s fascinating to learn a bit more about some of the history, but more some of the less obvious sites to visit such as the underground tunnels and the magic castle.
I enjoyed your post. I had no idea that filming began in Atlantic City, and after navigating the freeways, I’m not surprised that cars outnumber people.
This was all new to me! OMG, that thing about beating your wife with a strap. Thanks for the laugh!
Wow, that is some trivia on LA. So it was originally named after a river – interesting. So, you can beat your wife with a belt that is less than 2 inches wide – hmmm. Would anyone really sell Oscar’s trophy? I assume someone might have tried to that is why the rule. Very interesting post, it feels I know LA a wee bit better.
You’d be surprised to know that many of the “stars” have sold their trophies over the years. They needed the money and sold the statuettes to whomever. Hence the agreement they have to sign lately.
I was just in LA this October and I learned about the Hollywoodland sign then. I also learned about the Edison connection from one of William Goldman’s books. But I didn’t know about the tunnels or the magic castle! Very cool facts!
I think I only know about the Hollywoodland sign. I knew that it was going to be torn down and that’s where my knowledge stops. I do like the odd laws. I think each state (and some cities) has its share of absurd laws.
I learned something new today 🙂 Most of these facts are new to me (especially those laws lol).
I didn’t know any of these facts, except the Hollywood sign. Thank you, have a great weekend!
Love the photos, the one of the dogs is so funny. I heard about the tunnels some months ago watching a documentary that said that a few homeless people live there. I had no idea the sign said Hollywoodland before 😀 I love reading fun facts of famous places like LA 😀 I hope I get to visit LA soon.
Back in the early 70’s, I was a buyer for a major amusement park and the vendor took us to the Magic Castle you wrote about after a trade show. It’s a very cool place!
I know it is, Mike. I’ve been invited there once, a long long time ago. Thanks for dropping by.