In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, with a commission from Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza, was the first European to sailalong and explore the California coast. Although he claimed all he saw as territory of the Spanish Empire, no efforts at colonization were made for over two hundred years. Concerned about colonizing efforts by the Russians and French, Spain set plans in motion in the 1760s to establish a presence and defend its claim to the territory.
The Spanish settlement did not reach Alta California until 1769, when explorer Gaspar de Portolà reached the San Diego area via the first land route from Mexico. Accompanying him were two Franciscan Padres, Junípero Serra and Juan Crespí, who recorded the expedition. As they came through today's Elysian Park, they were awed by a river that flowed from the northwest, past their point and on southward. Crespí named the river El Río de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula, meaning, in Spanish, "the River of Our Lady Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula". The name derives from Santa Maria degli Angeli (Italian: "St. Mary of the Angels") is the name of the small town in Italy housing the Porciuncula, the church where St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan order, carried out his religious life. The river that was called the Porciuncula is today's Los Angeles River. Because the future town's name was a take on this "Queen of Heaven" Marian title, various versions of Crespí's formula would be used for the town, including the exceedingly long El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles sobre el Río Porciúncula.
During the expedition, Father Crespí observed a location along the river that would be good for a settlement or mission. However in 1771, Father Serra instead commissioned two missionaries to establish the Mission San Gabriel Arcángel-San Gabriel Mission near the present day Whittier Narrows section of the San Gabriel River. The missionaries encountered resistance from the Tongva initially, however later the two peoples became closely intertwined, with the tribesman of the Tongva working alongside and guarding the mission. The mission encountered further trouble in 1776 when a flood damaged the mission, convincing the missionaries to move and rebuild the mission on a higher and more defensible location: its present site in San Gabriel.
The first Spanish governor of Las Californias, Felipe de Neve had, as well, recommended to Viceroy Bucareli Father Crespí's location on the Río Porciúncula (Los Angeles River) for a mission. Instead, in 1781, King Charles III mandated that a pueblo be built on the site instead, which would be the second town in Alta California, after San José de Guadalupe in 1777. The monarch, disregarding the production and trade roles of the missions, saw a greater need for secular pueblos to be established as the centers of agriculture and commerce to supply the crown's ever-growing military presence in "Nueva California." The priests at the missions ignored the royal mandate and continued their ranching, trading and production of tallow, soap, hides, and beef, often in competition with new pueblo ventures.
La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles Edit
La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles ("The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels") was founded on August 18, 1814 by Franciscan Fray Luis Gil y Taboada. He placed the cornerstone for the new church in the adobe ruins of the original "sub-station mission" here, the Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles Asistencia (founded 1784), thirty years after it was established to serve the settlement founding Los Angeles Pobladores (original settlers). The completed new structure was dedicated on December 8, 1822. A replacement chapel, named La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles - for Mary, mother of Jesus or "The Church of Our Lady of the Angels" - was rebuilt using materials of the original church in 1861. The title Reina, meaning "Queen," was added later to the name. For years, the little chapel, which collected the nicknames "La Placita" and "Plaza Church," served as the sole Roman Catholic church in emerging immigrant Los Angeles.
Why would the Gold be here? Edit
This is another fairly popular location with treasure seekers due to its vast historical significance. After the completion of the renovations to the San Gabriel missions,an expedition was sent out to found the pueblo in 1814. Had the treasure been moved here from San Gabriel, it could help to explain the rapid expansion of Los Angeles itself. Some theorize that the wealth of Cabrillo may have been the driving force which funded the foundations of the current metropolis.Through the histories of the city, no mention of any gold exists. The catch-22 of this theory, is that if it is true, Cabrillo's gold would have been entirely spent by the founders of this great city, leaving nothing to find. Enthusiasts still research and scour the modern day grounds for any clues that the gold may have been moved here, to no avail as of this time. Still it remains one of the more fascinating theories, perhaps the great city of LA owes its very existence to Cabrillo's Gold.