While the gold rush and its masses of foreigners quickly overwhelmed the north, Los Angeles and much of southern California generally held on to its Mexican culture and traditions. The voracious appetites of miners created a cattle boom which sustained the southern Californio ranching economy for nearly a decade. But Los Angeles was at a crossroads. Opportunistic legislation, steep taxation, and costly land litigation resulted in dramatic changes. As the southern California cattle industry declined, irrigation systems opened newly acquired lands to cultivation, and agriculture blossomed with grains, vegetables and citrus. California's new gold was orange! The Southern Pacific Railroad put the southland on wheels, and boosted the citrus industry. The railroad wielded enormous political power, and obtained huge tracks of land. They promoted a massive land boom, and hundreds of thousands of new immigrants were lured to southern California: Eden was for sale.
Above: Pio Pico, Wife and Nieces, Collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
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