Between flashes of frequent swordplay and nightly rides against evil-doers, viewers of ABC-TV's Zorro glimpse one of the world's great cities as it looked in its humble, dusty beginnings, well over a century ago.
This is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, the City of Our Lady of the Angels, a tiny California townsite set up by the Spaniards in their reach for world empire and re-created at a cost of $100,000 for the exciting adventure series of early-day California. Guy Williams has the title role of Zorro in the series produced by the Walt Disney Studios.
The pueblo has risen again, this time in nearby Burbank, California, on the backlot of the Disney Studios, specially conceived from careful research for the Zorro cameras.
There in all their rare and dusty magnificence, are the Posada de Los Angeles, the cuartel, guarnicionero, olleria, plateria, farmacia, the hotels, military barracks and shops that made a Spanish pueblo in days when no one dreamed a metropolis populous as a nation could succeed to a few walls of dun-colored adobe and a handful of sleepy citizens.
Along with its missions and military presidios, Spain established just four cities in California at the outset. Los Angeles, San José, Sonoma and an extinct community called Branciforté.
The City of Angels came into being in 1781, the product of land grants made by an anxious-to-build Spanish government. Each hardy colonist was given a site for his house in the settlement and enough acreage outside to grow his crops and support his livestock.
That was the beginning, and that is the town in the fabulous Zorro story, the City of Angels which ranks third in the nation today, and tomorrow, if its rate of growth continues, could become the greatest metropolis on earth.
But Zorro called it simply 'Los Angeles', as he rode against injustice and terrorism, striking with sword and whip to relieve oppression in his swift sorties as the invincible, indefatigable masked rider of a golden Spanish day long ago.
Contributed by Rita Winters.