The Hispanic-American History Timeline
1771 Father Serra establishes San Gabriel Arcángel
Father Junípero Serra, Roman Catholic Spanish priest and leader of Franciscan missionaries on the Gaspar de Portola expedition, establishes the San Gabriel Arcángel mission in present-day Los Angeles County, California to convert Native Americans to Catholicism. It is the fourth of 21 missions eventually built in California and the foundation for the City of San Gabriel.
Originally planned to be built along the Santa Ana River, Serra changes the location to the slopes of Montebello, overlooking the San Gabriel Valley because of its fertile plain. Yet, the original mission is destroyed by a flood and is moved three miles northwest to where it stands today. The mission grew into a city, which although incorporated in 1913, had been the original township of Los Angeles County since 1852.
Although San Gabriel's motto is "A City with a Mission," it is also known as "The Birthplace of Los Angeles," since the pioneer Los Angeles settlers first gathered at San Gabriel mission before setting out to build "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Angeles" in 1781. The march of the first Los Angeles pobladores, from the mission to downtown Los Angeles -- “Los Pobladores Historic Walk to Los Angeles” -- is still celebrated every year during labor day weekend.
The mission still serves as an active Roman Catholic Church. The mission grounds, cemetery, museum and gift shop are open to visitors daily.
By Chadae McAnuff, Lehman College