(Los Angeles c.1908, via Library Of Congress)
The palm tree has become a symbol of California and, more specifically, Los Angeles, but at the beginning of the 20th century pepper trees far outnumbered palms in L.A.
So how did this exotic tree become the symbol of LaLa Land?
It turns out L.A.'s association with palm trees wasn't an accident, it was an advertising gimmick crafted by Hollywood to make Los Angeles seem like a more exotic and fantastic place.
Combine the use of palm trees in advertising with all the old movies set in the Middle East and you've got the makings of Hollywoodland mystique.
As noted by Nora Mueller:
"the rise of Hollywood ushered in the city's aura of glamour and luxury. Many Hollywood films featured Middle Eastern locales, further imbuing Los Angeles with an exotic, 'dangerous' appeal. Just as the Victorians had allowed themselves to be seduced by their own constructions of Orientalism, so too did more modern Los Angeles residents fall under the embellished foreign allure of the palm tree."