The Chumash Indians had named Los Angeles "Valley of Smoke" long before it became a modern metropolis. With it's geography and heavy reliance on the automobile it became obvious following World War II that the city of Los Angeles would have to fight the problem. Thus, in 1946, the Los Angeles Air Pollution Control Board was established with the objective of fighting the worsening smog. In those days, most families would take care of their trash by carrying it out to the backyard and burning it. One of the first steps the L.A. Air Pollution Control Board took in 1951, was to ban backyard incinerators in an attempt to reduce smog.
But reducing smog wasn't an easy problem and in 1954 Los Angeles was hit by one of its worst ever smog attacks. The smog was so severe that air traffic had to be diverted from LAX to Burbank airport and it prevented ships from entering Los Angeles Harbor. September 13, 1955 was even smoggier, and is recorded as one of the most polluted days in Los Angeles history, when the smog reached 0.85 parts per million of ozone in downtown Los Angeles.
When you are away from Los Angeles for awhile, you forget about the smog. Oh, of course you see it when you return, but over time, the gray skies become "normal". After returning from Hawaii, I had become accustomed to those gray skies. But one day, after we'd been home for several months, the wind blew. It blew very hard, and the next morning when I went outside, the sky was blue. It was a shock to be able to see so far. And I had forgotten that Los Angeles is surrounded by mountains. Beautiful mountains that are very close to the city. And if you go to the beach, on a clear day you can see Santa Catalina Island. You forget that when you've been away for awhile.
But when the wind blows or the rain falls and clears the air to that beautiful blue color once again, you remember what a magnificent place Los Angeles County really is.