Southern California might not have been rich with trees, but it was rich with money and rich with sunshine. Once the railroads came to Los Angeles, in the 1880s, speculators realized this huge empty sunny place would be a great opportunity to sell land. But how to get people to move way out to the desert? One way was incredibly cheap train tickets; the railroads sold tickets from the Midwest for as little as one dollar. But, as with California ever since, the place had to be marketed.
... [T]he American developers eyeing Southern California got some ideas. Hey, they thought. This big chunk of desert-y scrubland we own is not that dissimilar from the Mediterranean sites of the Riviera. What if we took a page from their book, and started branding Los Angeles?