These photos reveal California’s harrowing 2020, month by month

Scenes from Southern California during pandemic
(Los Angeles Times)
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It’s been a wild ride.

2020 will not go down as a footnote in history. More likely, it’s the year no one will forget.

Visually, it brought challenges — PPE, social distancing — and an incredible body of storytelling.

It all started with the loss of a legend.

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January

Fans gather in front of a screen with Kobe Bryant's image. On the ground is a memorial with candles, flowers and jerseys.
Jan. 26: Fans gather outside Staples Center to mourn Kobe Bryant after news spread of the helicopter crash that killed him, his daughter Gianna and seven others in Calabasas. More photos
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers players, eyes closed or looking to the sky, wear jerseys with Kobe's numbers on the court in Staples Center.
Jan. 31: From left, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quin Cook, and LeBron James honor Kobe Bryant at the Staples Center. More photos
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

At the end of the month, the Los Angeles Fire Department executed a dramatic rescue after a large blaze enveloped the sixth floor of the 25-story Barrington Plaza apartments.

A resident, arms blackened, stands on the ledge of a window several stories up. Fire rages on a balcony near him.
Jan. 29: A resident tries to escape the flames as firefighters battled a fire at the Barrington Plaza apartments. More photos.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

February

Near a waterfall and a rock wall, a man kneels on rocks in shallow water with his dog.
Feb. 8: Bryan Matsumoto pets Lalo near the waterfall at the end of Trail Canyon Falls in the San Gabriel Mountains.
(Gabriella Angotti-Jones / Los Angeles Times)
A man stands on a sidewalk holding an ornate mirror in both hands.
Feb. 19: Bumdog Torres outside the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Torres, who is homeless, he says, more or less by choice, has made two feature-length films while living on the streets.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
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March

A message painted on a wall on La Brea Avenue on March 31 reads: "Stay home. Life is beautiful."
March 31: Billy Gross and Kristina Sorensen check out a new sign with timely sentiments painted on a wall while taking their dog Bear for a walk on La Brea Avenue. More photos
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

On Thursday evening, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay at home” order. Los Angeles Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin and videographer Mark Potts document the first night of the order in Hollywood.

Seen through her bedroom window, a teenager wearing a leotard, her hair in a ponytail, kicks her leg to the ceiling.
March 31: Grace Carter, 15, practices her dance routine in the isolation of her bedroom in Riverside since her dance classes and school were canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s hard. My bedroom is a smaller space. I miss all my friends at the studio, " Grace said. More photos
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Retailers are setting aside time for seniors and other vulnerable populations to do their shopping in a less-crowded environment.

Mike Lynn grimaces as he does a pull-up on playground exercise equipment.
March 25: Mike Lynn uses exercise equipment at Longfellow Elementary School in Long Beach because his gym has been closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. More photos
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

April

Two people in protective gear pull a stretcher with a patient on a sidewalk. Another carries two large plastic bags.
April 7: Patients are moved out of the Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside after staff fearing coronavirus infection failed to report to work. More photos
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The deer, bobcats, coyotes and bears no longer have to deal with the hordes of camera-toting tourist vying to capture nature. They now roam unfettered.

Workers use pickaxes and shovels as they dig a long row of deep, regularly spaced holes. Nearby, crosses mark graves.
April 25: Workers dig graves at a cemetery in Tijuana in anticipation of a wave of COVID-19 deaths. More photos
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Firefighters and law enforcement officers from L.A. to Laguna Beach express their gratitude to healthcare workers for their efforts in fighting COVID-19.

Aerial view shows a serpentine trail of cars winding around an empty parking lot.
April 30: Aerial view of vehicles lined up at the West Valley COVID-19 testing center at Warner Center in Woodland Hills. More photos
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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As we all adjust to our new lives under the umbrella of the coronavirus, Los Angeles Times photographer Luis Sinco gives us a look at downtown Los Angeles with the spotlight on Broadway.

May

A man in vest and tie and a woman in a wedding dress and veil sit together, wearing masks.
May 2: Kathleen Sion and Russel Sion pose for a wedding photo on the steps of Caroldale Learning Community School in Carson, where they first met as children. The couple’s wedding was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. More photos
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Demonstrators demand that Gov. Gavin Newson’s stay-at-home order be lifted.

Protesters stand atop a burned, graffiti-covered LAPD cruiser. Flames rise from another cruiser nearby.
May 30: Protesters stand atop a burned LAPD cruiser as another burns at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles during demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd. More photos
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The coronavirus is killing so many people in Tijuana that the morgue has run out of refrigerator space for bodies.

Surrounded by seated protesters and "Black Lives Matter" signs, Michelle Usher prays as fireworks streak overhead.
May 30: Michelle Usher, center, prays as fireworks streak across the sky during a protest in Santa Ana against the police killing of George Floyd.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Visual look at the third phase to reopen California amid the coronavirus outbreak.

June

Two girls in graduation gowns walk on the sand near a pier, their clasped hands upraised.
June 11: Sophia Strauss, left, and Sarah Hoffmeister, both 17, celebrate after their drive-through graduation from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. More photos
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

You’ll need a reservation to visit Yosemite, even if you’re just going for the day.

A cyclist rides past a mural of a heart-shaped U.S. flag balloon with a long ribbon that curls to spell out "hope."
June 15: A cyclist rides past a mural in Los Angeles by the artist known as Mr. Brainwash that urges Angelenos to remain hopeful during the pandemic.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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A look at people around the Southland doing their thing, all masked up.

People do sit-ups inside plastic-sided cubicles as a trainer kneels between the cubicles.
June 17: Individual exercise cubicles separated by plastic sheeting were set up to accommodate a class at Sapsin’s Inspire South Bay Fitness.
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

July

People sit atop their cars, holding up cellphones to take photos and video, as multiple fireworks explode.
July 4: Spectators sit on the roofs of their cars to watch the Drive-Up 4th of July Spectacular in Los Alamitos. More photos
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

With this week’s Comic-Con International moving online because of the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a whole world of cosplayers with a lot of creativity to show off.

Pop star Katy Perry, in a mask that says "smile," takes a selfie with a billboard of herself wearing a red clown nose.
July 29: Nine months pregnant, pop star Katy Perry takes a selfie with a billboard promoting her new album “Smile” near Capitol Records in Hollywood. More photos
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Second wave of coronavirus has businesses and the public moving from indoors to the great outdoors

A man and his camera are perched in stadium seating amid numerous cardboard likenesses of fans.
July 23: A camera operator works amid a sea of cardboard fans as the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants play the season opener at Dodger Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The medical flight crew of Mercy Air was getting ready for bed when they got their first call of the day.

August

A man stands with hands clasped behind his back in front of a casket covered in sunflowers.
Aug. 5: Mario Flores views the body of his godfather, Felipe Juarez, at a funeral service held in the parking lot of Continental Funeral Home in East L.A. Juarez, who died of COVID-19, was memorialized in Continental’s first outdoor service in compliance with changing state and city mandates preventing indoor gatherings. More photos
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The iconic Monterey Bay Aquarium has been closed since March because of the pandemic, forcing major cutbacks. Still, the animals must be cared for.

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A woman lifts both arms as she roller skates in the street. Behind her are a row of police officers in riot gear.
Aug 26: Liliana Ruiz roller skates in front of LAPD officers who have protesters blocked in the 3rd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles. More photos
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It’s hard to predict what may happen when California’s primary schools reopen. But when it comes to the state’s youngest students, data are more robust and reassuring.

A girl walks on her hands along the sidewalk, with her dog's leash held by her toes.
Aug. 29: Brinkley Baker, 15, walks Mr. Bumbles down her street in Los Angeles. Brinkley and her sisters are drive-in circus performers.
(Josie Norris / Los Angeles Times)

L.A.'s growing population of homeless people had enough troubles. They didn’t need the coronavirus on top of them — or this wretched, blistering heat wave.

September

A man stands on the shoulder of a road as a vehicle streaks by in a long exposure.
Sept. 6: A vehicle streaks by as Fresno County sheriff’s Deputy Jeffery Shipman stands along Highway 168 while the Creek fire creeps closer to town in Shaver Lake. More photos
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The skies around the Bay Area and other parts of Northern California took on an eerie glow as smoke from several fires enveloped the region.

A crow sitting on a cypress tree in Garden Grove is silhouetted by the sun partially obscured by ash from Southland wildfires
Sept. 10: A crow sitting on a cypress tree in Garden Grove is silhouetted by the sun partially obscured by ash from Southland wildfires. More photos
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Black-owned businesses in the Leimert Park Village have been thriving this summer. Many owners begin to strategize on how to make the most of the historic moment.

A horse wearing blinders rears, front hooves pawing the air, as smoke fills the sky.
Sept. 18: Horses are spooked by the approaching Bobcat fire on 106th Street in Juniper Hills. More photos
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

October

Amid a throng of people, a man seated on another man's shoulders holds a Kobe Bryant Boulevard sign.
Oct. 11: Fans celebrate in downtown Los Angeles after the Lakers won the NBA championship over the Miami Heat. More photos
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)
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The LAPD said more than 30 buildings were damaged, and eight officers and two other people were injured when celebrations turned destructive.

Dodger fans watch the World Series from their cars on big screens set up in the Dodger Stadium parking lot
Oct. 27: Dodger fans watch the World Series from their cars on big screens set up in the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Galapagos marine reserve faces threats from industrial fishing, climate change and a drastic drop in tourism and funding for conservation.

A person in a Cody Bellinger jersey is seen with fireworks exploding in the sky overhead.
Oct. 27: Fireworks explode as fans celebrate the Dodgers’ World Series victory over Tampa Bay. More photos
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

November

Two young people lift tattooed arms to the sky in front of a ballot box.
Nov. 3: Rachel Dobas, left, and Analy Nakat show their excitement as they come to deposit their ballots in a dropbox in front of Wabash Recreation Center in Los Angeles. More photos
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Images from Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada show 2020 election unrest.

As the sun sets behind the L.A. skyline, there's a sea of car lights at the Dodger Stadium parking lot.
Nov. 11: Cars line up for drive through COVID-19 testing at Dodger Stadium.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced a stay-at-home order affecting most of California.

Nine people sit behind plates of food at a round table on the sand. In the background, the sun sets behind a lifeguard tower.
Nov. 25: Members of the Hobbs-Brown family celebrate Thanksgiving dinner on the sand at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

December

Two people ice skate on an outdoor rink. In the background is a lighted Christmas tree, palm trees and the ocean.
Dec. 1: A lone couple ice skate at dusk with an ocean view in Huntington Beach.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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Holiday lights cover a pier at sunset as an electric sign reads "Wear a face cover."
Dec. 3: Holiday decorations at the Manhattan Beach Pier are augmented by a city sign reminding visitors to wear a face mask. More photos
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Times’ visual coverage of the coronavirus crisis