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Historic Tales 1


By Tom Rische

More than 60 events are being planned to note Torrance's Centennial years, 2011-12, according to Chairperson Laurie Love. Celebration will begin with a major light show on Sunday, Nov. 6, in which some two thousand local citizens will participate. Watch for more.

Meanwhile, check your knowledge of early Torrance in the following two questions, then find the answers below.

1.  Torrance's 2012 Centennial will be the 100th anniversary of the city's (a) discovery; (b) founding; (c) incorporation; (d) becoming an "All-American" city.

2.  Torrance's founder was (a) an early missionary; (b) a rancher;  (c) an industrialist;  (d) a land grant heir.

Torrance's Centennial notes the city's founding in March 1912. Torrance was legally incorporated as a town nine years later. Its site at the time was largely ranch land, with dry-land farming and sheep and cattle raising. It was part of a  75,000-acre Spanish land grant handed down to heirs of a soldier, Juan Jose Dominguez, who settled there in 1784. The grant included territory  from San Pedro north  to Compton, and northwest to Redondo Beach, excluding the PV Peninsula.

Leading the city's founding was Yale graduate Jared Sidney Torrance,  industrialist involved with 104 corporations in the Los Angeles area. It was designed to be the first US "workingman's town," with industries whose early "smog" (and dust) blew inland. Los Angeles had much labor unrest at the time, and the Los Angeles Times was dynamited in 1910.

This town was projected as a model for the future, in which workers could buy cheap housing and walk to work, rather than taking Red Cars from Los Angeles, 20 miles away (autos were then uncommon). Land was much cheaper in this area. Jared Torrance founded the Dominguez Land Corp. which paid about $1.5 million for Torrance's 3,500-acre site (a bit more than 2.3 cents an acre). Mr. Torrance lured several businesses in which he was an officer, as well as a spur and depot of the Pacific Electric Red Car system.

Torrance grew in fits and starts, as a recession hit shortly after it opened in the fall of 1912. But by 1916, it was humming with the Union Tool Co., the Llewelyn Iron Works, Pacific Electric Red Car shop, Hendrie Tire Co., and other smaller businesses. As Torrance began, Los Angeles had 300,000 people, having tripled in size over 10 years, and neighboring Redondo Beach was a bustling resort town of nearly 3,000.