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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Wheelchair races at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center
Wheelchair races at Downey's Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center Photo courtesy City of Downey

Cities of the 38th District of California

Highlighting seven cities of the 38th Congressional District of California -- Signal Hill, Bellflower, Paramount, Long Beach, Downey, Lakewood and San Pedro -- this project focuses on the history and heritage that make each city unique.

Signal Hill, with magnificent views of the Pacific coastline from Huntington Beach to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, is notable for the part the oil boom of the 1920s played in its history and development; in 1921 "Alamitos #1" struck oil and became the richest oil field per acre in history. The hill that lends its name to the town is the site of the popular Hilltop Park and its "center mist" feature which sends a cloud-like water mist into the air each half hour to recall the Indian smoke signals of the area's first residents.

The city of Bellflower is located on land which was one of the first Spanish land grants conferred in California, and site of the beautiful apple orchards whose flowering trees inspired its name. Today, Bellflower Boulevard is the focus of the city's identity as a thoroughfare devoted to major retail and service businesses; "reworking the Boulevard" has become a recurrent theme in the city's history. Playing a role of great importance to Bellflower's legacy, civic organizations have undertaken many projects and functions that normally would be the responsibility of government.

Incorporated in 1957, the City of Paramount has recently taken significant steps to improve its housing and livability. The Pocket Parks Program, preserving and increasing public park space, is an innovative approach that Paramount has taken to improve the quality of life for its residents. Paramount also boasts the holiday train. In the week preceding Christmas, Santa and his helpers chug along the streets of Paramount distributing candy canes and apples to thousands of children.

Long Beach hosts thousands of visitors to Toyota Grand Prix road race and to the Queen Mary, a retired luxury cruise liner now serving as an historic hotel and attraction. Long Beach also boasts the Ranchos Los Cerritos Historic Site, a 4.7-acre site of an 1844 Monterey-Colonial adobe house and historic gardens, and the Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch, with its beautiful gardens, regional historic and educational facilities and extraordinary views of the mountains and the sea. Since 1970, the Port of Long Beach has been the location of a combination container and automobile terminal. The port has received awards for its environmental protection programs and its efforts to expand and facilitate exports.

Combining the charm of yesteryear with the environmental consciousness of today, the City of San Pedro introduced the San Pedro Electric Trolley in December 1999. San Pedro also holds the International Lobster Festival, famous for its delicious crustacean, its dog costume parade and its cioppino cookoff. Ranked second only to New York in foreign exports, the Port of Los Angeles at San Pedro has become the West Coast's busiest seaport.

Site of the original -- and still operating -- McDonald's "hamburger stand," Downey provides outstanding educational and recreational services to the community: the Downey Public Library; the Rio Hondo Golf Course, one of the nation's premier municipal golf courses; and Wilderness and Apollo Parks. Downey is also the site of the internationally recognized Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, which provides a full spectrum of rehabilitative services.

Lakewood, incorporated in 1954, was a model of local government innovation for city-county partnerships. Lakewood contracted with Los Angeles County to provide police and street maintenance services, and with other public agencies and private companies to provide new services more efficiently and at a lower cost. Lakewood's "contract plan" for local government was soon copied in a wave of incorporation movements in Los Angeles County and throughout the state. Lakewood's oldest community event, the Pan American Festival, begun in 1946 is, along with Washington, D.C.'s, the only regular celebration of the peoples and cultures of Latin America.

The project is documented with a 14-page written report and 8 x 10 photos depicting scenes from each city.

Originally submitted by: Stephen Horn, Representative (38th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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