El Segundo Boulevard, ca. 1911El Segundo School House, ca. 1913
El Segundo, now home to a population of more than 16,000 people and a number of Fortune 500 Corporate offices, was mostly uninhabited land used for dry farming. The land was once part of the Sausal Redondo Rancho controlled by Daniel Freeman, the founder of Inglewood.In 1885, most of the rancho was sold in square mile sections to wealthy investors.While the beach areas of the south attracted some residents, the El Segundo and airport land in late 1910 was vacant. Standard Oil Company, recognizing the need for a refinery in Southern California, sent a large party of executives from the East as well as California to scout for a site in November 1910.
The El Segundo area was an easy choice, being mostly vacant, with ocean access providing a water source for cooling and close to oil fields.William Rheem, having constructed and managed Standard Oil’s refinery at Point Richmond, was instrumental in bringing Richard Hanna, Superintendent of a Franklin, PA refinery to build this second refinery at El Segundo.Richard Hanna’s wife, Virginia, named this expanse El Segundo, Spanish for “the second”, and with Rheem’s approval, it was done. In late May 1911, construction had begun on the refinery after a 2-mile long rail spur serving the site was completed.One of the first major tasks was dealing with the sand dunes.About 400 mules, mule-skinners, and Fresno scrapers were brought in to level sites for the refinery structures and storage tanks.In September 1911, Hanna invited Rheem down from San Francisco to “fire” the No. 1 battery of stills starting the production of end products.Raw crude had been accumulating in storage tanks having arrived by pipeline from the Whittier-Fullerton oil fields.By the end of the year, reportedly Standard Oil had spent over $1,000,000 of the $3,000,000 allotted to complete the refinery.
By the end of 1912, El Segundo had grown from a “tent city” to include 180 homes and 20 businesses, a school, a bank, churches and five hotels.The El Segundo Land and Improvement Company offered Standard Oilers inducements to those wanting to build a home.This company managed the growth of El Segundo until the City was incorporated on January 18, 1917.
An early highlight in El Segundo occurred in 1914 when a Pacific Electric Rail line commenced operation into the heart of the town providing service without scaling the dunes to catch the service along the beach.
The city grew along with the growth of the refinery.There were other short-lived smaller ventures such as a tractor assembly plant that later became a tile manufacturing plant. Next door to the north Mine’s Field, a landing strip used by early aviators was chosen as the site for the Los Angeles Municipal Airport.Expansion with the official opening of the airport in 1930 ushered in numerous aviation companies.The likes of Douglas Aircraft, Hughes Aircraft, Northrop, Interstate, and North American Aviation (Northrop) all located in El Segundo. After a high point of activity during WWII many of these companies eventually transitioned into the aerospace/defense industry.In the 1960’s, the addition of the Aerospace Company Corporation and the Los Angeles Air Force Base gave El Segundo claim to the title of “The Aerospace Capital of the World”. Today, the city’s population has leveled off around 16,500, which has enabled the community to preserve its small town intimacy and charm.
Richmond Street Construction, 1917Hotel El Segundo, ca. 1913
CITY OF EL SEGUNDO TIMELINE
January 18, the City incorporates.
March 10, there is a major fire on Richmond Street. The Library moved to City Hall.
General Chemical Company (followed by Allied, Honeywell and now El Segundo Plaza) builds a plant on Sepulveda in El Segundo.
Standard Oil Company spends $10-15 million on equipment program, making plant one of the largest of its kind in the world; Police and Water Departments established.
January 3, Converse Drugstore opens. El Segundo High School opens with an enrollment of 124.
August 28, Graf Zeppelin lands at Mines Field. Moreland Aircraft Plant opens. El Segundo High Shool graduates first class of 37 students.
Pickwick Nitecoach opens. El Segundo Library opens with 1400 books.
Earthquake damages plunge, city hall and school buildings; the Converse Building becomes second home for Library.
General Tile Company begins operations.
Franklin Ave. and Richmond St., ca. 1920Jensen’s Market at Main Street and Grand Avenue, 1936
Elementary and High School Districts combine to form El Segundo Unified School District.
City builds water treatment plant.
Patmar’s Drive-in opens Memorial Day.
Nash-Kelvinator builds factory in El Segundo; West Basin Water District formed; Library construction resumes.
Fire Department established November 24 with 6 members.
West Basin Water District joins Metropolitan District; Library completed at a cost $76,000; two-way radios installed in Fire and Police departments; City buys Maxim fire truck.
State of California celebrates Centennial; Center Street Elementary School opens.
City adopts Council-Manager form of government; Recreation Department formed; El Segundo becomes Aerospace Capital of the World.
Contract awarded to Marion Varner & Associates for $80,000 to build Fire Station No. 2 at El Segundo Boulevard & Nash Street.
Recreation Park dedicated.
Library is expanded for additional shelving and a children's room.
Joslyn Center dedicated in Recreation Park.
City joins in week-long 50th anniversary celebration; dedication of City Hall at 350 Main Street.
Airplane crash at Holly and Eucalyptus.
The Oakland Raiders (NFL) move to Los Angeles and establish a training facility in town. El Segundo Education Foundation founded.
Park Vista home for seniors opens its doors.
Library expands again to accommodate more seatings, a large meeting room, and to convert the card index to online catalog.
City mural program begins with 5 murals completed; Heritage Walk begins on Main Street.
Hometown baseball hero George Brett, ESHS Class of 1971, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after a 20-year career with the Kansas City Royals. Brett returns to El Segundo to attend April 24 dedication of George Brett Field at Recreation Park.
Dog Park opens. Balls and pucks fly as Lakers (NBA), Kings (NHL) and Sparks (WNBA) establish HealthSouth Sports facility; 911 center opens for 24-hour emergency assistance; Center Street, Richmond Street, Middle School, and the High School are renovated, including the libraries.
The Downtown Improvement Project completed.
Groundbreaking for Douglas Street Gap Closure Project and for Plaza El Segundo lifestyle retail center. Library converts storage space to three new meeting rooms and renames the large meeting room to the "Friends of the Library Room". Office spaces are refurbished and modernized.
Shriever Space Complex dedicated at new Los Angeles Air Force Base Headquarters facility; Landmark Los Angeles International Airport Settlement Agreement ratified that scraps massive airport expansion plan and approves aggressive aircaft noise mitigation and residential sound insulation program. Plaza El Segundo opened in fall/winter of this year.
July, Athletic Fields of Campus El Segundo (of which the soccer fields were part) opened.
December 16, Fire Station No. 2's opening-day ceremony.
Plaza El Segundo on Sepulveda Blvd. Near Rosecrans, 2012 Fire Station No. 2 at 2261 E. Mariposa Avenue, 2012