History of the Region
A Rich History
As part of a region rich with history, the land that Cerritos and Hawaiian Gardens currently occupy has been home to many different peoples. First were the native American Indians, followed by the Spaniards, and later by the Mexicans, who developed rancheros. In 1784 the Rancho Los Cerritos ranchero was founded encompassing a vast area of land, including what is now the region of Cerritos.
In the late 1800s farms began to replace the ranchos and the area residents began to focus on agriculture and dairy farming. By 1874 private farms began to be sold off to large companies and the development of the region began.
With the discovery of oil in a Los Angeles neighborhood in 1892, the population in the area began to boom. By the end of World War II, a booming industrial center had developed in Southern California - along with an explosion of residential development that pushed farms and dairies out of Los Angeles and into the Cerritos area.
In an effort to preserve the farming area as a separate, agriculturally based community, and to escape annexation by the neighboring City of Artesia, Cerritos was incorporated on April 24, 1956 as the City of Dairy Valley. The City's original name reflected the agricultural focus of the community. Dairy Valley had 100,000 cows on more than 400 dairies and 106,300 chickens on licensed poultry farms. The cows outnumbered the City's 3,439 residents by 29 to one. Two years after its incorporation, the City voted on November 12, 1958 to become a California chartered city.
During the early 1960s, rising land values and property taxes began to make dairy operations uneconomical. With a 1962-63 City budget of only $267,605, the City shifted its focus from agriculture and rezoned most of the City. With this new focus, on July 2, 1963, the Dairy Valley Chamber of Commerce was founded. On July 16, 1963, the citizens of Dairy Valley voted to permit the building of homes on less than five acres per residence to allow for normal residential development.
The name change to Cerritos was made official on January 10, 1967. The Chamber of Commerce members decided that the name "Dairy Valley" no longer described the growing City - which had changed from a rural to a suburban community. The Chamber of Commerce suggested the name "Cerritos", which means "little hills," because it had a historic and romantic tie with the old California rancho days, since the City was located near land that was part of the original Spanish land grant "Rancho Los Cerritos".
By 1970 the City had grown to a population of 15,856, and by 1972 the count was 37,738, making Cerritos the fastest growing city in California. In 1978, Cerritos dedicated the nation's first solar-heated City Hall complex. In the early 1980s, the City developed the Cerritos Auto Square and in 1993, the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts first opened its doors, followed by the Cerritos Towne Center and Cerritos Senior Center at Pat Nixon Park in 1994. In 1997, the City opened the Cerritos Sheriff's Station/Community Safety Center, and in 2002, the Cerritos Library opened as a model library of the future. Having celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2006, today Cerritos is a thriving commercial center, which has built itself on a foundation of financial security, central location and an environment that is beautiful and efficient.
During the 1940's, Hawaiian Gardens was a small, rural community of
dairy and truck farms that was considered an unincorporated part of
Artesia. But as the area grew, so did the residents' awareness of being
a separate community. On December 15, 1944 a contract was awarded to
Scherrer's Market for Hawaiian Gardens' first post office - formally
establishing the region as a special area separate from the surrounding
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