Low Graphics Version     
How Do I...VisitingLivingWorkingDepartmentsCalendarsServices
Homepage > Working in El Segundo > HistoryE-mail storyPrint friendly format
Online Services


                              El Segundo Boulevard, ca. 1911                                                                El 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

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, 1917                                                                                 Hotel El Segundo, ca. 1913


1917     January 18, the City incorporates.
1919  March 10, there is a major fire on Richmond Street.  The Library moved to City Hall. 
1920  General Chemical Company (followed by Allied, Honeywell and now El Segundo Plaza) builds a plant on Sepulveda in El Segundo. 
1923           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. 
1928  January 3, Converse Drugstore opens. El Segundo High School opens with an enrollment of 124. 
1929 August 28, Graf Zeppelin lands at Mines Field.  Moreland Aircraft Plant opens.  El Segundo High Shool graduates first class of 37 students. 
1930 Pickwick Nitecoach opens.  El Segundo Library opens with 1400 books.
1933 Earthquake damages plunge, city hall and school buildings; the Converse Building becomes second home for Library.
1935 General Tile Company begins operations.
Franklin Ave. and Richmond St., ca. 1920                                                  Jensen’s Market at Main Street and Grand Avenue, 1936
1936 Elementary and High School Districts combine to form El Segundo Unified School District.
1938 City builds water treatment plant.
1939 Patmar’s Drive-in opens Memorial Day.
1946 Nash-Kelvinator builds factory in El Segundo; West Basin Water District formed; Library construction resumes.
1947 Fire Department established November 24 with 6 members.
1948 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.
1949 State of California celebrates Centennial; Center Street Elementary School opens.
1956 City adopts Council-Manager form of government; Recreation Department formed; El Segundo becomes Aerospace Capital of the World.
1957 Contract awarded to Marion Varner & Associates for $80,000 to build Fire Station No. 2 at El Segundo Boulevard & Nash Street.
1958 Recreation Park dedicated.
1963 Library is expanded for additional shelving and a children's room.
1966 Joslyn Center dedicated in Recreation Park.
1967 City joins in week-long 50th anniversary celebration; dedication of City Hall at 350 Main Street.
1969 Airplane crash at Holly and Eucalyptus.
1983 The Oakland Raiders (NFL) move to Los Angeles and establish a training facility in town. El Segundo Education Foundation founded.
1986 Park Vista home for seniors opens its doors.
1991 Library expands again to accommodate more seatings, a large meeting room, and to convert the card index to online catalog.
1996 City mural program begins with 5 murals completed; Heritage Walk begins on Main Street.
1999 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.
2000-2002 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.
2003 The Downtown Improvement Project completed.
2005 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.
2006 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.
2007 July, Athletic Fields of Campus El Segundo (of which the soccer fields were part) opened.
2009 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

Copyright © 2000 - 2020 City of El Segundo, 350 Main Street, El Segundo, CA 90245 · 310-524-2300 | Website Privacy Policy. Powered by