Torrance is a city located in the South Bay (southwestern) region of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Torrance’s 1.5 miles of attractive beach coastline is less well-known than those of its immediate neighbors to the North, Redondo Beach, or to the South, Palos Verdes Estates. As of the 2009 California Population Estimate, the city’s population was 149,111; the eighth largest city in Los Angeles County and the 35th largest in the state of California. Incorporated in 1921, Torrance enjoys a pleasant year-round climate with warm temperatures, sea breezes, low humidity and an average rainfall of 12.55 inches per year. This residential city has 90,000 street trees. A city of diverse residents, flourishing businesses and safe communities, Torrance exemplifies its motto, “a balanced city.”
Torrance was originally part of the 1784 Rancho San Pedro Spanish land grant, issued to Juan Jose Dominguez, signed by King Carlos III of the Spanish Empire.
In the early 1900s, real estate developer Jared Sidney Torrance and other investors saw the value of creating a mixed industrial-residential community south of Los Angeles. They purchased part of an old Spanish land grant and hired landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to design a new planned community. The resulting town was founded in October 1912 and named after Torrance. The city of Torrance was formally incorporated in May 1921. The first residential avenue created in Torrance was Gramercy and the second avenue was Andreo. Both are located in the area referred to as Old Town Torrance. This section of Torrance is under review to be classified as a historical district. Birthplace of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) or more commonly seen as a bumper sticker: PlAYSOccer.
Torrance is a large and diverse coastal community in Los Angeles County, sharing the climate and geographical features common to the Los Angeles area. Its’ boundaries include Redondo Beach Boulevard and the cities of Lawndale and Gardena to the north. Western Avenue and the Harbor Gateway neighborhood form the eastern border, and the cities of Lomita, Rolling Hills Estates and Palos Verdes Estates form the southern border, while the Pacific Ocean and the city of Redondo Beach are to the west.
Torrance Beach is bordered by Redondo and RAT (right after Torrance) beaches.
Torrance Beach lies between Redondo Beach and Malaga Cove. The region shared by Torrance and Redondo Beaches are often called “Rat Beach” (short for “Right After Torrance” Beach or “Redondo and Torrance Beach”).
One of the country’s few urban wetlands can be found in Torrance. Madrona Marsh is a nature preserve on undeveloped land once set aside for oil production.
Residents of an unincorporated area to the east of Harbor Gateway abutting the city of Carson are allowed to use “Torrance” in their addresses by the USPS., but the students that live in this area go to schools that are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). As of the census of 2000, there were 137,946 people, 54,542 households, and 36,270 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,593.1/km² (6,715.7/mi²). There were 55,967 housing units at an average density of 1,052.0/km² (2,724.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.16% White, 28.61% Asian, 4.72% from two or more races, 4.57% from other races, 2.19% Black or African American, 0.41% Native American and 0.35% Pacific Islander. 12.79% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $70,834, and the median income for a family was $84,711. Males had a median income of $51,472 versus $37,114 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,144. About 4.5% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.0% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.
Del Amo Fashion Center, at 2.5 million square feet (232,000 m²), is one of the largest malls in the United States. Estimates vary between the second largest (after the Mall of America) and the fourth largest, depending on the measurements used. The current mall was created when Del Amo Center, built in 1958, merged with Del Amo Fashion Square, built in 1970. Once located on opposite sides of Carson Street, a gigantic expansion of the mall spanning Carson Street joined the two centers by 1982, making it the longest mall in the world at the time. In 2005, the east end of the original mall north of Carson Street was demolished to make way for a new open-air shopping center, opened in mid-September, 2006. The new center features upscale clothiers Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters as well as the restaurant PF Chang’s. The housewares retail giant Crate & Barrel opened in Spring 2007. Torrance also borders the South Bay Galleria, which resides in Redondo Beach.
Madrona Marsh, a nature preserve, is located centrally in the city.
A USMC unit in the Armed Forces Day Parade
The Armed Forces Day Parade in Torrance, which was first produced in 1960, is the longest running military parade sponsored by a city. It is held annually on Armed Forces Day, and runs down Torrance Boulevard. The parade features military vehicles, school bands, and prominent community members.
Alpine Village, although not within the city boundaries but having a Torrance mailing address, is a European-themed restaurant, market and shop complex that hosts a locally popular version of the Oktoberfest celebrations every weekend during September and October for 35 years, featuring a beer brewed on site.
Torrance is home to the U.S. headquarters of two of the three largest Japanese automakers, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and American Honda Motor Company. Robinson Helicopters are designed and built in Torrance as are Garrett turbochargers, used on automobile engines worldwide.
According to the City of Torrance’s most 2007-08 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the city’s top 10 employers (and # of employees) are:
# Employer # of Employees
1. Toyota Motor Sales 3,320
2. American Honda 1,657
3. Robinson Helicopter, Inc. 1,210
4. Alcoa Fastening Systems 1,205
5. Honeywell Aerospace 1,123
6. Hi Shear Corporation 813
7. L-3 Communications Electron Tech, Inc. 687
8. Exxon Mobil Oil Corporation 674
9. Pelican Products, Inc. 556
10. Toro Nursery 500
Torrance houses several refineries of companies like Mobil.
As a major oil-producing region, Torrance was once dotted with thousands of oil wells and oil derricks. Though the oil wells are not as common as they once were, the ExxonMobil refinery in the north end of the city is responsible for much of Southern California’s gasoline supply. In fact, much of Southern California’s gasoline supply is refined within a few miles of Torrance. ARCO produces gasoline in Carson; Texaco has a refinery a bit further east in Wilmington; Unocal is in San Pedro while one of the oldest refineries in the state is the Chevron plant in El Segundo. Torrance was also an important hub and shop site of the Pacific Electric Railway.
Torrance has a busy general aviation airport, originally named simply “Torrance Airport” and since renamed Zamperini Field after local track star, World War II hero and Torrance High graduate Louis Zamperini. The airport handles approximately 175,000 annual take-offs and landings (473 per day ), down from the 1974 record of 428,000 operations. Airport noise abatement is a major local issue. In 2007 the Western Museum of Flight moved to Zamperini Field.
Torrance is also home to the world headquarters of Sunrider International, as well as the U.S. Headquarters of numerous leading automotive aftermarket companies, including: Alpine Electronics, Speed Star Racing Wheels, Tanabe Racing Development, Koyo radiators, Stoptech brakes, Cosworth, and Edelbrock.
Torrance is also home to the main bakery facility for King’s Hawaiian, the dominant brand of Hawaiian bread in North America. The footwear companies Lakai and Globe also have headquarters in Torrance. Electronics manufacturer Panasonic has a plant manufacturing DVD-RAM and Blu-Ray media in Torrance. The United States division of Japanese videogame company Tecmo is also headquartered in Torrance. TabletKiosk, manufacturer of Tablet PCs, UMPCs and Mobile Computing Accessories is headquartered in Torrance.
All Nippon Airways operates its United States headquarters, a customer relations and services office, in Suite 100 at Gramercy Plaza at 2050 West 190th Street in Torrance. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the office on Thursday March 15, 2007; Laura Eimiller, the FBI spokesperson, did not say why the office was raided. The office resumed operations that afternoon. The raid caused the carrier to not sell ticket reservations for several hours. Aurora Publishing, American subsidiary of Japanese publisher Ohzora Publishing, is headquartered in Torrance.
The city also has appointed Commissions to give residents a greater voice in local decisions. The Airport Commission advises the City Council on matters concerning the Torrance Airport. The Cable Television Advisory Board advises and makes recommendations in the area of policies and procedures in public access interests, scheduling public access programming, facilities, and equipment for the community and public access channels, and disbursement of Foundation funds. The Civil Service Commission is responsible for all examinations for the original selection and promotion of city employees. The Commission on Aging deals with the needs and issues confronting senior citizens in the community. The Cultural Arts Commission assists the City Council in providing for and promoting opportunities for the artistic and cultural development of citizens. The Disaster Council conducts regular surveys of disaster readiness in the City and disseminates alert information to the public. The Environmental Quality Energy Conservation Commission deals with commercial sign reviews, oil production and oil site maintenance, animal control, beautification awards, community noise control, energy conservation, property nuisances, and property maintenance. The Library Commission makes recommendations regarding the operation of the library system. The Parks Recreation Commission advises and makes recommendations on matters pertinent to a public park and recreation program. The Planning Commission works with the Community Development Department in the preparation of master plans and zoning studies that affect the growth and development of Torrance. The Traffic Commission makes recommendations to the City Council on street and traffic improvement. The Water Commission makes recommendations for assuring high-quality non-interruptible water service at the lowest possible cost. The Youth Council is an advisory body to City Council on matters pertaining to youth in Torrance.
The United States Postal Service operates the Torrance Post Office at 2510 Monterrey Street, the Marcelina Post Office at 1433 Marcelina Avenue, the Walteria Post Office at 4216 Pacific Coast Highway, the North Torrance Post Office at 18080 Crenshaw Boulevard, and the Del Amo Post Office at 291 Del Amo Fashion Square.
Two major hospitals are located within the city — Torrance Memorial Medical Center and Little Company of Mary Hospital. A third hospital, Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, lies just outside the city limits (in the unincorporated Los Angeles County community of West Carson) but also has a Torrance address.
HealthCare Partners Medical Group’s corporate headquarters is in Torrance on Vermont Ave. HealthCare partners is one California’s largest medical groups.
Torrance Fire Department staffs five paramedic rescue squads at Fire Station 1 (Headquarters), Fire Station 3, Fire Station 4, A new one at Fire Station 5 as of February, 2008, and Fire Station 6. Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Little Company of Mary Hospital, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Kaiser Hospital-South Bay, and Memorial Hospital of Gardena are receiving hospitals for residents in Torrance who call 911 for medical assistance. Ambulance transportation is provided through Gerber Ambulance Service.
The City of Torrance operates a main library facility (named after former mayor Katy Geissert) in the city Civic Center, plus five branches at locations throughout the city.
Torrance has 24 city parks; the focal point is 44 acres (0.18 km2) Wilson Park which has extensive picnic and sports facilities, including a modern gymnasium, skatepark, and roller-hockey rink. Wilson Park also hosts the Torrance Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and is the site of the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display. Columbia Park in Torrance is a regional park developed about the same time as Wilson Park.
Torrance Unified School District (TUSD) was established as a school district in 1947 and unified in 1948. The District encompasses all of the City of Torrance, bordered by the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the south, the Cities of Redondo Beach and Gardena on the north, the City of Carson on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. The District’s jurisdiction includes approximately 21 square miles, and it operates 17 elementary schools, eight middle schools, five high schools (one of which is a continuation school), three adult education centers, and a child development center.
Torrance High School is one of the oldest high schools in California, having opened in 1917 . Some families have attended Torrance High for generations The Torrance Unified School District five high schools are (Torrance High, North High, South High, West High, and Shery High) and their feeder schools. Area districts have created the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SCROC) to teach technical classes to their students and to local adults. TUSD is a participant feeder district of the California Academy of Mathematics and Science or CAMS, a mathematics and science magnet high school, administered by the Long Beach Unified School District.
Two private high schools are also located in Torrance: Bishop Montgomery High School (administered by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles) and Pacific Lutheran High School. Six private elementary/middle schools are in Torrance: Riviera Hall Lutheran School, Riviera Methodest School, Nativity Catholic School, First Lutheran School, St James Catholic School and Catherine Laboure Catholic School.
Torrance lies within the El Camino Community College District and El Camino College uses a Torrance mailing address, but the campus is actually located just outside the city limits in the unincorporated Los Angeles county area known as El Camino Village.
In 1973, Torrance established a sister-city relationship with Kashiwa, Chiba (Japan), as part of the Sister Cities International program. Since then, citizens of Torrance have regularly engaged in cultural exchange with Kashiwa through the guidance of the Torrance Sister City Association, which facilitates a Japanese cultural festival, a yearly student exchange program, and contact between officials of the two cities. South High School (Torrance) is the official sister high school of Kashiwa Municipal High.
Del Amo Fashion Center has been used as a location for several motion pictures, including Jackie Brown and Bad Santa.
The Torrance Drive-In, now gone, is the mentioned in chapter 8 of the Philip K. Dick novel, A Scanner Darkly.
Torrance High School’s facade is familiar to television viewers as the setting for Beverly Hills, 90210 and its spinoff, 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and to moviegoers for its appearances in She’s All That, Not Another Teen Movie and The Wild Life.
South High School, near the southern border of Torrance, was used as a location for the 1999 filming of the movie American Beauty.
Torrance is also the home of filming the hit show Zeke and Luther. They have appeared skateboarding at the Daily Breeze building, and Wilson Park. In Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, School 2 references North High.