The first inhabitants of what is now Gardena were the Gabrielino Indians. The land was garden-like, due to the water of the Dominguez Slough. The verdant landscape was thought to be the source of the name Gardena. When the Spanish came to the area, the land became part of Rancho San Pedro, which covered over 43,000 acres. After the Civil War, 16,000 acres were sold to Union Army Major General William Starke Rosecrans and renamed Rosecrans Rancho. Spencer Thorpe, from Ventura, started the first settlement, with Figueroa and 161st Street as the center. Farming was the area’s main industry, with berries being the favored crop. The community was named Berryland and held an annual Strawberry Day Festival. World War I brought an end to the berry farms as other crops were planted. The city of Gardena was incorporated on September 11, 1930 and was made up of several rural communities. Farming was still the main industry and the population of the new city of Gardena was about 20,000. Later, the farmland was subdivided into the residential areas visible today.
Gardena residents have easy access to area freeways making most of Los Angeles County and much of Orange County easily reachable. The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park, as are the Observatory and Planetarium. Beaches, including Venice Beach, are a short drive away. A variety of sea creatures can be viewed at the Aquarium of the Pacific while bones and fossils can be seen at the La Brea Tar Pits. There are hundreds of shopping areas in Los Angeles County along with fine restaurants and an exciting nightlife.
The area abounds with museums, including the UCLA Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the African American Firefighter Museum, and the Los Angeles Museum of Television and Radio. Amusement venues include Six Flags Magic Mountain, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, and the Hollywood Wax Museum. Historic areas include the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grumman’s Chinese Theatre, the Pantages Theatre, and Angeles Flight Railway.
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