Growing Pains of a Young City

Although the City of Carson has a long and colorful history, which dates back to the actual founding of California, it is a very young community in terms of its age as an independent city.

Carson was incorporated as a city in 1968. Compare that to Carson's neighbor to the east, Long Beach, which incorporated almost a century earlier, in 1888, or to its neighbor to the west, Torrance, which became a city in 1921.

In those intervening years, the area that is now Carson remained an unincorporated portion of Los Angeles County, and as a result, the young City of Carson is still struggling to overcome the penalties that came with delaying its incorporation.

In politics, there is an acronym, "N.I.M.B.Y.", which is short for "not in my back yard". People realize that society needs facilities such as garbage dumps, auto dismantling centers and waste treatment plants, but when it comes time to build them, no one wants them in their own back yard. So when such essential facilities were needed in the South Bay, the incorporated cities such as Torrance and Redondo Beach had the political clout to resist the location of such controversial projects within their city borders. Since Carson was an unincorporated area for so long, with little political representation, it often ended up as the dumping ground (both literally and figuratively) of its neighbors.

By the time Carson finally incorporated as a city in 1968, its landscape was pockmarked with the dozens of refuse dumps, landfills, and auto dismantling plants which none of its neighbors would have in their own cities.

As a result, the history of the City of Carson since 1968 has, to a large extent, been the history of struggling to deal with these problems caused by its late incorporation. And to its credit, Carson has worked miracles in the short time since its birth as an independent city.

Following its incorporation in 1968, Carson acted swiftly to close down most of the unwanted facilities that had been foisted upon the city in the past, enforcing a strict building and landscaping code, and a working to attract successful new commercial ventures to the city. As a result, most of the heavy industry of the past has been replaced. The new industrial parks in Carson, such as the Watson Industrial Center, are models of cleanliness and attention to appearance. Beautification efforts by the city have resulted in numerous landscaped center medians, lighting projects, street improvements and public parks.

One of the city's first accomplishments was the construction of the Carson Mall (now renamed the South Bay Pavilion at Carson) in 1972. Other notable high points include the growth of Cal-State University Dominguez Hills (and the building of Olympic Velodrome which brought the 1984 games to Carson), the opening of the Carson Civic Center (including the Carson City Hall, a post office, sheriff station, a large Carson Community Center, and a nearby Hilton hotel), the Carson Regional Library, and the creation of a series of fine neighborhood parks. The newest addition, the The Stub Hub Center (Previously known as Home Depot National Training Center), opened in 2003.

Photos of Carson

But the city has had to fight long and hard to surmount those initial hardships, which still act as a hurdle to the city's progress. For instance, many of the prime building sites in Carson have a previous history as landfills or former refineries. This means any new construction on such contaminated industrial sites require lengthy procedures to deal with environmental concerns.

But the City has been successful in making the most of such problem areas, reclaiming many areas formerly considered unusable. The new Carson Town Center, for instance (which opened in 1996), was built on land formerly used by the Golden Eagle refinery, while the proposed new L.A. MetroMall will be built upon a former landfill next to the 405 freeway.

Carson is not alone in dealing with such reclamation problems. The Palos Verdes Peninsula, for instance, successfully converted their former landfill into the wonderful South Coast Botanic Gardens, the first arboretum ever built on such land.

Original Real Estate Brochure from the Early 1960's for the Homes South of Cal State Dominguez Hills


City Hall Contact

701 E Carson Street
Carson, CA 90745
(310) 830-7600, 7 AM - 6 PM
Monday - Thursday
24-hour automated: (310) 952-1700


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