Name Origins of Our City Agencies

Carson — Incorporated in 1968, named after the son of George Henry Carson, John Manuel Carson, a 20th-century developer of the South Bay and head of the Dominguez Water Corp.

El Segundo — Spanish for “the second.” Incorporated in 1917, named by executives from Standard Oil in 1911 as they searched for a location for the company's second refinery.

Gardena — Incorporated on September 11, 1930. Reports differ as to how Gardena acquired its name, although it is possible that the name was derived in one of the following ways: One theory is that the name was given by Nettie Thompson, daughter of the man from whom Thorpe bought his subdivision, because the valley was such a beautiful garden spot. Others who have been given the credit were a Mr. Harris, about 1887; a schoolgirl named Lexie Nichols; or perhaps, Spencer Thorpe himself. However, it has also been conjectured that its name was derived from the "Garden Spot," because of the fertile, green valley created by the nearby Laguna Dominguez slough and channel.

Hawthorne — Incorporated in 1922, named after American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Harbor Gateway/Harbor City — Following the establishment of San Pedro as the main source for the port in Santa Monica in 1897, Los Angeles city leaders argued that direct control over the port areas would be mutually beneficial by providing San Pedro and Wilmington with larger funding and in turn allowing the city to garner more revenue via the increasing port trade. The two cities were initially reluctant to join, but in 1906, frustrated by the indecision of San Pedro and Wilmington leaders, the city of Los Angeles purchased a long and narrow swath of land that connected then-South Los Angeles to San Pedro, naming the two regions Harbor Gateway and Harbor City.

Hermosa Beach — Incorporated in 1907, named after the Spanish word for “beautiful.”

Inglewood — Incorporated in 1908, supposedly named by a visitor from Inglewood, after his home town.

Lawndale — Named by its founder, Charles B. Hopper in 1905 after a Chicago suburb of the same name as a way of attracting settlers from the east.

Lomita — Although there's no question that Lomita derives its name from the words Spanish "little hills," there is apparently some disagreement over just who originally bestowed the name. One source claims Lomita was named by the early promoters of the district as they surveyed it from a hillside in Rancho Palos Verdes. Another source claims that "Lomita del Toro," or "little hills of the bull," appears on an early surveyor's map of Rancho San Pedro, just a few miles east of the present-day city, implying that Lomita inherited its name from the local fauna.

Los Angeles — Means ‘the angels’ in Spanish. The city was originally a pueblo founded and named by the Spanish with the full name of: "El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula," which means "The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola."

Manhattan Beach — Named by developer Stewart Miller after his New York hometown. It won a coin flip to become the town's official name over Shore Acres, the other contender.

Palos Verdes Estates — Palos Verdes — Spanish for “green sticks”—Estates is this oldest of the four cities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Incorporated in 1939, it had been purchased by Frank A Vanderlip from the Bixby family in 1913 with the idea of building a planned, residential community. The name “Palos Verdes” is believed to be named after Canada de Los Palos Verdes, a wooded area near current-day Machado Lake in Harbor Regional Park.

Rancho Palos Verdes — Named “ranch of the green sticks,” the land was used primarily as a cattle range in its early years as a parcel from the original 1784 Spanish land grant of Rancho San Pedro to Manuel Dominguez. The name “Palos Verdes” is believed to be named after Canada de Los Palos Verdes, a wooded area near current-day Machado Lake in Harbor Regional Park.

Rolling Hills/Rolling Hills Estates — Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates were once part of Rancho El Elastico. The rancho owner, A.E. Hanson, originally planned to name the area Folded Hills, but changed his mind after the Long Beach earthquake in 1933. 

Redondo Beach — Named after the nearby land grant Rancho Sausal Redondo (“Ranch of the Round Clump of Willows”).

San Pedro — Named by Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino in honor of St. Peter, the second-century Bishop of Alexandria.

Torrance — Named after its founder, Jared Sydney Torrance. Other names considered for the city included Southport, Obrador, Coronel, Don Manuel, and Industrial.

Wilmington — Named by developer and entrepreneur Phineas Banning after his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.

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