by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Last week’s “Time Capsule Tuesday” entry introduced a mid-1960s publication, issued by the City of Industry League, apparently a precursor to today’s Industry Manufacturers Council, and which was titled Grow, Grow, Grow With and In The City of Industry.
The entry noted that the City was created in the late 1950s as a “third wave” of industrial development in greater Los Angeles that began with the industrial core of the city of Los Angeles adjacent to the Los Angeles River in the late 1800s and early 1900s and then, in ensuing decades, the Vernon/City of Commerce and other areas south and east of there. More recent development has extended into the Inland Empire, specifically in places like Chino, Fontana, and Ontario, though there are some outlying facilities in Riverside, Moreno Valley and elsewhere.
Most cities and towns have publications like these designed as a promotional and recruiting tool. At the time of its issuance, the City was only several years old and there was a great deal of open land and potential for it and the businesses operating in the city.
To entice companies to establish or relocate to the city, Grow, Grow, Grow emphasized the infrastructure and other amenities found in Industry and it is notable that the recently adopted motto for the city as it celebrates its 60th anniversary includes regional infrastructure as a key component.
The third page of the document is titled “Bankers Like The City of Industry” and noted that there were three banks located in the city, including the world’s largest, Bank of America (it is now the 9th largest), as well as United California Bank (which was acquired in 2001 as part of Bank of the West) and Citizens National Bank (which about the time of the publication merged with Crocker National Bank of San Francisco, which, in turn, was absorbed by Wells Fargo Bank in the mid-1980s).
Looking at the reserve amounts given and comparing them to the massive banks of today is pretty eye-opening. For example, Bank of America had $12 billion in resources then and is now over $2 trillion in assets. United California was not much over one-sixth of BofA’s total, while the tiny Citizens National had $700 million in assets.
The fourth page of the brochure emphasized that “Utilities Like The City of Industry” with five components highlighted. The first was Southern Counties Gas Company, now part of SoCal Gas, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, with the company touted as having 750,000 customers. By contrast, SoCal Gas, the largest gas utility in the country, has a staggering 22 million customers. Southern Counties, in the mid-60s, delivered 180 billion cubic feet of gas a year and had equipment valued at over $230 million.
Southern California Edison was, at the time, the fourth largest electric utility in the U.S.A., generating 22 billion kilowatt hours annually. It is now about 4 times that amount, serving some 15 million customers (it was about one-third that total a half-century ago) in 15 counties and to 285,000 businesses.
Local phone service was provided by General Telephone (known commonly as GTE for General Telephone and Electric), described as the largest independent phone company in America. Its local division (one of over 30) serviced 40,000 phones with a capital investment on equipment of $12 million. Obviously, whereas gas, electricity and water are fundamentally delivered much as they were then, telephone service is totally different with the advent of cell phones.
Six water companies provided that resource to the city in the mid-1960s, with only one of these, San Gabriel Valley Water Company, mentioned. The firm, which served a half million customers at the time, was primed (get it?) to increase its service to another 500,000. Founded in the 1930s, the company now serves about the same number of customers (481,000) as it did a half-century ago and is headquartered in El Monte with some of its customers coming from a branch company in the Fontana area near San Bernardino. It remains one of the biggest investor-owned water companies in the state.
Another element of infrastructure mentioned in this section of Grow, Grow, Grow was the newly completed city post office, which opened its doors in January 1963 behind city hall. The 2,000 square-foot facility, in the spare modernist architecture found in the bank buildings, still is in operation.
Then, there is transportation, the central element of moving goods to and from the city. With its page following the template and titled “Transportation Likes The City of Industry,” this section indicated that local facilities “open the area to the entire world for import and export of goods.” The two main lines at the time were the Southern Pacific, which opened its line along Valley Boulevard in 1874 when the Workman and Rowland families still owned tens of thousands of acres of the land in the area, and the Union Pacific, which absorbed the line of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad, built in the first years of the 1900s, just south of the Homestead.
The SP held nearly 500 acres and the UP about 400 within city limits and it is interesting to see that the two firms had a jointly held company called Pacific Fruit Express for the transport of agricultural products. This is because rapid suburban development starting after World War II was replacing former farm and ranch land, including the expansion of the City of Industry. The page also noted that a bypass from Los Angeles Harbor at San Pedro/Wilmington and the adjacent Port of Long Beach gave the city direct access to those facilities, whereas historically a route had to go through downtown Los Angeles before moving south to those ports.
What has changed considerably in the way of transportation is that the 100 or so truck lines barely mentioned in the document have become far more important for city-based transport than the rail lines. Moreover, with American exports at far lower levels than fifty years ago and imports from China and elsewhere in Asia skyrocketing, the city’s manufacturing base of the 1960s has given way to far more warehousing of imported goods prior to distribution, usually by truck, elsewhere in the country.
Finally, there was a little side-note in the transportation section of the pamphlet, which concerned the existence of a privately owned heliport in the center of the city. Today, the only such facility is next to the Industry Sheriff’s Station a bit west of city hall.
Next week’s entry looks at city services and “typical industrial plants” as we continue our in-depth look at the Grow, Grow, Grow brochure from a half-century ago.