by Paul R. Spitzzeri
Today’s “Time Capsule Tuesday” entry, as part of the City of Industry’s 60th anniversary, is the third of four parts covering the mid-1960s brochure issued by the City of Industry League (a precursor, it appears, of today’s Industry Manufacturers Council) called “Grow, Grow, Grow With and In the City of Industry.”
Previous posts in the series dealt with the general thrust of the publication and its promotion of the city, as well as the transportation, banking and utilities elements of the city’s infrastructure.
Historical context also pointed out that the city was in a “third wave” of industrial development in greater Los Angeles, following the earliest phase in downtown along the west bank of the Los Angeles River and then the second moving southeast from the city in the Vernon/City of Commerce area.
During the population and economic boom which followed World War II, the idea of creating an industrial city along the existing Southern Pacific and Union Pacific railroad lines and the in-process building of freeways like Interstate 10, the 60 Freeway and others took hold and the City of Industry was incorporated in 1957. Along these lines, this post starts out by looking at the city services offered more than a half-century ago.
Described as “the administrative heart of the municipality,” city hall stood just south across Stafford Street from the current facility. The pamphlet noted that the structure “is architecturally modern, [and] functionality rather than gingerbread is the key to its purpose. Looking at the photo, the small, one-story building certainly was as advertised, but the publication was sure to point out that “there are no bonds or other financial obligations involved in the City of Industry buildings—they are all free and clear.”
That led to the next element of city services, which was the contracting of virtually all of them to outside entities, especially the County of Los Angeles. As the brochure expressed it, “contracting with the gigantic civil departments of Los Angeles County . . . [meant] the finest police, fire and safety services without maintaining costly municipal buildings, personnel, and paperwork.”
In discussing the contract of policing to the county sheriff’s department, the publication noted that the arrangement meant “protection by one of the finest police organizations in the world at minimum municipal cost.” With yesterday’s Labor Day post noting that the holiday was designated at the federal level in 1894 during the violent Pullman strike, it is interesting to read here that the “Industry Business Detail” was a section of the Industry station, in which deputies were “especially trained to foresee and prevent physical violence in industrial labor-management disputes.”
With respect to firefighting services, the city contracted with county fire department, which “provides the finest fire protection by one of the largest organizations of its kind.” Specifically within city boundaries, there were two stations with 30 full-time personnel and eight pieces of equipment “prepared to reach any part of the City within five minutes.” Images of the two stations are also included with the description.
Finally, there was the local office of the Los Angeles County Building and Safety Division providing “rapid and efficient inspection of all new construction” with some 3,000 of these handled each year “backed by two local district engineers and the gigantic division’s total field force.”
These services assisted a city that was, as pointed out before, only development to 7% of projected build-out, but which was already home to over 160 businesses, just about seven years in to the city’s existence. A section of the pamphlet was dedicated to “Typical Industrial Plants with two pages highlighting ten Industry-based companies.
For example, an aerial view captured the large plant of the Shepherd Machinery Company, one of the largest dealers of Caterpillar Tractor Company equipment in the world. Situated on nearly fifty acres in the southwest corner of the city near Whittier, Shepherd employed 270 persons in the sale and service of Caterpillar, John Deere and other equipment for agriculture and construction. The Quinn Company bought Shepherd in 2003 and operates on the site now. More information can be found at this Los Angeles Revisited blog post including comments from a former Shepherd employee who started there in 1965, just after this pamphlet was issued.
Accompanying text noted that in the 160 or so industrial plants in the city, there were some 12,000 workers, whereas today that figure is several times higher. Some of the material manufactured included “electronics, glass, ceramics, paper” and many specialized items with some firms being international in scope, like Burroughs, International Harvester, and Norris-Thermador.
In the mostly undeveloped far eastern section of the city, where the former ranch of California state senator and Los Angeles county sheriff, Alvin T. Currier was located along Valley Boulevard between Brea Canyon Road and Grand Avenue, one plant mentioned in the pamphlet was still there several decades later. This was the Libbey Glass plant, a division of Owens-Illinois Glass. Occupying a large 90-acre site, with a main structure exceeding 300,000 square feet (which was massive in those days in the city), Libbey employed about 200 workers. Today, a business park occupies the site.
Another notable city business highlighted in the pamphlet and a familiar sight for decades to drivers plying Hacienda Boulevard was Leo Hoffman Chevrolet, which operated at a three-acre site at the intersection of Nelson Avenue near La Puente High School. Opened originally in 1944, Hoffman was described in the publication as a “community-type car dealer” with $2 million in annual sales and over 125,000 square feet in structures for new and used car sales as well as service and parts divisions. When the City of Industry redeveloped areas along the 60 Freeway some years ago, the dealership, now Puente Hills Chevrolet, moved to a corner location at Gale and Azusa avenues.
Obviously, a major selling point for businesses considering relocating or establishing in the city was to discuss the range of housing, schools, churches, and recreational facilities available in the area. Check back next week for the final part of the series on the “Grow, Grow, Grow . . .” publication for more on those amenities in and around the city.