by Paul R. Spitzzeri
The South Bay city of Paramount, which has a population of about 54,000 and is bounded by Compton on the west, Long Beach on the south, Bellflower on the east and South Gate and Downey on the north, is within the boundaries of the Rancho Los Cerritos, which was owned from 1843 to 1866 by Jonathan Temple is about four miles south. As the history page on the city’s website notes, the Rand Corporation, in 1981, referred to Paramount as an “urban disaster area.”
This dour characterization inspired city and community leaders to embark on policies and programs to renew the municipality and, within just seven years, Paramount was designated an “All-America City” by the National Civic League, while it was also the recipient of special recognition for its achievements by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Today, it is a Latino-majority city with 83% of its residents so designated and the website, in addition to the history page has a gallery of over 50 historical photos, including some of its predecessor communities of Clearwater and Hynes.
These were established along the route of the Los Angeles Terminal Railway, which formed in 1890 and merged with two existing lines including the Los Angeles, Pasadena and Glendale and the Los Angeles and Glendale. The “Terminal” portion meant an extension southward from Los Angeles to Terminal Island at the Port of Los Angeles, which was soon to be given significant federal funding for a massive expansion, this being completed in 1892. The Los Angeles Terminal was then acquired in the early years of the 20th century by copper mining tycoon William Andrews Clark for his San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railway, which built a line through the San Gabriel Valley just south of the Homestead.
The Terminal road established a station that it first denoted as “South Clearwater,” but the 28 September 1898 edition of the Los Angeles Herald reported that the line “is going into the business of granting immortality to great men,” including changing that depot’s moniker to Hynes, “immortalizing the name of the very able general manager of the Terminal system.” That was Samuel Burke Hynes (1842-1904), a native of Jefferson County, Indiana, along the Kentucky border about halfway between Cincinnati and Louisville.
He joined the Union Army during the Civil War, serving all four years and was a lieutenant and aide-de-camp for General Granville M. Dodge. When the terrible conflict ended in 1865, Hynes settled in Illinois, northeast of St. Louis and edited a newspaper for a couple of years before becoming a right-of-way agent for a railroad between Terre Haute, Indiana and St. Louis. In 1874, he joined the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, known as the Santa Fe, and, over two decades, rose to be the general freight agent for the massive system.
In 1889, suffering from poor health, Hynes was given the choice by the company to relocate to Texas or California and chose, as so many people did, the latter and he worked for several more years as the general freight and passenger agent for the Santa Fe for all of its Golden State lines. In September 1896, he joined the Terminal Railway and served as its general manager until early 1900 when he left for Chicago to work for a gas company. Leaving that firm, he briefly tried farming before returning to the railroad business as foreign traffic agent for the Burlington Northern. He died in the Windy City hotel in which he lived while working for the company, suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
An early reference to the new town of Hynes came in September 1898, when the Los Angeles Herald of the 3rd commented that it and “North Clearwater” were to hold a fair, while a reporter was invited to go down and see that “with the aid of our 600 foot [artesian] wells,” hence the name “Clearwater,” the abundance of “corn, beets, onions, pumpkins, melons, potatoes and fruits of surpassing excellence.” What was not mentioned but was in particular vogue at the time in the region were sugar beets.
A prior post here featured a 1910 photo from Hynes of a wagon loaded with sugar beets and with Latino laborers clearly doing the difficult work of harvesting the crop, which was heavily promoted at the time as an alternative source of sugar. Second to sugar king Claus Spreckels and his large enterprise near Santa Cruz in the north was Richard Gird, a copper mine magnate who left Tombstone, Arizona, and bought the large Rancho Santa Ana del Chino, on the west edge of San Bernardino County, which was planted with a great deal of sugar beets and where a refinery was established.
Another major area of concentration for the crop, however, was in northwest Orange County and southeast Los Angeles County, including Hynes. There were also heavy emphases there on field crops, like hay, and in dairying, with the New Year’s Day 1900 edition of the Los Angeles Times featuring a brief report from the new town and noting that “butter-making takes first place among the sources of profit” there. Moreover, the large creamery recently constructed too in up to 10,000 pounds of milk daily paying up to $1.25 per pound. Beyond that, however, ten carloads of hay were shipped on the Terminal line, while it was noted that there was a store and a vegetable canning house was in consideration—the concluding statement was “ten years ago the site of Hynes was a lonely stock pasture.”
About six weeks later, the paper called Hynes “a flourishing little city in the center of a rich dairy section and quoted the Long Beach Tribune as remarking,
It seems a golden opportunity awaits Hynes . . . The true spirit of improvement has seized upon the citizens. Hynes is fortunate in having some public-spirited men with capital to back their projects, to lay hold and put the wheels of progress in motion. [After describing the store and canning facility of J.M. Brennan and J.N. Hill] . . . H.P. Epperson is another prominent citizen, and one of the old settlers. He is a large land-owner and a charitably-disposed man, and serves as a stand-by and counsellor in all matters of prominence in the community.
The creamery was considered “another gold mine in that section of country” and products were issued under the brand of the “Crown Creamery.” The featured photo here, however, is of a farm wagon loaded with what looks to be alfalfa, which spills over the sides of the vehicle, which was drawn by two substantial horses driven by a gent, whose seat is also covered in the crop. To the right is a house with some large shade trees behind it, though nothing more is known, other than the date and the fact that the image “was printed wrong side out.”
That same year of 1906, however, a major change was effected as the Times of 31 July reported that “the Young-Parmley Investment Company of this city today closed a deal by which it purchased the entire town of Hynes” containing 250 acres and the firm “comes into possession of every house in a prosperous settlement of 200 people.” There were twenty farmers in all whose “cattle, chickens, hogs, machinery and homes” were acquired and it was noted that the settlement had two creameries.” The firm was to “replat the town and install, gas, electric and water plants and place on the market an attractive suburban village.”
The company was formed the prior year at Long Beach by Joseph W. Young and his cousin A.J. Parmley, who soon had offices at Los Angeles and Alamitos Bay, where the San Gabriel River empties into the Pacific at the county line between Los Angeles and Orange and divides Long Beach from Seal Beach. Young later went to Indianapolis to develop property near the famed speedway and then, in 1920, to Florida, where he founded the city of Hollywood, named after the renowned film capital here in California. The dual disaster of the real estate crash of 1926 and the Great Depression led to Young’s financial failure and he died in Hollywood in 1934.
Soon after acquiring Hynes, Young and Parmley sold it to the Hynes Improvement Company, which included a trio of Long Beach realtors, including Marcus Campbell, J.W. Anderson and the duo of A.B. Rothrock and W.H. Taylor, among its officials. This firm marketed about 100 lots, most with 50′ frontages and 150′ depth along 80-foot wide streets, excepting Ocean Avenue which was 100-feet wide, and it noted there were five artesian wells to service the town. Lots could be had for just $50 down and $10 per month or 1/3 down for improved lots with 7% interest paid semi-annually.
The four main streets from east to west were Ocean, Colorado, Vermont and Ohio avenues, with the former now Paramount Boulevard and the middle two still existing, while the latter is no longer with us. From north to south there were Jackson, Harrison and Lincoln streets and, between the two and west of Ocean (Paramount) are the Paramount City Hall and the Kindred Hospital, while Lincoln is now 70th Street. At the west end of the tract is the railroad line then part of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake system and denoted by the short term of “Salt Lake R.R..”
There was a proposal by Henry E. Huntington’s Pacific Electric Railway to build a line from Monrovia to Long Beach through Hynes, though this never materialized. Because of the promotion of this streetcar line and what it would do for property values, there were buyers who snapped up lots at premiums only to find that they overpaid when the project was called off. A lawsuit ensued in 1909 in which fourteen buyers were given sums from $112 to $448 because Superior Court Judge Curtis Wilbur determined that the value of the properties was not much more than a third of the amount for which they were sold.
Hynes remained a community dominated by farming and dairying, with the latter becoming increasingly important in surrounding communities, such as Artesia (which was founded in 1875) and Cerritos. The New Year’s Day 1913 issue of the Times briefly observed that “Hynes is a promising little city in the southern part of the county on a line between Watts and Santa Ana” with the territory around it “devoted chiefly to beets and alfalfa, and dairying is carried on to a considerable extent.” The soil was promoted as “of excellent quality” and water abundant because of ample groundwater supplies, while land could be had at from $300 to $500 an acre. The town contained “excellent schools, churches, and business houses” with “a national bank doing a fine business heading the list.”
Almost exactly a decade later, the 30 December 1923 edition of the Long Beach Press contained a lengthy article on Hynes, written by Redge G. Smith, a recent transplant from Walla Walla, Washington. While he erred in saying that the town sprung up next to the Salt Lake tracks, instead of those built by the Los Angeles Terminal Railway, Smith recorded that William Andrews Clark’s Montana Land Company had considerable interests in the town, as it did in neighboring areas, most notably Lakewood to the southeast. He added that “from its very inception Hynes enjoyed a healthy growth, as old-time farming communities at cross roads were apt to grow.”
With 1923 being the peak year of another massive boom in greater Los Angeles, the journalist reported that “encroachment of population is rapidly driving the stock-raising industry from Los Angeles county and Hynes is no exception to the rule.” Six subdivisions with dozens of homes were in progress at that time and he noted that the increase in school populations was indicative of growth, including the recent opening of a new grammar school. The creamery, meanwhile, closed because the increase of trucking allowed for the pickup of raw milk for transport to Long Beach for processing. In fact, the proximity of Hynes to Long Beach meant that more people would reside in the former and work in the latter and it was noted that the burgeoning oil industry provided employment for residents of the community.
The 1 June 1924 edition of the Times included the assertion that “Clearwater and Hynes are virtually one town, as the main streets of the two are one, and the building activity of the last year has brought them close together.” It was also noted that a recent election brought the boundaries of Long Beach as far as Lincoln Street (70th Street), that southern limit of Hynes as shown on the 1907 tract map. Among the improvements at Hynes was a post office and business building of seven stores, at a cost of $18,000, while the First National Bank was remodeled at not far south of that amount. Also of note was the construction of 25 new houses in the Eureka Tract by officers of the Long Beach Police Department, while another 70 were constructed on the Jones and Ocean Boulevard tracts.
While the decline of the real estate market later in the Twenties, followed by the Great Depression and World War II, limited growth in Hynes, there was some interesting history found from time to time in local papers. A March 1934 piece in the Long Beach Sun discussed the Epperson family, mentioned above, including H.P. Epperson’s purchase of several hundred acres among some 5,000 sold by the Bixby family, which succeeded Temple to ownership of Rancho Los Cerritos, to the California Cooperative Colony. Epperson’s physician son related that the Terminal Railway had trouble deciding where to put a local depot, so it built one each at Clearwater and Hynes and he added that his father donated land for the first store and for the Methodist Church and should be considered a founder of the town.
In 1940, the Long Beach Press-Telegram published an obituary of Hynes “first citizen” N.B. Haydon, who moved to the town just over three decades before, observing that the insurance agent was considered an advisor to the many Dutch immigrants who came to establish dairies in the community. A half-dozen years the paper reviewed the “Naming of Hynes,” with Stanley W. Houghton, whose father Sherman was a long-time rancher in the area but also a former member of the House of Representatives (and husband, successively [of course] of two survivors of the Donner Party of 1846) and who died in 1914, stating that the community was called “South Clearwater,” as noted above.
It was Sherman Houghton who worked to get Hynes established with a post office because he had a personal tie to then Speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas B. Reed, the latter being clerk in the former’s law office in San Jose in northern California. As for the naming, Stanley Houghton related that the folks in South Clearwater wanted a better depot than the boxcar that it was given by the Terminal Railway, so bestowing the moniker on Samuel Hynes was a ploy to get both a nicer station and the post office. The new depot, though, was not built until after the Salt Lake Railway took control several years later.
The February 1946 article, though, also noted that the paper learned that “recently a movement in Hynes-Clearwater, as that district now is known, [is] to have its current compound name changed to “Paramount,” which is what Ocean Boulevard, of course, was renamed fifteen years prior. As of the first day of 1948, reported the Metropolitan Pasadena Star from a news-service article, “the town of Hynes, widely known as the center of [the] dairy industry in Los Angeles County, will be known as Paramount.” Notably, it was reported that Clearwater elected, despite the earlier movement, to remain separate, though that did not last long and the piece also noted that workers from the Union Pacific Railroad, which acquired the Salt Lake line and changed the name in the 1920s, replaced the old “Hynes” sign with a “Paramount” one.
Facing annexation efforts from Bellflower, Long Beach and South Gate, these conflicts happening through greater Los Angeles at the time, Paramount was incorporated early in 1957. Within a few years, as suburban development continued its dramatic post-World War II expansion during another regional boom and dairies (many Dutch-owned) headed inland to places like Chino and Ontario, the population grew to about 27,000 and doubled during the half-century to 2010.
Paramount, like most of our region, has completely transformed from the period shown in this photo 117 years ago, but its history, not as well-known as it should be, is an interesting one, especially in the context of the South Bay region. UPDATE, 19 August: Reader Paul Ayers sent in a comment that a few silent films were shot in Hynes, so check out a blog post about that.