If Manhattan Beach is the sharp Sophisticate and Hermosa Beach the adorable little sister then Redondo Beach is surely the Grand Dame of the beach cities. Redondo Beach was the place to be when Manhattan and Hermosa were barely beginning. When Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach were little more than sand dunes, Redondo was the West Coast Resort town at he turn of the century.
Redondo Beach was part of an old Spanish land grant and the history of the city is fascinating. The city got its start in the late 1880’s when the city of Los Angeles needed a port to handle shipping. Redondo Beach seemed an ideal spot. By 1888 the city had a wharf and the Santa Fe was running a line from downtown Los Angeles to Redondo numerous times a day.
In 1890 a grand resort, The Hotel Redondo, was built where Veteran’s Park now stands. The hotel was huge with 225 luxurious rooms, an 18 hole golf course, tennis courts and fabulously landscaped grounds. If you couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel there was a Tent City nearby where you could rent a tent with electric lights for $3.00 by the week or $10.00 by the month. The world’s largest salt water plunge was close to where the Seaside Lagoon is today. There was even a beach piled high with Moonstones between Diamond Street and Herondo in Hermosa.
Tycoon Henry Huntington realized what an attraction Redondo was and started the Red Car Service that ran from downtown, through Beverly Hills and along the coast via Manhattan and Hermosa, to the boardwalk in Redondo. If only it were still running!
In 1892 the residents decided it was time to become a city so with a vote of 177-10 the city began. By the late 1920’s storms had destroyed the old wharves. Sadly the grand Hotel Redondo was done in by the Volstead Act or prohibition as it was popularly known..
During the Depression years, Redondo was home to the Gambling Ships complete with bad guys, hooch and gorgeous gals.. This was the stuff of movies. With the advent of World War II the gamblers were gone and the city settled down. The Pier was enlarged and soon restaurants and shops were built over the water. Although storms and fires have destroyed portions of the pier over the years today it still remains a vital part of Redondo Beach.
Redondo is the largest of the Beach Cities and over the years has been divided between North Redondo and South Redondo with 190th street as the informal boundary. The demographics from the 2010 census say the city is 6.3 square miles and has 67,693 residents that are fairly evenly divided between renters and home owners. I believe that number has changed in the last few years with a higher number of homeowners. The median household income was about $104,516.
The City has a Lobster Festival each May where some of the best chefs in town cook up pots of lobster and corn for thousands. The annual Super Bowl 10K on Super Bowl Sunday brings out the best runners in town. The Redondo Beach Pier is a great place to visit. There are fresh fish markets where you can take fish home or have it cooked to order. There are some wonderful restaurants.you don’t want to miss.. Old Tony’s … with the best view in town, Kincaids is more upscale on the north end of the pier. The Pier is in the midst of a complete upgrade with new restaurants planned. The marina has about 1500 slips for private boats.
Home prices in Redondo remain more affordable than those in Manhattan or Hermosa. Over the years a number of older single family homes have been torn down and replaced by townhome style units in both North and South Redondo. There are only a few neighborhoods in the city that remain as strictly single family areas. Home prices are near their pre-recession levels. However North Redondo continues to be a bit more affordable then South Redondo.
Redondo has its own Unified School District. Most of the schools are California Distinguished Schools. There are two Intermediate schools and one High School.
An interesting note is that the Lady Streets (Gertruda, Irena, Juanita, Lucia, Maria, Guadalupe, Francisca) were supposedly named after the daughters of the owner of Rancho Redondo. I don’t know if it’s true …but it makes a great story.
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