clusters of cottonwood trees Spanish explorers
saw more than 200 years ago inspired Los Alamitos'
name. But it is the sugar beet that figured most
prominently in the area's later history.
the early days of Spanish colonization, Los Alamitos,
or the Little Cottonwoods, was the name given
to one of five ranchos that a former sergeant
in the king of Spain's army deeded to his children.
The sergeant, Manuel Nieto, had been awarded a
vast land grant by a Spanish territorial governor.
85,000-acre Rancho Los Alamitos originally extended
into present-day Long Beach. Its ownership was
to change and its boundaries would shrink many
1896, the sugar-beet processing industry took
root in the area,
and with it came the roots of a future city. That
year, ex-Sen. William Clark of Montana bought
more than 8,000 acres of Los Alamitos rancho land
and formed the Los Alamitos Sugar Co. The
sugar-beet factory complex, with its streets of
company houses for
workers, became the basis for a Los Alamitos townsite.
photos at the museum tell the story of an emerging
city. There are pictures of recreational facilities
the company started for its workers. And there
are pictures from the early 1900s of sugar beets
being delivered to the factory by horse and wagon. An
insect infestation in 1921 caused sugar-beet crop
failure and the eventual demise of the sugar industry
in Los Alamitos. But the town that had sprung
up continued to grow.
World War II, the US Naval Air Station moved its
aircraft training field from Terminal Island to
Los Alamitos. It
employed thousands of people, and it spurred growth.
In 1973, the base was designated an Armed Forces
Reserve Center. Today, it is a reserve support
center for units of the Army, Navy, National Guard
former military personnel chose to stay on in
Los Alamitos after the war, maintaining the 1950s
style tract housing. One such neighborhood is
Carrier Row, where streets are named for World
War II aircraft carriers.
Spanish-ranchos-turned-company-town became an
official city in March 1960. The city's population
then was about 3,400. Today, the population hovers
near the 12,000 mark.
ambitious sugar-beet processor of today would
be hard pressed to set up shop in Los Alamitos.
Zoning laws keep out heavy manufacturing or industry,
because nearly all the city land is developed.
The Armed Forces Reserve Center takes up 48 percent
of the city's 4.3 square miles.
rest of the city is a snug fitting mix of homes,
apartments, businesses and open space.