City Garden Acres was a tract of narrow one-acre "farm lots"  that eventually grew into what is now Apartment Row
City Garden Acres was a tract of narrow one-acre “farm lots” that eventually grew into what is now Apartment Row

When the local sugar beet factory shut down in 1926, the community scrambled to find new industries and jobs to keep the local population working and profitable.

In the newest part of the city was a tract called City Garden Acres (now Apartment Row), located south of town between Katella and Farqhuar and east of Los Alamitos Blvd.  After the construction of the Sugar Factory in the late 1800s, this land had been purchased as a speculation property by Jacob Sterns and Sons, one of Orange County’s larger merchants and landowners.  In the 1920s, it was laid out and promoted by developer Rush Green as City Garden Acres, which featured narrow but deep one-acre “farm lots,” a quite popular item in Southern California communities in the 1920s.  (Similar tracts in Bellflower, Cudahy and South Gate preceded Los Alamitos and may have been Rush Green’s inspiration.)   The lots were narrow enough so homes could be set one next to another like a traditional neighborhood, but the dimensions were very deep to allow a little agricultural or poultry business on the side.  The original City Garden Acres model homes even featured a demonstration chicken coop set up for those who wanted to set up their own egg business to supplement the family income.

The chicken thing kinda did okay, so in 1927 a few ambitious farmers amortized their stake by branching out into rabbit farms as well raising hares for their fur.  Growers in Bellflower and other more-Northern cities had started raising rabbits for their fur, then discovered a market for the meat.  A few of the local farms even formed the Los Alamitos Producers and Marketers group — a co-operative marketing group “that will be able to show a marked benefit to the rabbit and poultry industry.”  They set up a plant at 574 Green Street.

An article in the April 26, 1926, Santa Ana Register notes two going local businesses in particular — the Los Alamitos Fur and Poultry Farm and the Rees Fur Farm, and also mentioned that one Mrs. J.F. Arnfield had purchased the property formerly occupied by the Golden West Fur Farm.

The Depression put an end to the farm lot thing as a business.  However, the deep lots proved profitable with the coming of World War II and the construction of the Los Alamitos Navy Air Base.  The growing war caused a drastic increase in the number of would-be pilots who were stationed at the base, and there were not enough barracks.  Owners of the farm lots began constructing small homes in the back areas, and pilots with families began renting them.  This became a very profitable use of the land — and some more entrepreneurial landowners began building multiple unit buildings — apartments — on their land, and soon this became the most common use of the property.  And thus Apartment Row — with its awkwardly deep lots was born.

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