The purpose of these timelines is to act as a guide to anyone trying to put local events in context. I began these over 10 years ago and forgot about them at times. I have much new information to add to these and will do so as time allows. If you have verified events (newspaper articles or dated correspondence) and wish for me to add it please feel free to send it to me and I will do so.
The U.S. Census puts the population of Orange County at 216,224. Seal Beach is 3,553. Long Beach is 244,072. The population of the unincorporated Los Alamitos area is around 1600.
Pacific Electric Red Car service is finally ended to Seal Beach
January 28 1950 – Montana Land Co. sells 3,000 acres to Lakewood Park Corp.
Newspaper headlines note sale of over 3,000 acres of land by Montana Land Company to Lakewood Park Company, which is a combo of two builders — Aetna Construction owned by Louis Boyar and Ben Weingart, and Biltmore Homes owned by Mark Taper. They announce that 17,000 homes will be built on the site.
25 FEB 1950 – Long Beach take steps to pay $1,000,000 to buy a site for a new state college.
The ownership of the property is divided among the Fred H. Bixby Co (282 acres), local builder and developer Lloyd S. Whaley (31 acres) and a Bixby Family Trust (probably Susanna Bixby Bryant’s land, 15 acres).
9 APR 1950 – Lakewood Park starts selling homes.
28 JUN 1950 – Mark Taper (Biltmore Company), and Ben Weingart and Louis Boyar (Aetna Company) pay almost $9 million dollars for 3,375 acres above North Long Beach which would become Lakewood. The acreage is the last of a 10,000 acre holding acquired in 1896 by William Andrews Clark and his brother J. Ross Clark from the Jotham Bixby Company, in exchange for building a sugar beet factory in Los Alamitos. They converted the land to the Montana Land Company in 1904.
MAY 1951 — Flood control work for San Gabriel and Coyote Creek Channels pushed from Lakewood to Spring Street.
Ross Cortese, a developer of homes in the Downey, and later the Lakewood, Anaheim and Los Alamitos areas, forms the Rossmoor Corporation.
According to Cortese’s bio, his parents were so poor he had to leave school when he was in the seventh grade. He helped support his parents by selling produce from a truck for several years, and only after World War II did he start the path to success.
LB Press Telegram — 19 JUN 1951 —
Fred Bixby, owner of the Bixby Ranch — which owns the southern half of future Rossmoor — gives a grant of $250,000 to UC Davis to help farming students.
6 MAR 1951 – Naval Reserve “volunteers” called to duty
In answer to the president’s request for reserve volunteers for duty during the Korean War, to speed up training, on 6 March and again on 16 May 1951 ninety-day trainees reported on board at the Naval Air Station Los Alamitos. The third group of trainees came on board for training 16 June and many of them as well as station personnel would help saved lives and property during heavy rains and floods that damaged the nearby town of Los Alamitos.
5 NOV 1951 – Lakewood Shopping Center to open.
154 acres in Lakewood Park, described as the largest housing development ever built in this country. Plans call for eventually 90-100 stores and parking for 12,000 cars on 154 acres, anchored by a 350,000 sq. ft. May Co. department store with 2 supermarkets at each end of the linear center. In the next 8 years, 13 other regional malls would be built in the Los Angeles area.
Los Alamitos race track opens.
15 January 1952 — the first helicopter unit arrives at Los Al Naval Air Station, also in 1952 a Reserve Air intelligence Unit came on board.
19 JAN 1952 —Major floods in Los Alamitos
Press Telegram, Los Alamitos hit by crest; 2 more dead; evacuees returning as waters recede in Artesia area. (Section A, Page 1, Column 3)
7 FEB 1952 – NY Times writes of Lakewood, “City of 30,000 created on Coast in 2-year period.”
24 AUG 1952 — Press Telegram — Son razing rancho mansion of late Suzanna Bixby Bryant in Santa Ana Canyon Section A, Page 5, Column 1
NOV 22, 1952 — The US Army Corps of Engineers calls the entrance to Alamitos Bay a “menace to life and property and recommends navigation improvements at once.
Laurel Elementary School District changes its name to Los Alamitos Elementary School District.
7 FEB 1953 — Long Beach proposes minor changes in the proposed Sepulveda (later San Diego/the 405) Freeway. Earlier plan calls for freeway to run just north of Cerritos Ave. Long Beach adjustments will send the frewway much closer to its present route, and many protest Los Alamitos being bypassed.
FEB 9 — Two flood control projects on Coyote Creek and the San Gabriel River are authorized by the LA County Flood Control District. A start date is announced for the project on May 24. The strengthening of the levees into concrete lined channels makes much of the flat land in what will be Rossmoor and much of Los Alamitos far more desirable for housing.
Without a local incorporated government, the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce acts as a quasi-government, dealing with such issues as traffic signals and street lighting. It even won passage of a school bond and established a sewer district in 1953.
Ross Cortese plans to build 800 homes at ” Lakewood Rancho Estates,” the half mile square tract bounded by Spring and Wardlow, Studebaker and El Dorado Park. Midway through design, he junks his original designs and chooses to use Cliff May designed “California Ranch” homes.
13 JUN 1954 — Ross Cortese begins marketing his Lakewood Rancho Homes. Although the homes will eventually be in Long Beach, Lakewood is the hot ticket item in the home construction industry — and Cortese is not one to miss any potential marketing ploy. Homes are slightly bigger than Lakewood’s. 3 bedroom homes begin at $11,700 and 4-bedroom homes are $12,800.
380 persons from Los Alamitos cast votes in the June 1954 California gubernatorial primary in which Goodwin Knight defeats ___ Geraves 193-91; and in the State Controller race, ____ Collins trounces ___ Kirkwood 273-117.
21 FEB 1954—Lloyd S. Whaley Construction begins construction of 3-bedroom, 2 bath homes in Los Altos adjoining Long Beach State on both sides of Studebaker between Atherton and Anaheim Streets. Homes are priced beginning at $9,950 (2 bedrooms, 450 down, $79 monthly payments). to 12,150 ($650 down).
11 APR 1954 –
8 AUG 1954 – Long Beach begins annexing new “Lakewood” developments – Lakewood Plaza and Lakewood Ranchos.
July 17, 1955 is Opening day for Disneyland in Anaheim. The event draws 28,000 visitors (many holding counterfeit tickets) and, along with the Los Alamitos racetrack, gives people a reason to drive through Los Alamitos using Katella Avenue
City of Dairyland (current La Palma) is incorporated.
The Hellman property of Bullet Hill (also called Marina Hill, or more commonly just “The Hill”) is annexed by Seal Beach
SUMMER 1955 — The Los Alamitos Elementary School District reports that their average daily attendance for 1954 was 529. Their estimate for 1955-56 is 700.
12 AUG 1955 — (Enterprise) — A group proposes incorporation of the area now comprised of Cypress, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Buena Park and much of Seal Beach — Coyote Creek to Magnolia, Crescent to Garden Grove Boulevard.
19 AUG 1955 – The Enterprise reports that “rumors are hot on 7,000 homes in Los Alamitos.” Supervisor Willis Warner told the Los Al Chamber of Commerce a week ago that builders have been working with the county on the development, but it is being held up until the state can give an exact location of the freeway which will cut across some of the land. 1,464 homes are reportedly proposed for first unit, with a total of 7,200 homes when the project is completed.
9 SEP 1955 (Enterprise) — Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce President Jim Bell said that land developer representatives had contacted him. They intimated they had control of almost 1,500 acres and definitely would subdivide it, including building a 50-acre shopping center. They wanted the land to be in a city. If Los Alamitos wouldn’t incorporate, then Buena Park.
30 DEC 1955 — Orange County reports its population at 434,800. In 1950, it had been 212,224 — a growth rate of just over 200%.
The U.S. Navy Weapons Station’s 1,000-foot wharf opens, allowing first dockside missile loading inside Anaheim Bay
Los Alamitos Race Course opens new four-story grandstand
Los Alamitos Race Track, a backyard venture when it introduced quarter-horse racing to Southern California three years earlier, blossoms into one of the area’s top tracks when it opens a 22-day meet in its new four-story track grandstand which can hold 3,000 persons and has a restaurant, cocktail bars and other conveniences included. Owner John Vessels said the more than $500,000 venture would be completed by April 9.
April 5, 1956 – Enterprise headline, “3,000 Homes May Start in Los Alamitos in July,”
the Enterprise reports that Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce officials were informed that several hundred acres of the Irvine property , located just west of Los Alamitos Blvd. and south of Katella, has several well-known subdividers bargaining for the land. [The Irvine Company was part of an entity which purchased the land from the estate of Susana Bixby Bryant in 1947.]
The Enterprise was told by one local tract builder that he expected to go into escrow within a few days , and if this happened he would build 3,000 homes, with a 30-acre shopping center. It would take three years. He has built several other subdivisions in Long Beach and Anaheim.
17 MAY 1956 (Enterprise) — A subdivider files for 2,400 homes in Los Alamitos, according to tract maps filed with the Orange County Planning Commission.
Bulldozers started pulling out trees along Los Alamitos Boulevard to make it possible for heavy equipment to move in.
24 MAY 1956 (Enterprise headline: “Tract Land Sale largest ever recorded in County.”
The sale of a total of 756 acres of subdivision land south of Katella and west of Los Alamitos Blvd. was named by Orange County officials as the largest ever recorded in Orange County.
Sold by the Irvine Company, Mr. and Mrs. W.B. Hellis and W.S. Tuback (which purchased the land from the Susana Bixby Bryant Estate in 1947), the buyers reportedly included California Gov. Goodwin Knight, Alfred Gitelson, Morris Kawin, and Edward Rothschild, who are listed as the Lakewood Rancho Land Company.
Developer of the subdivision is Ross Cortese, who built the Lakewood Rancho Estates and the Frematic Homes in Anaheim.
A total of 2,398 homes is scheduled for the area, with three elementary schools proposed [this was apparently before a separate land deal was aranged with the Bixby Ranch Company for the southern half of the tract.) as well as two big shopping centers. One is to be 14 acres at Katella and Los Alamitos Blvd, and the other 17 acres further south on the boulevard.
Typical lots in the subdivision show 7,210 square feet on 70 by 102 foot lots. School sites shown are 10, 9.1, and 9.8 acres.
The tract is tentatively named “Rossmor” (sic) and is scheduled to come before the planning commission June 6. Time tables call for the major share of the development within two years.
Approval was granted at the June 7 meeting, and the June 21 Enterprise announced “Los Alamitos subdivision to start within three weeks, Sundivider says.”
After approval was given by the Orange County Planning Commission for the largest subdivision ever recorded in Orange County, the builder announced he hoped to start work within three weeks.
Ross W. Cortese, who applied for the $80,000,000 project said it should have an eventual population of around 10,000 people, two shopping centers, four school sites, and two church sites.
Appearing to protest the development were Frank Shurlock, Long Beach assistant planner and Robert Dyer, Long Beach planning engineer. They asked the reservation of a right of way through the southern part of the subdivision to allow the extension of Atherton Street to link with Lampson Avenue in Garden Grove.
Shurlock said traffic studies show a great need for the extension of Atherton across the San Gabriel River. It now stops at the river and is a major road.
The Orange County Road Department explained the matter had been studied. Cost of erecting a bridge over the river would have to be borne by Orange County if Atherton were carried through to Lampson.
It was contended by the road department that the extension of Garden Grove Blvd., Westminster Avenue and Katella over into Los Angeles County, as major roads, would take care of the traffic problem.
Cortese said the name of the new tract would be “Rossmoor” and will cover 667 acres. Prices of the houses will be between $17,000 and $20,000.
Tuesday, June 26 — “Cypress Incorporation Successful.” By a vote of 212-73, voters in the a portion of the Cypress area approved incorporation under the name Dairy City due to its dominance in the county’s growing cattle industry (its population was 1,616 people, and 24,000 cows). At the same time voters approved a preference to change the name to Cypress (the longtime unofficial name for the region). 205 voted yes for Cypress, 30 wanted Lincoln City, 20 wanted Los Coyotes and 8 preferred Dairy City.
Fearing encroachment and being gobbled up by the growing nearby cities (especially Buena Park and Anaheim), a group of agricultural men banded together to form the city to preserve their “right to keep dairies, poultry ranches, and industrial businesses” in the area which was rapidly being filled with subdivisions. The population of Cypress was 1,616.
On June 28, the Enterprise reported that Ross Cortese had told Los Alamitos incorporation proponents that he did not wish to be be included in the incorporation boundaries while they are building homes. Cortese said other builders had advised him to build under Orange County regulations. His withdrawal also affected a large acreage owned by the Bixby Ranch Company in the southern portion of the city because they planned to act in accordance with Cortese’s firm.
19 JUL 1956 — Enterprise: “Model Houses started on Subdivision.”
Construction has begun on the model homes for the “Rossmore” subdivision in Los Alamitos. Sales of homes is expected to begin within a few weeks.
The models are located on Los Alamitos Blvd., just north of the Watte Ranch. “ (which was adjacent to the current Parasol/Mel’s restaurant).
The new homes will be marketed for “urban workers who want a suburban dwelling,” i.e., the professionals at McDonnell Aircraft and the new Long Beach State University. Lots are slightly larger (min. 7,200 square feet as opposed to the standard 5,500 square foot lot) and the streets are generally ten feet wider than in most other communities. The tract would eventually include 3,400 home, making it still the largest single subdivision ever built in Orange County.
The homes will be priced between $17,000 and $20,000.
26 JUL 1956 — Los Alamitos Race Track owner Frank Vessels is induced to join Cypress
with alleged promise of not having to pay sales taxes for 10 years and agreement to forward fund sewage and water lines to his new track facility.
The Enterprise reported on July 26 that the new city of Dairy City (Cypress) had been asked by Vessels’ Ranch officials to start proceedings to annex the remaining portion of the property not now in the city. That would be everything south of the Southern Pacific tracks.
12 AUG 1956 — (LA Times) A state group urges a survey of the proposed San Gabriel River Freeway,
30 SEP 1956 — 3 FLYERS DIE IN CRASH. —
a twin-engine Navy anti-submarine plane crashed into a sugar beet field shortly after taking off fomr the NAS Los Alamitos at 10:30am Saturday. The plane was a Grumman S2F S___ radio training mission.
The plane crashed in the middle of a barely laid out housing project.
18 NOV 1956 — The Rossmoor model homes open
make their grand opening debut on this day.
The first four available models are the Salem, and the New Englander (both with swimming pools) and the Plymouth and the Farmhouse. The sales agents for the project are William Walker and DeWitt R. Lee, (Walker Lee, get it) and their partner William T. Cheney (who got cheated out of a street, unless Chesney was misspelled).
23 DEC 1956 — LA Times —
An article in the LA Times says that more than 85,000 people viewed the new Rossmoor homes in 60 days. However, it must be noted that since Ross Cortese was buying a full page ad in the Times every week, these numbers have to be viewed with some skepticism.
MARCH 1957 — Betty Furness appears in Rosmoor
flies to Rossmoor as part of a promotional stunt between Cortese and the all-electric furnshings manufacturers.
2 JUN 1957—
LA Times “paid real estate article” says five families a day are now moving into Rossmoor. “One section, the Harvard, long sold out and just completed now is being populated by first Rossmoor families. The other section, the Princeton, also sold out, is now under construction. A 6-foot high, four mile long brick wall is also being built, making it a walled city and self-contained community.”.
Early June 1956 – First residents move into Rossmoor. Los Al Schools go on double sessions
The June 6, 1957 edition of The Enterprise reported that Rossmoor’s first residents — Mr. and Mrs. Sam J. Musser — “recently” moved into a home on 3182 Kempton Drive.
The Mussers, a retired sales manager for the Armour Meat Packing Company, had relocated from St. Joseph, Missouri.
That same issue reported a federal grant of $52,000 to the Los Alamitos Elementary School District. Superintendent Jack L. Weaver reported that currently 620 children attend school in the district — but they had no room for over 300 of them, forcing double sessions. (This over-enrolment was due mainly to the increase of children of federal employees and military at the NAS. But with the opening of Rossmoor, the district enrollment was expected to swell to between 4,000 and 5,000 students.
20 JUN 1957 (Enterprise) —
Rossmoor School plans are ok’d. The 12-acre site will have classroosm facing a courtyard to protect outdoor class areas from the southwest winds.
11 JULY 1957 – Enterprise, p.1 – Los Alamitos is third in county in building activity.
SANTA ANA—Los Alamitos was ranked third for the first six months of 1957 for subdivision development, according to figures compiled by the Orange County Recorder.
Los Alamitos had 181,320 acres developed into 710 lots.
Anaheim was first with 245,215 acres and 932 lots and Buena Park in second with 836 lots covering 277,206 acres.
SEPTEMBER— The first high school age students from Rossmoor, as well as the high school age students from Los Alamitos, attend the new Western High in Anaheim. (Seal Beach students attend high school in Huntington Beach.). The rapidly growing Rossmoor tract causes some temporary problems for the elementary school population as well.
SEP 21 1957 – C
alifornia Governor Goodwin Knight ( a primary investor in Rossmoor) appoints Alfred Gitelson (his law firm partner, as well as a partner in the Rossmoor development) as a state judge.
By November – 412 families had moved into the Rossmoor tract.
17 NOV 1957—Press Telegram: Rossmoor group again seeks L.B. annexation. (Section: A, Page : 7; Column 1)
NOV 28 1957 – California state legislators begin an inquiry into the role of Gov. Goodwin Knight (one of the investors in the Rossmoor company) in the granting of a extremely generous water deal to Ross Cortese for the construction of Rossmoor.
DECEMBER—Rossmoor Homeowners Association is organized
and votes in its first slate of directors. Dr. Leo Goodman-Malamuth is the first President.
24 MAY 1958 – Rossmoor-Los Alamitos Little League is formed, begins play
They play their games on land donated by Ross Cortese, at the corner of Montecito and Bradbury (where the current Rossmoor Townhomes are).
The league plays its first games on 24 MAY 1958 and among the VIPs in attendance on opening day are former major leaguer (St. Louis browns) and Hollywood Stars player Chuck Stevens, as well as KFOX DJ Gary Fuller. Father Dominic Daley performed the invocation.
League President Lee Milligan read a letter of congratulations from U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower.
The winning pitcher of that very first game was Rossmoor’s Andy Messersmith ( who would go on to pitch for the Dodgers and be instrumental in bringing free agency to professional baseball) who struck out 14 batters en route to a 2-0 win. Losing pitcher Gary DeAnna had 10 strikeouts.
The team sponsors for that first season include:
Ross Cortese — Knights
Bill Cheney/Walker & Lee Realtors — Tigers
Mark Davis/Glenn E. Thomas Dodge — Dodgers
Dick Fulford/Los Alamitos Business Association — Squires
Los Alamitos Country Club — Yankees
Nick Katsaris/Sam’s Sea Food – Shrimps
J.B. Cox & Company – Stars
Mark Bragen/Wonderbowl — Cubs
Cortese, of course, does not overlook the opportunity to market the Little League (and its family atmosphere) in his weekly ads and articles in the LA Times.
14 AUGUST 1958 — The Rossmoor Little League all-stars reached the quarter-finals of the Lakewood Tournament. In Game 1, Rossmoor downed South Lakewood 3-2. Winning pitcher Andy Messersmith had 14 strikeouts and hit a home run in he 6th inning.
21 AUG 1958 — The Rosmoor Little League holds its first end of the year banquet, with over 350 attendees at the event, held at Sam’s Seafood in Sunset Beach. (Sam’s sponsored the minor league champion Shrimps).
James Henderson is announced as the new President of the League, with Dick Fulford as VP, Mrs. Donald Pierson as Treasurer, and Donald C. Moore as the Players Agent.
SEPTEMBER – Rossmoor School opens,
using double shifts to handle all the new students. It is first of six planned school sites in Rossmoor, each with sufficient acreage to meet the county and state requirements for recreational space. Until Weaver School is finished two years later, Rossmoor School continues to operate double sessions.
SEP 5, 1958 – Gitelson balks at land deals inquiry
In 1959, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors proposes linking Atherton Street in Long Beach with Bostonian Drive in Rossmoor. However, public sentiment did not like to see a road connection there, as it would have split Rossmoor in half and would have forced the removal of sixteen newly built Rossmoor homes.
OC Supervisor, the chairman of the OC Board, rejected the proposals as without merit.
5 APR 1959 — The community of Sunset Bay is proposed for the area between Seal Beach and Huntington Beach.
MAY 3, 1959— Orange County supervisors OK two road links with LA County, over Katella Avenue and Westminster Ave.
In the latest proposal, Orange County agreed to consider the proposed extension of Atherton Avenue into Rossmoor, after the first two projects are completed.
14 MAY 1959 — The Rossmoor Little league opens its second season with Dodger catcher John Roseboro as its opening day speaker.
17 MAY 1959 –LA Times – Rossmoor home sales reach halfway mark.
SEP 10 – Developer Harry Rinker submits plans to OC Building department for the development of a 31,000 square foot Thriftimart at corner of Farquhar and Los Al Blvd.
Only objector to plans has been Ross Cortese. His representative, Admiral John McKinney, had appeared before the planning commission and local groups in opposition to the center. besides Thriftimart, Rinker had commitments from 14 other stores.
SEP 17, 1959 – Feisty meeting over proposed Rossmoor-Los Alamitos Incorporation
A feisty, standing-room-only crowd at Rossmoor School… discuss Los Alamitos planned incorporation efforts.
Bill Brown from Chamber speaks…
Some residents cry for boycott — “if a merchant says he’s a member of the Los Al chamber, don’t do business with him.”
The crowd suffered “evident embarrassment and indignation” when one Rossmoor resident said he rarely went through Los Alamitos, always approaching from the south, but when he recently entered from the north, the town looked like a Santanna (Santa Ana wind) had hit it; and that the buildings were in need of paint.”
Resident Arthur Miller then spoke, criticizing the conduct of some of the people. They had asked Mr. Brown here as a guest to answer questions and we have been insulting and rude.” he felt their conduct was deplorable.
His “request for an apology was greeted with a long ovation.”
OCT 15, 1959 (Enterprise) — RHA “doubles” efforts to get Rossmoor excluded from proposed city of Los Alamitos.
Developer Ross Cortese is reportedly backing the movement.
Barbara Miller, a petition circulator says she has been encountering reluctance from homeowners because of the phrase “the fiscal and economic problems of Rossmoor residents are not in line with those of Los Alamitos.” A motion to strike the phrase from future petitions did not carry.
Drawing animated discussion was a resident’s report that not only had he suffered a broken water pip under his house, but nine of his nearby neighbors had as well. The RHA planned to look into the thoroughness of FHA inspections during the construction process and into the builder’s obligations as well.
OCT 29, 1959 – The Enterprise reports the annual taxes paid in each local community
reports the annual taxes paid in each local community per each $100 valuation.
Los Alamitos……………. 8.75
Cypress (city)…………… 8.80
Cypress (county)……….. 8.04
Dairyland (La Palma)….. 8.79
county portion of that tax……..3.04
NOV 3, 1959 – The Enterprise reports that Garden Grove is attempting to get the Navy to object to being included in the Los Alamitos incorporation effort.
NOVEMBER – Items discussed at the RHA November meeting.
Rossmoor Center will be started in January 1960. (Confirmed tenants are Food Giant, while contingent tenants are Kress, Citizens Bank, and gas stations operated the Tidewater and Union Oil companies.
Developer Harry Rinker says if he gets county approval on Nov. 17 he will begin construction of Los Alamitos Plaza (present Von’s Center) within weeks. Thriftimart is the major tenant for this center.
The Traffic Committee (headed by Harold Wells) reported that a traffic signal at Bradbury and Los Al Blvd. was slated to be installed in April 1960.
Paul Erskine and Leo Godman-Malamuth said they had obtained 2,300 names on a petition to be excluded from Los Alamitos planned incorporation efforts.
10 DEC 1959 – Rossmoor begins steps to incorporate as 7,000 acre city (that would most of present Seal Beach
The Enterprise reports that papers are filed as the first step to incorporate Rossmoor into a new 7,000 acre city that would stretch from Cerritos Avenue to the north to the southern boundary of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station — include land that now part of the Rossmoor Highlands, College Park East, Westpark in Garden Grove and all of Seal Beach down to Westminster and a good chunk of the Navy Weapons Station south of Westminster, as well. (map is shown in Dec. 31 issue)
Present at the filing were future California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas, Leo Goodman-Malamuth and Paul Erskine.
The two main items on a meeting of the Rossmoor Homeowners Association will be the incorporartion of Rossmoor, and the consideration of a site for a new Rossmoor Junior High School, according to RHA President Malcolm Lucas..