The Spirit of Torrance California

Red Car Mural Torrance California

This post is an excerpt from an article I wrote for Big Blend Radio on Torrance, California, in 2023.

As a Los Angeles native, I sometimes miss attractions in my backyard. One such place, until a recent visit, was Torrance California. This city, a part of Los Angeles County, is also part of the South Bay, a group of coastal cities that include Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Torrance lies along a mile-and-a-half stretch of beachfront on the Pacific Ocean. Like all the beach cities that make up the South Bay, Torrance offers diverse activities.

History of Torrance California

In the 1900s, a real estate developer, Jared Sidney Torrance, with a group of investors, purchased part of an old Spanish land grant to develop a mixed residential and industrial community. They hired architect Fredrick Law Omsted, Jr to design the community. This community became a town in 1912 and was named after Torrance, the visionary behind this endeavor. The incorporation of the city of Torrance occurred in 1921. Today, Torrance is considered one of the safest cities in Los Angeles County.

Torrance Ambassador Debbie Hays

Meeting Debbie Hays from Discover Torrance, one sees why this city thrives through her exuberance and love of Torrance. She is also known as the “Torrance Energizer Bunny”. A native of Torrance, her motto is “Everyone can make a difference.” You could not ask for a better Ambassador to a city, and you feel a great sense of community from her efforts.

Del Amo Fashion Center

One of the biggest draws to Torrance is the Del Amo Fashion Center. It is one of the five most prominent shopping malls in the United States. It features many top-designer shops and some excellent dining spots and is home to one of Visit California’s Welcome Centers.

California Welcome Center Torrance California
California Welcome Center Torrance

All about Torrance

Torrance is also home to Kings Hawaiian Bread, Torrance Bakery, and Chada Tea Room. Discover the Wilson Park Annenberg Tree House. This fully accessible wooden tree house spans 2,500 square feet. Its design gives children and adults, and those with physical abilities, an awe-inspiring experience — and a bird’s eye view.

Wilson Park Annenberg Tree House
Wilson Park Annenberg Tree House

Pacific Electric Railways Red Cars

Torrance was a major stop for the Pacific Electric Railways Red Cars, a privately owned mass transit system for southern California. It consisted of electric streetcars and buses and was the largest electric system in the world in the 1920s. Jared Sidney Torrance first arranged to have a Red Car line come to Torrance. One Red Car remains in Torrance. Red Car No.4601 now stands proudly in Wilson Park at the Crenshaw branch of the Southern California Live Steamers miniature railroad.

Its story took many twists and turns. The life of this Red Car began in 1911 as Southern Pacific 315, serving the East Bay. The car was 73 feet long and 10 feet wide. In 1942, the car was sold to the U.S. Maritime Commission, where it transported defense workers from their homes in downtown Los Angeles to San Pedro. In 1946, the car was sold to Pacific Electric and renumbered 4601. Unfortunately, a tragic collision shortened its life with Pacific Electric. 

Fate saved the car from the scrapyard when Torrance resident Forest Wilson purchased the car for $50. Wilson converted the car into a 2-bedroom home that his family lived in until 1963. After Wilson’s death, his wife sold the car to the Torrance Historical Society in 1987 for $1. The car is now in disrepair but still stands proudly, representing a bygone era.

Old Torrance

Old Torrance’s original diagonal design allows the breezes from the Pacific Ocean to keep the air clean from industrial pollution for the residential and commercial neighborhoods. Industrial sections of the town were strategically placed on the eastern side. Old Torrance represents the confluence of mission revival and modern architecture, and the area’s draw, old town is its charm and quaintness. One finds a sense of community, which appears to be its founders’ goal. Stroll the streets of Old Torrance and discover Torrance Bakery, Chado Tea Room, and more.

To Read The Full Article The Spirit Of Torrance

You will discover when visiting that Torrance thrives on its community spirit, which you will discover when visiting.