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History and Founding of Inglewood, California 

the founding of Inglewood

Gone are the days when Inglewood was merely a quaint, sleepy town. Today, it boasts a bustling population of over 100,000 people, situated strategically on the Pacific Rim. This prime location, paired with its poignant history, marks Inglewood as a significant Californian landmark.

The city’s proximity to the Los Angeles International Airport further cements its role as one of California’s major commercial hubs, bustling with activity and serving as a gateway for both international and domestic exchanges. Inglewood is well-connected, with four major freeways enhancing its accessibility and continuing to promote trade. This facilitates a vibrant flow of commerce that is crucial for the city’s economy and growth.

This narrative explores Inglewood, California’s rich history and evolution, from its indigenous roots to its modern transformation.

Early History of Inglewood 

The early history of Inglewood is intertwined deeply with its natural resources, particularly its waterways. Artesian Springs was at the heart of the settlement activities, later renamed Centinela Springs, which emerged as a crucial hub for water in the area. This vital water source was central to the lives of the area’s earliest inhabitants, the indigenous Gabrielina and Tongva tribes, who thrived in Inglewood’s fertile environment.

During an excavation in the 1930s aimed at building an outdoor amphitheater at Centinela Park, numerous artifacts belonging to these tribes were unearthed. These findings highlighted the rich history and cultural significance of the indigenous peoples of Inglewood, revealing a complex society that had prospered on these lands long before European settlers arrived.

In the 1700s, the dynamics of the area began to evolve with the arrival of Mexican settlers. Commissioned by the San Gabriel Mission, these settlers were instructed to graze their animals on the ocean side of Los Angeles. This led to establishing a new village in September of that century. This marked a significant transformation as the area gradually transitioned from indigenous lands to a structured colonial settlement.

The initial premise for settling Inglewood was based around water. Artesian Springs, later renamed to Centinela Springs, was at the center of the area’s earliest indigenous tribe. Primarily, the Gabrielina and Tongva thrived as Inglewood’s original residents; artifacts from the tribe were found in the springs during excavation to build the outdoor amphitheater at Centinela Park in the 1930s. 

Founding of Inglewood

The formal founding of Inglewood came after a series of ownership changes over the land that would eventually make up the city. The land was eventually acquired by Daniel Freeman, a Canadian who was drawn to the region’s mild climate as a remedy for his wife’s health issues. The 25,000-acre Centinela Ranch, encompassing the modern bounds of Inglewood, became the cradle of the settlement in 1888, a pivotal year that also saw the construction of a railroad nearby, facilitating access and development.

Freeman’s first major landowner move was establishing a reliable water source. To achieve this, he initiated the construction of wells to draw water directly from Centinela Springs. This strategic move proved economically wise, sparing the residents from the costs tied to water provision by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District and encouraging self-reliance among the budding community.

Freeman was instrumental in pioneering wheat cultivation in Southern California. His ventures were so successful that he exported millions of bushels of wheat via a wharf he developed at Playa del Rey, boosting the local economy.

The year 1888 was notable not only for agricultural success but also for communal developments. Inglewood’s population had grown to 300 residents who established a police station and a school that educated 33 children, laying down the foundational infrastructure for a thriving community.

In 1908, Inglewood was officially incorporated as a city. This formal recognition marked the culmination of two decades of growth and development, setting the stage for its future evolution into a major urban center.

Earthquakes and Aviation 

The history of Inglewood is uniquely marked by a natural disaster that, paradoxically, spurred substantial growth and transformation. In 1920, an earthquake struck just west of the city, drawing curious Californians who came to observe the damage. Surprisingly, many of these visitors chose to stay, swayed by Inglewood’s comfortable climate and appealing lifestyle. This influx of new residents catalyzed a period of rapid growth, making Inglewood the fastest-growing city in the United States for a five-year span.

The subsequent decade brought further significant developments with the opening of the Hollywood Park Racetrack. This establishment quickly became a cultural hotspot and attracted prominent shareholders, including executives from major Hollywood studios such as Walt Disney, Warner Bros., and Samuel Goldwyn, linking the city even more closely with the glamour of Hollywood.

The city’s aviation history also took flight during this period when Andrew Bennet Ranch was leased and transformed into Mines Field, which later became known as LAX. The pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh notably landed the first passenger plane there, with Will Rogers as a passenger, marking a seminal moment in aviation history.

World War II brought profound changes, pivoting Inglewood from an agricultural hub to a burgeoning urban center. The city accommodated defense-related industries, and many local residents found employment with aviation giants such as Hughes, Rockwell, and Douglas Aircraft. Furthermore, the Hollywood Park Racetrack was repurposed as a storage facility for North American Aviation, demonstrating the city’s adaptability and resilience. These shifts underscored Inglewood’s critical role in both local and national history, setting the stage for its modern identity.

Stadium Construction 

In 1967, the landscape of Inglewood was forever changed with the opening of the Forum, which made an immediate and lasting impact on Southern California’s cultural and social fabric. Quickly, Inglewood earned the nickname “City of Champions” due to the sustained success of the Los Angeles Lakers. The stadium hosted legendary players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, becoming a beacon for basketball fans across the nation.

In 1999, the Lakers moved to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, leading to a significant financial loss for Inglewood. The city faced an annual shortfall of at least $800,000 in lost taxes and visitor spending. The Forum, however, was not left dormant for long; it underwent a major remodeling in 2014, reviving its status as a premier events venue.

Following the revitalization of the Forum, SoFi Stadium was introduced in 2021, poised to host significant global events like the 2026 World Cup games and the 2028 Olympics. The home to the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams, the stadium generated approximately $52 million in economic activity within its first year alone. Next in line is the Intuit Dome, set to open soon as the new home for the Los Angeles Clippers, further cementing Inglewood’s reputation as a central hub for major sports and entertainment.

Forging Ahead: Inglewood’s Promising Future

As the chronicles unfolded, Inglewood evolved from a lush agricultural domain to a dynamic urban center, becoming a focal point of economic and cultural activity in Southern California. Its transformation has contributed to the local economy and enriched the region’s cultural fabric. From its early days as a tribal settlement and agricultural hub to its current status as a bustling city synonymous with major entertainment and sports venues, Inglewood continues to assert itself as a city of growth and opportunity.

This city’s story is far from over. With recent developments like SoFi Stadium, and the upcoming Intuit Dome, Inglewood is poised to reach new heights of popularity and economic growth. The city promises a vibrant future, continuing to build on its rich heritage while embracing modern advancements, thus ensuring that Inglewood remains a key player on California’s urban stage for generations to come.



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