In March of 2000, Bell gained worldwide publicity, as the media announced that a shipment of 55 Oscar statuettes were stolen from a trucking company loading dock in the City of Bell. In addition to the Los Angeles and Bell police departments, FBI art-theft experts were investigating. It was the second Oscar mishap, as earlier that month 4,000 ballots were misrouted. Coincidentally, the missing Oscar ballots were found by the Post Office in a Bell processing center. Academy AMPAS Executive Director Bruce Davis was quoted: "We've told Billy Crystal (host of that year's Oscar Ceremony) not to go anywhere near Bell, California, in the next couple of weeks, It seems to be a Bermuda Triangle for Oscar things."
Every winter, The City of Bell hosts its annual "Bell Family Holiday Parade & Festival" which starts at Debs Park and ends at the Bell Community Center.
The City's Chamber of Commerce is located at the historic James George Bell House, which serves as a meeting place and in addition, a museum showcasing artifacts from the City's founding family and period furniture. The House is open to the general public with free admission.
On March 6th, 2007, the City of Bell held its first contested election for City Council in almost a decade.
I. Lugo Family
In the Nineteenth Century, until 1860, the area which now is the City Of Bell is Los Angeles County, was part of the 30,000 - acre Rancho San Antonio. This Rancho had been settled by Don Antonio Maria Lugo, a Spanish aristocrat and former soldier, whose father, Francisco Lugo, came to California in 1771. Some between 1810 and 1813, Don Antonio had obtained permission from the Spanish King to settle on the Rancho; and, later, in about 1838, the King formally granted the land to Don Antonio. As the years passed, Rancho San Antonio became widely known for its fine horses and large herds of cattle which grazed on the rolling prairie. In the later half of the century, however, between 1855 and 1865 most of the Rancho was sold for less than one dollar per acre. The Lugo family did manage to retain its home, and descendants of the family still living in the original adobe house which is located on what is now the southwest corner of Gage and Garfield Avenues.
Between 1870 and 1890, when a land boom occurred in the area (then known as Obed), large portions of the former Rancho were divided into smaller land holdings which were acquired by newly arriving settlers. Other portions were sold to settlers by former owners.
II. Bell Family
James George Bell and his family, the pioneer residents for whom the city is named; arrived, and acquired about 360 acres of land and helped in its development as a small farming and cattle raising community. The Bell Family lived at the Hollenbeck’s “Town House” on 4th and Breed Street until they moved in the “ranch” Bell House in 1876. The Bell House was an early Victorian Style farm house. In 1898, the town’s name was changed to Bell in honor its pioneer founder.
Alphonzo Bell, Sr., the son of James George Bell, was an oil millionaire, real estate developer and champion tennis player. He established the Bell Petroleum Oil Company and used the profits to develop Bel-Air Estates. The Bell family also gave their name to Bell Gardens and Bell Canyon . His son, Alphonzo E. Bell, Jr. would later become one of California's popular Congressman.
At the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Bell area was a sparsely settled countryside with a scattering of houses, including the Bell family's home. Between 1900 and 1915, as more people settle in the area, more homes and churches were built, and several small businesses were established in July, 1913. The citizens agreed to provide all facilities and services for the library, except for the books.
In the fifteen years following World War I, form 1920 to 1935, an explosive growth in population occurred in the Bell area. Old and new residents built new businesses, established schools, and founded community organizations such as the Bell Chamber of Commerce and the Woman's Club. An area-wide sanitation district was formed in 1923 to provide sewer facilities. In 1924, George O. Wheeler founded the Industrial Post, the local newspaper which now serves the communities of Bell, Cudahy, and Maywood. In 1925, Bell High School was opened. In that same year, the Alcazar Theater to show "talking pictures", was completed.
Bell was incorporated as a city in 1927 and has continued to grow and develop. Since its incorporation, the City of Bell has acquired land for public parks and the recreational program. The city also has constructed an adequate sewer system, widened all major streets, built a City Hall, and provided Fire Department buildings, with the cooperation of Los Angeles County, the City of Maywood and the County Of Los Angeles, the City of Bell constructed an indoor public swimming pool at Bell High School. Numerous businesses and small industries are now located within the city; and several schools, churches, and community organizations now serve Bell residents. A local government now supervises this growth and provides the services needed by the ever-increasing populace.
The Congress 34th District Rep. is Lucille Roybal-Allard (D).
The State Assembly 50th District Rep. is Hector De La Torre (D).
The State Senator 30th District Rep. is Ronald Calderon (D).
Bell is located at GR1.(33.978414, -118.182908)
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 36,664 people, 8,918 households, and 7,615 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,708.1/km² (14,802.5/mi²). There were 9,215 housing units at an average density of 1,434.6/km² (3,720.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 48.45% White, 1.28% Black or African American, 1.28% Native American, 1.07% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 43.09% from other races, and 4.78% from two or more races. 90.90% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The city currently has around 400 families of Lebanese decent.
There were 8,918 households out of which 57.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.0% were married couples living together, 18.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.6% were non-families. 11.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.05 and the average family size was 4.27.
In the city the population was spread out with 35.3% under the age of 18, 12.9% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 14.1% from 45 to 64, and 5.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 102.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,946, and the median income for a family was $30,504. Males had a median income of $22,596 versus $17,025 for females. The per capita income for the city was $9,905. About 21.2% of families and 24.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.7% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.
Bell is served by Los Angeles Unified School District.
Bell is served by several schools.
South Region Middle School 2 will open in Bell in 2010 .
County of Los Angeles Public Library operates the Bell Library.