From the 1780s onward, the area that is now Lawndale was part of the Rancho Sausal Redondo, a land grant given by the Spanish colonial government that includes much of what is now the South Bay region. In 1905 Charles B. Hopper first subdivided the area and named it after a Chicago suburb. Lots sold slowly and different promotions were tried such as promoting Lawndale as a chicken raising area. The first railway to run through Lawndale was the Inglewood Division of the Redondo Railway which would later become part of the Pacific Electric "Red Car" system. It ran down the middle of Railway Ave. (now Hawthorne Blvd.) until 1933. In 1927 the Santa Fe railroad arrived. After World War II, the immense demand for housing from returning veterans and California newcomers resulted in Lawndale's formation as a bedroom community. In December 28, 1959 it was incorporated as a city in Los Angeles county.
Starting in the 1970s Lawndale's relatively low housing prices but less desirable location relative to its neighboring cities attracted absentee landlords and a substantial portion of its residents increasingly became renters.
For a time in the 1980s, with new cycle of expansion of defense industry nearby, many young people who wished to live in the Beach Cities found that they simply could not afford to do so, and settled in less glamorous inland cities such as Lawndale. But with the contraction of this industry after the cold war, Lawndale reverted back to its previous pattern. Lawndale has attempted to attract more owner–residents, as well as tourists with the 2003 completion of the "Beautify Lawndale" urban renewal project along the city's stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard (State Route 107), a major South Bay thoroughfare.
A large electronic billboard was installed and began running advertising in 2004 until it was realized that the sign violated a city ordinance prohibiting advertising of out-of-town businesses on signs of that nature. For its first 18 months the sign was sponsored by Fox and promoted upcoming television shows and movies under the Fox label. It also later gained and lost a sponsorship with Acura before its current sponsorship for Los Angeles radio station 100.3 - The Sound. The billboard is said to generate Lawndale $200,000 annually.
Lawndale Community Cable Television is on Channel 22. The City of Lawndale's Cable Television Department is funded by the Lawndale Cable Usage Corporation and the City of Lawndale through Local Access Fees and Franchise Fees provided by the local cable company, Time Warner Cable. The Lawndale Cable Usage Corporation is the non-profit, California corporation that receives these fees, and provides for the development of Lawndale Community Cable Television.
The Lawndalian a city wide news letter that informs the residents of Lawndale about programs and events happening in the city of Lawndale. The Lawndalian is now available Online at the city's website.
The United States Postal Service Lawndale Post Office is located at 4320 Marine Avenue.
General Post Office Hours are Monday thru Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.1 km² (2.0 mi²), all land.
Lawndale is bordered by Redondo Beach on the West and Southwest, Hawthorne on the North, Torrance on the Southeast, and unincorporated area of El Camino Village (also known as Alondra Park) on the East.
Since Lawndale is about ten minutes from Manhattan Beach the weather is nice and warm all year long.
As of the census of 2000, there were 31,711 people, 9,555 households, and 7,022 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,183.7/km² (16,036.7/mi²). There were 9,869 housing units at an average density of 1,924.5/km² (4,990.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 42.24% White, 12.61% African American, 0.99% Native American, 9.63% Asian, 0.91% Pacific Islander, 27.07% from other races, and 6.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 52.08% of the population.
There were 9,555 households out of which 45.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.8% were married couples living together, and 26.5% were non-families. 18.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.31 and the average family size was 3.80.
In the city the population was spread out with 31.9% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 35.8% from 25 to 44, 16.4% from 45 to 64, and 5.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 102.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $39,012, and the median income for a family was $37,909. Males had a median income of $29,033 versus $29,025.00 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,702. About 14.3% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.
Since Lawndale has a large amount of elderly residents the city uses its resources to help, providing free trips for seniors on the citys bus The Lawndale Beat, the city also provides a meals on wheels program as well as a seniors travel club.
In the state legislature Lawndale is located in the 25th Senate District, represented by Democrat Edward Vincent, and in the 51st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Curren D. Price Jr.. Federally, Lawndale is located in California's 35th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +33 and is represented by Democrat Maxine Waters.