The city is located in the South Bay region of the greater Los Angeles area and is one of the three Beach Cities. Hermosa Beach is bordered by the other two, Manhattan Beach to the north and Redondo Beach to the south and east.
The city's flat sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing, beach volleyball, surfing and paddleboarding. The city itself is only about 15 blocks from east to west and 40 blocks from north to south, with the Pacific Coast Highway running down the middle. Situated on the Pacific Ocean, Hermosa's average temperature is 70 degrees in the summer and 55 degrees in the winter. Gentle westerly sea breezes take the edge off what can be high summertime temperatures in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the county. The same breezes help keep the smog away 360 days of the year.
A paved path, called The Strand, runs along Hermosa's beach from Redondo Beach in the south approximately twenty miles north to Santa Monica and the Hermosa Beach pier is at the end of Pier Avenue which is one of the beach community's main and shopping, eating and partying areas. The community is home to lots of beach loving athletes and sun worshippers.
Hermosa Beach was originally part of the 1784 Rancho San Pedro Spanish land grant that later became the ten-mile (16 km) Ocean frontage of Rancho Sausal Redondo. In 1900 a tract of 1,500 acres (6 km²) was purchased for $35 per acre from A. E. Pomroy, then owner of the greater part of Rancho Sausal Redondo. Messrs. Burbank and Baker, agents, bought this land for Sherman and Clark who organized and retained the controlling interest in the Hermosa Beach Land and Water Company,
In early days, Hermosa Beach — like so many of its neighboring cities (Inglewood, Lawndale, Torrance) — was one vast sweep of rolling hills covered with fields of grain, mostly barley. During certain seasons of the year large herds of sheep were grazed over this land, and corrals and large barns for storing the grain, as well as providing shelter for horses and farm implements were located on the ranch between Hermosa and Inglewood. The Spanish words Rancho Sausal Redondo mean a large circular ranch of pasture of grazing land, with a grove of willow on it.
The first official survey was made in the year 1901 for the board walk on the Strand, Hermosa Avenue and Santa Fe Avenue; work on these projects commenced soon after. In 1904 the first pier was built. It was constructed entirely of wood even to the pilings and it extended five hundred feet out into the ocean. The pier was constructed by the Hermosa Beach Land and Water Company. In 1913 this old pier was partly washed away and later torn down and a new one built to replace it. This pier was built of concrete 1,000 feet (300 m) long, and paved with asphalt its entire length. Small tiled pavilions were erected at intervals along the sides to afford shade for fishermen and picnic parties. A bait stand was built eventually out on the end. Soon after, about 1914, an auditorium building was constructed; it has housed various enterprises and at present the public rest rooms, the Los Angeles Life Guard Service, and the local branch of the Los Angeles County Public Library occupy rooms in the building. This pier is municipally owned.
The Santa Fe Railway was the only transportation system through Hermosa Beach. It was seven blocks from the beach. The street that led to the tracks was called Santa Fe Avenue, but was later renamed Pier Avenue. There was no railway station for Hermosa, but Burbank and Baker built a railway platform on the west side of the tracks near Santa Fe Avenue, and later the Railroad Company donated an old boxcar to be used as a storage place for freight. In 1926, the Santa Fe Company built a modern stucco depot and installed Western Union telegraph service in it.
The first city election for city officers was held December 24, 1906. The town incorporated and its charter was obtained from the state on January 14, 1907. Hermosa Beach was incorporated in 1907 and celebrated its 100 year anniversary on January 14, 2007. On January 14, 1907, Hermosa Beach became the nineteenth incorporated city of Los Angeles County.
The name Hermosa comes from Spanish and means "beautiful," an accurate description of this beach dwelling community looking out on sunsets.
Surfing is a key element of the South Bay lifestyle year-round. Powerful winter storms in the Pacific Ocean can turn typically placid and rolling South Bay waves into large and occasionally dangerous monsters, a natural draw for the local surfing population. The Summer provides warm water and typically smaller waves for beginners to learn.
Beach volleyball is another important aspect of Hermosa Beach's lifestyle. Hermosa Beach has been referred to as the Beach Volleyball Capital of the World. The wide and flat sand beaches provide the perfect venue for the sport. Permanent poles and nets are maintained by the city year-round.
The wide flat beach makes Hermosa Beach one of the most popular places to play beach volleyball, from professional to amateur. Hermosa Beach is home to the AVP Hermosa Beach Open tournament. The Strand stretches north into Manhattan Beach and south into Redondo Beach and is a popular place for walkers, joggers and biking. Of the three Beach Cities, only Hermosa Beach owns its own beach. The other two cities' beaches are owned by the county of Los Angeles.
Running parallel to The Strand is a lovely linear trail known today as the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt. Once part of a railroad easement, this narrow 24-acre (97,000 m2) strip had long been the subject of heated controversy and pressure from various commercial interests. After years of litigation and wrangling, the city was poised to permit intensive retail and condominium development in the mid-1980s when a grassroots group spearheaded by activist Rosamond Fogg forced the matter to a vote. The City Council at the time was divided over whether the matter was of much importance but after an energetic and passionate campaign, the citizens found that the greenbelt was a vital recreational resource and mandated its preservation for the use and enjoyment of residents and visitors. This ballot initiative passed by almost 87%, the highest in California history. The public also substantiated this effort by taxing themselves millions of dollars in order to purchase the lands. As a result, the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt has the quality of a rural country lane, home to butterflies and many bird and animal species. At any time of day or night joggers and walkers enjoy its soft woodchip trails and graceful landscaping. The Greenbelt is also now part of the Federal Rails to Trails network. RUDAT (an urban architectural planning group) found that Hermosa Beach, thanks in large part to the existence of the Greenbelt, was a "world class pedestrian city" as attested to by RUDAT member Jerry Compton in the public record at
The city also has eight other parks:
As of the census of 2000, there were 18,566 people, 9,476 households, and 3,553 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,012.8/km² (12,982.4/mi²). There were 9,840 housing units at an average density of 2,656.8/km² (6,880.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.58% White, 0.80% Black or African American, 0.40% Native American, 4.40% Asian, 0.22% Pacific Islander, 1.68% from other races, and 2.91% from two or more races. 4.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 9,476 households out of which 14.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.6% were married couples living together, 4.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 62.5% were non-families. 39.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.95 and the average family size was 2.65.
In the city the population was spread out with 12.0% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 55.0% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 112.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $81,153, and the median income for a family was $104,645. Males had a median income of $67,407 versus $50,295 for females. The per capita income for the city was $54,244. About 1.7% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 3.0% of those age 65 or over.
There are eight hotels and one youth hostel in the city.