Inglewood is a city in southwestern Los Angeles County, California, southwest of downtown Los Angeles. It was incorporated on February 14, 1908. In 2006, its population was estimated at 129,900. The city is located in the South Bay region of the greater Los Angeles area.
The earliest residents of what is now Inglewood may have been indigenous people who used the natural springs in today's Edward Vincent Jr. Park (known for most of its history as Centinela Park). Local historian Gladys Waddingham wrote that these springs took the name Centinela from the hills that rose gradually around them and which allowed ranchers to watch over their herds "(thus the name centinelas or sentinels).":unpaged [xiv]
Waddingham traced the written history of Inglewood back to the original settlers of Los Angeles in 1781, one of whom was the Spanish soldier Jose Manuel Orchado Machado, "a 23-year-old muleteer from Los Alamos in Sinaloa." These settlers, she wrote, were ordered by the officials of the San Gabriel Mission "to graze their animals on the ocean side of Los Angeles in order not to infringe on Mission lands." As a result, the settlers, or pobladores, drove some of their cattle to the "lush pasture lands near Centinela Springs," and the first construction there was done by one Ygnacio Avila, who received a permit in 1822 to build a "corral and hut for his herders.":unpaged [xiv]
Later Avila constructed a three-room adobe on a slight rise overlooking the creek that ran from Centinela Springs all the way to the ocean. According to the LAOkay web site, this adobe was built where the present baseball field is in the park. It no longer exists.
In 1834 Ygnacio Machado, one of the sons of Jose Machado, built the Centinela Adobe,:unpaged [xv] which sits on a rise above the present 405 San Diego Freeway and is used as the headquarters of the Centinela Valley Historical Society.Two years later, Waddingham writes, Ygnacio was granted the 2,220-acre (9.0 km2) Rancho Aguaje de la Centinela even though this land had already been claimed by Avila.:unpaged [xv]
The Centinela Valley remained sparsely settled for several years with the exception of a few tenant farmers and Freeman's ranch hands. The Land Boom of the 1880s in Los Angeles County changed the profile of the valley drastically. Promoters from Los Angeles sought the potential for land development and wanted to plat a townsite near Centinela Springs. In 1887, the Centinela-Inglewood Land Company was formed and began surveying the two ranches belonging to Daniel Freeman in August of that year. Freeman, interested in the long-term plans of the organization, sold 11,000 acres of his prime orchard land to the company at $1.25 an acre. This tract was to become the city of Inglewood.
The Centinela-Inglewood Land Company initially named the development Centinela Colony. They divided parcels of land into 20, 40, 80 and 160-acre plots. Residential lots were priced between $200 and $750 a piece. Farmland was offered at $200 to $400 an acre, and fine orchard property was listed between $600 to $1500 per acre. Centinela Colony was one of the most successful of the land boom subdivisions with the developers procuring over $1,000,000 in capital by 1888. In the first year of its existence, the incredible amount of $20,000 was spent for advertising alone. Local real estate moguls of the era were among the Board of Directors of the land company including: Dan McFarland, Edward C. Webster, L.T. Garnsey and Leonard J. Rose, the founder of Rosemead, California.
In 1887 a railroad was completed linking Los Angeles to Santa Monica Bay. This line was constructed by California Central Railroad (forerunner of Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe) and coursed through the center of Freeman's ranchos. Known as the Los Angeles and Ballona Branch, it had a depot built at Centinela Colony. Another rail line was extended to Redondo Beach from the Centinela Station. In 1888, the Centinela-Inglewood Land Company merged with land promoters from Redondo and reorganized under the name of Redondo Beach and Centinela-Inglewood Land Company.
By 1888, all lots for the young town were occupied and two business blocks were completed. The name of the town was changed from Centinela to "Inglewood", named for Daniel Freeman's Canadian hometown. Construction was underway for a stately, elegant hotel. One of Freeman's barns was used as one of the first schools in Inglewood. Population of the town was 300 at the Boom's peak in 1888. Plans for a college of applied sciences, with emphasis in farming and agriculture was in the making. The college was to be operated by the University of Southern California(USC). Daniel Freeman donated $600,000 to the University, with $100,000 of it designated for construction of the buildings.
When Freeman designed the Inglewood plat, he selected for himself sixty acres near Centinela Springs to be used as his new manor. He started building a grand three-story Victorian mansion on the site in 1888. It was completed the following year. When finished, the Freeman's left the primitive Centinela adobe to occupy their new lavish home. The site of the Freeman mansion was at 333 N. Prairie Avenue, Inglewood. The old adobe served as the residence of Freeman's mayordomo (ranch manager) until 1912.
In 1889, a huge financial crash brought an end to the Great Land Boom. The collapse proved devastating for most real estate developments in Southern California and some towns were propelled into oblivion. Inglewood fared better than most, but still felt the harmful effects. The newly completed hotel went bankrupt without it ever being furnished and plans for Daniel Freeman's college were scrapped permanently. In 1890, Freeman repossessed all lots that the land company was unable to sell, yet the town of Inglewood survived and continued to grow. It incorporated as a city in 1908 with a population of 1,200. From 1920 to 1925, Inglewood was the fastest growing city in the United States.
An article by Dennis Romero in Los Angeles CityBeat magazine of November 6, 2003, quoted three sources as saying that Hispanic gangsters in that year were moving to Inglewood as a result of higher rents, or "gentrification," and increased police presence in West Los Angeles districts where they had been living.
“No blacks had ever lived in Inglewood,” Gladys Waddingham wrote,:59 but by 1960, “they lived in great numbers along its eastern borders. In 1960, the census counted only 29 "Negroes" among Inglewood's 63,390 residents. Not a single black child attended the city's schools. Real estate agents refused to show homes to blacks. A rumored curfew kept blacks off the streets at night. Inglewood was a prime target because of its [previous] history of restrictions.” “Fair housing and school busing were the main problems of 1964. The schools were not prepared to handle racial incidents, even though any that occurred were very minor. Adults held many heated community meetings, since the Blacks objected to busing as much as did the Whites.”:61 In 1969, an organization called “Morningside Neighbors” changed its name to “Inglewood Neighbors" "in the hope of promoting more integration.”:63
The first black principal among the 18 Inglewood schools was Peter Butler at La Tijera Elementary,:66 and in 1971, Waddingham wrote, “Stormy racial meetings in 1971” included a charge by “some real estate men in the overflowing Crozier Auditorium” that the Human Relations Commission was acting like “the Gestapo.”:67
In 1972 Curtis Tucker Sr. was appointed as the first black City Council member.:69 That year composer LeRoy Hurte, an African-American, took the baton of the Inglewood Symphony Orchestra and continued to work with it for 20 years.:75 Edward Vincent became Inglewood’s first black mayor in 1980. In that decade Inglewood became the first city in California to declare the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a holiday.:76
In the 2000 census, blacks made up 47 percent of the city's residents (53,060 people), and Hispanics made up 46 percent (51,829), but the Census Bureau estimated that in 2007 the percentage of blacks had declined to 41 percent (48,252) and that of Hispanics of any race were at 52.5 percent (61,847). The white population declined from 19 percent (21,505) to 17.7 percent (20,853).