Business was the impetus for El Segundo's birth. In 1911, a team from Standard Oil scouted undeveloped land along the coast of Southern California as a potential site for the company's second refinery. The group purchased an 840-acre clump of sand dunes and bean fields seven miles north of Redondo Beach that would provide convenient access for tankers. Later that year, the refinery opened and laborers settled in the nearby area, initially living in pitched tents before eventually building bungalow-style permanent homes within walking distance to work. The site became known as "El Segundo" (which is Spanish for "the second") in honor of it being Standard's second refinery. Later, Standard became Chevron, which remains in operation today as one of the world's largest petroleum products companies.
Soon thereafter, El Segundo's first businesses sprang up along Richmond Street and Franklin Avenue. Other shops appeared on a dirt road that became Main Street a couple of years later. Early merchants included grocers, restaurants, pharmacies, hotels, department stores, banks, and one of the first Ford dealerships.
On January 18, 1917, El Segundo became an incorporated city with a population of 1,000 and a total of 50 business licenses. The town's pioneers established churches, schools, and police and fire services. Oil remained the town's only industry until 1930, when Los Angeles International Airport officially opened at Mines Field along El Segundo's northern border. LAX's growth and the advent of World War II resulted in a flood of aircraft companies such as Hughes, Northrop and Rockwell locating in El Segundo during the '40s and '50s. As those companies shifted their focus to defense, El Segundo was eventually dubbed "The Aerospace Capital of the World." That status became cemented in 1959 with the opening of Los Angeles Air Force Base and The Aerospace Corporation a year later.
With population numbers swelling from under 4,000 residents in 1940 to more than 14,000 people by the early '60s, acres of bean and strawberry fields gradually disappeared, to be replaced by new blocks of housing and paved roads as the town moved eastward. Meanwhile, a flurry of businesses opened and thrived in El Segundo's downtown to better serve the burgeoning population. During that heyday, downtown featured two auto dealerships, several markets and drug stores, a bowling alley, a couple of tailors and countless other shops and restaurants. Some memorable businesses from the past include Fiorante's Tailors, Floyd's Haircutting, Fournier's Sporting Goods, Cornet 5 & 10, Gay Nineties, Converse Drugs, Rea's Hardware and the Rose Bowl.
Meanwhile, the eastern business sector of El Segundo flourished, as a diverse
range of companies set up shop in industries ranging from high-tech to
manufacturing and entertainment. Other than the City of Los Angeles, El
Segundo boasts the highest number of Fortune 500 companies per capita in the
region, as firms such as Mattel and DirecTV proudly established their world
headquarters here. Though the town's residential population has leveled
off at just under 17,000 people, its daytime employee numbers more than
quadruple those totals. With demand for growth continually high, new
developments continue to move forward in a wide ranging of industries.
Last but not least, El Segundo is the home of the Los Angeles Air Force
Base, the South Bay's Chief economic engine along with the nation's
foremost intellectual capital.
To serve the eastside business population, El Segundo's downtown has seen a rise
in new restaurants and professional service companies over the last decade.
Through the years and multiple generations of families, El Segundo has managed to balance a small town charm that provides the highest possible quality of life for its residents with an ideal business environment.
"As civic and community partners for over 90 years, Chevron takes pride in a long list of achievements with the City of El Segundo.
Since its inception, the City of El Segundo has made it a priority to maintain open and immediate communication with Chevron.
We have invested billions of dollars in capital projects in our facility, and the City's timely and efficient permitting process is just one example of its commitment to serve as a civic entity that enhances growth and development."
-- Gary G. Yesavage
Chevron Products Company