About the City of Commerce
In the 19th century, the area was part of Antonio Maria Lugo's Rancho San Antonio. Its conversion to an industrial area began in 1887, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built its main line through the area. The ranch remained intact until Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker, reputedly once the wealthiest woman in Los Angeles, sold some of it around the turn of the 20th century. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad (later the Union Pacific) both were built through what would become the community, as was the Pacific Electric Railway's Whittier Line. By the 1920s, factories had arrived. In the late 1940s, industrial leaders banded together with residents in the communities of Bandini, Rosewood, and Laguna to encourage commerce. They changed the name to match that goal.
The city was incorporated in 1960 to prevent neighboring cities such as Vernon and Los Angeles from annexing industrial land for tax revenue and elected its first city mayor, Maurice Quigley. In the 1970s and 1980s, Commerce successfully negotiated the turbulent period of deindustrialization that hammered nearby cities such as South Gate and Norwalk, maintaining much of its manufacturing and goods-distribution base and successfully converting former industrial land to lucrative commercial uses. The most notable example of this phenomenon is the Citadel outlet mall, which occupies the site of a former tire factory. The owner of the Citadel, Steve Craig, hosts an annual Clean Up Commerce Day and enlists other businesses to work with the city and volunteers in beautifying a specific area of the city. With a major rail yard within its borders, Commerce has also benefited greatly from the huge expansion in international trade traffic through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, albeit at the expense of severe air pollution caused by truck congestion on the Long Beach Freeway.
Chrysler had an assembly plant in Commerce from 1930 through July 1971 located at 5800 S. Eastern Avenue and Slauson Avenue, called Los Angeles (Maywood) Assembly. It was closed at the end of the 1971 model year, as Chrysler decided to triple-stack its transport trains for the 1972 model year; its Los Angeles facility couldn't accommodate this change.
Today, Commerce is a dynamic city, which has effectively recycled old heavy industrial sites with high technology, office, warehouse and retail use. The city has exceptional recreation and social service programs and provides superior-quality public safety, transportation, and community development services to all residents and businesses located in the city while cultivating a unique small-town ambiance enjoyed by all of its citizens.
Commerce boasts a large aquatic center, Commerce Aquatics that has trained a number of successful water polo players, including four-time Olympic medalist Brenda Villa.
Commerce is also the site of Williams Ranch, on which is the swimming hole that the Sleepy Lagoon Murder of Jose Diaz took place in 1942. The Sleepy Lagoon swimming hole was located near Slauson and Eastern avenues.
Landmarks – Commerce hosts the largest Outlet in California, the ‘Citidell Outlet’. The Commerce Casino and Stevens Steak House are also Commerce landmarks.
Population – 12,960 (Census 2010)
Largest Employers – California Commerce Club, INC., County of Los Angeles, Parsec, INC., American International Industries, Gruma Corporation (Mission Foods), 99 Cents Stores Only.