Rancho Los Alamitos

This past Saturday I traveled to a hidden gem nestled inside the Bixby Hill Manor Apartments: Rancho Los Alamitos. This slice of land among the suburban houses represents the connection between greater Los Angeles and it’s Spanish/Mexican roots.

Rancho Los Alamitos was originally much than the small amount of land it encompasses today. The original land grant covered much of Eastern Long Beach, Garden Grove, Cypress, Stanton, and Seal Beach and has since dwindled smaller and smaller. To go even further back, it was land that belonged to the Native American tribe of the Tongva (the same tribe that had land that CSULB was built on). When the Spanish occupied the land in the late 18th century, it became one of 5 ranchos after the partition of Rancho Los Nietos which was the land grant the encompassed over 300,000 acres of land in Southern California.

By the mid 1800s, it had again changed hands to Abel Stearns, an East coast merchant who was among many resettlnig in California at the time. In fact, during the Gold Rush, Los Alamitos was one of the main suppliers beef to help feed the influx of immigrants to California. By the time California became an official state, Rancho Los Alamitos had become the largest cattle ranch in the United States. Unfortunately due to money troubles, Stearns lost control of the ranch and it changed several hands before ending up with its final owner, John Bixby. Bixby attempted to create a townsite, but also ran into money troubles and was unable to do so. In the end, the Bixby family chose to donate the remaining land to the city of Long Beach in 1967.

From the Spanish Colonial style ranch house to the acres of land, Ranch Los Alamitos has been considered by some to a microcosm of the expansion in Southern California. Trading hands from Native Americans, to Spaniards, and finally to Long Beach itself, Rancho Los Alamitos along with all the other forgotten Ranchos are representative of the prominent cultures that flourished and dwindled through the history of Southern California.

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