Beet Sugar, Cows, and Bedrooms:
The Transformation of Chino from a Rural
Community to a Modern Suburb
Senior Thesis in
Advisor: Zuoyue Wang
no one better exemplifies the residents of Chino than Doug Ellington. Ellington, a
simple family man, had been born, married and probably will die in the city of Chino, about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. His life has been rooted in the
very history of the city, being wed by a direct descendant of one of the city’s
founders, Don Antonio Maria Lugo. Sitting in his living room now in his late
60s, Ellington remarks about the city he knows so well:
The majority of farmers who came to
Chino when I was young were family farmers who focused on growing crops such as
walnuts, corn, sweet potatoes, peaches, black eyed peas, and summer squash. Of
course it’s not like that anymore but that’s how it used to be anyhow.
the Chino of
today looks far different from the sleepy farming town described by Ellington.
The Chino of
today is a “bedroom community” populated with families and business. In 2000,
the population of the city had reached 70,000 residents and included more than
2 million square feet of retail space.
With land values ever increasing within the city, more of the city’s glorious
agricultural past is moving out and retailers are moving in. While the Chino Valley
still holds the largest concentration of dairy farms and cows per acre in the
entire country, these dairies are located on the outskirts of the city and it
is entirely possible to drive through the city today and be completely unaware
of the city’s agricultural roots.
Chino was founded by the Kukamonga Indian tribe and upon the
arrival of the Spanish, the lands which included Chino would become a part of the San Gabriel
Mission. By the time of the Mexican Independence, Don Antonio Maria Lugo would
be granted by the Mexican government the 47,000 acre Rancho del Chino de Santa Ana and his family
would become the city’s first residents. Then in 1850, Arizona
silver miner, Richard Gird would move to Chino.
Successful from his ventures in the mining industry, Gird purchased Rancho del
Chino de Santa Ana from the Lugo family. Gird named a portion of the
ranch simply Chino
and soon he was able to bring a prosperous sugar beet industry into the city.
the sugar beet industry within Chino
would die before the great depression of the 1930s due to rising seed prices,
the industry had brought incorporation to the city in 1910, along with police
and fire services. Chino’s growth was then
limited until 1950s when the post-war boom
brought unprecedented population growth into Los
Angeles and southern California.
Chino would emerge as a leader in the dairy
industry, helping to feed the emerging Los
Angeles metropolis. Chino would maintain itself as a bustling
agricultural community well into the 1980s, when rising population and land
values in the latter part of the decade finally began to change the city’s
dynamics. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, this once small suburb
of Los Angeles
had metamorphosed into a city of urban residents and had one of the most
thriving economies in the region.
Chino’s history both twists and fits, the
traditional pattern of suburban development characterized by historians and
social scientists. In general,
Suburbanization has been a subject more critically analyzed in sociology
than in history. Sociologists have taken a unique interest in suburbanization
as a topic because the suburb has provided a means via which a good majority of
Americans have interacted with their social environment. . As historian Kenneth
T Jackson noted in 1973 in reference to Orange
County the typical citizen of the
county would state something like, “ I live in Garden Grove,
work in Irvine, shop in Santa
Ana, go to the dentist in Anaheim,
and my husband works in Long Beach.”
Historians, on their parts, have both provided the information and details on
suburban development for other scholars and have came to their own conclusions
about the process.
inquiry into the process of suburbanization has largely come in the form of
regional and individual case studies. The case studies have revealed that there
is a rather consistent pattern, with suburbs
of the 19th century expanding via the outskirts of large
cities such as Boston or Philadelphia, with former slum area turning
into viable suburban communities. Moreover, historians have generally concluded
that factors such as the automobile, crime, congestion and pollution have
generated 20th century suburbs creating periphery residential and
retail communities in which citizens commute into the central city for work.
1973, Jackson presented, in his The Crabgrass Frontier: 150 Years of
Suburban Growth in America, one of the most comprehensive reviews of
suburban development in the United
States. Through the usage of census data, Jackson is noted that the population of Boston,
New York, and Philadelphia had decreased by nearly 2
million from 1950 to 1973,
while the population of the “suburb” cities had nearly doubled. Jackson ultimately comes
to the conclusion that this population decentralization movement was largely a
result of the availability of the automobile which permitted Americans to live
at a distance from the inner city workplace. Jackson remarks that a burgeoning suburb can
easily be spotted wherever there are added residents between each decennial
census and when the city’s “fathers” are concerned with the relative standing
of their community in comparison with others.
Jackson also develops a
model in which he believes suburbanization occurs, with the second and third
stages being agricultural establishment and suburbanization respectively.
Clearly Jackson believes that suburban
development is a process which includes a shift away from agricultural
industries, as agriculture in Jackson’s
model is at a stage below that of the suburb. Similarly Jackson also remarks that “every multi-lane
ribbon of concrete was like the touch of Midas, transforming old pastures into
precious property.” Jackson firmly conveys
that a suburb involves the turning of rural, agricultural communities into
proverbial “concrete jungles.”
historian Michael Ebner argues that suburb development can be linked directly
with the concept of “urban population deconcentration.”
Ebner believes that suburban expansion relied upon the availability of
efficient transportation and poor urban living conditions which literally
forced middle class citizens to the outer limits of the large city. Ebner also
expands upon Jackson’s
ideas in two key areas. For one, Ebner asserts that “counter-subarbanism”
will eventually take effect in which inner cities and suburbs will become in
essence one and the same. As more and more inner city citizens become
dissatisfied with inner city conditions they will naturally migrate out to
nearby areas. Ebner hypothesizes that as these nearby areas accumulate
population, eventually it will be indistinguishable to tell the suburbs from
the cities henceforth “counter-subarbanism” takes effect in which it is
impossible to tell suburb from city and city from suburb. Ebner also brings forward that the “suburban
process” is a slow one and points out that it took several decades for the London suburbs to come in
existence despite the fact of quality roads and bridges just outside the city
and poor living conditions within the city. Ebner proves through his London example that
suburbs do not just appear overnight. Ebner establishes in his paper that Jackson’s line of
thinking can be successfully expanded through further detailed microcosm
Although not a
suburban historian per se, California
historian Carl Palm, also sets forth a vision of suburbanization in his The Great California Story. Palm tells of the
transformation of Southern California during
the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s as being a time of dramatic changes. Palm notes
that in the city of Anaheim,
population had grown from a little less than 15,000 in 1950 to almost 250,000
Furthermore, Palm further notes that in Orange County
during the 1950s orange trees were being uprooted at a rate of one per every 55
seconds. Palm concludes that this agricultural displacement was needed for Orange County
cities to become suburbs and remarks that “countless of acres around the state
who once grew things were (scooped out)
…. to make for an avalanche of new residential and commercial
With historians in
virtual agreement, sociologists utilized this data to define that which we know
as the suburb. Some of the early sociologists to define what a suburb is would
be Joanne Eicher and Richard Kurtz in 1958. Eicher and Kurtz define in Fringe and Suburb: A Confusion of Concepts that
a fringe area involves a mixed economy of rural and urban, consisting much of
farmland. They go on to conclude that an area can be characterized as suburban
when land use is strictly urban with very few farms. This early and influential
work helped frame for future sociologists and historians what they should look
for when they are attempting to study the suburbia phenomenon.
pollster and sociologist, further tackled suburbia in his 1992 work Suburban Communities. Baldasarre defines
suburban communities as being “sprawling, low-density land use, an absent
downtown district, and the existence of a politically fragmented local
Baldassare goes on to describe that rural areas can be identified by their
economy being primarily based in agriculture rather than in manufacturing and
services. Baldasarre re-enforces the other authors in the sense that he
concretely defines what he believes a suburb to be and what he believes a rural
area to be. Clearly
Baldasarre is of the opinion, that despite its booming population and
incorporation, that Chino
with a strong agricultural economy and extensive stretches of farmland would
not be considered a suburb at all.
with Ebner when he notes that suburbanization is a slow process. “Especially,”
Baldasarre says, “if one is looking at suburb development in the 19th
century.” Baldasarre believes that suburb development
can occur fairly rapid if modern transportation such as automobiles and
highways are available along with affordable housing. Baldasarre also displays
in his work the political and economic force of the suburb and gives good
reasoning for why the suburb is emerging as political force in recent
presidential elections. Baldasarre asserts that the suburb is a necessary element
to American society due to American social and political makeup, which most
certainly harkens back to the American Jeffersonian ideology of the past.
where does the city of Chino
fit in with the traditional suburban development models established by these
authors? Does it fit the model at all? At first glance, it seems clear that Chino does not perfectly
fit the formula for which suburban development should occur. Chino is still largely agricultural in
economy yet it most certainly has the manufacturing, retail, and services of
any other modern suburb economy as well. Although Chino
is undeniably a suburb of Los Angeles,
its dairy industry makes this city a special circumstance unaccounted by
previous suburb-urban historians and sociologists. Through analysis of the Chino situation, it is apparent that Chino is agricultural and suburban at the
same time, and therefore proves that suburbs can be economically agricultural
while maintaining status as a suburb.
the focus of this paper on suburban development, we can trace Chino’s development as a suburban community
back to the early 20th century. First, however, one must understand
the development of Southern California and Los Angeles during the early 20th
century. Southern California and Los
Angeles experienced astounding growth during the
pre-World War II era. Two big factors
which turned these wheels in motion were the discovery of oil and the
development of the motion picture industry.
was discovered in Los Angeles in 1892 by Edward
Doheny and Charles Canfield about a mile northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Dohney and Canfield quickly
realized that there was a treasure trove of oil underneath the city and made
waves with their 45 barrels a day production. Soon after the news of their
production got out, numerous individuals swarmed the city in an attempt to
strike it rich. By 1897, a mere five years later, the city boasted some 2,500
oil wells. The “oil boom” would have numerous effects upon the area. “It provided
low price fuel for new industries, thousands of new jobs, and the capital to
build new homes and streets.”
film industry would emerge in Southern California
during the 1907 production of The Count
of Monte Cristo. Desperate for a warm place to film, director Francis Boggs
and cameraman Thomas Persons, set out for Santa Monica Bay
for a large outdoor scene of the picture. They established a studio in downtown
Los Angeles and
more studios would follow in the ensuing years. Soon going out west to make it
in the “movies”, became an ambition associated with the American dream.
Furthermore since filming was conducted year round, Los Angeles also became associated worldwide
for friendly weather and year round sunshine. With the reputation, climate and
resources set, Southern California was primed
tycoon, Henry Huntington, witnessed this development firsthand and by 1908
helped to connect “Greater Los Angeles” via railway. Huntington’s railway ran
from San Bernardino to Long Beach and each time a stop was added, the stop
would soon became a suburb for Angelinos to live in. Huntington’s
development would permit Southern California
to grow like never before. Between 1920 and 1930 the state grew by 2,000,000
people, with 72 percent of those moving into the Southern part of the state.
Furthermore, Los Angeles County gained 1,272,037 new citizens during the 1920s
and the city of Los Angeles
itself increased in population by 115 percent.
Chino’s Early History
Chino arrives into Southern
California history as one of the train stops devised by the
Southern Pacific railroad. In the 1890s, Chino
was rated the second largest freight depot outside of Los
Angeles in volume of freight handled Chino at the time was managed by Richard Gird, a silver
miner from Arizona.
Gird had a dream to turn his town into an industrial machine and experimented
with numerous crops in an attempt to figure out what the town could produce
well. Gird eventually stumbled upon
sugar beets and soon bargained to get a factory built in his town. In 1890,
Gird convinced the wealthy and then leading beet sugar producing Oxnard
Brothers to fund his beet sugar facility and was given a ten year contract. By
1900, the plant turned out 12,000 tons of sugar each season.
Gird also wanted his young city to develop its own identity and helped to
charter the establishment of the Chino Champion newspaper in the early 1890s.
Even today the Chino Champion is still in operation with its offices located
directly across the street from city hall.
With the success of the factory and the failing health of Richard Gird,
1901 brought private industry to the city and the city would slip out of the
hands of Richard Gird.
new owners of the city, The Chino Land and Water Company, continued the
prosperous sugar factory, but also organized a large scale promotion scheme
beginning around 1904. The promotion centered around cheap land which could be
had for 70 to 125 dollars an acre and was an early part of the famous Southern
California boosterism movement in which people from around the country and
world were attracted to come live the California
lifestyle of sunshine, healthy living, and fresh food as far as the eye could
see. Thousands of acres of land which formerly were desert were now to be made
into farmland. The buyers of these land lots were crucial to the early
development of the city as they constructed buildings, developed a water supply
and built pipelines. Soon Chino
was an area which produced alfalfa, corn, potatoes, grain, walnuts, apple,
peaches, apricots and beets for sugar.
the time period of 1910 and 1920, Chino
was a town controlled by the American Beet Sugar company. At this time, Chino sugar production
would become a 11 million dollar a year industry and nine different facilities
could be found within the city. The
facilities also employed a majority of the city’s residents and even brought
some tourist trade as other nearby locales were naturally curious to see how sugar
could be extracted from the lowly beet. The American Beet Sugar industry also
was pivotal in establishing the city’s rich dairy tradition. They helped to
fund the G.S. Moyer dairy in 1916 and this particular dairy was one of the
city’s earliest commercial dairies. The Moyer dairy was a large scale facility
and would even absorb some smaller dairies, like the facility operated by A.G.
During this time period, local citizens also established a local baseball club
which played other cities. The baseball club served as the one of the city’s
principal means of entertainment in these times and usually the team played
teams which hailed from Los Angeles.
Baseball teams weren’t the only Los Angeles
influence which could be found within Chino, Los Angeles hotels filled
the Chino Champion with ads for their
hotels. Since train services were available for most Chinoans, Los Angeles was seen as a fun and affordable
weekend getaway for the farming population.
its early history, Chino
also saw an explosion in its immigrant population. A big source of these
immigrants hailed from the Scandinavian country of Sweden. Often the Swedish
immigrants who came to Chino
worked at the sugar beet factory where they could often make a nice living.
Many of the early church services in Chino,
were actually conducted in the Swedish language. Generally the Swedish people
who immigrated to the city were relatively welcomed. Differently than the
Swedes, however, Mexican-American citizens were not welcomed with the same
enthusiasm. Oddly enough, the city had been founded and discovered by Mexican
citizens after the Mexican Independence. In fact, it was even until the 1880s
that the city had its first white residents with the construction of the
Yorba-Slaughter adobe in which the Slaughter family would make Chino their home. Nonetheless, early 20th
century Mexican-American citizens of the city lived in a poor area of the city
known as “Sonora Town.” Mexican-American citizens had
little opportunity in the early days of Chino
and were labeled throughout the teens in the Chino Champion newspaper as being alcoholic, unruly and insane.
Mexican-American citizens of Chino
were denied basic human rights and were often arrested for the most frivolous
of charges. An example of these episodes would be the arrest of four Mexican-American
men in 1916 for merely playing in a poker game.
Also it was not at all uncommon for Mexican-American citizens filing complaints
for a crime committed against them to be arrested themselves!
Truly the early days of Chino’s
history were filled with racial prejudice and injustice which greatly affected
the livelihood of some of its citizens.
1917, with outrageously rising seed prices in Germany,
the sugar beet factory in Chino
would be shut down. While many did lose their jobs, new opportunities arouse in
the canning industry. Soon Chino was a leader in
agricultural production in the county and canneries from far and wide were
anxious to set up shop in Chino.
A big priority to Chino’s
citizens during this time was water. Water was essential to the city’s industry
and was most certainly not an uncommon site to see the city’s citizens organize
to protect their water. Moreover the city was beginning to look more and more
like a city rather than a close knit, rural agricultural community. Many schools
were built in the 1920s and the citizens of Chino made the education of their youth a top
priority. By the end of the 1930s, the Chino
Champion often boasted of its youth graduating from the University of California
at Berkeley. A
city mail service was also established in the 1920s which would service the
area on a daily basis. Chino
dairymen also established quite the reputation for themselves setting records
with the Cow Testing Association. By 1926, Chino dairymen were already receiving high
honors in the county, state, and nation for production. The early Chino dairymen were certainly establishing Chino as a fine place to
conduct dairying. Chino
High School was also
breaking records in 1926 with its largest graduating class ever of 43 students.
Clearly the community was establishing roots and a base group of leaders and
families who were ready and able to make the advancement of the city of Chino part of their
of these community leaders was Adolph Whitney, originally from Austria-Hungry.
Whitney had migrated to the United States
when he was just 11 years old and settled with his family originally in Minnesota. When World
War I ended, agriculture in the Midwest went
into a slump. Losing his farm due to hard times and bovine tuberculosis,
Whitney packed up his family and headed towards California. In 1923, Whitney landed a job as
a cow tester for San Bernardino County and put into practice theories he had learned
while attending Northwestern
thereafter, Whitney opened the Royal Dairy in Chino on what is now Riverside Drive and found success taking
over the local dairy routes of the Mount View Dairy. Whitney insisted on
cleanliness, instituting his workers wear clean clothes and that his cows be
washed and scrubbed. He also banned feeding in the milking houses and scrubbed
that facility regularly as well. Whitney’s cows avoided tuberculosis in the
late 1920s and 1930s, so the fact that Chino
dairymen received many accolades during this era should not be a surprise to
anyone. Leaders like Whitney undoubtedly attracted more and more dairymen into
the Chino Valley, where dairying was becoming more
clean, efficient and professional.
1930s were generally as unkind to Chino as they
were to any other United
States city at the time. The town never
fully recovered economically from the collapse of its sugar beet industry in
1917 and Mayor George Decker was desperate to spur growth within his small
city. Decker ultimately finalized the construction of the Chino Institute for Men.
In the eyes of Decker and the majority of Chinoans, the advantages of having a
prison in town far outweighed the disadvantages. The prison was believed to
bring in more jobs to the city with little to no danger of inmate escape. The
prison was built on the south end of Central
Avenue and today serves as a boundary between the
cities of Chino
and Chino Hills.
1930s also saw the continued growth of the Chino dairy industry. In 1938, Chino dairies won awards
for production and took fifteen of eighteen awards in the Annual County
the storied reputation of the Chino
dairy industry continued throughout the 1930s. Moreover, Chino’s race relations seemed to be improving
dramatically. In the 1930s it was not at all unusual for Chino
High School students to take part in
Spanish language plays and the “Mexican Colony” was allowed to hold a large
citizens were at least by the 1930s on a path to toleration of their fellow
Chino during and after World War II
Chino in the 1940s
focused on the World War II effort. Many of the city’s families sent their
young men into battle and Chino
as an agricultural community played a big role in producing food for the
soldiers overseas. The production of the apricot crop within Chino greatly increased during World War II
as the apricot could remain canned and fresh for a longer period of time than
most agricultural products. Chinoans were very dedicated to the American cause
and this is very evident by a peek within the Chino Champion newspaper. Nearly every story during this time
period was focused on the war and how Chinoans could better help the war
effort. The Chino Champion was also
filled with ads by Lockheed Martin and Northrop, two large engineering
companies which desperately needed workers to make planes and other equipment
towards the war effort. The immergence of the aerospace industry would have a
great impact on the history of Chino and the
history of Los Angeles.
Workers from all over the country in need of work would fill Los Angeles County,
driving up land values and pushing agricultural industries out of the county.
In the post-war period, therefore, Chino
was then ready to assume a role as one of the world’s largest and most
the emergence of the aircraft manufacture industry in Los Angeles had a big impact on the city’s
industrial growth. By the mid 1940s, Los Angeles
made more oil field machinery than any other city on the earth, was second only
to Detroit in manufacturing automobiles, and
second only to Akron
in producing tires.Los Angeles at this time
also became a leader in the production of furniture, fish cannery, petroleum,
and food processing. Between 1941 and 1947 Los Angeles
county moved from 11th place among U.S. industrial centers to 7th. Los Angeles was also a
city shaped by the automobile and already by 1947, the city had its first
freeway. The freeway system permitted the city to grow outwards and it did so
at a rapid rate. In 1941, the Colorado River
aqueduct was completed and extended the water capacity to the level in which it
could provide water for over 10,000,000 citizens, but even this was not enough
to support the booming population.
television industry would also arise in the early 1950s and the Los Angeles film industry
was quick to jump on the bandwagon. Already in 1950, the Los Angeles Times was beginning to remark that “some eager beaver
manufacturers are trying to sell us a second set for our kitchens.”
By 1955, Hollywood
was producing ten times as much entertainment material for national television
as it was for film for moviegoers. The combination of the television and film
industry both being located in Los
Angeles made the city the so called “entertainment
capital of the world.” Now world over, Los
Angeles was identified as a desirable place to live
and would shape future immigration patterns within the city. By the mid-1950s, Los Angeles boasted as America’s number one producer of
aircraft, motion pictures, houses, canned seafood, refrigeration and heating
equipment, and pumps and compressors. Los Angeles was also a
leader of the supermarket industry, already by 1939 the city had more than 300
supermarkets. In the
1950 census, the city just missed the 2,000,000 mark, short by 45,964
values were also on the rise with land adjacent to the Santa Ana Freeway
increasing by 14% in 1955.
With such a large, consumer based population its no wonder that the suburban
community of Chino would emerge as an
agricultural producer for Los Angeles
during the post-World War II era.
development into a major milkshed coincided roughly with this rise of Los Angeles. After the
Second World War’s contribution to the Southern California economy, Los Angeles now had a
very visible and large workforce. Moreover, the demand for residential land and
space for parallel commercial development skyrocketed. It was clear to Southern California dairymen that it was more profitable
to take their operations somewhere else. With land values increasing at a
rampant rate, Los Angeles county dairymen
quickly found a home in nearby Chino located
within San Bernardino
Chino truly was the perfect place for Los Angeles county dairymen. From 1947 to 1955,
the number of dairies in the city of Chino
had increased from 64 to 110.
The Chino Champion noted that 25
dairies had been constructed in the city from 1954 until 1955 as a result
largely of the flight of greater Los
The city also cleared the way for dairymen by clearing the city’s prime and
central real estate for dairy development. A clear example of this would be the
establishment process of a dairy on the southwest corner of Norton and Riverside Drive in
The corner of Norton and Riverside drive of
today is typically known for being primarily residential and separate from the
traditional dairy region of the city. At this time period, however, dairy
establishment was at the forefront of the city’s agenda and thus no hurdle or objection
from the city’s residents could stop the seemingly unending dairy construction.
the middle of the 1950s, Chino’s
annual gross agricultural receipts had hit the 26 million dollar amount and
milk at $7,974,884 was now the city’s largest agricultural commodity.
The process of dairying became a phenomenon which even became a part of the
lives of the city’s least reputable citizens. The Chino Institute for Men,
prison, had a cow which broke records for the highest single day milk
it seems remarkable to think that even inmates were a part of this dairying
the city was experiencing this tremendous dairy boom, the city also became more
and more similar to a modern suburbia. Population exploded in the 1950s, San Bernardino County
and Chino had
grown by 29% in population from April 1950 until April 1955.
This rapid population expansion was occurring all over Southern
California suburb . If Chino was not a suburb, then indeed its population would
have remained stagnant during this era similar to other rural areas in Southern California. Moreover, with most of its
population growth hailing from Los Angeles
county and it’s close proximity to that county, many Chinoans viewed themselves
as an extension of Los Angeles
itself. In fact as Los Angeles developed into a
metropolis, it becomes clear that Chino
emerged more and more as a breadbasket. There most certainly is a strong
connection between Chino peaking its
agricultural production each year in the 1950s and the Los Angeles area’s multiplying population.
Virtually as Los Angeles emerged as a major city
so did Chino as
an agricultural center.
Chino seemed to appear as
a modern suburb as well. Chino’s
major roads were paved and relatively well taken care of. It contained a
central downtown business region in which citizens could take care of their
needs and wants. It also had a large high school, weekly newspaper, and police
and fire services. Indeed, as Baldasarre suggested, if a region becomes a
suburb via a shift away from agricultural industry then this is indeed not the
case we find in Chino.
The citizens of Chino
embraced agricultural development while trying to emerge their community as a
viable suburban community.
many suburban communities, however, Chino
of the 1950s was an unusual suburban community in the way it approached its
immigrant and multicultural population. Since European immigrants were often
new to the country themselves, the community was slightly more tolerant than
others at the time. Mexican culture and
tradition was appreciated, plays like “Solo Por Amor,” were favorites among
Dutch, Portugeese, and Swiss immigrants were also embraced, yodeling contests
and other European entertainments were also very commonplace. June was also declared “Dairy Month” and the
citizens of Chino
tried to emphasize their importance in a historical sense. The citizens of Chino saw themselves as a
part of a rich dairying tradition, which had been in existence in human history
for over 15,000 years.
Dairy and the Transformation of Chino during the
By the 1960s,
1970s and 1980s the population shift of California
had been complete. By 1960, half of all Californians lived in the Southern part
of the state and by 1975 almost seventy percent lived in Southern California
with over 30 percent of the population living in Los Angeles County
Many were heralding Southern California’s versatility, the Los Angeles Times noted that during the 1960s and beyond that
Southern California would expand by both suburban expansion and by the creation
of high rise living in Los Angeles. Indeed “No one who bore witness to Southern
California’s transformation from about the mid-1950s on would deny that
bulldozers played a huge part in making the area into what it would become by
the year 2000.” In the
early 70’s it appeared that California’s
growth may finally come to a stop. A weakening job market and rising inflation
along with crime, pollution, and traffic congestion began to give Southern California a negative image.
While these factors undoubtedly encouraged thousands of residents to leave the
state behind, Southern California would still find population growth in new
immigrants from the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
By 1975, the Los Angeles Times was
filled with articles pertaining what to do with these sometimes illegal
immigrants from the Pacific Rim and Latin America.
During the 1980s alone, the population of California would grow by more than five and
a half million people.
those five and half million people to move into California
during the 1980s, three million of those residents would move into the greater Los Angeles area.
“By the end of the 1960s Los Angeles was North America’s largest Japanese city and was the second
largest Mexican city in the world. (only Mexico
City was larger)
It also contained a large Jewish, Filipino, American Indian, and an
African-American population which was greater than any city in the American
The city continued to grow as an international center throughout the 1970s and
1980s and by 1980 over eighty different languages were spoken in the city.
During the 1960s,1970s and 1980s Los
Angeles also continued to evolve economically. By the
early 1980s, Los Angles was the “West Coast’s leading commercial and industrial
center.” Los Angeles became not only crucial to the economy of California and the United
States but also to the Pacific Rim.
Several leading electronic and construction firms set up shop in the city and
foreign trade would compromise a big chunk of the business activity that went
on in the city. In this era of the history of Los Angeles it is apparent that the city had
emerged at the forefront of the world’s major metropolises.
during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s bore striking similarities to the
development of Los Angeles.
Unlike Los Angeles, however, Chino developed a stronger agricultural
industry to accompany its rapidly expanding population and industrial economy.
This surging agricultural industry was fueled by the local dairying industry
which took shape as a juggernaut of production. By the mid 1970s, milk profit
in the city exceeded 100 million
dollars. Truly, Chino as the agricultural
suburb is best exemplified during this thirty year era.
most evident feature of this period of Chino’s
history would be the extraordinary population and industrial growth. Industrial
growth occurred in a variety of ways. A great example would be the California
Brass Mfg Co. which migrated to the city in 1961. The company brought 80 new
jobs into the city and developed, manufactured, sold and distributed brass and
bronze valves and fittings for water, steam, air, oil and gas fixtures. Also in
1961, a major meat packing plant migrated to the city on the corner of Schaefer
and Yorba. The plant was the first federal packing plant built in Southern
California outside the Los Angeles
area in more than 20 years. In 1965
alone the city added a Uniroyal Tire Plant, a Chevrolet car dealership, several
auto body shops, two pizza parlors, a shoe store, and a formal dress shop. The Mary
Carter Paint plant was also a highlight of the emerging Chino industrial industry. By the mid- 1960s
the facility was already producing over a half a million gallons of paint a
year and had an estimated value over 2 million.
city received its largest industrial endorsement from the Edison
company which itself had facilities in the city. In 1966, Edison printed a 2/3
page ad in the Wall Street Journal promoting the benefits of Chino as an industrial site. The ad firmly
stated that Chino was “Greener Pastures for
industry- Only 37 minutes from Los Angeles” and
that “As a plant site, Chino could be the
greener pastures your company is looking for in Southern
California.” The ad
goes on to state that Chino is an optimal industrial site because of the
availability of inexpensive land, close proximity to the Los Angeles area,
excellent school system, and the extensive availability of low cost energy.
Undoubtedly, it was in Edison’s best interest to bring industry into the city
and henceforth make their Chino
facilities a profitable enterprise for the company. Thereafter a very common sight in the city of
Chino for the
next 25 years was the sight of bulldozers clearing old homes and businesses for
new commercial development and homes to house these workers. Business
development listed in Dun and Bradstreet showed
that the number of businesses in the city had increased from 159 in 1959 to 216
Similarly by 1980 the city had enough population to warrant a third Alpha Beta
Supermarket and a Food Barn discount grocery barn. Business, commercial and
industrial alike, was clearly on the rise during Chino’s golden age as an agricultural
biggest landmark to affect the city’s population was the finishing of the Pomona freeway in 1971.
By 1975, Chino was identified as the fastest
growing city in Southern California. Its
population in the 1970 census was 20,411 residents. By 1975, its population had
reached 27,650. That’s
over 7,000 new residents in just 5 years. Residential construction was over 17 million
in 1974 with over 595 new single family home permits being issued and over 19
million in 1973 with over 762 new ingle family home permits being issued.
There were 1,901 permits issued for single family homes between 1971 and 1975
With its close proximity to the counties of San Bernardino,
and Los Angeles and being only 37 miles out of
downtown Los Angeles, Chino was a welcomed choice to live in by
many commuter families. By 1975, Chino
was 8th in the state in building with over 16 million dollars in
building permits. Only the cities of Los Angeles,
Long Beach, Anaheim,
Huntington Beach, Yorba
Linda, San Diego and Thousand Oaks outranked Chino in building permits issued.
By the early 1980s, the city had nearly doubled its population from 1970 with
nearly 40,000 residents. Chino was only outrivaled by Rancho Cucamonga in terms of
population growth during the 1970s, growing by 96% compared to Rancho Cucamonga’s
215% during the decade.
extreme population growth was fostered by numerous skilled maneuvers by local
officials during the 1960s. In 1965 alone the city made six annexations adding
216 acres to the city’s territory. Moreover, the city also completed a key
annexation in 1967 which added over 250 acres to the city’s boundaries.
The city made dozens of annexations during the 1960s which provided room for
the future agricultural, industrial and residential growth. By 1966, the city
had grown by one-third since 1952 with over 51 annexations.
During the 1960s, city officials were also busy widening streets and rezoning
areas of the city. The city aimed for by the late 1960s to have all its major
roadways to be improved and repaved. One of the most key projects was the
widening of the intersection at Central and Riverside. Today this intersection is the
busiest and most widely traveled in the entire city. Re-zoning occurred
throughout the city where residential development was focused in the west,
commercial in the center, and agricultural in the east. Although adamantly
opposed in many cases, many of the city’s western residents had to deal with
their new zoning designation of RE and not A-1. A-1 permitted large farm
animals such as hogs, cows, and goats to be present while RE merely permitted
small animals such as dogs, cats and chickens.
radical change initiated by the city’s officials was opposed for a variety of
reasons. Many Chinoans believed that commercial and residential development
would rob them of the very reason they moved into the city. For example, W.W
Conway a resident, fought against industrialization in the city and stated that
“Most of us moved out here because we wanted hogs, cows, horses and a half acre
of land.” Ken
Carpenter also similarly feels “Having animals was an opportunity to teach
children the facts of life in a clean way.”
residents objected to losing the small town atmosphere which they cherished.
“I’d rather us stay a small town. With all the industry and homes, it’s driving
the dairies away and I’d like to see them stay,” says Mrs. Mary Leuck.
Mrs. Patricia Pfau echoed Leuck’s sentiments when she remarked “Well, I realize
that growth is important to our area but I agree with others that it was nice
when it was open and not quite so suburban..”
Whether the residents of Chino wanted it or not
suburbia was here to stay, but unlike most regions of Southern
California it wouldn’t mean the end of agricultural industry.
Palm notes in The Great California Story that
bulldozers played a huge role in the region, “ they scooped out apricot
orchards in the Hemet Valley, spinach and onion patches in the Santa Maria
plain, lima bean fields in Oxnard, and olive groves in the San Fernando valley
… all to make way for what would be an avalanche of new residential and
Clearly, however, this was not the case in Chino. The community in Chino cherished agriculture and viewed the
dairies as an asset to the atmosphere of the blossoming suburb. Moreover,
zoning and rezoning had located the majority of the dairies to the eastern
portion of the city, several miles away from residential areas keeping flies
and smell from being too much of a problem. Thus agriculture continued to
flourish in Chino
well into the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Chino dairymen were also
aided by an onslaught of inventions which greatly improved their production. A
smaller parlor type barn and drylot operation became popular, gone was the
roaming pastures which would extend for miles.
Feed was purchased and feeding, transporting, and milking all became automated.
In the 1970s the herringbone barn was a favorite in new construction and
structure enabled washing, handling, and waste disposal to also become
result of a flushing of technology into the dairying industry would have
drastic effects upon the dairying industry within the city. By 1960, milk
production was already a 42 million dollar a year producer in the city.
Every year thereafter profits steadily increased by millions and millions of
dollars. In 1961, milk production brought in 45 million dollars, three million
dollars more than it had brought in the previous year.
In 1961, Chino had made up thirty-seven and a
half percent of the San
agriculture revenue, producing more agriculture than anywhere else in the
The number of dairies also greatly increased in the early 1960s with 172
dairies in 1960 with a few more slightly over the Riverside County
line. Clearly, 172 was 14 more dairies in the region than had existed in
1959.By the late 1960s, other agricultural pursuits such as potatoes, nursery
crops and alfalfa were beginning to bow out. It was simply too profitable for Chino’s farmers to engage
in any other type of farming other than dairying. The region’s milk profits
were increasing as more and more dairymen sold their property in Los Angeles County
and moved into Chino
and as more and more dairymen bowed out of other agricultural industries.
profit was indeed the norm for Chino
dairying during the 1970s and early 1980s. Though more automatic, Dairying was
still very difficult work requiring farmers often to work from 2 in the morning
until 8 in the evening everyday of the year. Nonetheless by the mid 1970s
dairying was over a hundred million dollar a year industry within the city of Chino.
By the mid 1970s, the city had the most dairies ever in its history with nearly
400 dairies and some 190,000 cows.
Production was also up, being a little over fifteen million cubic weight tons
from 1972 onward.
The biggest production was yet to come in the early and mid 1980s.
The Decline of the Dairy Industry in Chino
1980s saw a drastic decrease in the number of dairies within the region. By
1981, there were only 284 dairies in Chino
down from the 400 which had been in existence during the mid and late 1970’s.
The number of cows in the region also had drastically reduced from 190,000 to
163,000 but the average amount of cows per dairy had increased.
The decline of dairies in the region during this era can be linked to the high
level of competition which existed in the market during this time period. The
price of milk greatly increased along with profit margins. Highly productive
farmers could drive less productive farmers right out of the market.
Accordingly milk became a 300 million dollar a year industry within Chino during the early
However, by the mid 1980s, Chino’s suburbia was
quickly becoming a problem for Chino’s
dairy industry. By the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000s a majority of the dairies
would leave Chino
due to rising land values along with commercial and residential development.
Los Angeles in the late
80’s and beyond was prosperous but it’s extremely large population was
beginning to affect the city’s image. Riots rocked the city in 1992 and street
gangs spread like a malignant tumor throughout the city. Gang membership had
reached an astounding 50,000 by 1988.
With such problems, it’s no wonder that 600,000 people moved out of Los Angeles between 1991
and 1994. While
violence and gangs developed into big problems within the city in the post-
late 1980s period, nonetheless the city of Los Angeles took a number of measures to
retain its status as a premier business center. The city finished a light rail
system known as the Metrolink and completed necessary renovations to its
international airport. The city also developed a downtown district dubbed as
the “California Plaza.” Clearly Los Angeles of the post lat-1980s was a place
of extremes. Los Angeles
had the most diverse population and commercial industries in the world and it
was home for some of the country’s wealthiest and poorest citizens. Such
extremity, ultimately had drastic effects on the suburbs of Los Angeles as well.
Chino has been a victim of sorts to the extremes present
in Los Angeles.
With some 600,000 citizens from 1991 to 1994 leaving Los Angeles proper, the question remains,
where were these citizens to relocate? Obviously they couldn’t just leave their
well paying jobs but at the same time these Los Angeles migrants wanted a home far from
riots and blossoming gangs. Chino naturally
became a place which attracted a great number of these former Los Angeles residents.
even more people and business moving in, on the other hand, Chino’s large dairy industry began to move
out. It was no longer a priority for city officials to keep Chino an agricultural town, in fact as the
city website now declares, “Where everything grows (the city’s motto) which
originally referred to the city’s agricultural beginning now refers to the
growth of family, business and a strong sense of community.” A
landmark decision was made in 1993 which sealed the fate of dairy owners in Chino’s agricultural
dairy preserve. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors opted to open
the 21 square mile Chino
dairy preserve to industrial and residential development.
enough the decision was widely applauded by dairy owners all over the Chino dairy land. Rising
land costs combined with serious environmental issues greatly contributed to
the dairy farmer’s reactions. Dairy farmer Gene Koopman who owns a 52-acre dairy in the Chino preserve said, “ In the long term it’s
not feasible to stay here. The environmental problems are so severe.”
The executive director of the dairy council, Bob Feenstra, similarly stated
“The main issue for the dairy industry is the cost of production here. Who’s
going to pay for the sewers, gutters, and curbs.”
These environmental problems directly came about due to rising industrial and
residential development in areas which surround the Chino dairy preserve and greater cow
densities on the dairies themselves.
the late 1980s and early 1990s, the automated Chino dairy model became an unquestioned
success. Annual income from dairy production reached the 350 million dollar
amount and automation permitted dairies in Chino to average 865 more cows than the
national dairy farm average.
However, having the highest concentration of dairy cows in the world ultimately
would have its drawbacks.
One of the issues was that since Chino
had developed so rapidly, industrially and residentially, the surrounding
farmland which formerly absorbed the manure for crops no longer existed.
Naturally, waste began to accumulate in rather large quantities.
large quantity of idle cow manure, created a number of water quality and cost
issues. Water quality experts identified that dairies greatly contributed to
rising build up of salts and nitrates in groundwater and that rainstorms flooded
tainted, manure filled water into the Santa Ana
River which feeds an underground
reservoir which Orange
County residents depend
on for drinking water.
This finding would lead the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board to
demand that almost 2 million tons of manure be removed from the preserve by
December 31, 2001.
Experts analyzed the costs at almost 30 million dollars to Chino dairy farmers. Clearly, it truly was
becoming not very profitable for Chino dairy
farmers to conduct their business in the Inland Empire
the 1993 decision made by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors,
opportunity once again arouse for Chino
to grow from a business and residential standpoint. Good dairy land immediately
began to sell for nearly 55,000 dollars an acre after the 1993 decision.
Developers instantaneously jumped at the chance to develop lands which formerly
belonged to the Chino
dairy preserve. The Dartmouth Development Group, based out of San Diego, opened escrow on a property 200
acres south of Kimball Street
and West of Euclid Avenue for an industrial park in 1999.
The Dartmouth Development Group was negotiating with the city even before all
the proper annexation papers had been filed. Janet Coe, Chino’s
economic development coordinator, was delighted by the Dartmouth Development
Group’s interest and cited that Chino was also a
viable and affordable location for Orange
County businesses to
developers were not the only ones jumping at the chance to develop Chino’s dairy preserve.
Today, housing developers are also quick to jump on the red-hot real estate
market are also making their mark on Chino’s
former dairy stronghold. The current real estate boom has soared land values in
the Chino dairy
preserve from the 55,000 dollars an acre value in 1993 to over 400,000 dollars
an acre in 2004.
Currently Chino’s master planned community known appropriately enough as “The
Preserve” hopes to build 9,700 homes in what was formerly the heart of Chino
dairy land. Upon its
completion, “The Preserve” is projected to add about 31,000 more residents to
landscape. “The Preserve” occupies about 5,400 acres of former dairy land and
its designers promote the fact that the development will feature a variety of
architectural styles and that no home will be more than 2 blocks from a park.
1990 census boasted that the city of Chino
contained 60,000 residents, today with much of the former dairy land developed
around Pine, Kimball, and Schaefer avenues the city has about 70,000 residents.
With the completion of “The Preserve”, the city should be above or around
100,000 residents. A mere 20 years prior, Chino’s
citizens figured it to be unfathomable for the city to expand from its 40,000
residents. Now nearly tripling its population from 1980, Chino as a community and as a landscape has
changed in a very dramatic fashion. Soon the notion of Chino as the agricultural suburb will be an
absurd assertion at best.
suburbia prevailing in Chino’s former dairy
land, dairy farmers have moved all over the country with the majority heading
northwards into the San Joaquin Valley where the extensive crop farming benefits and
utilizes the fertilizer generated by former Chino dairies.
The San Joaquin Valley
has also given former Chino dairy farmers a
chance to lower their costs by growing their own food, the availability of land
is much more pronounced in the San
permitting dairy farmers to have larger farms. Other farmers have found that
going out of state is a better option for them. Popular out of state
destinations have included the states of Michigan,
Kansas, and Wisconsin. Chino dairymen moving out of state believe
they can bring better management skills to other regions and allow those
regions to have large and successful herds.
of these farmers is Bob Weststeyn, who grew up on a dairy in Corona
on the Chino
border. Weststeyn would like to bring the Chino
brand of high volume and large herd dairy to the state of Wisconsin. Remarkably, despite its rich dairy
history, the Chino style of dairy operation is
still considered revolutionary in Wisconsin.
Weststeyn plans to expand a dairy he purchased in Wisconsin from an 100 cow
operation to a 600 plus cow operation and is eager to apply techniques which he
learned in Chino on his new Wisconsin farm.
the majority dairy farmers have migrated out of Chino,
there still remains many prominent dairies in the Chino area despite encroaching business and
homes, environmental problems, and rising land costs. As of last year, the Inland Empire still had nearly 200,000 dairy cows along
with 209 dairies.
About 100,000 of these cows resided in the Chino valley region. While this number is
expected to decrease by another 5 or 10 thousand by the end of 2005, nonetheless
there is still a large quantity of cows in the city of Chino.
Essentially the dairies which remain are waiting for developers to come through
and label their property as the next developmental project. Unlike the early
1990’s, in which dairy farmers took losses to leave the area for fear of future
business cost , current remaining farmers stand to profit in the millions and
millions of dollars once developers take a shine to piece of property. For the
majority of the remaining dairy farmers in Chino, it is not a matter if they are going
to sell their property, it is a matter of when the right bid comes in from the
right enthusiastic retail, industrial and residential developers.
the history of Chino
tells the story of a very different and unusual kind of suburb. In Chino, we don’t see the
rejection and seemingly instantaneous removal of agriculture. Rather,
agriculture in Chino
is still a force in the city’s economy (while diminishing) in this current era.
The Chino of
the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s had all the marks of modern suburbs. It has lots of cars, rapidly
expanding housing development and a
large number of commuters who utilized highway 71 and the Pomona
freeway to travel daily to their jobs in Orange
County and Los Angeles. Unlike the traditional suburb,
also contained over 400 dairy farms and a 300 million dollar a year milk
producing operation. Chino
was most certainly going under an identity crisis of sorts during this 30 year
era but this unique identity crisis also shatters our traditional sense of what
a suburb is and a suburb is not. Suburb doesn’t necessarily mean a shift away
from agricultural industries as Mark Baldasarre has suggested, rather the term
suburb should be utilized more broadly as clearly agricultural industry can be
apart of this image as we can clearly identify when we examine the history of
the city of Chino.
seems that Chino
was bound to develop into an agricultural suburb from the dawn of it’s
inception in the 19th century. Chino
was easily accessible by train and its founder, Richard Gird, was adamant that
sugar producing industries using locally grown sugar beets be established. Chino was also very close to Los Angeles, a blossoming metropolis which
needed agriculture to feed its booming urban population. Furthermore, Chino was fortunate to receive a hardy batch of both
Mexican and European immigrants who saw Chino’s
emerging agricultural industry as a chance for success and a better livelihood.
the 1950s with the massive migration of Americans into Southern California, Los Angeles and it’s
greater area grew like never before imagined. Land values increased in areas
such as Anaheim and Artesia forcing dairy
farmers further out east and into the Chino
area. Since Chino had a great agricultural
reputation and cheap available land, Orange
County dairy farmers
found the region to be quite suitable for their needs. Soon recent Chino migrants would adopt the clean and sanitary methods
championed by Adolph Whitney and other Chino
agricultural leaders and production would skyrocket within the city.
1960s, 1970s and 1980s proved to be a golden age for Chino agriculturally, industrially and for
residential expansion. The city renovated streets and re-zoned to give the city
a clear residential and agricultural district. Moreover, dairy farmers adopted
machines which made the dairying process virtually automatic and began to buy
feed so that they could support dairy herds which could reach into the
thousands. The city also aggressively sought business and was even advertised
nationally by the Edison Company in the Wall Street Journal. With emerging
business, affordable housing and effective planning it was no wonder that the
city had increased its population to 40,000 residents by 1980.
1990s and 2000s proved to signal the downfall of the golden age of agriculture
within the city of Chino.
Mounting environmental concerns combined with rising land values and zealous
land developers proved to motivate Chino dairy farmers to move northwards into
the San Joaquin Valley or out of State. The Chino of the 1990s and 2000s is one which
emphasizes business and families. With the completion of housing projects such
as “The Preserve”, it is doubtful that many if any dairies will remain in Chino for the next twenty
years. The Chino of today is quickly adopting an
identity which it is seeking to appeal to both Orange
County business and residents as a
viable relocation destination as prices continue to skyrocket uncontrollably
within Orange County
and with new undeveloped space in the Chino
The impact of Chino as the agricultural
suburb is in fact greater than it may appear. Chino’s
dairymen have adapted and survived for more than 40 years alongside with a
blossoming suburb of Los Angeles.
Their technological improvements have allowed them to survive and prosper
economically in a highly limited space which was the Chino dairy preserve of the 1960s, 1970s and
1980s. Now with the suburb finally conquering the Chino
dairy land here in the 2000s, Chino
dairy farmers seem set to expand their technology and knowledge to other parts
of the country. Undoubtedly if these
farmers have been able to thrive in such a small, compact space then
surely in other areas where there is more space and lower costs these farmers
should be able at the very least to
replicate their successes in Chino. Surely, if dairy technology and
methods improve as a whole throughout this country due to the experience and
knowledge utilized and shared by Chino
dairy farmers then dairying in this country is bound to boom. If the dairy
industry evolves in the United States
like it did in Chino, then clearly the future of
the agricultural economy is bound to benefit thanks to the innovation and
ingenuity of the Chino
dairy farmers who made an agricultural suburb possible. It is clear that Chino does not fit the traditional suburbia model or image
created by historians and sociologists, further studies of Chino and communities like it undoubtedly
will aide historians and other scholars into better understanding the concepts
of urban and suburbia and how these concepts have affected American society in
the past, present and future.
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