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History of Manhattan Beach, California

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Manhattan Beach's history covers a moderately short span compared to other beach towns in the country but its present-day beauty started from centuries of transformation and development which now prosper as one of the coolest and luxurious beach towns in Los Angeles.

Current Manhattan Beach's first known inhabitants were the Engnovangas Rancheria Indians. These settlers survived on their harvested corbina fish in the shallows in addition to the other surf fish species. The Spanish Government formed land parcels or ranchos throughout the length of South Bay in 1784. Titles to the land were not conveyed by these land grants since they merely gave authorization to migrant farmers to utilize the area as they wished. The area that is now recognized as the Manhattan Beach, in its primitive days, was part of the earliest Spanish land grant for "Ranch of the Round Clump of Willows" ("Rancho Sausal Redondo"), a rancho with almost 25,000 acres of land mass in 1822. The acres had already been partitioned and liquidated to developers by the late 1880s.

The northern section area under John Merrill was known as "Manhattan" and George Peck, the owner of the town's north end section, call his region "Shore Acres". Despite the ample amount of developers, it was agreed that the land should be identified under one name. As claimed by Frank Daugherty, a different developer/owner, the winning name was determined by flipping a half-dollar coin. Manhattan Beach was created as "Manhattan" triumph in the toss of the coin in 1902.

Most of the beach's early structures were comprised of wooden beach cottages varying from 300 to over 1,000 square feet. These wooden beach cottages all looked very similar and most were coated a rusty red. There was no available indoor plumbing, gas, or electricity. The pipe that allows water to flowed in over the dunes frequently broke. Households that would come from Los Angeles and Pasadena on the trolley or train were greeted and welcomed by a real estate agent as the families stepped off.

Although some individuals stayed in the district year-round, it was promoted as a great spot for a vacation. Manhattan Beach had roughly 600 permanent locals prior to its incorporation on the 7th of December 1912. Manhattan Beach was initially constructed on sand which causes small structures to glide and walkways to vanish into the sand.

One of the major problems was sand dunes that are over 50 feet high and it was a laborious and long task to even them off. Hawaiian developers forged an arrangement with the Kuhn Brothers Construction Company to provide Waikiki Beach with sand from Manhattan Beach in the late 1920s. Santa Fe Railroad cars carried loads of sand and it was transported in San Pedro harbor and then onto barges or ships. The transaction continued for about 10 years, yet Manhattan Beach is hardly flat.

Manhattan Beach still has some leftover sand dunes, which are particularly apparent with the Sand Dune Park which is located at Manhattan Beach's north end. Locals and visitors get to experience walking on the same sand in sunlit Southern California without traveling miles to Hawaii. The area's year-round living desirability increased after World War II and a massive number of individuals relocated to Manhattan Beach as an outcome. Some of the war returners that lived in the area were the visiting servicemen. The defense industry's development ushered many people to work and reside on South Bay. That being the case, much of the land in Sepulveda Boulevard's east area was developed and flourished to house the inundation of people.

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