Bellflower’s Colorful Past, Promising Future
The original legal title to the land on which Bellflower now stands dates back to 1784 with one of the first Spanish land grants in California. Several Spanish soldiers petitioned Pedro Fages, the Governor of California and a former commander in the Spanish military, for land on which to graze their herds of livestock. The largest of these grants went to soldier Manuel Nieto, who received all the land between the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers. In 1832, after the Spanish were ousted in the Mexican Revolution, the new Mexican Governor, Jose Figueroa, divided the land into five smaller ranchos to be distributed among Nieto’s heirs. Bellflower developed on a piece of land bordered by three of the ranchos: Santa Gertrudes, Los Coyotes, and Los Cerritos. During this time, vast amounts of cattle sustained the economy and beef was cheaper than salt.
For the next few decades, the land ownership changed possession several times. In the 1840s, the “Golden Age of the Ranchos” in California came to an end. A series of natural disasters ended the cattle boom and the rancho way of life.
Residents in the nearby towns of Downey, Norwalk, Hynes-Clearwater (Paramount) and Artesia, used the Bellflower area as a favorite hunting and fishing spot, thanks to an abundance of wild game, ducks and geese, and carp and perch.
In 1869, the area known as Somerset Ranch, roughly from Alondra Boulevard to Artesia Boulevard, and from Lakewood Boulevard to Cornuta Avenue, was comprised of 4,000 acres of what would later become Bellflower. A few scattered parcels had been sold and the open fields were used for grazing dairy cows.
Open fields were great for cattle, settlers soon found that the land could all be washed away. The entire area was subject to annual flooding when the ‘tramp river’ (San Gabriel) would swell from winter rains or spring thaws and travel down the middle of what is now Bellflower Boulevard. A dense growth of willow, bamboo, and underbrush, wild grape, blackberry, and rose bushes earned the vicinity along the river the name of “The Willows” and “The Wilderness.” Early residents recall sometimes rowing from island to island in Bellflower during the rainy season.
With economic development as a foremost objective, the City continues to attract quality businesses to meet the growing needs of the community. Two national retailers, Walgreen’s and 7-11, recently opened new stores in town, Norm Reeves Honda Superstore along with local businesses such as the Cosmopolitan Market, National Sports Page continues to thrive. Longtime Bellflower businesses such as Holland-American Market, Glen-L Marine and Koopman’s Furniture all recently celebrated more than a half-century of success in town. By offering business assistance programs, a dedicated business website and ongoing training opportunities, the City has taken the lead in helping to serve local merchants. Additionally, the City spotlights businesses every month in the Citizen, on the cable news show All About Bellflower and as part of regular special-event cable broadcasts.
The City of Bellflower’s ongoing core objectives center on public safety, economic development and community beautification. In addition, by raising development standards, adding new housing stock, and attracting quality businesses to Bellflower, the City has taken aggressive, proactive steps to meet the challenges of today, in order to create a better tomorrow.