Commerce is a suburb of Los Angeles in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 12,568 at the 2000 census. It is bordered by Vernon on the west, Los Angeles on the northwest, East Los Angeles on the north, Montebello on the east, Downey and Bell Gardens on the south, and Maywood on the southwest. The Los Angeles River forms part of its southwestern boundary, and the Rio Hondo separates it from Downey. Commerce is served by the Long Beach and Santa Ana freeways, as well as the Metrolink commuter rail service. It is usually referred to as the "City of Commerce" to distinguish it from the common noun.
In the 19th century, the area was known as Rancho San Antonio. It was owned by Don Antonio Maria Lugo, mayor of Los Angeles between 1815 and 1820.Its conversion to an industrial area began in 1887, when the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway built its main line through the area. The ranch remained intact until Arcadia Bandini de Baker, a descendant of Lugo and reputedly once the wealthiest woman in Los Angeles, sold some of it around the turn of the 20th century. By the 1920s, factories had arrived. In the late 1940s, industrial leaders banded together with residents in the communities of Bandini and Rosewood and part of Bell Gardens 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. 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. 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.
Commerce residents have an enviable array of civic services funded from taxes on the local card club, the Commerce Casino, which accounts for 46% ($19.5 Million for budget year 2005/06) of Commerce's tax revenues, and the Citadel. This includes four libraries, a senior center, a teen center, an aquatics center, and a city-owned camp located in the San Bernardino National Forest free of charge to Commerce residents. Commerce is also one of the few cities in California that is able to provide its residents with zero-fare bus service. As might be expected, residential turnover is low compared to surrounding cities, although Commerce has moved from an almost exclusively Anglo city at its inception to one that is now overwhelmingly Latino.
There were 3,284 households out of which 47.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.3% were married couples living together, 19.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.2% were non-families. 15.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.80 and the average family size was 4.17.
In the city the population was spread out with 33.8% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 16.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 96.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,040, and the median income for a family was $36,572. Males had a median income of $27,738 versus $22,857 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,117. About 15.4% of families and 17.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.8% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.
Intermediate schools that serve Commerce include:
High schools that serve Commerce include: