In the early 1900s, real estate developer Jared Sidney Torrance and other investors saw the value of creating a mixed industrial-residential community south of Los Angeles. They purchased part of an old Spanish land grant and hired landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to design a new planned community. The resulting town was founded in October 1912 and named after Torrance; the city of Torrance was formally incorporated in May 1921. The first residential avenue created in Torrance was Gramercy and the second avenue was Andreo. Both are located in the area referred to as Old Town Torrance. This section of Torrance is under review to be classified as a historical district.
Torrance is located at (33.834815, -118.341330). It is roughly bounded by Redondo Beach Blvd (the cities of Lawndale and Gardena) to the north, Western Avenue (Harbor Gateway, a neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles) to the east, the cities of Lomita, Rolling Hills Estates and Palos Verdes Estates to the south, and the Pacific Ocean and the city of Redondo Beach to the west. Residents of an unincorporated area to the east of Harbor Gateway abutting the city of Carson are allowed to use "Torrance" in their addresses by the USPS.
Del Amo Fashion Center, at 2.5 million square feet (232,000 m²), is one of the largest malls in the United States. Estimates vary between the second largest (after the Mall of America) and the fourth largest, depending on the measurements used. The current mall was created when Del Amo Center, built in 1958, merged with Del Amo Fashion Square, built in 1970. Once located on opposite sides of Carson Street, a gigantic expansion of the mall spanning Carson Street joined the two centers by 1982, making it the longest mall in the world at the time. Del Amo Fashion Center has been used as a location for several motion pictures, including Jackie Brown and Bad Santa. In 2005, the east end of the original mall north of Carson Street was demolished to make way for a new open-air shopping center, opened in mid-September, 2006. The new center features upscale clothiers Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters as well as the restaurant PF Chang's. The housewares retail giant Crate & Barrel opened in Spring 2007. Torrance also borders the South Bay Galleria, which resides in Redondo Beach.
One of the country's few urban wetlands can be found in Torrance. Madrona Marsh is a nature preserve on undeveloped land once set aside for oil production. Torrance was also a filming location for the movie Volcano (film) in 1997.
Torrance Beach lies between Redondo Beach and Malaga Cove. The region shared by Torrance and Redondo Beaches are often called "Rat Beach" (short for "Right After Torrance" Beach or "Redondo and Torrance Beach").
The Armed Forces Day Parade in Torrance, which was first produced in 1960, is the longest running military parade sponsored by a city. It is held annually on Armed Forces Day, and runs down Torrance Boulevard. The parade features military vehicles, school bands, and prominent community members.
The city has been subject of a number of cultural references. Mark Wahlberg is involved in two, in Boogie Nights his character Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler is from Torrance, and in Three Kings his character Sfc. Troy Barlow in the epilogue is revealed to go on to manage a carpet store in Torrance California. Coincidently Three Kings co-star Spike Jonze directed a mocumentary chronicling the fictional Torrance Community Dance Group (from Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" video, also directed by Jonze) on their road to the MTV Video Music Awards. Torrance is also mentioned in the South Park episode Freak Strike.
Alpine Village, although not within the city boundaries but having a Torrance mailing address, is a European-themed restaurant, market and shop complex that hosts a locally popular version of the Oktoberfest celebrations every weekend during September and October for 35 years, featuring a beer brewed on site.
A scene in the movie Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle was filmed at the Foster's Freeze Drive-thru located in downtown Torrance.
As a major oil-producing region, Torrance was once dotted with thousands of oil wells and oil derricks. Though the oil wells are not as common as they once were, the ExxonMobil refinery in the north end of the city is responsible for much of Southern California's gasoline supply. In fact, much of Southern California's gasoline supply is refined within a few miles of Torrance. ARCO produces gasoline in Carson; Texaco has a refinery a bit further east in Wilmington; Unocal is in San Pedro while one of the oldest refineries in the state is the Chevron plant in El Segundo. Torrance was also an important hub and shop site of the Pacific Electric Railway.
Torrance has a busy general aviation airport, originally named simply "Torrance Airport" and since renamed Zamperini Field after local track star, World War II hero and Torrance High graduate Louis Zamperini. The airport handles approximately 175,000 annual take-offs and landings (473 per day ), down from the 1974 record of 428,000 operations. Airport noise abatement is a major local issue. In 2007 the Western Museum of Flight moved to Zamperini Field.
Torrance is home to the U.S. headquarters of two of the three largest Japanese automakers, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. and American Honda Motor Company. Robinson Helicopters are designed and built in Torrance as are Garrett Systems turbochargers, used on automobile engines worldwide. California's aerospace industry began in Torrance and surrounding communities.
Torrance is also home to the world headquarters of Sunrider International, as well as the U.S. Headquarters of numerous leading automotive aftermarket companies, including: Alpine Electronics, Speed Star Racing Wheels, Tanabe Racing Development, Koyo radiators, Stoptech brakes, Cosworth, and Edelbrock.
The footwear companies Lakai and Globe also have headquarters in Torrance. Electronics manufacturer Panasonic has a plant manufacturing DVD-RAM and Blu-Ray media in Torrance. The United States division of Japanese videogame company Tecmo is also headquartered in Torrance. TabletKiosk, manufacturer of Tablet PCs, UMPCs and Mobile Computing Accessories is headquartered in Torrance.
The Torrance Unified School District encompasses five high schools (Torrance High, North High, South High, West High, and Shery High) and their feeder schools. Area districts have created the Southern California Regional Occupational Center (SCROC) to teach technical classes to their students and to local adults. TUSD is a participant feeder district of the California Academy of Mathematics and Science or CAMS, a mathematics and science magnet high school, administered by the Long Beach Unified School District.
Torrance High School is one of the oldest high schools in California. Its facade is familiar to television viewers as the setting for Beverly Hills 90210 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and to moviegoers for its appearances in She's All That, Not Another Teen Movie and The Wild Life.
South High School, near the southern border of Torrance, was used as a location for the 1999 filming of the movie American Beauty.
Torrance has 24 city parks; the focal point is Wilson Park which has extensive picnic and sports facilities, including a modern gymnasium, skatepark , and roller-hockey rink. Wilson Park also hosts the Torrance Farmer's Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and is the site of the city's annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
Because of the large Japanese commercial and industrial presence in Torrance, the city has one of the highest concentrations of Japanese expatriates and Japanese Americans in the United States. Among Los Angeles citizens, Torrance is known for its large Asian American population.
There were 54,542 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.1% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 27.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 94.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.
According to a 2006 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $68,324, and the median income for a family was $82,110. Males had a median income of $51,472 versus $37,114 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,144. About 4.5% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.0% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.