The City of Rancho Palos Verdes was incorporated on September 7, 1973. The Palos Verdes Peninsula was originally uninhabited except for a few sheepherders and their flocks. In the early 1900s, the land was used for cattle ranching and farming. Crops grown in the area included beans, peas, tomatoes and barley.
In 1913, Frank A. Vanderlip, president of the National Bank of New York, bought the 16,000-acre Palos Verdes Peninsula sight unseen, with visions of turning the area into the "most fashionable and exclusive residential colony" in the nation. However, the remoteness of the peninsula and the lack of roads prevented early development. The Great Depression and World War II followed, and still no land developments were made. Eventually, diatomaceous earth mines were found and the Vanderlip family sold the land to the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. Realizing that the land was more valuable than the diatomaceous earth, the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation began to build.
Three peninsula cities (Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills and Rolling Hills Estates) were incorporated before the largest building boom began in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The area’s flourishing economy fueled the development of the unincorporated areas of the peninsula. These areas were built up at an alarming rate and the population density increased tremendously. To limit and control development, a fourth city was proposed. It took several years and the efforts of the peninsula-wide Save Our Coastline (SOC) organization to finally incorporate Rancho Palos Verdes. The overall rural ambience of the community was saved. Although the amenities of the Los Angeles and Orange counties are within easy reach, Rancho Palos Verdes remains an oasis separated from the hectic pace of modern city life.
Point Vicente Interpretive Center offers additional educational opportunities for the children and adults of Rancho Palos Verdes. The Interpretive Center provides an overview of the history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and is a wonderful place to watch the Pacific gray whale migration that starts each December. Trails wind around the Interpretive Center grounds and lead across some of the most interesting land areas in Los Angeles County. The ocean views are spectacular, the plants are unique and small animals roam about. Point Vicente Lighthouse is also a local attraction enjoyed by many. Abalone Cove Shoreline Park offers educational opportunities with bluff top viewing areas, trails and tide pools, and a State Ecological Preserve, where land animals and marine life are protected.
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