California 35th District
In the years just after World War II, Los Angeles was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in America. LAX, today the nation’s third-busiest airport, with eight central terminals, was then a small airfield amid open country. The mile-square grids east, north, and south of the airport were just filling up with rapidly multiplying subdivisions. Also north of the airport were the wetlands along Ballona Creek, where Howard Hughes took his Spruce Goose, the largest airplane ever built, up for its one and only flight. The rapidly growing suburb of Inglewood, just east of the airport around the Hollywood Park racetrack, was filling up with the young families of people who had moved to Los Angeles during the war—workers in the giant aircraft factories or in the small factories that every day were making California less dependent on goods from back East. In Hawthorne, home of a big Northrop Grumman plant, future celebrities were growing up—Sonny Bono and the Beach Boys. Gardena, east of Hawthorne, was known for its legal poker clubs and its Japanese-American residents, back from the wartime internment camps.
2008 Presidential Vote
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East of Gardena is the part of Los Angeles called South Central or, more recently, South Los Angeles, after the City Council in 2003 officially renamed the community to rid it of the stigma of gang wars and race riots. In the days of residential segregation, much of this area was the home of Los Angeles’s black community, its numbers greatly expanded by migration from the South during and after the war. In the Central Avenue entertainment district were clubs and theaters hosting Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstine, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. Later, it was the epicenter of L.A.’s two postwar riots, in the Watts district of Los Angeles in 1965 and at the corner of Florence and Normandie in 1992. In the last 20 years, Latinos have been buying houses here, which are among the cheapest in the metropolitan area—only five L.A. zip codes have median prices below $200,000—and new businesses have been cropping up in garages and small factories.
The 35th Congressional District of California today is made up of all these areas, with a landscape and population very different from 60 years ago. At its west and east ends are two of the Los Angeles area’s great transportation facilities. One is LAX and the cluster of hotels and office buildings all around (LAX’s swooping arches, intended in 1961 to symbolize the jet era, are now a historic landmark). The other is the Alameda Corridor, the 20-mile express rail line connecting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with rail distribution points near downtown Los Angeles. Once mostly white working class and middle class, the district’s population in 2007 was 30% African-American and 53% Hispanic. Since the 1992 riot, local businesses have revived, though the district still suffers high crime rates and plenty of mistrust of local police. Politically, this is an overwhelmingly Democratic district.