The origin of nearly every city in the Southern California area is result of petroleum discovery.
A brief history
The glitz and glamour that seem to define Los Angeles, Hollywood, and its beach cities find its roots in the discovery of oil in Los Angeles in 1892. This lead to the discovery of other fields in the basin—and by 1923, one out of every 5 barrel of oil produced in the United States was from the Los Angeles area, making it the most productive oil producer in the United States.
The population increased significantly—doubling between 1890 and 1900, and then tripling between 1900 and 1910. Each oil field discovery lead to a population boom which formed a city, and others around it. This includes Huntington Beach in 1920, Santa Fe Springs in 1921, and the biggest of them all, Signal Hill/Long Beach oil field, also in 1921.
Oil money financed the real estate development of nearby areas and, once gas powered cars were engineered, oil men became even richer. Oil money was used to encourage the building of the roads and highways as cars were now affordable, cheap, and a reliable form of transportation.
The film industry was financed by oil money and family dynasties resulted from oil:
The Ghettys, the Dohenys and Alphonzo Bell all became rich from their discovery of oil. They also became real estate developers, creating wealthy enclaves such as Bel-Air for themselves and other rich oil men.
Even palm trees became more abundant in California because of a proposition that voters made law which required oil companies to plant palm trees around Southern California.
Below are some images of the heyday of oil in Southern California:
Oil derricks in Belmont Shores, Long Beach.
Oil derricks in downtown Los Angeles, First Street.
Oil derricks in Signal Hill, Long Beach. Signal Hill was the richest city in the world during the boom of the 1920s.
Modern day oil derricks off of Long Beach are disguised.
More disguised oil derricks in Long Beach. Notice the palm trees.