With a population of over 140,000, the city of Torrance is South Bay’s biggest city. This kind of distinction normally comes with a cost, like higher crime rates or congestion, but “T Town” has escaped much of it. In many ways it’s the South Bay compressed, from the shopping experience, to the suburb-industry mix, and even some beach fronts.
Like many cities in the area, the roots of Torrance trace back to 18th century and the history of Spanish ranchos. The name doesn’t come in until the early 20th century with Jared Sidney Torrance, a real estate developer, who had a vision for an industrial-residential suburb. His vision was incorporated in 1921, and World War II brought with it a boom of aerospace manufacturing that is still present throughout the South Bay today. Since then, Torrance has calmly coasted on the economic and population boost these industries started.
Boundaries of City
Torrance is nestled between Redondo Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes and Carson. Only the northern end has freeway access at the 405, while the rest of it stretches to Western Avenue in the east, the Pacific Coast Highway in the south, and a small inlet of beach in the west.
With Torrance’s origins in mind, much of the residential areas in the city comes in the form of tract housing, which you would expect for a community designed by a real estate developer. There are still plenty of condos, duplexes, triplexes and apartments. If you’re in the market for a home, know that the pricing varies and is higher in the west, but as a point of reference, a 3 or 4 bedroom house rental can run you up to $4000. For those looking to own, nice 4 bedrooms have been known to hover around the 1 million mark.
Considering its size, it’s no surprise that Torrance has many schools, some of which are the oldest in the state. There are currently 5 High Schools, 8 Middle Schools and 17 Elementary Schools within its boundaries. Torrance High School in particular is well known for its photogenic main hall — it has been a filming location for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 90210 and more. Torrance also features two well-regarded private high schools: Bishop Montgomery and Pacific Lutheran High School and, finally, one of the area’s few community colleges in El Camino.
Things To Do
Del Amo Fashion Center is the central mall of the region, which sees constant rebuilds and renovations to keep with the times. In the 1980s, it was the longest mall in the world. The most recent expansion finished in 2006, when an outdoor wing was built to house some of the biggest names in retail fashion like Forever 21, H&M and Guess. It also features an 18 screen AMC theater, a Lucky Strike bowling lane and a variety of restaurants, making it a popular evening destination.
If that sounds too city slick for you, you can enjoy the active, outdoors life in Torrance too. The most notable parks are small, such as Wilson Park and Los Arboles Park, which has a scenic view of the whole city. But the most interesting is Madrona Marsh, an example of rare untouched nature embedded in the heart of an urban landscape. These wetlands are a protected habitat for birds, insects and reptiles. The park offers visitors classes and activities for the whole family, and also acts as a learning site for El Camino Community College students studying botany.
What Makes Torrance Unique?
The world of airplanes and automobiles is deeply embedded into Torrance. Many aspects of these industries have headquarters here, including Honda and Toyota. Other companies that produce systems and parts have space here, like Honeywell, and Exxon Mobil has a large refinery in the region.
It’s one of the cities that has a true historic district. Old Town Torrance doesn’t have an overflow of foot traffic, but it remains a quaintly designed corridor that gives you an idea what things must’ve been like decades ago. It’s notable for hosting the occasional antique fair and tucking away some businesses like bars, restaurants, a tiny coffee shop and more.
All this, yet, the city is so all encompassing that it’s hard to categorize. It’s ocean adjacent, yet decidedly urban, yet not big enough to be metropolitan. It doesn’t flaunt luxury living or economic despair. The only constant is that the city of Torrance is always sprawling, bustling and big. The sheer size of the city population, and all that comes with such attention, ensures that any South Bay lifestyle is possible here.