Maureen Megowan, a Realtor with Remax Estate Properties, provides an article in her series "South Bay History Tid-Bits"
Probably the greatest single event that would shape the future of Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates occurred in 1953. Since 1944, the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation had leased a 300-acre tract of land on the north side of the Peninsula for mining of diatomaceous earth (the original mine included the current site of the South Bay Botanical Gardens, the former Palos Verdes Landfill, and Ernie Howlett Park, and the remnants of this mine can be seen at the southwest intersection of Hawthorne Blvd. and Via Valmonte) from the Vanderlip family. Although this mine’s resources had nearly been exhausted, another rich deposit was known to exist on a 165-acre tract near the crest of the Peninsula.
For two years, the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation had been unsuccessfully attempting to purchase this property. Finally, Frank Vanderlip Jr., President of the Palos Verdes Corporation, agreed to sell, provided that Great Lakes purchase all of the stock in the Palos Verdes Corporation for about $9 million, so that the sale would be taxed at capital gains rates. Upon completion of the transaction in December 1953 Great Lakes Carbon Corporation suddenly owned 6,800 acres of prime undeveloped land in the center of the Peninsula, all that was left of the 16,000 acres bought by Frank Vanderlip Sr. from Mr. George Bixby in 1913, with the exception of 500 acres retained by the Vanderlip family in the Portuguese Bend area.
What happened next was not
surprising. The plans for mining operations were quickly discarded when it was
discovered that the quality of the dicalite deposit was not good and a group of
well-known architects and engineers were hired to create a master plan to
develop the property. Great Lakes also formed a 79%/21% partnership with
Capital Company, an experienced real estate firm. Capital Company, in the late
1930's became a subsidiary of Transamerica Corp. and in 1964 changed its name
to Transamerica Development Co.
Fueled by the master plan created by the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation and the burgeoning economic growth occurring in the South Bay area, the remaining unincorporated area on the Peninsula began to develop rapidly and in ever-increasing densities. In September 1955, Palos Verdes Properties, Inc. sold the first 117 acres of the 6,800 acres that Greak Lakes Carbon Corp. and Transamerica Developement had purchased in 1953 to McCarthy Co., land developers. In May 1956, one of the largest land sales took place with Ed Zuckerman and other investors for 1,000 acres known as Grandview Palos Verdes, located near Montemalaga Drive and Silver Spur Road for $6 million. The Monaco development of 180 acres was begun in September 1959.
On April 1, 1950, the Palos Verdes
Peninsula had about 6,500 residents, and by June 1967, the number of residents
had grown to approx. 54,000. By 1967, only about 1,600 acres remained to be
For more south bay history, see http://www.southbayhistory.com on my website http://www.maureenmegowan.com