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City of Downey, California

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  • John David Hammerton (1872 - 1942)
    Note: no head stone, buried in family plot* Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy : Jun 25 2018, 16:38:52 UTC
  • Benjamin Franklin Witherspoon (1855 - 1929)
    Born in Missouri. After several moves he ended up in Downey in 1862. He was deputy sheriff and constable of Downey Township for about 38 years. He was a faithful member of the Holiness Church. Note: ...
  • Orpah Jane Hammerton (1845 - 1927)
    Orpha was 14 when she married Henry Hammerton. Dau of Robert McCullough of Alabama & Miss Shelby of Missouri. Marr Henry W Hammerton of England about 1861 in Calif. Reference: Find A Grave Memori...
  • Judge Henry William Hammerton (1832 - 1912)
    Son of William Hammerton of Ireland and Elizabeth Cutter of England.* Reference: Find A Grave Memorial - SmartCopy : Jun 25 2018, 16:38:52 UTC
  • Alice Mae Fray (1929 - 2018)
    Funeral services were held on April 27 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Downey for Alice Mae Fray. Ms. Fray was born on August 18, 1929 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to parents Irvin Berna...

Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 21 km (13 mi) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities. The city is the birthplace of the Apollo space program, and is the hometown of Richard and Karen Carpenter. It is also the home of the oldest still operational McDonald's restaurant in the world. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 111,772.


Before the Spanish Empire

Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in Alta California, the area that is now Downey was inhabited by the Tongva ethnic group, which came to be called the Gabrielino by the Spanish. The nearest Tongva settlements appear to have been just north and northeast of present-day Downey, although there is difficulty in locating them precisely. The villages of Naxaaw’nga and Sehat seem to have been situated near the present-day community of Los Nietos, or perhaps farther west on sites that were lost to floods of the San Gabriel River. Chokiishnga and Huutnga are other Tongva place names that may have referred to villages in the general area north of Downey between the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo. In all four cases, it is difficult to relate the original location descriptions, based on ranchos and land grants, to more specific sites identifiable by today's landmarks.

Dairy was a major industry in Downey. The Central Milk Agency marketed the milk for "seven hundred dairymen whose dairy herds range from thirty to two thousand head" with the value of the products marketed in excess of $1,000,000 per month.

Some of Downey's settlers came from Ireland. Downey was founded by and named for the former and youngest ever governor of California, John Gately Downey, who was born in Ireland. Although he was an Irish Democrat, he supported the Republican Lincoln in his efforts to keep the Union intact during the American Civil War. He pioneered the modern subdivision with land he acquired between the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel River, in about 1865. Downey was convinced that oranges would flourish in Southern California, so he imported several varieties, and therefore set in motion what became one of the state's biggest cash crops.[

Farmers in the area grew grain, corn, castor beans and fruit, and by 1935 Downey was characterized as an "orange-grove town". Downey was incorporated in 1956, and instituted a charter form of government in 1964. Suburban homes and factories replaced the farms after World War II.

Vultee Aircraft was Downey's largest employer during World War II, producing 15% of all of America's military aircraft by 1941. The company was a pioneer in the use of women in manufacturing positions, and was the first aircraft company to build airplanes on a powered assembly line. Vultee became a part of North American Aviation, (later North American Rockwell, then Rockwell International which was then bought by the Boeing company) whose facilities were the birthplace of the systems for the Apollo Space Program as well as the Space Shuttle. For over 70 years, Downey's Rockwell NASA plant produced and tested many of the 20th century's greatest aviation, missile, and space endeavors. By the early 1970s, the facilities encompassed some 1,700,000 square feet (160,000 m2) of enclosed area over more than 200 acres (81 ha). But, by the post-Cold War 1990s, Downey was brutally hit by cutbacks in the defense budget. Rockwell International, who once had over 30,000 employees, had less than 5,000 in 1992. The seventy-year history of airplane and space vehicle manufacturing in Downey came to an end when the Rockwell plant closed in 1999. The former North American Rockwell plant was demolished, and the site now features the Columbia Memorial Space Center,[18] Downey Landing shopping center, a Kaiser Permanente hospital, a city recreation fields park, and the former movie studio site of Downey Studios.

Near the center of the city lies what was the 1960s the busiest intersection in California, the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard (State Route 19) and Firestone Boulevard (former State Route 42). Route 19 was a major thoroughfare between Pasadena and the port at Long Beach, and Route 42 was along part of the old Spanish El Camino Real trail that connected Pueblo de Los Angeles to San Diego.

In the 1960s the town's Downey Records achieved some notoriety with recordings such as The Chantays' surfing instrumental "Pipeline"; nearly two decades later, Downey local music scene led to the founding of The Blasters and Dark Angel.

Downey is home to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, which is the main public rehabilitation hospital for Los Angeles County. Rancho Los Amigos is renowned worldwide for its innovative contributions to the care of spinal cord injuries and post-polio syndrome.

Downey was featured in the 2008 American action comedy film Pineapple Express. Many of the buildings along Florence Avenue are seen in a driving sequence early in the film.

Downey is located at 33°56′17″N 118°7′51″W (33.938164, -118.130801).[21]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.6 square miles (33 km2). 12.4 square miles (32 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it (1.27%) is water.

The cities of South Gate and Bell Gardens are adjacent to the west and northwest, Pico Rivera lies to the northeast, Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk to the east, and Paramount and Bellflower are to the south.

Downey is sister cities with Guadalajara, Mexico, San Quintín, Baja California, Mexico; Ensenada, Mexico; Fresnillo, Mexico, and Alajuela, Costa Rica.[54]

Notable people

   Dave Alvin, musician, founder of Downey-based rockabilly band The Blasters with brother Phil
   Bob Bennett, contemporary Christian musician, singer-songwriter, recording artist, was born in Downey
   Paul Bigsby, father of the modern electric solid-body guitar, built in 1948, and creator of the Bigsby vibrato
   Chris Blair, vocalist from South Bay-based Metal Core band As Blood Runs Black, with guitarist and long time friend Ernie Flores
   William Bonin, serial killer; was Downey resident during his crime spree
   The Carpenters (singer-musicians Karen and Richard) moved to Downey in 1963, originally to an apartment complex called the Shoji on 12020 Downey Ave, later moving to a house that still stands on Newville Avenue which can be seen on the cover of their album, Now & Then;[55] after the duo's success, they built two apartment buildings still located on 5th St.
   Miranda Cosgrove, actress and singer, star of iCarly
   Rosario DeSimone (1873-1946), Downey-based crime boss
   Walt Faulkner, Indy car driver, first rookie to win pole position at Indianapolis 500
   Ed Fiori, professional golfer
   Donavon Frankenreiter, surfer and musician
   Kevin Gross, former Major League Baseball pitcher for Los Angeles Dodgers and Anaheim Angels
   Dan Henderson, mixed martial artist
   James Hetfield, Metallica frontman
   Leon Hooten, former baseball player for Oakland Athletics
   Robert Illes, Emmy-winning TV writer and producer
   Allison Iraheta, musician, American Idol Season 8 contestant
   Evan Longoria, an All-Star third baseman for Tampa Bay Rays, was born in Downey
   Ira J. McDonald, Los Angeles City Council member, 1941–43, Downey civic leader
   Ron McGovney, original Metallica bassist, spent school years in Downey
   Bob Meusel, baseball star for New York Yankees who played with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, lived and died in Downey
   Tom Nieto, professional baseball player
   George Pajon, Jr., Grammy Award-winning recording and performing artist
   Lena Park, South Korean singer
   Wayne Rainey, former American Grand Prix motorcycle racer, was born in Downey
   Kimmy Robertson, actress best known for her role as Lucy Moran in Twin Peaks
   Rich Rodriguez, Major League Baseball pitcher 1990-2003
   Paul Ruffner, pro basketball player
   Kenneth Shelley, figure skater, U.S. champion and Olympian, was born in Downey
   Dennis Sproul, NFL player
   JoJo Starbuck, figure skater, U.S. champion and Olympian, grew up in Downey
   Aimee Teegarden, actress (Friday Night Lights) and fashion model
   Alanna Ubach, actress
   Joan Weston, queen of Roller Derby, grew up in Downey
   "Weird Al" Yankovic, musician and parody artist, was born in Downey