William Willmore, an immigrant, buys part of Rancho Los Cerritos and names it, “Willmore City.”
Early residences of Long Beach remaining in what is now the Willmore City Historic District. Photos courtesy of We Are the Next.
As the Flint & Bixby Company divided up portions of Rancho Los Cerritos for sale, individuals like William Erwin Willmore purchased pieces of land. Willmore was a British-born man who immigrated to the United States in 1855 and later became a manager at the California Immigrant Union.
In 1880, Willmore met Jotham Bixby of the Flint & Bixby Company and convinced Bixby to let him develop a portion of his land into a town site he named, “Willmore City.”
Sources we used and further reading on this era of Long Beach:
Tim Grobaty, Long Beach Chronicles: From Pioneers to the 1933 Earthquake (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2012), 43-44, 90.
Berner, Loretta. Sketches from way back. Special Collection. Rancho Los Cerritos Collection Vol 3. Long Beach Public Library, 58-59.
Willmore divided Willmore City up into parcels where he could build and sell residences to the first residents of his townsite. It was Willmore who named streets such as Atlantic Avenue, which were originally part of his community.
He opened auctions to begin selling his land in 1882. Today, Willmore City is located adjacent to Downtown Long Beach. It is the oldest neighborhood in the city, and its homes are protected as a city historic district.