Downtown Alhambra is centrally located in Los Angeles county, and is the gateway to the west side of the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles.
Alhambra’s story begins in 1874, when Benjamin Wilson bought 275 acres of land and laid out lots for residential farming. Charmed by Washington Erving’s Tales of the Alhambra, Wilson named his subdivision the Alhambra Tract.
When the Santa Fe Railroad completed its transcontinental line to Los Angeles in 1880, Alhambra quickly became home to thousands of new Californians. Benjamin Wilson’s carefully designed irrigation system provided Alhambra’s new citizens with water for the orange groves, vineyards, and lush gardens that sprang up everywhere.
The intersection of Main and Garfield was the young community’s center of commerce by 1895. And, following the completion of railroad lines from Alhambra to Los Angeles in 1903, the year of Alhambra’s incorporation – thousands of California “bungalow” residences were built, securing forever the new city’s role as a residential haven in an urban metropolis.
By the 1950’s, Alhambra’s Main Street shopping district – still the center of this residential community – had taken on the upscale, prosperous look of Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile. Main Street, Alhambra was the place to go in the San Gabriel Valley.
Today, the earliest buildings of note are gone, destroyed in some cases by fire and in others by progress. But, the sense of community that had always pervaded Alhambra’s downtown still remains – and it is that sense of community, of “Main Street, USA” that the City of Alhambra seeks to retain.
Much renovation and revitalization has gone on over the past few years, adding new businesses and updating older buildings while working to continue to serve the community.