Hawaiian Gardens is a city in the southwest part of Los Angeles County, about 16 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles. The surrounding communities are Lakewood and North Long Beach to the west, Cerritos and La Palma are to the north, to the east is Cypress and Buena Park, and Los Alamitos is on the south. The I-605 freeway runs along the west side of the city. In the 1920’s, oil was found in the area of Norwalk nearby, and the population began to grow. During this time, Hawaiian Gardens was mostly an agricultural area and sparsely populated. The city traces its name to a 1920’s refreshment and fruit stand that was decorated with palm fronds and bamboo, located approximately at Norwalk Blvd. and Carson Street, that was the area’s central landmark for many years. The city was part of Artesia until being incorporated in 1964, the name Hawaiian Gardens being chosen by voters instead of the alternate name on the ballot of “El Dorado Park”. At the time, it was the smallest city in the state with an area of just one-half square mile and a population of about 3,300.
Hawaiian Gardens is served by the ABC Unified School district and residents have access to 2 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 2 high schools (located in Lakewood and Cerritos); there is one public library. Located within the city is the C. Robert Lee Activity Center which provides a variety of leisure, recreational and cultural activities. The center is highlighted by a full-size gymnasium with basketball, volleyball, and badminton courts. There are three indoor handball/racquetball courts, and boxing and weight rooms. There is a public swimming pool located on Wardham Ave. that provides a variety of free programs for all ages. Residents can also enjoy nearby Bloomfield Park or Rynerson Park, although both are located in the city of Lakewood to the west. As one of seven Los Angeles County cities that allow casino gambling, more than 65% ($9.2 million) of the city’s revenue comes from the Hawaiian Gardens Casino.
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