Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Del Amo Center: The Beginnings

Old-timers in Torrance will tell you that Sam Levy, owner of Levy's Department Store in the old downtown area, was indirectly responsible for the building of Del Amo Center. Levy was approached by Sears, Roebuck & Com in the 1950s. Sears wanted to build a store in downtown Torrance, and Levy fought them tooth and nail. Unable to get a lease in their first choice location, Sears moved out to the oil-pump riddled, undeveloped area east of Hawthorne Blvd. Or so the story goes.

According to the Mall Hall of Fame blog, Del Amo was the 11th shopping mall in Los Angeles County. The caption to this picture (orginally from CSUDH) says

"A circa-1962 view of DEL AMO[pronounced "duh-lah-mow"] CENTER. Sears, the south anchor, faces the Hawthorne and Sepulveda Boulevards intersection seen in the fore-ground."


Here's another shot. Broadway's (now Macy's) is the big 2-story on the right. Beyond it is Hawthorne Blvd. . . beyond that, nothing. Weird.

For the record, Jaime Del Amo (then President of Del Amo Estate Co. and adopted son of the Dominguez land grant family) joined the President of Broadway Hale Stores and the VP of Sears, Roebuck & Co. to announce--on March 19, 1957--that a shopping center called Del Amo would be built, at a cost of $40 million.

Not sure which of the bigwigs said it, but the project was called “the prototype for future shopping centers." For the first time in this area, according to the Los Angeles Times story, two large department stores were linked in a single project.


Anonymous said...

Before there were any buildings there I would go to that property with my father, who tended bees there as a second job in about 1955 when there was just scrub and oil wells. The then-owner of the property asked him if he would like to buy a large portion of the property for $5,000, but some of my dad's friends talked him out of it. They couldn't see going "deep into debt" for vacant land. The rest is history.

Vickey Kall said...

You may want to stop by the Redondo Beach Historical Society some weekend. One of the regular volunteers there--can't think of his name, sorry--picked flowers at fields all over Torrance and Redondo as a child--he may recall your Dad.