The Spirit of Torrance


By Cori Solomon



ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer talks about her visit to Torrance in Southern California. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

As a Los Angeles native, I sometimes miss attractions in my backyard. One such place, until a recent visit, was Torrance. This city, a part of Los Angeles County, is also part of the South Bay, a group of coastal cities that include Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach. Torrance lies along a mile-and-a-half stretch of beachfront on the Pacific Ocean. Like all the beach cities that make up the South Bay, Torrance offers diverse activities.

History of Torrance
In the 1900s, a real estate developer, Jared Sidney Torrance, with a group of investors, purchased part of an old Spanish land grant to develop a mixed residential and industrial community. They hired architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, Jr to design the community. This community became a town in 1912 and was named after Torrance, the visionary behind this endeavor. The incorporation of the city of Torrance occurred in 1921. Today, Torrance is considered one of the safest cities in Los Angeles County.

Torrance Ambassador Debbie Hays
Meeting Debbie Hays from Discover Torrance, one sees why this city thrives through her exuberance and love of Torrance. She is also known as the “Torrance Energizer Bunny”. A native of Torrance, her motto is “Everyone can make a difference.” You could not ask for a better Ambassador to a city, and you feel a great sense of community from her efforts.

Del Amo Fashion Center
One of the biggest draws to Torrance is the Del Amo Fashion Center. It is one of the five most prominent shopping malls in the United States. It features many top-designer shops and some excellent dining spots and is home to one of Visit California’s Welcome Centers.

All about Torrance
Torrance is also home to Kings Hawaiian Bread, Torrance Bakery, and Chado Tea Room. Discover the Wilson Park Annenberg Tree House. This fully accessible wooden tree house spans 2,500 square feet. Its design gives children and adults, and those with physical disabilities, an awe-inspiring experience — and a bird’s eye view.

Pacific Electric Railways Red Cars
Torrance was a major stop for the Pacific Electric Railways Red Cars, a privately owned mass transit system for southern California. It consisted of electric streetcars and buses and was the largest electric system in the world in the 1920s. Jared Sidney Torrance first arranged to have a Red Car line come to Torrance. One Red Car remains in Torrance. Red Car No.4601 now stands proudly in Wilson Park at the Crenshaw branch of the Southern California Live Steamers miniature railroad.

Its story took many twists and turns as the life of this Red Car began in 1911 as Southern Pacific 315 serving the East Bay. The car was 73 feet long and 10 feet wide. In 1942, the car was sold to the U.S. Maritime Commission, where it transported defense workers from their homes in downtown Los Angeles to San Pedro. In 1946, the car was sold to Pacific Electric and renumbered 4601. Unfortunately, a tragic collision shortened its life with Pacific Electric.

Fate saved the car from the scrapyard when Torrance resident Forest Wilson purchased the car for $52. Wilson converted the car into a 2-bedroom home that his family lived in until 1963. The Wilson’s eventually sold #4601 to the City of Torrance for $1. The car is now in disrepair but still stands proudly, representing a bygone era.

  • California Welcome Center Torrance - Cori Solomon
    California Welcome Center Torrance - Cori Solomon


Old Torrance
Old Torrance’s original diagonal design allows the breezes from the Pacific Ocean to keep the air clean from industrial pollution for the residential and commercial neighborhoods. Industrial sections of the town were strategically placed on the eastern side. Old Torrance represents the confluence of mission revival and modern architecture, and the area’s draw, old town is its charm and quaintness. One finds a sense of community, which appears to be its founders’ goal. Stroll the streets of Old Torrance and discover Torrance Bakery, Chado Tea Room, and more.

That sense of community is seen through the town’s dedication to one of their heroes, Louis Zamperini, the 1936 Olympic track star and World War II veteran. His story is the inspiration for the movie Unbroken. Louis graduated from Torrance High School. You will find a mural dedicated to Louis and many artifacts from his life at the Torrance Historical Society.

On the last Sunday of the month, Old Torrance closes its streets to traffic and becomes he Antique Faire filled with more than 200 vendors selling all sorts of vintage treasures.

Red Car Brewery
When visiting Torrance, one must stop at the Red Car Brewery, a staple in Torrance since 2000. It was the first brewery in Torrance and is owned by Bob and Laurie Brandt. Today, it is more of a gourmet brewpub offering more upscale cuisine.

Although Bob’s family history was farming hops, his foray into making beer began in 1993 as a home brewer. Soon, he apprenticed at Alpine Village. After working at Huntington Beach Beer Company and investing in Newport Brewing Company and Tustin Brewing Company, it was time for the Brandts to fulfill their dream of opening a brewery in their hometown. They found a 1927 Spanish Colonial building that was originally the home of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph. Inside, one finds a seven-barrel brewhouse, making 14 kegs per batch.

Brewmaster Bob creates quintessentially English beer using English barley, wheat, yeast strains, and hops. The most popular beer is the South Bay I.P.A. Another is the Motorman Reserve, a classic ale.

The Ale Battered Pickle Chips is a unique dish to pair with Red Cars beer offerings and a must-try. From the American Classic Hamburger to pizza or Tofino River Salmon, the food is a step higher than you would expect in a brewery.

Between the beer and the cuisine, 75% of Red Car’s clientele are locals, adding to the sense of community one finds in Torrance.

Ironically, Bob and Laurie met at a beer bar.

Torrance thrives on its community spirit, which you will discover when visiting.

Plan your visit at

Cori Solomon, an award-winning writer/photographer in Los Angeles, often travels with her dogs. Her blog,, features eclectic articles focused on travel, wine, art, architecture, and pets. As an animal artist, her articles utilize the art palette both visually and verbally. Cori looks for the story behind the restaurant, chef, winery, winemaker, or artist. Cori founded L.A. Wine Writers, a group of approximately 50 seasoned wine writers. Cori earned her WSET Level 2 Award in Wines and Spirits, the NASA American Wine Specialist Certification, and the NASA Spanish Wine Specialist Certification. Cori is the President and Membership Chair of IFWTWA and a member of NATJA and SATW.

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About the Author:

Cori Solomon, an award-winning writer/photographer in Los Angeles, often travels with her dogs.

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