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The History of Rossmoor
by Margrit Kendrick


The history of the Rossmoor area reflected the history of Los Alamitos until 1888. That was the year when Rancho Los Alamitos was divided among the heirs of John Bixby and his partners, I. W. Hellman and the J. Bixby Co. (from Rancho Los Cerritos). The Los Alamitos town area and the eastern portion of the Rancho Los Alamitos became part of the J. Bixby Company. The center of the rancho, with the ranch house and the area that we now call Rossmoor, belonged to the heirs of John Bixby, his widow, and his children, Fred and Susanna Bixby.

After the start of the Los Alamitos Sugar Co. and founding of the town in 1897, the area was used for raising sugar beets and other crops. Sugar beets, which were worked by tenant farmers, brought a fair income in good years. Many times during heavy winter rains the San Gabriel River and the Coyote Creek spilled over their banks and flooded the area. At the turn of the century, levee work was done on the river, mostly to keep it from meandering over the countryside. In the 1960s, in advance of the freeways, permanent cement channels were constructed for both the river and the creek and their levees were heightened.

In the early 1950s, the growth of southern California and the need for housing became evident. Along came Ross Cortese, a young developer with a vision and the desire to build a large, exclusive community. This community of 3,500 homes was the largest yet to be built in Orange County. Cortese formed the Rossmoor Corporation in 1951, bought the land from the Fred Bixby Ranch Co., and began building in 1956. Rossmoor originally was announced as a subdivision of Los Alamitos. Later it was advertised as Long Beach's smartest new suburb, even though Long Beach was in neighboring Los Angeles County. By June of 1957 the first homeowners started to move in. Homes were priced between $17,000 and $20,000. The planning for the community included tree-lined streets, spacious yards, and well-planned quality homes. Land planning, as well as the layout of streets, was directed toward "neighborhood cells" to create maximum appeal, safety, and home values. The plan also included six school sites, two shopping centers, and a medical complex.

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Map of Rossmoor



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