The city of Carson has a long and colorful history which dates back to the actual founding of California. However, it is a very young community in terms of its age as an independent city. Almost 200 years after the founding of Rancho San Pedro, 142 years after the Dominguez Adobe was built, and 58 years following the Great Air Meet of 1910, the citizens of the land "to the west of the Los Angeles River" finally took a long overdue step toward independence.
Before it was a city, the land was once home to a large village complex occupying the inner harbor area. Native Americans like the Suangna (or Tongva) had established villages in the Rancho San Pedro area 6,000 years before the first white men arrived on the shores of Southern California. Known to the Spanish as Gabrielino Indians (named after the Mission San Gabriel), they gathered shellfish, hunted wild game, and made a flour-like meal out of acorns from the oak trees which grew in the area. The Suangna villagers lived peacefully, traded with their neighbors, and made tools, weapons and grinding instruments from stone and other natural materials. Many of these objects were later discovered in Carson.
Carson today has an estimated population of 93,805 (2006). It is located 13 miles south of downtown Los Angeles and is a suburb of the city. Carson's economy is based primarily on manufacturing. About half of Carson's land area is occupied by factories, petroleum refineries, and other industrial buildings and structures. Carson also has a diverse ethnic population consisting of Latinos, Filipinos, African Americans, White Americans, American Indians, Khmers, and Samoans.
Carson is the site of California State University, Dominguez Hills. CSUDH is a major commuter school, particularly for African-American students from the surrounding cities of Long Beach, Gardena, and Compton. It was established in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots, as a response to community outcry over the lack of higher education opportunities in the largely black south suburbs of Los Angeles. Today it is among the most racially diverse campuses in the United States.
Carson is also the location of the Home Depot Center, a sports complex including a soccer-specific stadium used by the Los Angeles Galaxy and, as of 2005, Chivas USA, a tennis stadium and a track and field facility. It is also used as a training ground by the U.S. national soccer team. It opened in 2003, adjacent to CSUDH. The ADT Event Center is the first and only permanent indoor velodrome in the U.S. The Goodyear Blimp also has a landing pad in Carson, a fitting tribute to the 1st and 2nd U.S. and International Aviation Meets held at the Dominguez Hill Rancho in 1910 and 1911, which featured many blimps and zeppelins.
Perched atop a gentle hill, and surrounded by acres of well-tended landscaping, the 170-year-old Dominguez Ranch Adobe is a peaceful oasis amidst Los Angeles urban sprawl. The adobe home has been listed as California Historical Landmark No. 152. It is now a historical museum, open to the public for informative guided tours, during which visitors can learn more about life in the early days of Old California. The Rancho San Pedro, which came to be known as the Dominguez Ranch, began as a generous gift of 75,000 acres of land to a Spanish soldier in 1784. The soldier's name was Juan Jose Dominguez. 42 years later, in 1826, his nephew Manuel Dominguez built this adobe home for his new bride. The home and ranch are open for tours daily.