The City of La Mirada was once part of the Los Nietos diseño, but through inheritance the original territory was broken up into other smaller pieces. One of these pieces was Rancho Los Coyotes, now known as present-day cities of Cerritos, La Mirada, Stanton, and Buena Park. This rancho was handed down through family and eventually Andrés Pico owned it by marriage. Pico sold a portion of his land to Abel Stearns who used it to graze his cattle and sheep until drought and flooding forced him to sell. Andrew McNally purchased 2,300 acres from the Abel Stearns Rancho Trust in 1888 for $115,000 and became the last private owner.
Andrew McNally was a successful businessman from Chicago who co-founded the Rand McNally Publishing Company. McNally came to California in 1880 and was influential in establishing the town of Altadena. With the land he purchased from the Abel Stearns Rancho Trust, McNally wanted to create a new community of gentleman's ranches by selling 20 acre parcels. A few parcels did sell, but an economic downturn stopped McNally from realizing his dream so he used the remaining land for agriculture.
in 1901 Andrew McNally turned over The McNally Olive Oil Company and Windermere Ranch to his daughter Nannie and her husband, Edwin Neff. The Neff's appointed Robert McGill as the head accountant of the companies which flourished for 40 years under his care. The Windermere Ranch grew lemons and grapefruit but it was olive oil that made the ranch famous. The citrus packing plant and olive oil building were located off of Stage Road where the Santa Fe rail line shipped the finest olive oil and citrus fruit throughout the United States.
After Robert McGill's death in 1939 William "Bill" Neff and his wife, Mina, moved back to La Mirada to assume supervision of the property. As a nature lover, Bill Neff stocked the property with ducks, chickens and geese to encourage other wild animals to nest in the trees. He and Jack George constructed dams across the La Mirada Creek to form large resting ponds for migrating birds. World War II brought change to the ranch and Neff family. In 1953 the Neff family sold 2,218 acres of their property to Jack Spears of Pioneer Land and Reality Company of Los Angeles for $4,500,000 and retained 10 acres surrounding the Neff house.
In 1954 Louis M. Halper took control of the land for $8,000,000. Construction moved swiftly and by 1956 thirteen tracks, 7,800 homes, had been built and the majority were sold. As families moved into the new development shopping centers, places of worship, and roads were built to sustain the growing community.
Becoming a City
Following three elections, two of which failed, the City of La Mirada was incorporated on March 23, 1960 becoming Los Angeles County's 68th city under the name Mirada Hills. Wanting to return to the original name Andrew McNally gave the land, "Proposition T" was introduced in the November elections of 1960 to change the city's name back to La Mirada. Prop T was approved by 80% and became the first city in the county to change its name by its citizens. By 1965, most of the unincorporated area surrounding the new City had been annexed.
Today, with the completion of a new housing subdivision in the eastern portion of the community, the population of La Mirada is close to 50,000.
The City continues to offer many advantages to its residents: a variety of single-family housing, excellent parks and recreational centers, a low crime rate, a water park, and quality senior housing. La Mirada places a strong emphasis on City beautification, with well maintained parkways, streets and parks. The La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts is one of the finest in Southern California, featuring plays, musicals and children's productions. City officials and residents alike are proud of La Mirada's reputation of being "Dedicated to Service".
You can learn more about La Mirada's History by going for a walking or biking tour or visit the Neff Estate. Click here to go on a La Mirada History Tour.
The Neff Estate is located at 14300 San Cristobal Drive and is open for tours the third Saturday of the month from 2-4 pm.