California Fool’s Gold — Exploring the City of Industry

California Fool's Gold
View of the City of Industry (Source: Victorrocha)

This edition of California Fool’s Gold is about Industry. To vote for any other communities in Southern California, let me know which in the comments.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s map of the City of Industry, available in art prints and a variety of merchandise

Industry, as with Commerce (which is often referred to as the “City of Commerce“), is often referred to as the “City of Industry” to distinguish if from the common noun, “industry.” Perhaps, too, it has the subtle effect of arguing for Industry’s legitimacy as a municipality (and thus to hopefully disassociate it from other “phantom cities” like Bradbury, Hidden Hills, Rolling Hills, Vernon, and Commerce.)

Industry is a strangely shaped “city” in the south end of the San Gabriel Valley surrounded by the communities of Whittier Narrows, South El Monte, El Monte, Baldwin Park, West Puente Valley, La Puente, Valinda, South San Jose Hills, Walnut, Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights, Hacienda Heights and North Whittier. It almost completely surrounds Avocado Heights.

Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum


As with most all of the San Gabriel Valley, Industry was historically inhabited by the Tongva, who were then displaced by the Spaniards, which was followed by the region becoming part of Mexico. One of the few vestiges from that era is the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, an historical landmark and the burial sight of Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of Alta California. Industry was incorporated on 18 June 1957 in a move in part designed to prevent surrounding cities from annexing the land for tax revenue and as a shelter for those wishing to operate without the strict zoning laws of a typical city. It also allows a very small group of people — in many cases related to one another — to operate a municipality more like a corporation than a typical city. Its first mayor was John Ferrero, who remained the city’s mayor until his death in 1996.

Most recently, Industry has been designated the sight of the future Los Angeles Stadium, which if built would mean return American football to the Los Angeles County. Above is an artist’s conception. Apparently the artist also conceives of the surrounding warehouses being obliterated and replaced with large, well maintained lawns.

Befitting its name, Industry is almost entirely industrial (92%) and just a little commercial (8%). The last census found that only 219 people even call Industry home — it’s not called “The City of Residents,” after all. Most are members of city council or their friends living in city-owned properties and rented below market rate (but off-limits to outsiders). Elections for city council are almost never held. The tiny population of Industrians are roughly 62% Latino (primarily Mexican), 24% white (primarily Danish) and 9% Asian. On paper, Industry’s political situation might resemble that of North Korea but it is an open city, welcoming visitors and explorers, so explore it I did.


Interestingly, Industry produces about 35,000 to 50,000 tons of pre-consumer food waste daily, mostly cheese by-products and imperfect tortillas. In a novel solution, the city’s garbage trucks run on cheese by-products. They could call it, therefore, “City of Cheese Waste,” but there’s more to Industry than curds and whey.

For starters, there’s an exposed area of rock that locals call Fossil Hill, located behind the Colima Road McDonald’s in Stoner Creek. I have no pictures of it, unfortunately, as I haven’t yet visited it.


There are quite a few bars and gentleman’s clubs in Industry. In one tiny shopping center one can find a tavern, a gentlemen’s club, a “bar * lounge,” and a pijiu wu (a dinosaur-themed Taiwanese pub called Jurassic). Popular drinking holes include Opium Pub ($25 all you can drink), Dream Lounge, and Vip Lounge.


For those who venture to Industry and need to spend the night (perhaps having drunk all one can drink), there’s The Pacific Palms ResortThe golf course at the resort was featured in a memorable scene in the cult classic Joel “sexual outlaw” Schumacher film, Falling Down.


Popular restaurants in the area tend to reflect the surrounding areas more than the local population but with over fifty in the city, there’s considerable variety. Some of the more popular places to eat are Roda Viva, King’s Palace, Curry House, Frisco’s Carhop, the aforementioned Jurassic, Iguanas Ranas, La Kaffa, Little Tokyo, Shabu Shabu, Sakura, and Smile Express.

The headquarters for Newegg.com, Emtek Products, and Engineering Model Associates/Plastruct are all located in Industry. The most Amoeba-relevant business (since it has something to do with music culture) is Hot Topic.

Puente Hills Mall

The aging Puente Hills Mall, built in 1974, appeared as Twin Pines Mall (and later Lone Pine Mall) in the film, Back to the Future.

Nowadays, the mall is pretty empty except for the AMC theater, so the mall’s owners ensure people have to pass by the remaining stores by not allowing entrance directly into the theater. Nearby, Speed Zone was featured in Kevin Smith‘s Clerks II, Summer School, and 1979’s Van Nuys Blvd. The final fight scene was filmed there, in a now demolished Ikea.

McDonald’s Production Center

One of the most interesting businesses in Industry is the McDonald’s that’s only used for commercials and films, such as Mac & Me.


Industry is also home of Vineland Drive-In, one of two remaining drive-in theaters in the Southland.

Brea Canyon Old Road

A phone booth (no longer there) at Brea Canyon and Old Ranch Road was featured in the film, Halloween.

Kern’s of California

The factory showdown in the film Terminator was shot at Kern’s Of California. It was there that Linda Hamilton‘s character uttered one of the most squirm inducing, corny one-liners in film history…

Industry has  also been a filming location for NWA and AWS matches, Raspberry & Lavender, Street Fury: Inferno, Suicide Kings, Bye Bye Love, Fun with Dick and Jane and American Pie. On a final note, As far as mom & pop video stores, there’s John’s Video Place.


Support Eric Brightwell on Patreon


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery.
Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesVICEHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture.
Brightwell has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA?, at Emerson Collegeand the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubithe StoryGraphand Twitter.

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