|Gambling advertisement for the city of Gardena, 1952|
source: LA Public Library
A few months ago I sat on a bus with a couple of men in their sixties who had grown up in Gardena. They described fields where they went hunting for rabbits, and farms, and a stream that's now Vermont Avenue. traci kato-kiriyama shared stories with me about her grandfather's nursery on Western Avenue. I went to LAPL's online photo collection database and typed in "Gardena," hoping to find images of this city that reflect what I've heard, and to perhaps even find a photo about the area where my building is. To my surprise, there were only about 60 results, and the photo above is one of them.
I hadn't realized that Gardena was marketed this way in the early days, as a city for gambling and "sin". Despite being near two casinos, all of my associations of Gardena are with the Japanese American community and with families. I've become accustomed to the flashing lights and jackpot blackjack ads. I don't really think about them. I have not been inside any of the buildings and I don't know a lot about how it's even legal for these gambling establishments to be here.
I'm surprised at myself for not looking up this history as I've done before. Better hop to it before I flit off again.