In the first half of the 20th century, the villages of Hynes and Clearwater were the center of Southern California’s dairy industry, and were known as both “The Milk Shed of Los Angeles” and “The World’s Largest Hay Market.” Hynes-Clearwater had more cows per square mile than anywhere west of Chicago – a total of 25,000 at its peak. It was home to the Hay Tree, where the price of that commodity was set each morning for the rest of the world. (The tree, which still stands today, was named California Registered Historical Landmark No. 1038 in 2004.)
In 1948, after discussions dating back to 1925, the two towns unified under the name of Paramount. This name was taken from the main boulevard running through the area, which itself had been changed from Ocean Ave. in 1931. Incorporation as a municipality was eventually approved in 1957.
As the years went by, and the region urbanized, and the land finally became more valuable for development than milk production – when homes and stores nudged out cows and bales of hay – the farmers left for places like Ontario and Chino.
The history of Paramount has in many ways followed a path typical of its Southeast Los Angeles County neighbors. Agricultural beginnings early in the 20th century were followed by relatively uncontrolled growth, which led to an overbuilt environment. By the 1970s, while still basically a stable, middle-class town, much of Paramount had degenerated into blighted conditions.
By 1981, a study by the Rand Corporation labeled the City an “urban disaster area.”
Rather than sink under the weight of its problems, Paramount chose a proactive course to meet them head on. Through the dedicated efforts of government officials, residents, the faith-based community, and businesses, the City made incredible strides in renewal.
Combining existing urban planning tools with programs of its own, the City began leaving its “Rust Belt” status behind in the 1980s. This led to Paramount being named an "All-America City" by the National Civic League in 1988, and many of its innovative programs have attracted state and national recognition. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued a special commendation to Paramount for its remarkable turnaround.
These last decades have been years of rejuvenation. How this was achieved is chronicled in “The Revitalization of Paramount.” (Click here to see a copy.) This story is one of innovative thinking, hard work, creative vision, and community spirit; all have come to define Paramount.
A Dynamic City
Paramount is a unique place, known for its successful transformation from what was once a blighted suburb to what’s now an attractive small town graced by tree-lined neighborhoods, white picket fences, public art, pocket parks, and landscaped boulevards. Located at the gateway to the Los Angeles metropolis, the City offers a secure quality of life to nearly 56,000 residents and a business-friendly attitude that has created a growing retail and services sector. Crime statistics are at historic lows thanks to a proactive, balanced relationship with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Paramount has a distinctive look due to a continual investment in its infrastructure and a long-time emphasis on code enforcement and assistance programs that have helped residents and businesses upgrade and maintain their properties. The municipal government is a stable, innovative, and financially conservative organization, with an emphasis on maintaining the quality of life for residents, all of which have established a town that people are proud to call home.
The Paramount Branch of the Los Angeles County Library was founded in 1913 - with 121 books - when the area was known as Hynes-Clearwater. It has been serving the community well ever since, and remains one of the City's finest and best-used resources. The library's phone number is (562) 630-3171.