A slice of southern California history can be experienced by visiting Rancho Los Alamitos, a ranch belonging to the 19th century. Located in Long Beach, the spread comprises an old ranch house, a barn and four acres of gardens. It is an oasis among urban surroundings. The site reflects the history of the region from Spanish colonial days, and the Mexican occupation, to the modern American era.
Rancho Los Alamitos (Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods) was built in 1790, as part of a 300,000-acre land grant given to a Spanish foot soldier named Manuel Nieto. The land grant, called Los Coyotes, was bestowed by the King of Spain in recognition of Nieto’s armed service. Following his retirement in 1795, Nieto put up the ranch on his land.
Following his death in 1804, the land was inherited by his wife and five children. Nieto’s oldest son built an adobe house there. In 1834, the large tract was divided into five ranches: Santa Gertrudes, Las Bolsas, Los Alamitos, Los Cerritos, and Los Coyotes.
Following the division, the ranch changed hands among numerous well-to-do owners, each one contributing in some manner to its heritage. The ranch house, which began as a simple adobe building, became a sprawling 18-room hacienda. The Bixby family, last private owners of the house, added landscaped gardens in the early 1900s. In 1968, the Bixby Home Property Trust donated the ranch house, along with the gardens and six barns, to the city.
Now there also are five agricultural buildings. A working blacksmith's shop and farm animals present a living picture of the past. The four acres of sprawling gardens are landscaped in a fashion prevalent during the 1920s-1940s. Group tours and visits are regularly arranged for tourists and schoolchildren.