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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.



Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Surely Not

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1930 7271 0
1940 9950 2
1950 22241 34
1970 100991 24
2000 137946 81605 3022 560 52759

Method of Exclusion

  • Threat of Violence
  • Police or Other Official Action
  • Private Bad Behavior

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Although Torrance shows 0 black residents in
1930 and 2 in 1940, there is some evidence that a
black population may have moved in to a small
neighborhood between the 1930 and 1940
There are reports of a mob that drove African
Americans out and burned their houses. The city
claimed the land and made it into a park, which was
known as “Nigger Park” until the 1950s.

“I was raised in Torrance after moving at an
early age in 1955. It was not until attending college
when eyebrows were raised by my Black friends
when I told them I was from Torrance. I quickly
realized I was somewhat naive not to think there
was a reason for the lack of Blacks in our schools. I
never attended a school with any black students
even though it was more reasonable due to North
Torrance’s proximity to other communities such as
Gardena and Hawthorne which were more ethnicaly
diverse. In the early 70’s there seemed to be a very
slight loosening of informal restrictions. During
college my inquiries generally were answered with
the statement that the restriction was done at the
“real estate” agent level. Protecting property values
and all that hogwash.”
-former resident of Torrance

“By miraculous coincidence I ran into the
brother of the mayor of Torrance from approx.
1955 1970. His name was Albert Eisen, his father
was Eisenstein. From many accounts I’ve read and
heard from those who knew him, he was
discriminated in many ways but yet was president
of his high school class and graduated from USC…
When I discussed the possibility of the incident [the
expulsion of blacks [in the 1930s], he smiled and
said there could not possible have been such an
incident because there were no blacks in Torrance.
Same answer I received everywhere…
“The police did have quite the reputation in
dealing with minorities and outsiders. Many
references in the local paper to natural deaths and
suicides in those arrested and jailed. One particular
standout of a Norwegian elderly gentlemen
happened apon in a field doing ‘depraved’ things to
a 9 or 10 year old boy. The boy ran off and was not
apprehended so the most they could charged the
man with was vagrancy but that evening suicide by
hanging ensued. Funny how justice finds a way of
-resident of Torrance

“I’ve lived here for 50 years. I remember when
coloreds weren’t allowed to live here… White people
said that they would ruin the neighborhood, but I
never believed any of that, and I didn’t care. But,
yeah, we didn’t have coloreds … ”
-volunteer for the Torrance Historical Society, 2004