December 21, 2016

Photo Essay: Candy Cane Lane, Upon the Centennial of El Segundo (Updated for 2020)

[Update 12/1/20 9:18 PM PT—Due to public health and safety concerns, Candy Cane Lane is taking its first "break" since 1949. No public gatherings will be allowed in 2020. Stay tuned for an update on the status of 2021 celebrations.]

Out of land that was originally part of Rancho Sausal Redondo, originally used for grazing, Standard Oil of California created a company town called "El Segundo" ("The Second") to build their second oil refinery.

Although they purchased the land in 1911, El Segundo didn't officially incorporate until January 18, 1917.

And it still is very much of a company town, not only for oil (primarily, Chevron), but for so many of the industries that have flocked to the South Bay.

In 1927, LA's first municipal airport, Mines Field, was established just north of El Segundo; and in 1949, it was rechristened Los Angeles International Airport (a.k.a. LAX)

That's the same year that saw the rise of the residential housing tract that encompasses the "tree streets"—Acacia, Pine, Walnut, Maple, Oak, etc.—and, with it, came the single-family homes that now comprise "Candy Cane Lane."

"Candy Cane Lane" (not to be confused with the one in Woodland Hills) is actually the 1200 block of East Acacia Street in El Segundo, which ends at a cul-de-sac on the other side of Boeing at 1700 Imperial Avenue. The Christmas decoration tradition started in the year 1949, the same year the houses were built in the subdivision.

Boeing (now, the Boeing Satellite Development Center) had taken over the adjacent Nash Motors property—which, in 1948, had marked the arrival of other industries besides oil and air.

But, thanks to Howard Hughes and his Aerospace Group buying the place in 1955, it was back to air for El Segundo. By the mid-1950s, El Segundo had become “Aerospace Capital of the World."

And the residential area just south of LAX and west of Sepulveda Boulevard is still known as the "Aviation Corridor."

Nestled just to the south of the airport where LA's "Jet Age" became fully realized, El Segundo has managed to maintain its "small town" atmosphere.

The city pays to insulate the houses in the Aviation Corridor for sound—with new windows, exterior doors, and attic insulation so its residents can actually sleep, have a conversation, and watch TV...

...despite all those planes taking off and landing overhead.

In the Christmas season, though, you can hear those sleigh bells jingling and ring-ting-tingling, too.

Outside, the snow may not be falling—but the street is full of friends calling "Yoo hoo." They've come from near and far to view the 26 houses all decorated for the holidays.

This year, there were birds...

...and menageries of other woodland creatures...

...intermingling with arctic beasts.

It may never snow in Southern California, but its homeowners figure out a way to have snowmen on their front lawns.

Although it's just the 1200 block of Acacia that's closed to traffic and officially considered Candy Cane Lane...

...the 1100 block takes advantage of the local foot traffic...

...and does it up real nice as well.

In the new year, El Segundo will celebrate its centennial. The city has surely changed a lot over the last century; but an oil refinery is still at its southwest corner, and an airfield is still to the north.

People may move into and out of the houses on E. Acacia Street, but every year*, Santa has got his very own runway that's all lit up for his flying reindeer to make their annual landing.

*except 2020

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