By: Willie Brown
America has just celebrated Valentine’s Day, or the “Day of Love.” It is the day folks get all mushy about their husbands, wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. People go out to dinner, and buy cards, candy and gifts for their love interests. It’s so romantic.
If you live in Inglewood, there’s another reason to get excited about February 14. It is the official birthday of the city. That’s right. The City of Inglewood was incorporated back in 1908, which makes it 109 years old.
Like most relationships, Inglewood and those who love it have gone through ups and downs. It has seen major demographic shifts. Caucasians were the predominant group in the early days. Black folks began to integrate Inglewood in the 1960s, followed by Hispanics during the 1980s. Now, with a multibillion dollar development underway, which includes an NFL football stadium, Caucasians are returning.
Inglewood became a haven for Hollywood royalty in 1938, when the Hollywood Park Racetrack opened. The venue’s board of directors included chair Jack Warner of Warner Brothers Studios, Walt Disney and Bing Crosby. It was one of the hottest tickets in town for many years until horse racing began to slowly die out, giving way to computerized table betting.
At one point, Inglewood was simultaneously home to horse racing at Hollywood Park; the NBA Lakers and NHL Kings, and world class concerts at The Forum, earning the nickname “City of Champions.” It remained an iconic city for professional sports until the Lakers and Kings relocated to Staples Center in1999.
The Forum lost its footing as a major sports and entertainment attraction … for a while. The presence of gang violence, reports of excessive force by Inglewood police, and a depressed business economy hung over the city like a virus.
Like a distant lover determined to recapture its object of desire, Inglewood came back! A new relationship was formed and built by new leadership. Madison Square Garden bought the Forum and reopened it as a major concert hall in 2014. The Rams and Chargers relocated and will play at the new NFL stadium when it is completed in 2019.
Now residents are proud of their city again (some never lost their pride). They are proudly proclaiming Inglewood as home and no longer describe themselves as living “near Westchester.”
So, here’s to another year of life in Inglewood! May the city continue to experience good financial health and prosperity, positive growth, public safety, harmony and success.
Let’s show our love by keeping it clean, supporting our young people and shopping here whenever possible. Happy Birthday, Inglewood! You are truly a Valentine