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Palos Verdes Basics
Palos Verdes is a name often used to refer to a
group of coastal cities on the Palos Verdes
Peninsula in southwestern Los Angeles County in
California. Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos
Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates
are the predominant cities in the area, with a
part of San Pedro protruding on the eastern end of
the peninsula. This affluent bedroom community is
known for its dramatic views, great schools,
extensive horse trails, and high home prices.
The name "Palos Verdes" is Spanish for "green
sticks." Legend has it this name was taken from
the indigenous 'Palo Verde' trees of
the area, whom early Spanish explorers named for
their many green, stem-like leaves, which resemble
poles. But the most logical origin of the name is
that in Spanish "palos verdes" refers to a green
forested area, which describes Palos Verdes. When
Spanish arrived, Palos Verdes was one of the few
naturally green areas in dry southern California.
In many ways this name is an accurate description
of its geographical characteristics as the
peninsula protrudes into the ocean like a "green
The peninsula was originally inhabited by Native
Americans belonging to the Tongva (sometimes
referred to as "Gabrielino") tribe, and first
described in 1542 by Portuguese explorer Juan
Cabrillo. In 1827, Jose Dolores Sepulveda procured
a parcel of the original, 1784 Rancho San Pedro
Spanish land grant from Manuel Dominguez, and
named it Rancho de los Palos Verdes ("range of
green trees"), which was used primarily as a
cattle ranch. By 1882 ownership of the land had
passed from the Sepulveda through various mortgage
holders to Jotham Bixby of Rancho Los Cerritos,
who leased the land to Japanese farmers. After the
turn of the century most of Bixby's land was sold
to a consortium of New York investors who created
The Palos Verdes Project and began marketing land
on the peninsula for small horse ranches and
residential communities. Palos Verdes Estates was
the first city incorporated on the Peninsula and
was one of the first master planned communities in
Los Angeles County. The other incorporated cities
on the Palos Verdes Peninsula include Rancho Palos
Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills.
Practically the entire commercial district is in
Rolling Hills Estates. There are many shopping
centers there, including The Promenade of the
Peninsula. This outdoor mall includes a megaplex
movie theater, many eateries, and an ice rink.
Areas of commerce include "The Promenade" mall,
Malaga Cove, and Lunada Bay. Lesser known shopping
centers include the Peninsula Center, Town and
Country, and The Village.
The area where Marineland of the Pacific once
stood now serves as an outdoor set for
commercials, film productions, and, in 1996, the
MTV Beach House. Fox filmed some scenes of its
teen drama, The OC, at locations in and around
Palos Verdes. Donald Trump's latest venture is
Trump National a golf course on the Ocean Trails
The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School
District has one of the highest rated API scores
in California, and has one of the highest average
SAT scores and one of the highest percentage of
students successfully completing the Advanced
Placement exams in the county. There are three
high schools, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School
(formerly called Rolling Hills High School), Palos
Verdes High School (the latter located just a half
block from the Pacific Ocean), and Rancho Del Mar
High School (located in Rolling Hills). Marymount
College, a co-ed Roman Catholic two-year college
is located in Rancho Palos Verdes. A private K-12
school, Chadwick School, is also located there.
Rolling Hills Preparatory School, a private 6-12
school is also located on the peninsula. Rolling
Hills Country Day School, adjacent to the Botanic
Garden, offers a private K-8 education .
The Peninsula is served by the Palos Verdes
Library District which operates the Peninsula
Center, Miraleste, and Malaga Cove Libraries.
The area is frequented by runners, hikers,
horseback riders, bird watchers, surfers, scuba
divers, and bicyclists. The area is home to
several golf courses and country clubs.
Palos Verdes Quick Links
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