Timeline

1784
Manuel Nieto, a retired captain who served in the Portola Expedition, was granted 300,000 plus acres by the King of Spain, stretching from the hills north of Whittier to the sea, and from the Santa Ana River to the San Gabriel River.

1835
Juan Crispin Perez received the grant for the Rancho Paso de Bartolo land that was initially property of the San Gabriel Mission.

1850
California became a US State.

1850 – 1852
Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, purchased the Perez Grant in five parcels. Pico built his home east of the San Gabriel River and south of Whittier Blvd, now the Pio Pico State Historic Park.

1867
Harriet Russell Strong and her husband Charles purchased their ranch from Pio Pico.

1868
Jacob F. Gerkens, a German immigrant, paid $234 for public land on the southern slope of Puente Hills. These lands were not surveyed as a part of the Rancho Paso de Bartolo. The small house he built would later become known as the Bailey House.

1879
R.M. Town lost the land, which he had purchased in 1870 from Gerkens, in a foreclosure.

1880
John M. Thomas acquired acres of land for $4,002 at public auction.

1885
The Evergreen School was built and opened the following year on the corner of Painter and County Road (Whittier Blvd).

1887
The Pickering Land & Water Co. purchased 1,259 acres of land for $69,890 from J. Mill Boal. Whittier was named by Aquila Pickering and other Friends after the well-known Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier. Jonathan and Rebecca Bailey, Whittier ‘s first settlers, moved into what is now known as the Bailey House. The first Whittier Newspaper was started by Whittier pioneers. Whittier experienced its first depression due to lack of water and lack of commerce, which would last until 1894.

1888
The Southern Pacific Railroad completed its first line to Whittier. Whittier pioneers built the Greenleaf Hotel.

1889
Alva Starbuck was appointed Whittier ‘s first postmaster.

1890
The cornerstone for the administration building of the Fred C. Nelles School was laid on February 12. The school opened in 1891 and provided work for many in the community.

1891
The Whittier Academy (later known as Whittier College) was officially established. Several unsuccessful attempts had been made in prior years.

1892
Simon Murphy hired A.L. Reed to build the flume that carried water to East Whittier and the Whittier Colony.

1894
The first Founder’s Day Celebration was held on May 11 in Central Park.

1898
Whittier was incorporated as a sixth-class city.

1900
Municipal water bonds were sold to build a water plant. The Sunset Telephone & Telegraph Company was established in Whittier. The Whittier Board of Trade was organized.

1902
Manufacturing of automobiles began in Whittier by Al Bowe, a blacksmith, and H. H. Hooper, a jeweler, who made two types of cars.

1903
Whittier granted a 50-year franchise to the Pacific Electric Company. Southern Pacific’s second railroad line, known as the “Whittier Branch,” was built by the Pacific Electric.

1904
Permanent telephone service was installed by Home Telephone Co., located on the corner of Bright Avenue and Philadelphia Street, servicing 80 homes. The first “Red Car” comes to Whittier. Lines were on Whittier Blvd., Philadelphia St., and Greenleaf Ave.

1905
The first automobile agents were established in Whittier: Saunders Brothers and Charlie Gordon. Residents voted to build Union High School (now Whittier High School) on Philadelphia Street.

1906
Pacific Electric ran 27 cars to Whittier, which now had two national banks and two savings banks. Whittier’s output of oil was 96,000 barrels a month. Approximately 80 men were employed in the oil industry.

1907
The Carnegie Library opened at the corner of Greenleaf Avenue and Bailey Street with a $12,500 grant from Andrew Carnegie, but it was later torn down in the 1950s. The City of Whittier began paving Whittier Boulevard.

1910
City band concerts were held in Central Park.

1912
Whittier organized election precincts and polling places.

1914
The Pio Pico Mansion was donated to the state. The property was administered as California ‘s first historic state park. The Whittier Police Department was organized.

1915
Thomas Edison visited Whittier.

1921
Santa Fe Springs oil fields were discovered. The Murphy Memorial Hospital site was donated by Colonel Simon J. Murphy, Jr. in honor of his parents, and opened its doors on May 21st at 7:00 am.

1922
The first junior high school, John Muir School, was built on Hadley Street and Whittier Avenue.

1930
The Sunset Club was established as a social “keep acquainted” organization for older citizens in Whittier.

1932
Albert Einstein spoke for Whittier College in the Whittier High School Auditorium. The Whittier Symphony was founded.

1936
A Federal Building was built to house the Whittier Post Office.

1937
Whittier celebrated its Golden Jubilee.

1949
The City adopted a Charter form of government. Snow was seen for the first time in Whittier since 1932, when the temperature dipped below 27 degrees.

1955
The new City Hall was dedicated.

1957
Whittier Hospital opened.

1959
The new Whittier City Library on Washington Ave and Mar Vista St was built as part of the Civic Center. The Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital opened.

1961
A portion of East Whittier was annexed to Whittier, adding 28,000 people to the population, which now totaled 67,487.

1963
Redevelopment planning for uptown was started. Murphy Memorial Hospital closed its doors. It was completely demolished 20 years later.

1964
The Rio Hondo Symphony was established from the existing Whittier Symphony.

1968
Founder’s Park was created from the Broadway and Mt Olive (Clark) Cemeteries. Founder’s Hall burned down (Located on the hill at Whittier College) on Friday, December 13th. Whittier’s own Richard Milhous Nixon was elected as the 37th President of the United States.

1970
Whittier ‘s population surpassed 73,000.

1973
The Whittier Redevelopment Agency was formed.

1976
A Bicentennial Memorial Dedication of Fountains was held at Beverly and Norwalk Streets in honor of the United States Bicentennial.

1977
The Whittier Redevelopment Agency adopted a village concept for Whittier.

1979
The William Penn Hotel was destroyed by fire.

1981
The Whittier Museum was acquired for $250,000.00 at Newlin and Philadelphia Streets.

1983
The Whittier Museum opened to the pubic.

1984
Band Concerts in Central Park were resumed for the first time in 30 years.

1987
Whittier celebrated its 100th Anniversary with festivities and parades throughout the year. The Cultural Arts Commission of Whittier was formed. A 5.9 earthquake hit the city of Whittier, originating from the Whittier-Narrows fault.

2000
Whittier High School celebrated its centennial. A 110 year old historic Train Depot was moved from Philadelphia St to Greenleaf Ave.

2004
Fred C. Nelles youth correctional facility closes.

2008
New Student Life Center at Whittier College opens.