Gardena, once the berry-growing capital of southern California, is today called the “Freeway City” because it is bordered by the Artesia, Harbor, and San Diego freeways to its south, east, and west, respectively. Its modern-day urban designation is a far cry from Gardena’s early reputation as a “garden spot,” a lush oasis of greenery fed by the waters of the Dominguez Slough. Long before it was officially incorporated in 1930 by combining the rural communities of Moneta and Strawberry Park, Gardena was known first by Gabrielino Indians and later Spanish and American settlers as a long green stretch of land amidst coastal sage scrub.
Farming became Gardena’s main industry early in the twentieth century, though berries, especially strawberries, were its claim to fame. The community became known as “Berryland,” and was renowned for its Strawberry Day Festival and parade every May. The berry industry dwindled with World War I, when land was used first for other crops and then later for development.
The population was 58,829 at the 2010 census. Until 2014, the U.S. Census cited the City of Gardena as the place with the highest percentage of Japanese Americans in California. The City has a large Japanese population, helping make the South Bay region of Los Angeles home to the largest concentration of Japanese companies within the mainland United States.