Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 21 km southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities. The city is the birthplace of the Apollo space program, and is the hometown of Richard and Karen Carpenter.
The cities of South Gate and Bell Gardens are adjacent to the west and northwest, Pico Rivera lies to the northeast, Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk to the east, and Paramount and Bellflower are to the south.
Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in Alta California, the area that now comprises Downey was inhabited by the Tongva ethnic group, which came to be called the Gabrielino by the Spanish. Dairy was a major industry in Downey. The Central Milk Agency marketed the milk for “seven hundred dairymen whose dairy herds range from thirty to two thousand head” with the value of the products marketed in excess of $1,000,000 per month. Farmers in the area grew grain, corn, castor beans and fruit, and by 1935 Downey was characterized as an “orange-grove town”. Downey was incorporated in 1956, and instituted a charter form of government in 1964. Suburban homes and factories replaced the farms after World War II.
The 1953 McDonald’s restaurant at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. was the third McDonald’s built and is the oldest surviving McDonald’s. The Oldest McDonald’s restaurant was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 1994 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The Downtown Downey Farmers’ Market was approved by the Downey City Council in 2008. It has rapidly blossomed into a community main attraction, with the standard fruit and vegetable stands and a growing number of food booths. It is open every Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM on Second Street between New St. and La Reina. The market is intended to be a community gathering place, an opportunity to purchase California-grown products, homemade tamales and a vehicle to improve and finance Downtown Downey.
Downey is within the Downey Unified School District. Downey’s two main public high schools are named for Governor John G. Downey and Governor and US Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren.