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Wilmington, Los Angeles
The Banning House in August 2008
The Banning House in August 2008
Wilmington as outlined by the Los Angeles Times
Wilmington as outlined by the Los Angeles Times
Wilmington, Los Angeles is located in Southern Los Angeles
Wilmington, Los Angeles
Wilmington, Los Angeles
Location in Southern Los Angeles
Country  United States of America
State  California
County Los Angeles
City Los Angeles
Named for Wilmington, Delaware
 • Total 9.14 sq mi (23.7 km2)
 • Total 53,815
 • Density 5,887/sq mi (2,273/km2)
Time zone Pacific (GMT -08:00)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 310/424, 323, 562

Wilmington is a neighborhood in the Harbor region of Los Angeles, California, covering 9.14 square miles (23.7 km2).

Featuring a heavy concentration of industry and the third-largest oil field in the continental United States, this neighborhood has a high percentage of Latino and foreign-born residents. Nearly 20 percent of Wilmington’s total land area is taken up by oil refineries — roughly 3.5 times more area than is dedicated to open and accessible green spaces.

It is the site of Banning High School, and ten other primary and secondary schools. Wilmington has six parks.

Wilmington dates its history back to a 1784 Spanish land grant. It became a separate city in 1863, and it joined the city of Los Angeles in 1909. Places of interest include the headquarters U.S. Army for Southern California and the Drum Barracks built to protect the nascent Los Angeles harbor during the American Civil War.


Wilmington shares borders with Carson to the north, Long Beach to the east, San Pedro to the south and west and Harbor City to the northwest.


A total of 53,815 people were living within Wilmington's 9.14 square miles, according to the 2010 U.S. census—averaging 5,887 people per square mile, among the lowest population densities in the city as a whole. The median age was 28. The percentages of people from birth through age 34 were among the county's highest. Population was estimated at 54,512 in 2008.

Wilmington is not considered very diverse ethnically, with a diversity index of 0.245. In 2000, Latinos made up 86.6% of the population, while non-Hispanic whites were at 6.4%, Asians at 4.8%, blacks at 2.6% and others at 1.7%. Mexico and Guatemala were the most common places of birth for the 44.5% of the residents who were born abroad, considered a high percentage of foreign-born when compared with the city and the county as a whole.

The $40,627 median household income in 2008 dollars was average for the city. Renters occupied 61.5% of the housing units, with homeowners occupying the rest. In 2000 there were 1,524 military veterans, or 4.6% of the population, relatively low in comparison to the city and county as a whole.


Phineas Banning
Phineas Banning

The Port of Los Angeles district of Wilmington was included in the 1784 Spanish land grant of Rancho San Pedro. Phineas Banning acquired the land that would become Wilmington from Manuel Dominguez, heir of the original concession holder Juan Jose Dominguez, in 1858 to build a harbor for the city of Los Angeles. Known as New San Pedro from 1858 to 1863, it was subsequently named Wilmington by “Father of the Harbor” Phineas Banning after his Delaware birthplace.

In 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, Banning and Benjamin Wilson gave the federal government 60 acres of land to build Drum Barracks to protect the nascent Los Angeles harbor from Confederate attack.

Wilson College, precursor to the University of Southern California, opened in Wilmington in 1874 as the first coeducational college west of the Mississippi.

The City of Los Angeles annexed Wilmington in 1909, and today it and neighboring San Pedro form the waterfront of one of the world’s largest import/export centers. Citizens of Wilmington were dubious that annexation would be in their best interests, fearing that it would shift economic activity out of their city and towards Los Angeles. Because the city government of Los Angeles so strongly wanted to have the growing port inside the city limits, it made a number of promises to Wilmington and also to the equally-dubious citizens of San Pedro. Among these promises were that $10 million would be invested in improvements to the port and that as much would be spent inside the city on public works as was collected in taxes.

In the 1920s, William Wrigley Jr. built innovative housing in Wilmington that was dubbed the “Court of Nations.”

Wilmington Oil Field

Wilmington is adjacent to the Wilmington Oil Field, discovered in 1932. It is the third largest oil field in the continental United States. Consequently, there are at least 8 major refineries in the Wilmington area, many of them dating back to the original strike.

During World War II the United States Military operated the Los Angeles Port of Embarkation in Wilmington, from which soldiers and sailors were sent abroad to battle zones. The LAPE was controlled by the San Francisco Port of Embarkation from its inception in 1942 until late 1943 when it became autonomous. The California Shipbuilding Corporation, famous for building victory ships during the war (although usually associated with Terminal Island), operated in Wilmington as well.

Points of interest

Drum Barracks, Wilmington, California
Drum Barracks
  • Drum Barracks Civil War Museum – U.S. Army headquarters for Southern California and the Arizona territory during the Civil War.
  • The bright green "THE DON" neon sign atop a brick building once welcomed visitors entering the city.
  • The first Der Wienerschnitzel restaurant (on Pacific Coast Highway, east of Figueroa Street).
  • The Phillips 66 refinery in Wilmington is also home to the "world's largest jack-o'-lantern", which in fact is a 3 million gallon storage tank decorated every year for Halloween. Decorated annually since 1952 (back when it was owned by Union Oil), the jack-o'-lantern draws 30,000 visitors annually.
  • The Banning Museum - Phineas Banning—entrepreneur, the founder of the city of Wilmington, and “the Father of the Port of Los Angeles”—built the 23-room residence in 1864.

Recreation and parks

Wilmington Waterfront Park Fountains
Fountains at the Wilmington Waterfront Park.
  • Banning Recreation Center, 1331 Eubank Avenue. Auditorium, baseball diamond (lighted), basketball courts (lighted/indoor, unlighted/outdoor), children's play area, picnic tables, tennis courts (lighted).
  • East Wilmington Greenbelt Community Center, 918 North Sanford Avenue. Basketball courts (lighted/indoor), class room, after school programs, day camps.
  • East Wilmington Greenbelt Pocket Park, 1300 East O Street
  • Wilmington Recreation Center, 325 North Neptune Avenue. Auditorium, baseball diamond (lighted/unlighted), basketball courts (unlighted/outdoors, lighted/indoors), children's play area, community room, four picnic areas with tables.
  • Wilmington Senior Citizen Center, 1371 Eubank Avenue. Auditorium, baseball diamond (lighted), basketball courts (lighted/Indoor, unlighted/outdoor), children's play area, indoor gym (without weights), picnic tables, tennis courts (lighted).
  • The Wilmington Waterfront Park, opened in June 2011 between the Port of Los Angeles and Wilmington.



Only 5.1% of Wilmington residents aged 25 or older had completed a four-year degree by 2000, a low figure when compared with the city and the county at large, and the percentage of those residents with less than a high school diploma was high for the county.


Wilmington is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The area is in Board District 7. As of September 2009, the leadership of District 7 was under Interim Superintendent Dr. George McKenna.

Los Angeles Harbor College is in Wilmington, at 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington, CA 90744.

Secondary and primary schools include:

  • Phineas Banning Senior High School, LAUSD, 1527 Lakme Avenue
  • Avalon High School, LAUSD continuation, 1425 North Avalon Boulevard
  • Pacific Harbor Christian School, private K-12, 1530 Wilmington Boulevard
  • Broad Avenue Elementary School, LAUSD, 24815 Broad Avenue
  • Wilmington Christian School, private, 24910 South Avalon Boulevard
  • Wilmington Middle School, LAUSD, 1700 Gulf Avenue
  • Fries Avenue Elementary School, LAUSD, 1301 Fries Avenue
  • Gulf Avenue Elementary School, LAUSD, 828 West L Street
  • Wilmington Park Elementary School, LAUSD, 1140 Mahar Avenue
  • St. Peter and St. Paul Elementary School, private, 706 Bay View Avenue
  • Hawaiian Avenue Elementary School, LAUSD, 540 Hawaiian Avenue
  • Harry Bridges Span School, LAUSD 1235 Broad Avenue
  • George De La Torre Jr. Elementary School, LAUSD, 500 Island Ave, Wilmington, CA 90744
  • Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy, LAUSD, 1111 Figueroa Pl, Wilmington, CA 90744


WilmingtonBranch formerLosAngelesPublicLibrary detail June2008 sm1
Wilmington Branch Library

Los Angeles Public Library operates the Wilmington Branch.

Notable people

  • Cayetano Apablasa (1847–1889), member of the Los Angeles Common Council
  • John Avalos (1964-), member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
  • Wilder W. Hartley (1901–1970), Los Angeles City Council member, 1939–41
  • L.T. Fisher, publisher of Wilmington newspapers in the 1870s
  • Asa Keyes (1877–1934), Los Angeles County district attorney, 1923-1928
  • George H. Moore (1871–1958), Los Angeles City Council member, 1943–51
  • Eric Plunk (1963–), former pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the Cleveland Indians
  • Thuy Trang (1973–2001), actress

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