preserving the past for our future

JOIN US in celebrating the life of Jessie Nelson Mother of Signal Hill and Signal Hill's First Mayor.

Where: Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana

When: Event Postponed and will be rescheduled.

Lucnh following Ceremony at the Circle in Orange

Signal Hill became a city on April 14, 1924.

Our first mayor was Mrs. Jessie Elwin Nelson           Jessie was the second elected woman mayor in the state of California.    Current Mayor: Tina Hansen

The city occupies 2.2 square miles and is surrounded by Long Beach on all sides, one of only a handful cities in the world completely surroundend by the same city.

The highest point is 365 ft. (110 meters) above sea level at the top of the hill.

In 2015 the population was 11,465.

Before Signal Hill Became a City:

The Tongva indians lived in the area.

Learn More: History of Tongva tribes in the LA Basin

1541 - Juan Cabrillo sailed up the California coast and named the bay "Bahi a Los Furrios" from the layer of smoke that hung over the area created by Native American fires.

1769 - The Spanish began occupation of the Los Angeles basin and the Signal Hill area.

1784 - Manuel Nieto acquired the land between the Los Angeles and Santa Ana rivers and from the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains to the ocean. Ckick the link below and recognize many common names you see everyday.

Learn More: List of Ranchos in California

Take a look at a Map of LA County Ranchos

1804 - Don Juan Jose and Dona Miguela inherited Rancho Los Cerritos. The property was divided by what is now Alamitos Ave.

1838 - The first Spanish map shows Manuel Nieto's land grant including Signal Hill as a reference point.

1840 - Abel Stearns and Jonathon Temple bought Rancho Los Alamitos from Jose Figueros (note the last names are remembered in street names)

1859 - The first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania.

1866 - 1869 The ranchos were sold to Thomas & Benjamin Flint and Lewellyn Bixby. John Bixby joined in and J. Bixby & Company was formed.

1880 - The Bixby Co sold 4000 acres to William Wilmore who wanted to create a residential community to enjoy the majestic views to the sea (later known as Long Beach)

1881 - John Bixby and I.W. Hellman purchased Rancho Los Alamitos.

1887 - The first map reference to Signal Hill designated Los Cerritos as “The Hills.”

1900 - George Hughes lays out a 118 acre housing tract atop Signal Hill. A few mansions were built by the Hughes, Denni, Reeves, Pease and Pala families.

1905 - A new power plant lights up Tower light that sits atop of a new 25,000 gallon water tank to supply water to the homes being built.

1921 - Oil was discovered at Temple & Hill St by the Shell Oil company, Alamitos #1 - Discovery Well.

1924, April 24th - Signal Hill became a city and a new chapter begins.

Learn More:

View the entire list of Mayors and Council Members from Jessie Nelson in 1924 to our present day Mayor    Lori Woods in 2019.

Vice Mayor Robert Copeland is scheduled to become Mayor on March 24th.

Mayors Reception following council meeting





OUR MISSION is to develop, promote, perpetuate and preserve the local historical background of the City of Signal Hill and its surrounding area, through activities such as:

Providing for permanent preservation and display of materials and objects of historical and archeological interest, as feasible, in an appropriate housing such as a museum, gallery or library, and make them available to those who wish to view, examine and study them. And so much more...

The Signal Hill Historical Society is a non-profit public benefit corporation duly incorporated in the State of California since August, 1983.

We usually meet on the THIRD THURSDAY of each month at 5:00pm. Locations may vary and are posted here.

We hope you will join us in learning about our history and achieving these exciting goals.

Contributions are tax deductible.               

SHHS is a registered 501(c)3

EIN 33-0004198


Some Interesting links about Signal Hill on YouTube:

Oil in Signal Hill - Video story

Keaton King, former Mayor and Historian

I remember Long Beach   by Dennis Marowski

Song of Signal Hill - John Malcolm Penn

Yes, there really is a song about Signal Hill. Click the link above to listen

The words are also posted on a poster inside Council Chambers in City Hall.

LA Hidden Oil Fields

Model-T Hill Climb

How an Oil Will is Drilled:  An old Shell Oil video.



Monthly Meetings-

Next Meeting & Elections:

Postponed due to COVID-19 -  

Next possible meeting May 21

Stay Tuned!

Historical Event April 25th




Jessie Elwin Nelson


      Fairhaven Memorial Park

1919 E Santa Clara Ave

Santa Ana, CA  92705

Time:  11:00 am

Followed by a no-host lunch

at the Circle in Orange

City of Signal Hill drops the ball to preserve priceless

Canvas Painting Mural of Signal Hill  

The City of Signal Hill had originally accepted the donation and responsibility to preserve this spectacular mural of Signal Hill.  Painted on canvas by Walter A Miller in 1962, shortly after the club opened. Measuring 8 feet tall and 85 feet wide, The Mural has been an icon for all events at the club.

The Long Beach Petroleum Club building is now permanently closed and has new owners who will now determine the fate of the priceless mural. It was carefully remmoved by a Movie Studio crew to preserve it.  It will be placed in the Long Beach Gas and Water building that is being built.

The City of Signal Hill was offered this incredible mural and had accepted responsiblity for posession and preservation of the priceless mural on Canvas.  The City had originally agreed to take posession of this priceless painting to preserve and display it for future generations, however it appears the City dropped the ball and was unable to take possession of the mural before new owners took over.  SHHS's archivist, Larry Blunden, had originally met with the Petroleum Club's Board of directors and their President Peter Allen to discuss preservation of many historic artifacts at the club. The SHHS is sad to see this incredible historical piece of Signal Hill art not become part of Signal Hill's wonderful  history.

Click here to see some final photos of the Long Beach Petroleum Club

Long Beach Petroleum Club closes after 62 years

Click the link below to read about the Petroleum Club's closing

published in the Signal Tribune.