While Downey is home to the world's oldest McDonald's restaurant and the site of the first Taco Bell eatery, the city is best known as the birthplace of the Apollo space program. For more than 70 years, Downey's Rockwell NASA plant produced and tested many of the 20th century's greatest aviation, missile, and space endeavors. By the early 1970s, the facilities encompassed some 1.7 million square feet of enclosed area and more than 200 acres. However, by the early 1990s, Downey—like much of California—was hard hit by defense cutbacks and downsizing. Rockwell International, which once had over 30,000 employees during the 1960s, had fewer than 5,000 by 1992.
Today, the site sits vacant, but not forgotten. Plans are in the works to redevelop the site into a mixed-use facility including a hospital, medical offices, a new school, retail and office buildings, as well as an aerospace museum that will commemorate the work done there to the benefit of local residents and the world. The site is conveniently located near several major freeways and an ideal home base from which to take advantage of the business resources and hundreds of cultural and recreational activities Southern California has to offer.
The Downey Unified School District is well regarded for its dedication to its students and high student test scores. The district has won four California "Distinguished School" awards. Rio Hondo and Cerritos community colleges provide residents with a solid foundation for those seeking an Associates Degree or a transfer to one of the many colleges or universities that are within easy driving distance.
ATTRACTIONS & POINTS OF INTEREST
When it comes to shopping, Downey is a world-class destination. The Stonewood Center offers unique, innovative shops and specialty boutiques filled with the latest fashions, accessories and personalized gifts. The center houses four department, clothing, optical, book, record and shoe stores, along with card shops, cosmetics, gift shops, jewelers and more. The center underwent a $100 million renovation several years ago and is a stop on the Green Line light rail system. The Crossroads at Florence and Paramount is a popular shopping area for the northern Downey area. The West Firestone retail district houses one of the largest concentrations of home improvement stores in the country. Today, Downey is an ideal home base from which to take advantage of the business resources and cultural activities offered in Southern California.
The 750-seat Downey Theatre features productions by the Downey Civic Light Opera Association and the Downey Symphonic Society as well as the annual Celebrity Concert Series and the Armchair Travel Adventure series. The Downey History Center and Downey Art Museum are also popular destinations for local residents.
More than 20 restaurants and a wide spectrum of businesses and shops accessorize the downtown area offering a diverse range of cuisines from Japanese and Italian to Mediterranean and Mexican. The area is also home to the Civic Center, the Embassy Suites Hotel and several major office buildings.
PARKS & RECREATION
Augmenting the city's strong pro-business climate is a dedication by city officials to maintain an excellent quality of life through recreational and cultural activities. The city boasts almost 100 acres of developed parkland including fishing lakes at Wilderness Park, the Independence Park Tennis Center and fitness courses at Furman and Apollo parks. Golfers are provided with two beautiful 18-hole courses at the Rio Hondo Golf Course and the Los Amigos Golf Course, the latter run by Los Angeles County.
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