Manhattan Beach is a city in southwestern Los Angeles County, California, United States, on the Pacific coast south of El Segundo, and north of Hermosa Beach. Manhattan Beach is one of the three Beach Cities that make up the South Bay. Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach is ranked in the top 1% of high schools nationally. In 2016, Forbes ranked Manhattan Beach at #74 on its list of America’s most expensive zip codes with a median home price of $2,815,327. According to May 18, 2017, Property Shark study, the City of Manhattan Beach 90266 zip code ranked as the 32nd most expensive zip code in the United States. According to a December 2017 Property Shark study the City of Manhattan Beach had the highest median price per square foot for residential properties ($943 per foot) of all 88 cities in L.A. County.
In 1863, a Scottish immigrant, Sir Robert Burnett, purchased Rancho Sausal Redondo and Rancho Aguaje de la Centinela from Avila‘s heirs for $33,000. Ten years later in 1873, Burnett leased the ranch to a Canadian, Daniel Freeman (not the American Daniel Freeman, who was the first to file a claim under the Homestead Act of 1862). Burnett returned to Scotland. Freeman moved his wife and three children onto the ranch and started growing various crops. On May 4, 1885, Freeman bought the ranch from Burnett for $140,000.
George H. Peck owned a lot of the land that became part of the north section of Manhattan Beach. A coin flip decided the town’s name. Around 1902, the beach suburb was named “Manhattan” after developer Stewart Merrill’s home, the New York City borough of Manhattan. “Beach” was appended to the city’s name in 1927 at the behest of the postmaster.
The land in Manhattan Beach was formerly sand dunes. During the 1920s and 1930s, builders leveled uneven sandy sites and some excess sand was sold and shipped to Waikiki, Hawaii, to convert their reef and rock beach into a sandy beach. The sand was also used to build the Los Angeles Coliseum and portions of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Manhattan Beach benefits from ocean breezes that provide clean air and summer temperatures that are 10 to 20 °F (5.6 to 11.1 °C) cooler than the inland regions of Southern California. The Manhattan Beach Unified School District has test scores ranked #3 in the state of California according to California Department of Education statistics. Forbes magazine ranked Manhattan Beach Unified as the sixth best School District in the U.S. According to a July 5, 2014, article in the Beach Reporter newspaper, the city of Manhattan Beach has more educated residents (according to a percentage of residents with bachelor’s degree or higher) than any other Los Angeles suburb.
Many high-profile individuals in the sports and entertainment industry live in Manhattan Beach due to its oceanfront desirability, top performing school district, and commuting distance to Los Angeles. GQ Magazine named Manhattan Beach one of the nation’s six best beaches in their July 2014 issue.
The city has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10 km2). Manhattan Beach features 2.1 miles (3.4 km) of ocean frontage.
Manhattan Beach is a hotspot for beach volleyball and surfing.
A majority of the land in Manhattan Beach was once exposed to sand dunes which now lie beneath the city’s buildings and streets. The underlying dunes afford residents ocean views throughout western portions of the city. The tallest hill is 244 feet high and located in the city’s southwest region. The only remaining exposed sand dune is at Sand Dune Park, where sand resembling the original landscape can also be found. In the late 1920s, Manhattan Beach excess sand was purchased by Hawaiʻian developers, who negotiated a deal with the Kuhn Brothers Construction Company to ship the sand across the Pacific Ocean from Manhattan Beach via Los Angeles Harbor to Waikiki Beach over a 10-year period.
The beach is approximately 400 feet wide and 2.1 miles long. In the early part of the last century, the beach was narrow (approximately 150 feet) and sloping. From 1938 to 1989, it more than doubled in width when large quantities of sand were placed on beaches to the north during construction of the Hyperion Treatment Plant, Marina Del Rey, and Scattergood Power Plant. The sand was carried southward by the ocean’s natural littoral flow and widened Manhattan Beach.
Every August, the city hosts the Manhattan Beach Open Volleyball Tournament and the International Surf Festival.
Residents have divided the city into several distinct neighborhoods, including the “Sand Section”, “Hill Section”, “Tree Section”, “Gas Lamp Section”, “The Village”, “Manhattan Heights”, “The Knolls”(East Manhattan Beach), “Liberty Village”, “Poet’s Section” (Shelley, Tennyson, Longfellow, Keats), and “El Porto” (North Manhattan Beach). The Roth Tract, between Herrin and Peck, is sometimes referred to as the “Bird Section.”
The “Hill Section” is known for its high priced homes where many of the residences are remodeled or newly constructed. The steep hills allow panoramic ocean and city views.
The nearby “Sand Section” is notable for its quiet walk-street neighborhoods adjacent to the ocean. Oceanfront homes stretch along the bike path and walking lane of “The Strand”. “The Strand” section of Manhattan Beach includes some of the most expensive real estate per square foot in the United States.
Since 2010, new property developments in Manhattan Beach cannot exceed two lot parcels. Size and appearance restrictions were enacted by the Manhattan Beach City Council to preserve the appearance of the beachfront community after three lots were joined to create a 16,000 square foot oceanside home in 2008.