Although the City of Alhambra had a population of only 600 people when it was incorporated on July 11, 1903, its civic leaders already had a good idea of what it would take to assure a healthy economic future. Alhambra’s primary sources of income and employment were vineyards and citrus groves, but it was becoming increasingly clear that it would not be long before that would change as residents of nearby Los Angeles and other metropolitan areas turned their eyes toward the attractiveness of “country-style living.”
Within a few months of the city’s birth, the Alhambra Board of Trade was established on February 11, 1904, to begin its crucial role in the development and growth of Alhambra. The farsightedness of its founders became evident six years later when the population reached 5,000, large enough to create an emerging business community.
With the aid of the Board of Trade, the city continued to grow and prosper. On May 13, 1913, the Board was officially renamed the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce to better reflect its function as the voice of the business community, the public relations arm of the city, and a helpful, welcoming organization for new retail businesses, industries, and residents. It was also a response to the widening recognition of the city as the “Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley.”
On May 1, 1982, the Chamber became one of the few in California to own its building free and clear when it dedicated its two-story headquarters at 104 South First Street. Built on land donated by the estate of Will Forbes, the building is the result of donations of more than $160,000 in money, labor, and materials from the Chamber’s members.
Today’s Chamber has adapted to the changing business environment. The Chamber champions existing businesses, supports emerging ones, and recognizes the vitality new residents bring to the community. The Chamber maintains a supportive but separate relationship with the city government. In this response to the present and the future, the Chamber has become more active in monitoring civic and fiscal policies and more sensitive to the necessary interaction of business, civic, and residential interests.
The Alhambra Chamber of Commerce has continued to enhance its essential function as the guardian of the city’s commercial and industrial well-being, now serving approximately 500 members and actively participating in the city’s redevelopment process. Over the years, the Chamber has become a resource for residents, organizations, and business firms seeking information about Alhambra, the San Gabriel Valley, and all of Los Angeles County.