Bell Gardens is a city in the US state of California in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Located in Los Angeles County, the city's population was 42,072 at the 2010 census, down from 44,054 at the 2000 census. Bell Gardens is part of the Gateway Cities Region, a largely urbanized region located in southeastern Los Angeles County.
Bell Gardens is notable for being one of only six Los Angeles County cities (out of 88 total) to permit casino gambling and for being home of the oldest building in Los Angeles County.
Bell Gardens is named after James George Bell, an American businessman. The “Gardens” in its name derives from the many Japanese who, early in Bell Gardens’ existence, established vegetable gardens and rice fields. The adjacent city of Bell is also named after James George Bell as well.
Bell Gardens has a Native American history dating back thousands of years. In the late 18th century, when the area was associated with a large amount of land situated along the lower basin of the Rio Hondo area in Los Angeles County, Bell Gardens was once a bustling agricultural center for Californios during the Spanish Empire, 1509–1823, the Mexican government, 1823–1848, and the United States, after the Mexican-American war concluded in 1848.
Among those early Spanish settlers was one of California's first families, the Lugos. While stationed at Mission San Antonio de Padua near Salinas, California, Francisco Lugo's son Antonio Maria Lugo was born in 1783.