Cudahy ( KUD-ə-hay) is a city located in southeastern Los Angeles County, California. In area, Cudahy is the second smallest city in Los Angeles County after Hawaiian Gardens but with one of the highest population densities of any incorporated city in the United States. It is part of the Gateway Cities region and had a population of 23,805 as of the 2010 U.S. Census.
Cudahy is named for its founder, meat-packing baron Michael Cudahy, who purchased the original 2,777 acres (11.2 km2) of Rancho San Antonio in 1908 to resell as 1-acre (4,000 m2) lots.
These "Cudahy lots" were notable for their dimensions—in most cases, 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 m) in width and 600 to 800 feet (183 to 244 m) in depth, a length equivalent to a city block or more in most American towns. Such parcels, often referred to as "railroad lots", were intended to allow the new town's residents to keep a large vegetable garden, a grove of fruit trees (usually citrus), and a chicken coop or horse stable. This arrangement, popular in the towns along the lower Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers, proved particularly attractive to the Southerners and Midwesterners who were leaving their struggling farms in droves in the 1910s and 1920s to start new lives in Southern California.
Sam Quinones of the Los Angeles Times said that the large, narrow parcels of land gave Cudahy Acres a "rural feel in an increasingly urban swath." As late as the 1950s, some Cudahy residents were still riding into the city's downtown areas on horseback. After World War II the city was a White American blue collar town with steel and automobile plants in the area.
By the late 1970s, the factories closed down and the white residents of Cudahy left for jobs and housing in the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys. Stucco apartment complexes were built on former tracts of land. The population density increased; in 2007 the city was the second-densest in California, after Maywood.
The city was subjected to a major political corruption incident when the former mayor and the one-time city manager were indicted on bribery and extortion charges for supporting the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary. As a result of these charges, on July 12, 2012, ex-mayor David Silva, councilman Osvaldo Conde, and former City Manager Angel Perales, 43, each pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and extortion; according to plea agreements they each face up to 30 years in prison.
On January 14, 2020, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 dumped jet fuel onto Cudahy, while making an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport. Park Avenue Elementary School suffered the brunt of this dumping.