Ducommun Street

This street, named by 1875, honors Charles Louis Ducommun (1820-1896), who had a mansion here. Reports on Ducommun’s first three decades vary, but he was most likely born in France and raised in Switzerland, where he learned the watchmaking trade. He came to the U.S. as early as 1841 and either walked to Los Angeles from Arkansas(!) or took a boat with future governor John G. Downey to San Pedro. (Like I said: reports vary!) What’s agreed on is that in 1849, Ducommun set up a watchmaking and jewelry shop here and soon expanded it into a general store, specializing in hardware but selling virtually everything: guns, eyeglasses, perfumes, stationery, toys, wallpaper, cigars, you name it. Ducommun’s first wife Berthe died at 20, days after giving birth to their second daughter; he had five more kids with second wife Leonide, four of whom were sons. Those sons sustained the family firm long after Papa’s death, eventually getting into the metal supply business. Today, Ducommun Inc. builds components for the aerospace and defense industries and is hailed as California’s oldest company – although Charles Albert Ducommun, one of the sons, wavered on this claim in 1912, writing, “We would like to have this matter settled ourselves.”