Palos Verdes is a name often used to refer to a group of coastal cities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in southwestern Los Angeles County in California. This affluent bedroom community is known for its dramatic views, good schools, extensive horse trails, and high home prices.
Palos Verdes Estates, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, and Rolling Hills Estates are the predominant cities in the area, with a part of San Pedro protruding on the eastern end of the peninsula. The area is home to several golf courses and country clubs, and the South Coast Botanic Garden. On the coast is the location of the former Marineland of the Pacific, an aquatic theme park. Wayfarers Chapel and Point Vicente Lighthouse are on the National Register of Historic Places and Point Vicente Park is a popular spot for watching the migration of gray whales to and from their breeding lagoon in Baja California. There is also a lighthouse at Point Fermin in San Pedro.
The peninsula was originally inhabited by Native Americans belonging to the Tongva (sometimes referred to as "Gabrielino") tribe, and first described in 1542 by Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo. In 1827, Don Jose Dolores Sepulveda procured a parcel of the original, 1784 Rancho San Pedro Spanish land grant from Manuel Dominguez, and named it Rancho de los Palos Verdes ("range of green trees"), which was used primarily as a cattle ranch. By 1882 ownership of the land had passed from the Sepulveda family through various mortgage holders to Jotham Bixby of Rancho Los Cerritos, who leased the land to Japanese farmers. After the turn of the century most of Bixby's land was sold to a consortium of New York investors who created The Palos Verdes Project and began marketing land on the peninsula for small horse ranches and residential communities.Palos Verdes Estates was the first city incorporated on the Peninsula and was one of the first master planned communities in Los Angeles County. The other incorporated cities on the Palos Verdes Peninsula include Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Estates and Rolling Hills.
The Wayfarers Chapel opened in 1951 and is a well-known landmark overseen by the Swedenborgian Church. The chapel is located at the western entrance of Portuguese Bend, one of the most geologically unstable areas in the world. Constant tectonic shifts (approximately 1/3 of an inch a day) and rock slides mean that Palos Verdes Drive South, the main road through the bend, is under constant repair. And for years, the wreck of the Dominator, a freighter that ran aground in 1961, was a rather bizarre attraction for those willing to hike down the cliffs to the shoreline. Very little is left of the ship today. In 2006, the 45 foot cabin cruiser Lady Hawk sank 2 miles from the Palos Verdes coast due to an engine fire .
The area is a very affluent one, with expensive homes overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles Basin, and with Santa Catalina Island almost always visible across the channel.
The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District has one of the highest rated API scores in California  , and has one of the highest average SAT scores  and one of the highest percentage of students successfully completing the Advanced Placement exams  in the county. There are two high schools, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School (formerly called Rolling Hills High School) and Palos Verdes High School (the latter located just a half block from the Pacific Ocean). Marymount College, a co-ed Roman Catholic two-year college is located in Rancho Palos Verdes. A private K-12 school, Chadwick School, is also located there. Rolling Hills Preparatory School , a private 6-12 school is also located on the peninsula. Rolling Hills Country Day School, adjacent to the Botanic Garden, offers a private K-8 education .
The Peninsula is served by the Palos Verdes Library District which operates the Peninsula Center, Miraleste, and Malaga Cove Libraries.
The Korean Bell of Friendship and the Fort MacArthur Military Museum are both located near Point Fermin in San Pedro.
The area is frequented by runners, hikers, horseback riders, bird watchers, surfers, scuba divers, and bicyclists. In addition, nude sunbathers formerly frequented Sacreds Cove (or "Smugglers Cove") until the city of Rancho Palos Verdes enacted a 1994 ordinance that ended such use of that beach.
The infamous Palos Verdes surf spots have been in the spotlight many times over issues of "localism". The most notorious surf spot for localism in Palos Verdes is Lunada Bay, which can hold any winter swell and has been known to rival Sunset Beach, Hawaii on a big day. Localism in Palos Verdes reached a turning point in 2001 when a civil rights lawsuit was filed after a particularly violent confrontation with Hermosa Beach surfers.  Surveillance cameras were placed in the surfing area but were later removed.
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