Carson is where the Harbor and San Diego freeways cross and many know the city only from that vantage: a skyline of refinery towers and the home field of the Goodyear blimp.
Carson hopes NFL football will put it on the map--the city failed to make the big-picture Southern California map in Rand McNally's road atlas--even as it seeks to host "L.A.'s team."
When the city incorporated in 1968, it was known as Los Angeles County's "garbage can," home of about 80 junkyards and almost two dozen landfills.
Today, many of the eyesores are gone.
But why would anyone want to build a stadium and mall on an abandoned landfill full of trash and chemicals?
Michael Ovitz's site for the Hacienda--as he has dubbed the stadium--is big, flat and freeway close.
"There's no flat land left in Southern California that isn't a landfill," he said wryly. Besides, experts say, the toxic problem can be fixed.
Boosters say the city deserves a closer look.
The city's business-friendly climate--there's no city property tax, parking tax or utility-user tax--has lured about 3,500 companies, among them TRW, Coca-Cola and Mercedes-Benz.
Carson City Hall is an architectural gem, with easy parking. Even clerks are smiling, perhaps because they work a four-day week.
A few blocks north of City Hall is the South Bay Pavilion, a mall anchored by an enormous IKEA store; Magic Johnson Theaters is due to open soon. Cal State Dominguez Hills and the Olympic Velodrome also are within blocks.
Carson--which sells itself as "Future Unlimited"--has become nationally recognized as a model of racial balance. Its population of more than 90,000 is evenly divided among whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians. It is also home to 2,500 Samoans, the largest concentration outside of Samoa.
The notion that Ovitz and his partners may build a stadium and new mall in town is heady stuff, probably the most excitement here since 1969.
That year, a would-be hijacker attempted to commandeer the Goodyear blimp, saying that he was the Beatles' George Harrison and needed to fly to a music festival in Aspen, Colo.
According to a book detailing the city's history, he was led away, observers "certain he would be in for several months of psychiatric care."