The location: "Chino" in Lawndale.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Ryan's former home town of Chino.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Chino, California. Chino is a small city located east of Los Angeles, south of Pomona.

    (Here is a map link to the real Chino. And a map to that city's official website.)

    But the show wasn't really filmed in Chino.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. For this location of "Chino":

    • In Episode 11 (of season one), "The Homecoming", when Ryan goes back to "Chino" for the first time (to do his imprisoned brother a favor), he & Marissa knock on the door of Theresa's family home. He's there to see Theresa's brother, to pick up a car for Trey. Marissa meets Theresa (Ryan's ex-girlfriend) there for the first time.

    • In Episode 23 (of season one), "The Nana", when Marissa runs away from home and goes to stay at the "Chino" house of Ryan's ex-girlfriend, Theresa. Ryan goes there to bring Marissa back - only to walk into Rebecca & Eddie's engagement party - where he's not exactly welcome.

    • In the Episode 18 (of season two) "The Risky Business", where Ryan & Seth must go to Chino to get back the famous crystal egg, which has been stolen by Trey from a country club auction.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A lower income residential neighborhood.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. It's not in the real Chino.

    The O.C.'s "Chino" is actually made up of several different locations around L.A., including Venice, East L.A., and Sun Valley. These particular scenes were shot in the city of Lawndale, which is located in the South Bay, less than a mile east of Manhattan Beach Studios (where The O.C. is filmed). (There is something of an economic sea change as you pass from Lawndale into Manhattan Beach, but the two towns do border each other.) Here's a map of Lawndale.

    Here are the actual locations:

    Warning: Remember that these are private homes. Don't trespass on their property,
    knock on their doors, or do anything else that might disturb the residents!

    • In "The Homecoming", Theresa's family home in "Chino" (where Marissa meets Theresa), is actually located far from Chino, in a residential neighborhood at 4536 W. 147th Street, in Lawndale. (That's just west of the corner of 147th St. & Mansel Ave.) Here's a map link.

(I shot the photo below in 2006.)

    • In "The Nana", Theresa's small house (where the Theresa/Eddie engagement party is being held) is actually far from Chino, in a residential neighborhood at 14910 Eastwood Ave., in Lawndale.  Here's an aerial map link.

      (I shot the photo below in 2006.)

    • In "The Risky Business", Ryan and Seth go to a house set back at the end of a narrow alley/driveway, where they steal back the crystal egg. As they run out of the alley (they're being chased), we also see what looks like a church (there was a large cross painted on it) right across the street from the alley homes. The alley and its odd collection of small residential units is located about seven short blocks west of Theresa's house, at at 14919 - 14921 Condon Ave., in Lawndale. (Even the sign that says "SLOW" is still there - as of 2006.) Here is an aerial map link.

    (I shot the two photos below in 2006.)

    • From the same "The Risky Business" episode, the "church" across the street no longer has a cross painted on it, but you'll find it still standing, and it is indeed right across the street from the alley, at 14916 Condon Ave., Lawndale.

    Warning: Remember that these are private homes. Don't trespass on their property,
    knock on their doors, or do anything else that might disturb the residents!

    • Caution: The day I visited these parts of Lawndale, the neighborhoods seemed harmless enough in the daytime (although there really isn't much to see there). But I wouldn't go poking around in alleys in any part of L.A.. So if you choose to visit the areas, exercise reasonable caution.

    Other "Chino" scenes in other episodes were shot in other parts of L.A., including Venice, East L.A. & Sun Valley.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. The Lawndale homes were difficult to locate. I got lucky, insofar as the "church", when seen on the show, had a visible house number on the outside (14916). But I didn't know which street or in what city. Since it is no longer a church (if it ever was), Googling didn't work. Fortunately, the way L.A. is laid out, virtually all homes with house numbers in the 14900's are located just south of 149th Street. Now that isn't a huge help, because 149th Street runs all the way from Compton to the ocean. But many of the neighborhoods it passes through are too upscale to qualify for these scenes - including most of those west of the 405. So I decided to start close to the Manhattan Beach Studio and work my way east. And sure enough, after lots of looking, I managed to track them down. A personal drive past the homes confirmed that they were the same ones.

    Finding Theresa's family home was even more difficult. I knew the house number, but not the street or the neighborhood. Since most of the Chino scenes in that episode were shot in East L.A., I spent most of my time looking there for her house. Eventually, I decided to look in Lawndale, but I only had a few clues to go on. I knew there was a white picket fence across the street, but the aerial photos of the area were too small to show that detail. Fortunately, I also spotted a mail box on a corner (behind Marissa's head) in one house scene, and a yellow line on the street in front of the house. So I scoured aerial maps of Lawndale for a mailbox on a street with a broken yellow line, and eventually found that mailbox at the corner of 127th and Mansel. Then I went there in person to confirm that it was the right place.

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