Palmdale, California

Palmdale, California
—  City  —
Palmdale, California
Palmdale, looking east toward the Antelope Valley Freeway and the San Gabriel Mountains


Motto: A Place To Call Home
Location of Palmdale in Los Angeles County, California
Coordinates: 34°34′52″N 118°6′2″W / 34.58111°N °W / 34.58111; -118.10056
Country United States
State California
County Los Angeles
Settled 1886
Incorporated August 24, 1962
Government
 - Type Charter City
 - Mayor James C. Ledford Jr.[1]
 - Mayor Pro Tem Mike Dispenza
 - Council Member Steve Hofbauer
 - Council Member Laura Bettencourt
 - Council Member Tom Lackey
Area
 - City  dunams (272.2 km2 / 105.1 sq mi)
 - Land
 - Water  0.13%
Elevation
Population (2010)
 - City 152,622
 Density
 - Urban density
 - Rural density
 Metro 483,998
 - Metro density
 -  Density
 -  Density
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP code 93536, 93543, 93550-93553, 93590-93592, 93597-93599
Area code(s) 661
FIPS code 06-55156
GNIS feature ID 1652769
Website cityofpalmdale.org

Palmdale is a city located in the north-central reaches of Los Angeles County, California, United States.

Palmdale was the first community within the Antelope Valley to incorporate as a city on August 24, 1962; 47 years later, voters approved creating a charter city in November, 2009. Palmdale is separated from Los Angeles by the San Gabriel Mountain range. the 2000 US census, the city population was 116,670, and the California state department of finance estimates Palmdale proper has a total population of 152,622.[2] According to the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance report[3] of 2009 the Palmdale / Lancaster, CA Urbanized Area (a US Census Bureau defined term) has a population of 483,998.

Palmdale today

Over the last 25 years this city has consistently been ranked in the top 25 fastest growing cities in the United States (based on percentage change). As of January 1, 2010, the population was estimated at nearly 152,622 according to the state department of finance (which issues the population number on May 1 of each year) making Palmdale the sixth largest, and fastest growing city in Los Angeles County. For most of its existence it has had a small population; however it now is the largest "desert city" in California. With of land in its incorporated boundaries, the city is in the top 100 largest cities in the United States in geographic area. Palmdale is also one of the largest cities in the United States that is not currently served by either an Interstate Freeway or a U.S. Highway. Sierra Highway was at one time labeled as U.S. Highway 6 until the State of California truncated it at Bishop.

The city is known as a family-oriented community with a high quality of life. Palmdale Regional Medical Center, a first class medical facility opened in 2010, includes an emergency department, a helipad, medical office towers, and a senior housing complex. A new multimodal transportation center, serving local and commuter bus and train services, opened in 2005. A voter-initiated and approved tax has funded major park and recreation expansions, including the Palmdale Amphitheater (capacity 10,000), two new pools, other recreation buildings, satellite library and Dry Town Water Park. Downtown revitalization includes hundreds of new senior housing units, a new senior center, and expanded open space. A new . Sheriff station opened in July 2006, the largest in Los Angeles County. Two additional fire stations have been built, one on the east side and one on the west side.

While Palmdale is still a part of Los Angeles County, the urbanized centers of Palmdale and Los Angeles are separated by the San Gabriel mountain range, which is about 40 miles (60 km) wide. This range forms the southern edge of the Antelope Valley portion of the Mojave Desert. Palmdale is the largest and principal city of the Antelope Valley, and the fourth largest city overall in the Mojave Desert by population, outstripped only by Las Vegas, Henderson, and North Las Vegas, Nevada.

History

Palmenthal, the first European settlement within the limits of Palmdale, was established as a village in 1886 by westward Lutheran[4] travelers from the American Midwest, mostly of German and Swiss descent. According to area folklore, the travelers had been told they would know they were close to the ocean when they saw palm trees. Never actually having seen palm trees before, they mistook the local Joshua trees for palms and so named their settlement after them. (Palmenthal is German for Palms Valley.)[5] According to David L. Durham Joshua trees were sometimes called yucca palms at the time, which was the reason for the name.[4] The village was officially established upon the arrival of a post office on June 17, 1888.

By the 1890s (soon after the last of the indigenous antelopes, which the valley was named after, had died) farming families continued to migrate to Palmenthal and nearby Harold to grow grain and fruit. However, most of these settlers were unfamiliar with farming in a desert climate, so when the drought years occurred, most abandoned their settlement. By 1899, only one family was left in the original village. The rest of the settlers, including the post office, moved closer to the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. This new community was renamed Palmdale and was located where the present day civic center is. A railroad station was built along the tracks there. This railroad was operated by Southern Pacific and traveled between Los Angeles and San Francisco. There was also the Wells Fargo stagecoach line that ran between San Francisco and New Orleans that stopped there as well.[6] The only remaining pieces of evidence of the original settlements of Palmenthal and Harold are the old Palmdale Pioneer cemetery located on the northeast corner of Avenue S and 20th Street East, recently acquired and restored by the city as part of a future historical park, and the old schoolhouse now relocated to McAdam Park.

As the population of Palmdale began to increase after relocation, water became scarce, until November 5, 1913 when the California – Los Angeles Aqueduct system was completed finally by William Mulholland, bringing water from the Owens Valley into Los Angeles County. During this period, crops of apples, pears and alfalfa became plentiful.[7][8]

In 1915, Palmdale’s first newspaper, the Palmdale Post, was published. Today it is called the Antelope Valley Press.

In 1921, the first major link between Palmdale and Los Angeles was completed, Mint Canyon/Lancaster Road, later designated U.S. Route 6. Completion of this road caused the local agricultural industry to flourish and was the first major step towards defining the metropolis that exists today. Presently this road is known as Sierra Highway.[9]

In 1924, the Littlerock Dam and the Harold Reservoir, present day Lake Palmdale, were constructed to assist the agricultural industry and have enough water to serve the growing communities.[9]

Agriculture continued to be the foremost industry for Palmdale and its northern neighbor Lancaster until the outbreak of World War II. In 1933, the United States government established Muroc Air Base (from an original founder name, Effie Corum, spelled backwards) six miles (10 km) north of Lancaster in Kern County, now known as Edwards Air Force Base. They also bought Palmdale Airport in 1952 and established an aerospace development and testing facility called United States Air Force Plant 42. One year later, in 1953, Lockheed established a facility at the airport. After this point in time, the aerospace industry took over as the primary local source of employment, where it has remained ever since. Today the city is even referred to as the “Aerospace Capital of America” because of its rich heritage in being the home of many of the aircraft used in the United States military.[6]

In 1957, Palmdale’s first high school, Palmdale High School, was established, making it easier for youths to not have to travel to Antelope Valley High School in nearby Lancaster.[10]

In August 1962, the township of Palmdale officially became the city of Palmdale with the incorporation of of land around the present day civic center.[6]

In 1964, the Antelope Valley Freeway, or State Highway 14, was completed as a link between Palmdale and Los Angeles. The freeway at this time ran all the way to present day Technology Drive. It was at this time that talk about the future Palmdale Intercontinental Airport was seen as the way of the future. By 1965 the new city had annexed an additional 20 square miles (52 km²) of land and industry was thriving. Talk of the future commercial airport had many investors buying up large quantities of land.[9]

In 1970, the city of Los Angeles went forward with buying 17,750 acres (71 km²) of land east of the city for its proposed intercontinental commercial airport. However, the United States Air Force desired to put a hold on the construction of this new facility until the existing airport reached its commercial capacity. So under a joint use agreement with the military, the Los Angeles Department of Airports, now called Los Angeles World Airports, built a 9,000 square foot (800 m²) terminal on leased land that opened in 1971, creating present day LA/Palmdale Regional Airport which the City of Palmdale has taken control of in an effort to establish reliable air service in the region.[11]

By 1974, the Antelope Valley Freeway construction ended at the southern border of Mojave in Kern County. In 1977, Palmdale built its first municipal building, the Palmdale City Library. This was the same year that its northern neighbor Lancaster incorporated itself into a city. Since the 1920s, Lancaster had been the much larger and principal community of the Antelope Valley, as well as the rest of California's Mojave Desert.[12]

The 1980s and 1990s were the decades that really started to define the two Antelope Valley cities. Affordable housing in the area caused a dramatic spike in the population. The city became a bedroom community for those employed in Los Angeles. Palmdale's population continued to approach Lancaster's. Throughout the eighties and even the nineties, Palmdale was the fastest growing city in California and second fastest growing city in the nation. In 1980, Palmdale's population was 12,227.[9]

By 1990, it had soared to 68,842. During that same year the Antelope Valley Mall opened at Avenue P (present day Rancho Vista Blvd.) and 10th Street West, presently the busiest intersection in the entire Mojave Desert. In 1991, the Palmdale Auto Center complex opened. Throughout the 1990s and early first decade of the 21st century, central Palmdale has become the retail and commercial center of the California High Desert. In 2000, the city's population was 116,670. In 2002, Palmdale's population finally eclipsed its northern neighbor Lancaster. With over 150,000 residents today, the City Planning Commission continues to attempt a form of managed growth in the early part of 21st century. The recent subprime mortgage crisis has affected the city with a tremendous number of foreclosures, much like other cities in California.[9][13] However, even with the high number of foreclosures, the city remains the fastest growing city in Los Angeles County, and the fastest growing large city in the State of California.[2]

Kindergarten – Grade 12 schools

Palmdale has three separate elementary school districts and one high school district:

  • The Palmdale School District is one of the largest elementary school districts in the nation consisting of 29 schools with about 28,000 students. This school district covers the majority of the city’s Kindergarten through 8th grade students. One of the unique parts of this school district was its practice of naming schools after desert flora and fauna. For instance, there are Tumbleweed, Juniper, and Sage schools.
  • The Westside Union School District covers the schools on the far west-side of Palmdale and its western suburbs. This school district has over 8,250 students and 11 schools for K-8 education.
  • The Keppel Union School District covers the schools on the far east-side of Palmdale and its eastern suburbs. This school district has 6 schools and nearly 3,000 students for K-8 education.
  • The Antelope Valley Union High School District covers nearly all of the 9-12th grade education for the entire metropolitan area, with the exception of private high schools. It has 12 schools with over 25,000 students.