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Palmdale, California

Palmdale, California
 
Palmdale City Logo, © 2004 Palmdale, CA
City nickname:"Aerospace Capital of America"
County Los Angeles County, California
Area
 - Total
 - Water

272.2 km² (105.1 mi²)
0.4 km² (0.1 mi²) 0.13%
Population

 - Metropolitan
 - Total (2005)
 - Density


480,238
143,227 (city proper)
429.2/km²

Time zone Pacific: UTC-8

Latitude
Longitude

34°34'52' N
118°6'2' W

Mayor: James C. Ledford
City flower: Lilac
City tree: Joshua Tree
City of Palmdale Official Website

Palmdale, the first community within the Antelope Valley to incorporate as a city (on August 24, 1962), is located in the northeast reaches of Los Angeles County, California, United States, beyond the San Gabriel Mountain range from Los Angeles. As of the 2000 US census, the city had a total population of 116,670. As of spring 2005, the city proper has a total population estimate of 143,227 according to Palmdale municipal government sources. As of the 2005 population estimate, the Palmdale / Lancaster, CA Urbanized Area (a US Census Bureau defined term) has a population of 480,238.

Table of contents

Palmdale today

Over the last 20 years this city has consistently been ranked in the top 10 fastest growing cities in the United States (based on percentage change). As of spring 2005 the population is estimated at 143,227, making Palmdale the sixth largest city in Los Angeles County. For most of its existence it has had a small population; however it now is arguably the largest "desert city" (from an Angeleno viewpoint) in California. The city – with 105 square miles (272 km²) of land in its incorporated boundaries – is in the top 100 largest cities in the United States in geographic area and as of 2005 ranks 150th in the U.S. in population.

Hillside view across Palmdale.

The city's rapid growth has in some respects outstripped its facilities and its image. It is the largest city in the United States without a hospital. (There are plans to build one with a trauma center in 2005.) In the movie Bubble Boy, Palmdale was depicted as a small strip of houses and a bus stop – a 1970s view of what entertainment industry Hollywood film moguls remember Palmdale as being. Famous people from Palmdale include rapper Afroman, famous for his song "Because I Got High." and the music group All 4 One, known for the hit songs I Swear, I Can Love You Like That, and She's Got Skillz.

While still a part of Los Angeles County, the urban centers of Palmdale and Los Angeles are separated by the San Gabriel mountain range which spans about 40 miles (60 km) wide. This mountain range forms the southern edge of the Antelope Valley portion of the Mojave Desert. Palmdale is one of the two principal cities of the Antelope Valley, and is the third largest populated city in the Mojave Desert. Only Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, have larger populations in the Mojave.

This satellite image, looking toward the west, shows the Palmdale / Antelope Valley area in relation to Los Angeles with the San Gabriel Mountains separating them.

History

Palmenthal, as Palmdale was previously called, was established as a village in 1886 by westward travelers from the American Midwest, mostly of German and Swiss descent. These travelers mistook the local Joshua Trees for Palm Trees and so called their settlement after them. The village was officially established upon the arrival of a post office on June 17, 1888.

In the 1890s many 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. The only remaining pieces of evidence of the original settlements of Palmenthal and Harold are the old cemetery located on the northeast corner of Avenue S and 20th Street East, and the old schoolhouse now relocated at McAdam Park.

As the population of Palmdale began to increase after relocation, water became scarce, until in 1914 when the California – Los Angeles Aqueduct system was completed. During the 1910s, crops of apples, pears, and alfalfa became plentiful.

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, U.S. Highway 6, or Mint Canyon Road. 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.

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.

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 north of Lancaster in Kern County, now known as Edwards Air Force Base. They also bought Palmdale Airport in 1952 and established a testing facility called United States Air Force Plant 42. One year later, in 1953, Lockheed Martin 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.

In 1956, Palmdale’s first high school was established, making it easier for youths to not have to travel to Antelope Valley High School in nearby Lancaster.

In August 1962, the township of Palmdale officially became the city of Palmdale with the incorporation of 2 square miles (5 km²) of land around the present day civic center.

In 1963, 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.

In 1970, the City of Los Angeles went forward with buying 17,500 acres (71 km²) of land east of the city for its proposed 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 Palmdale Regional Airport.

By 1974, the Antelope Valley Freeway was completed all the way to Mojave. 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. After the incorporation of Lancaster, the two cities began fierce competition to lure commerce and industry to the area. 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, and Palmdale had always played second fiddle to it.

Central Palmdale shopping district. 10th Street West is the busiest street in the Antelope Valley

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 12,177. By 1990, it had soared to 68,842. It was in 1990 that the Antelope Valley Mall opened at 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 nineties and early 2000s, central Palmdale has become the 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. The city continues its trend today and looks towards extensive growth in the future.

Education

K-12 Schools

The City of Palmdale has 3 separate elementary school districts and 1 high school district:

  • The Palmdale School District is one of the largest elementary school districts in the nation consisting of 27 schools and over 23,000 students. This school district covers the majority of the city’s Kindergarten through 8th grade students.
  • The Westside Union School District covers the schools on the far west-side of Palmdale and its western suburbs. This school district has over 7,500 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 all of the 9–12th grade education for the entire metropolitan area. It has 12 schools with over 21,000 students.

Colleges and Universities

Sites of Interest

An SR-71 Blackbird parked at Palmdale's Blackbird – Heritage Airpark.
  • Big Rock Creek Camp
  • Devils Punch Bowl a county protected natural hiking preserve along Big Rock Creek similar to a miniature Grand Canyon.
  • Funland U.S.A.
  • Hammack Activity Center and Roller Hockey Rink
  • Joshua Ranch Trail a natural preservation area.
  • Littlerock Dam and Recreation Area
  • Los Angeles County Raceway
  • Mountain High ski resort in nearby Wrightwood.
  • Palmdale Amphitheater is a 7,000 seat theater hosting the “Starlight Concert Series” with world famous performers on evenings in the summer.
  • Palmdale Civic Center – (Poncitlan Square)
  • Palmdale Fall Festival is an annual festival said to be one of the best in California held every October at McAdam Park.
  • Palmdale Heritage Airpark and next-door Blackbird Airpark show off displays of various aircraft built or tested at Palmdale Air Force Plant 42.
  • Palmdale Playhouse and Art Gallery
  • Palmdale Schoolhouse at McAdam Park. The only remaining building of the original village in the 1800’s.
  • Rancho Vista Golf Course Palmdale’s only PGA class golf course.
  • Tippi Hedren’s Shambala Preserve

Sister cities

Poncitlán, Jalisco, Mexico

Law and government

Palmdale is a general law City governed under the council / manager form of local government. The mayor is elected every two years for a two-year term. Also every two years, two of the four council members are elected to serve four-year terms. Palmdale has no term limits for mayor. The current mayor James C. Ledford is serving his seventh term in office.

The city also has an elected Planning Commission divided into four separate districts. The Planning Commission was organized to help with the planning, zoning, and development of various city areas in different districts and to give the residents of those particular districts a greater voice in what is built on that land.

The city is policed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department under a formal contract with the County of Los Angeles and has its municipal judicial system intertwined with the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The city also contracts with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for its fire and paramedic services.

The city does however provide a number of various municipal services that are not contracted with the county. The Palmdale Water District is city owned and operated. Waste Management of the Antelope Valley is jointly owned by the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster. The city features a Parks and Recreation Department, a Film Convention and Visitors Bureau, Aviation and Aerospace Commission, Public Library System, Senior Citizens Center, Cultural Center, and Public Works department.

Geography

Palmdale is located at 34° 34′ 52″ N 118° 06′ 02″ W (34.581005, -118.100603).1 It has an elevation of 2,655 feet above sea level.

According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 272.2 km² (105.1 mi²). 271.8 km² (105.0 mi²) of it is land and 0.4 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water (the size of man-made Lake Palmdale, the most visible and scenic part of the municipal water supply system) . The total area is 0.13% water.

ZIP codes

The city currently has a total of eight ZIP codes:

  • 93536 – Most of Quartz Hill (district and adjacent town). Shared with cities and towns of Lancaster (westside), Neenach, Del Sur, and Antelope Acres.
  • 93543 – Parts of Sun Village. Shared with town of Littlerock.
  • 93550 – Downtown Civic Center, Harold, Vincent-Grade, and Barrel Springs.
  • 93551 – Central City, Anaverde, Rancho Vista, City Ranch, Desert-View Highlands, Portal Ridge, Leona Valley (district and adjacent town), and parts of Quartz Hill (district). Some P.O. boxes.
  • 93552 – Pearland, parts of Palmdale East, and parts of Sun Village.
  • 93553 – Parts of Sun Village. Shared with town of Pearblossom. Some P.O. boxes.
  • 93590Palmdale Regional Airport, USAF Plant 42, and most of Palmdale's P.O. boxes.
  • 93591 Lake Los Angeles (district and adjacent town), parts of Palmdale East, and some P.O. boxes.

Nearby Mojave Desert communities

Other cities and towns in the Palmdale vicinity include:

The Antelope Valley Freeway in central Palmdale

Neighborhoods and districts

The city of Palmdale is divided up into 12 separate districts that are within the city entirely: Downtown or Old Town Palmdale (civic center), Central City (the main shopping district), Pearland (the eastside shopping district), Desert-View Highlands, Anaverde, Portal Ridge, Rancho Vista, Sun Village, Palmdale East, City Ranch, Harold, Vincent-Grade, Barrel Springs. There are another 3 city districts share their names with the suburb that they border, namely, Quartz Hill, Lake Los Angeles, and Leona Valley.

Unlike nearby Santa Clarita or Los Angeles, the residents of Palmdale do not use the name of their particular district areas to have their mail addressed to for the most part. This is mostly due to the very easily navigated local street system, which is almost completely alphabetized and numeric. However, as the population of the city continues to climb, usage of the district name may increase as a means of identifying which section of town the person is from.

Climate

Palmdale is located in the high (altitude) desert. This means that summers are very hot and dry while winters are cold and windy. Palmdale has over 300 days of sunshine per year. The wind during winter and spring is a result of the temperature differential between Palmdale and Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix maintains a relatively warmer temperature than Palmdale's. This causes the air over Palmdale to have a higher barometric pressure (thicker air) than the air over Phoenix (thinner air). As a result, the air over Palmdale rushes towards Phoenix, trying to balance out the air pressure. Since Phoenix rarely gets cold, the wind is steady during the winter and spring. The wind is so reliable that wind turbines are used to generate electricity. During the summer and fall there is little wind since Palmdale and Phoenix are usually the same temperature.

Winter – Relatively cold, wet, and windy. Temperatures have gone into the single-digits at times. The wind chill factor can be below zero. This is Palmdale's rainy season.

Spring – Moderate temperatures. Still occasionally wet. Very windy. Transitional period from winter to summer temperatures is very short.

Summer – Very hot with little or no precipitation. Temperatures frequently soar into triple-digits. However, the high desert where Palmdale is located allows for the temperatures to cool down at night, unlike the low desert cities of Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Fall – Moderate temperatures with little or no precipitation. Transitional period from summer to winter temperatures is very short. As a result, the deciduous trees in Palmdale will lose their leaves very rapidly, seemingly overnight, without a color change.


Climate of Palmdale
month : J F M A M J J A S O N D
Temperature (in °F)343740758392989791806733
Precipitation (in inches) 1.561.691.390.330.160.060.060.130.220.240.431.09


  • Annual Average High Temperatures: 98°F (summer) 59°F (winter)
  • Annual Average Low Temperatures 65°F (summer) 33°F (winter)
  • Highest Recorded Temperature: 113°F (1972)
  • Lowest Recorded Temperature: 6°F (1963)
  • Warmest Month: July
  • Coolest Month: December
  • Highest Precipitation: February
  • Annual Precipitation: 7.36 inches

Economy

The most important industry for Palmdale is the aerospace industry. However in recent times, other manufacturing companies have relocated to Palmdale seeking more affordable land, close proximity to Palmdale Airport, and special tax breaks.

The special tax breaks granted for companies that relocate to Palmdale is due to the city having the Antelope Valley Enterprise Zone and the Palmdale Federal Foreign Trade Zone. These are special zoning areas within the city that are given various state and federal tax breaks and municipal grant incentives to relocate their business there. These zones were put in effect to help Palmdale and nearby Lancaster draw more jobs to the area so that they would be less dependent on the Los Angeles Basin area for employment, thus relieving pollution and traffic congestion, and stabilizing the local economy on several industries instead of just aerospace which is known for it’s “feast or famine” seasons.

Palmdale refers to itself with the nickname the "aerospace capital of the United States", and has been the site of research, development, final assembly, flight testing and/or servicing/modifications of the Space Shuttle, X-15, B-2 Spirit & F-117 Nighthawk, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, SR-71 Blackbird, Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, and many other aircraft that have been used in the United States Air Force, NASA and air forces and airlines around the world. USAF Plant 42, where the aforementioned aerospace projects occurred / occur is home to major operations of the following aerospace companies: Boeing, Lockheed Martin and its famed Skunk Works, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems. The Boeing building (formerly North American Rockwell) at Plant 42 / Palmdale Regional Airport is one of the largest buildings in the world. It was used in the Tom Hanks movie The Terminal to house the duplicate JFK terminal set since it was the only building in the Southland area large enough to house it.

Major companies with a presence in Palmdale

Media

Newspapers

Radio stations

  • KAVL 610 AM Sports
  • KAVR 890 AM
  • KTPI 1340 AM Classic Country
  • KWJL 1380 AM News/Talk
  • KUTY 1470 AM Spanish
  • KTLW 88.9 FM Religious/Christian
  • KZIQ 92.7 FM Adult Contemporary
  • KLKX 93.5 FM Classic Rock
  • KFXM 96.7 FM Oldies
  • KVVS 97.7 FM TOP 40 (simulcast of Los Angeles KIIS 102.7)
  • KKZQ 100.1 FM Alternative/Modern Rock
  • KTPI 103.1 FM Country
  • KOSS 105.5 FM Adult Contemporary
  • KGMX 106.3 FM Adult Contemporary

Television stations

  • KAV 3 Independent/News
  • KPDL 27 City's cable channel
  • KPAL 38 Home Shopping

Transportation

Area highways

The Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14) is the major North-South highway connecting Palmdale to Los Angeles and Reno, Nevada.

State Highway 138 (SR-138) is the major east-west highway connecting Palmdale to the Inland Empire and Frazier Park.

State Highway 18 (SR-18) heads eastward out of the Antelope Valley connecting it to Victorville and via I-15 the Barstow area. This road is commonly used as a route to Las Vegas, Nevada. Cash-strapped Caltrans, which to date has not yet upgraded CA 138 between Palmdale and I-15 into an expressway, has announced its proposal to upgrade present day Technology Drive (Avenue P-8) and the as yet unbuilt P-8 corridor east of Sierra Highway into a freeway from its junction with the Antelope Valley Freeway to a point beyond the Palmdale Regional Airport terminal. Its proposed completion date is 2007.

Public transportation

Palmdale Transportation Center serves at the regional transit hub for the Antelope Valley.

The Palmdale Transportation Center, recently completed in March 2005, is the central mass transit center for the Antelope Valley. Sometimes dubbed "Palmdale's Union Station", it serves as the transit hub for the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, the city's public bus system, as well as an Amtrak, Greyhound Bus, and light rail Metrolink station. A monorail between Palmdale Airport and the center is planned when the new commercial air terminal is finished. The station is also designated a stop on the proposed California High Speed Rail System.

Airport

Palmdale's Airport, co-sited with Plant 42, is also one of the largest in the world (geographically). It has two runways, each over two miles in length. The Palmdale Regional Airport (PMD) has a commercial air terminal owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), a Los Angeles municipal department. Currently there is only one airline, Scenic Airlines, at the facility that flies daily to North Las Vegas, Nevada. Originally acquired by LAWA in 1966 to be developed into "Palmdale Intercontinental Airport", intended to surpass the air traffic of LAX, LAWA has since over the decades not developed its Palmdale airport lands to these claims. Convincing airlines of the marketability of the airport has thus far been difficult, perhaps because of the airline industry's "hub and spoke" system which tends to shun new airports in an effort to improve airline profitability. Additionally, many San Fernando Valley LA residents believe Palmdale's airport is too far away for their tastes. In reality, considering automobile travel time on congested freeways and streets, as well as LAX passenger unloading/parking difficulties, Palmdale may offer the airline passenger a quicker ground transportation travel time from Sherman Oaks than the standard LAX airport car trip down the San Diego 405 freeway.

Demographics

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 116,670 people, 34,285 households, and 28,113 families residing in the city. The population density is 429.2/km² (1,111.6/mi²). There are 37,096 housing units at an average density of 136.5/km² (353.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 54.77% White, 14.50% African American, 1.03% Native American, 3.83% Asian, 0.19% Pacific Islander, 20.45% from other races, and 5.23% from two or more races. 37.71% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 34,285 households out of which 54.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.8% are married couples living together, 16.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 18.0% are non-families. 13.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 3.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.40 and the average family size is 3.72.

In the city the population is spread out with 38.0% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 16.8% from 45 to 64, and 5.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 28 years. For every 100 females there are 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 92.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $46,941, and the median income for a family is $49,293. Males have a median income of $42,190 versus $29,401 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,384. 15.8% of the population and 12.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 20.1% of those under the age of 18 and 8.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

External links

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