Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 21 km (13 miles) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 107,323.
Spanish colonial history of the area today known as Downey dates back to 1771 with the founding of the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, a California State historical landmark. The founding of the mission and mission lands establishes the birthplace of the modern Los Angeles region.
In 1784, Governor Pedro Fages granted to former soldier Manuel Nieto (1734–1804) the largest of the land concessions made during the Spanish control of California. Its 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) stretched from the Santa Ana River on the east to the Old San Gabriel River (now the Rio Hondo and Los Angeles River) on the west, and from the mission highway (approximately Whittier Boulevard) on the north to the ocean on the south. Its acreage was slightly reduced later at the insistence of Mission San Gabriel on whose lands it infringed. The Spanish concessions, of which 25 were made in California, were unlike the later Mexican land grants in that title was not transferred, but were similar to grazing permits, with the title remaining with the Spanish crown.
The Rancho Los Nietos passed to Manuel Nieto's four children upon his death and remained intact until, in 1833, his heirs petitioned Mexican Governor José Figueroa to partition the property. The northwestern portion of the original rancho, comprising the Downey-Norwalk area, was granted as Rancho Santa Gertrudes to Josefa Cota, the widow of Manuel's son, Antonio Nieto. At approximately 21,000 acres (85 km2), Santa Gertrudes was itself a sizable rancho and contained the old Nietos homestead, which was a center of social life east of the pueblo of Los Angeles.
After the Mexican-American war concluded in 1848, many of the Californio ranchos were obtained by affluent Anglo-Americans who were immigrating west under the United States manifest destiny doctrine, and marrying into established Californio Spanish families.
Downey was founded by and named for the former Civil War governor of California, John Gately Downey, when he subdivided land he procured between the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel River. The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1873, and farmers in the area grew grain, corn, castor beans and fruit until around 1940.
Downey was incorporated in 1956, and instituted a charter form of government in 1964. Suburban homes and factories replaced the farms after World War II. The largest employer was originally Vultee Aircraft, then North American Aviation, (later North American Rockwell, then Rockwell International which was then bought by the Boeing company) whose facilities produced some of the systems for the Apollo Project as well as the space shuttle. The seventy year history of airplane and space vehicle manufacturing in Downey came to an end when the Rockwell plant closed in 1999. The former Rockwell plant has been converted to the Downey Landing shopping complex, a Kaiser Permanente hospital, a park, a space museum and Downey Studios. For more information about the history of the Downey NASA site refer to http://www.aerospacelegacyfoundation.com
Near the center of the city lies what was once one of the busiest intersections in the world, the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard (State Route 19) and Firestone Boulevard (former State Route 42). Route 19 was a major thoroughfare between Pasadena and the port at Long Beach, and Route 42 was part of the old Spanish Trail system that connected Los Angeles to San Diego.
In the 1960s the town's Downey Records achieved a small notoriety with recordings like The Chantays' surfing instrumental "Pipeline." Downey's two main public high schools are named for Governor Downey and Governor (and later, Chief Justice) Earl Warren.
Downey is home to Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, which is the main public rehabilitation hospital for Los Angeles County. Rancho Los Amigos is renowned worldwide for its innovative contributions to the care of spinal cord injuries and post-polio syndrome.
Downey was recently featured in the 2008 American action comedy film Pineapple Express. Much of the buildings along Florence Ave. can be viewed in a driving scene towards the beginning of the film.
Downey is located at(33.938164, -118.130801).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.6 km2 (12.6 mi2). 32.2 km2 (12.4 mi2) of it is land and 0.4 km2 (0.2 mi2) of it (1.35%) is water.
The cities of South Gate and Bell Gardens are adjacent to the west and northwest, Pico Rivera lies to the northeast, Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk to the east, and Paramount and Bellflower are to the south.
The city can be conveniently reached by any of four freeways: Interstate 105 with its Metro rail line passes through the southern part of the city, Interstate 5 and Interstate 605 pass along the eastern side, and Interstate 710 passes just west of the city.
As of the census of 2000, there were 107,323 people, 33,989 households, and 26,001 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,336.4/km2 (8,641.7/mi2). There were 34,759 housing units at an average density of 1,080.6/km2 (2,798.8/mi2). The racial makeup of the city was 53.48% White, 3.75% Black or African American, 0.87% Native American, 7.74% Asian, 0.22% Pacific Islander, 29.05% from other races, and 4.89% from two or more races. 57.85% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 33,989 households out of which 41.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.5% were non-families. 19.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.11 and the average family size was 3.55.
In the city the population was spread out with 29.2% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,000 and the median income for a family was $50,017. Males had a median income of $35,991 versus $28,768 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,197. About 9.3% of families and 11.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.4% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Downey is located in the 27th Senate District, represented by Democrat Alan Lowenthal, and in the 50th and 58th Assembly Districts, represented by Democrats Hector De La Torre and Charles M. Calderon respectively. Federally, Downey is located in California's 34th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +23 and is represented by Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard.
The United States Postal Service operates the Downey Post Office at 811 Firestone Boulevard, the North Downey Post Office at 10409 Lakewood Boulevard, and the South Downey Post Office at 7911 Imperial Highway.
Historic McDonald's restaurant
The 1953 McDonald's restaurant at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. (at Florence Ave.) was the third franchised McDonald's built and is the oldest surviving McDonald's. It was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 1994 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. It was one of the first restaurants franchised by Dick and Mac McDonald, prior to the involvement of Ray Kroc in the company, and it still has the original "Golden arches" and a 60-foot animated neon "Speedee" sign.
With low sales, damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and the lack of a drive-up window and indoor seating, the restaurant was closed. However with both the public and preservationists demanding the restaurant be saved, McDonald's spent two years restoring the restaurant and reopened it. Customers today can visit the original restaurant and an adjoining gift shop and museum.
The first Taco Bell
Johnie's Broiler (originally Harvey's Broiler) was a drive in restaurant and coffee shop. The drive in restaurant has been in movies and sitcoms as well as TV commercials and music videos. Completed in 1958, it is an example of Googie architecture. Johnie's was well known to Southern California locals, many of which drove miles to cruise through its massive lot. The restaurant was closed in 2001, and a used car dealership has since leased the property. In January 2007, the leasers of Johnie's started to illegally tear it down. The destruction of the building was halted, with extreme damage to the building, though the sign is intact.
In April, 2008, Jim Louder, owner of the Bob's Big Boy restaurant in Torrance, California, entered into a long-term lease agreement with the owner of Johnie's Broiler. The restaurant will be rebuilt as a Bob's Broiler and will incorporate the surviving architectural elements of the old structure into the new restaurant.
Downey has vehicle theft levels that are 1.76 times the national average, all other major crime categories are below the national average. In 2003, 7 murders, 25 forcible rapes, 216 robberies, 257 aggravated assaults, 588 burglaries, 1819 thefts, 1169 vehicle thefts, and 4 arsons were reported to law enforcement.
In the late 80's and early 90's, Downey saw an increase in gang activity. Today there is still gang activity going in the south area of Downey. In response, Downey formed GOOD (Gangs Out Of Downey), a community-based organization that helps encourage young people between the ages of 10-20 to stay away from gangs. GOOD is also responsible for organizing many community events and programs such as various sports, after school care, scholarship programs for at-risk students looking to attend college, and counseling for both young people and their parents. GOOD has kept a close partnership with Downey Police.