Palmdale is a city located in the northeast reaches of Los Angeles County, California, United States.
The first community within the Antelope Valley to incorporate as a city (on August 24, 1962), Palmdale is separated from Los Angeles by the San Gabriel Mountain range. As of[update] the 2000 US census, the city population was 116,670, and as of January 1, 2009,[update] the California state department of finance estimates Palmdale proper has a total population of 151,346. According to the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance report of 2009 the Palmdale / Lancaster, CA Urbanized Area (a US Census Bureau defined term) has a population of 476,845.
|City of Palmdale |
Population by year
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, 2009, the population was estimated at nearly 151,346 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 104.59 square miles (271 km2) 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 nor a U.S. Highway.
The city is known as a family-oriented community with a high quality of life. A first-class medical campus called Palmdale Regional Medical Center is under construction (expected to open in 2010), which will include 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 DryTown Water park. Downtown revitalization includes hundreds of new senior housing units, a new senior center, which will open in November 2009, and expanded open space. A new 48,000 sq ft (4,500 m2). 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.
Palmenthal, the first European settlement within the limits of Palmdale, was established as a village in 1886 by westward Lutheran 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.) According to David L. Durham Joshua trees were sometimes called yucca palms at the time, that was the reason for the name. 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. 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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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. 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. 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.
The City of Palmdale has three separate elementary school districts and one high school district:
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 does not have term limits for council and mayor. The current mayor James C. Ledford is serving his ninth term in office. The City Council appoints the City Manager and City Attorney.
The city also has an appointed 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 local land use decisions. There is also an appointed Board of Library Trustees, and Youth Council.
The city provides a number of municipal services, including a Planning Department, Economic Development Department and Redevelopment Agency, Building and Safety Department, Public Works Department, Parks and Recreation Department, and South Antelope Valley Emergency Services. The city also operates the Palmdale Transportation Center which serves as the hub for public transit services including Metrolink trains, Antelope Valley Transit Authority, Amtrak California's Thruway Motorcoach and Greyhound.
Recreation and Cultural services include the Palmdale City Library which includes a Youth Library, the Senior Citizens Center, Larry Chimbole Cultural Center, Palmdale Playhouse and Art Gallery, Dry Town Water Park, Palmdale Amphitheater, Best of the West Softball Complex, Hammack Activity Center, Palmdale Oasis Park Recreation Center, Marie Kerr Park Recreation Center, Joe Davies Heritage Airpark at Palmdale Plant 42, and four swimming pools.
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. Palmdale has the largest Sheriff's Station in Los Angeles County. Palmdale's innovative Partners Against Crime (PAC) Program, a cooperative effort between law enforcement, landlords and community members, has successfully focused on quality of life issues and crime suppression, reducing the crime rate annually. Recently, the Partners for a Better Palmdale program was initiated by the City Council, to further engage residents, schools, community groups and law enforcement in improving community quality of life. The city pioneered the use of municipal Community Service Officers for low level incidents to free up Deputies for higher priority matters, and employ high-tech tools, such as Automated License Plate Recognition Systems on patrol cars, to increase officer productivity.
The city is served by the Los Angeles County Fire Department for its fire and paramedic services through the Consolidated Fire Protection District. Palmdale downtown Station #37 is one of the busiest fire stations in the United States. Two new fire stations went into service in late 2008 on the east and west sides of Palmdale.
Utility services within the city are provided by several public and private agencies. Water service is primarily provided by Palmdale Water District (separate public agency) and Los Angeles County Waterworks (part of the County Public Works); sewer service is provided by the County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County (separate public agency); electrical service is provided by Southern California Edison; natural gas service is provided by Southern California Gas; cable television service is provided by Time Warner Cable; telephone service is provided by AT&T and Verizon; refuse pickup and disposal service is provided by Waste Management, Inc of the Antelope Valley under a franchise agreement with the city. The city is actively pursuing state licensing towards construction of its own hybrid natural gas and solar steam turbine power plant.
In the state legislature Palmdale is located in the 17th Senate District, represented by Republican George Runner, and in the 36th Assembly District, represented by Republican Steve Knight. Federally, Palmdale is located in California's 25th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +7 and is represented by Republican Buck McKeon.
According to the latest U.S. Census report released in Sept. 2009, Palmdale has the longest average commute time in the United States at 41.5 minutes. This commute time exceeds that of even New York City.
The Antelope Valley Freeway (SR 14) is the major North-South highway connecting Palmdale to Los Angeles and Mojave.
State Route 138 (SR 138) is the major east-west highway connecting Palmdale to the Inland Empire and Frazier Park.
State Route 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 only recently began upgrades to SR 138 (nicknamed "Blood Alley"). CalTrans has had plans on the table for several years for SR 138 and SR 18 to create an east/west freeway between Palmdale and I-15. Due to State funding constraints, this expressway will probably not be completed until near 2020 as the planning, design and construction process can take as many as 10–15 years. There has been discussion of creating a the High Desert Corridor tollway in its place. There is also a long-lost plan to continue the freeway from Palmdale along the southern foothills of the Antelope Valley to I-5 in Gorman.
State Route 48 (SR 48) is a planned east / west freeway connecting from the Antelope Valley Freeway (SR 14) at Avenue D, the current segment terminus for the western SR 138 branch, to Interstate 5 in Gorman. This freeway is planned to come after SR 138 has its new southern realignment through Palmdale completed, and will follow the existing SR 138 right of way.
State Route 122 (SR 122) is a planned north / south freeway from eastern Palmdale, passing east of Edwards Air Force Base to SR 58 near California City.
State Route 249 (SR 249) is a planned north / south freeway from southern Palmdale to I-210 in La Canada Flintridge, near Glendale.
The Palmdale Transportation Center, completed in March 2005, is the central mass transit center for the Antelope Valley. 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 commuter rail Metrolink station. The station is also designated a stop on the proposed California High Speed Rail System and the proposed Orangeline Maglev rail from Irvine.
The LA/Palmdale Regional Airport/Air Force Plant 42 (PMD) has two runways, each over 2.25 miles (3.5 km) in length, although there is currently no commercial airline service at the airport. PMD's commercial terminal is owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), a municipal department of the City of Los Angeles, on leased land from the U.S. Air Force. Airline service has been sporadic since commercial flights were first offered in 1971. Most recently, United Express/SkyWest Airlines flew between PMD and San Francisco from June 7, 2007 to December 6, 2008. The city of Palmdale is presently moving forward to control the facilities and the lease with the USAF, to better develop regional air service in the High Desert.
LAWA also owns 17,500 acres (71 km2) of land adjacent to the existing airport. The land was acquired between 1970 and 1983 to be developed into "Palmdale Intercontinental Airport", intended to surpass the air traffic of LAX. The land remains undeveloped. LAWA is currently developing a Master Plan for Palmdale that will guide airport land use and development decisions through 2030.
The FAA's Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center is located adjacent to the airport.
The City of Palmdale is developing a network of bike lanes and bike paths throughout its boundaries. The backbones of the system are a new, grade separated Class A bike path on Avenue S, between 5th Street East and 25th St East, that was included as part of a $20 million highway improvement project, and a similar path on Sierra Highway, that runs from Technology Drive (Avenue P-8) north to meet with the Lancaster segment up to Avenue J. There are also bike lanes on some local streets, leading to parks and schools, as well.
Cycling in certain areas of Palmdale carries an increased risk due to higher speed limits for vehicles and also due to the presence of large vehicles.
The area in and around Palmdale is unofficially divided up into 11 separate areas: Downtown or Old Town Palmdale (civic center), Trade & Commerce Center (the main shopping district near where the Antelope Valley Mall is located), Desert-View Highlands (old county area), Anaverde (west end-formerly City Ranch), Rancho Vista (old Bolz Ranch), Ritter Ranch (far west end), Sun Village (far east end-part County), Harold (old settlement near Lake Palmdale-part County), Quartz Hill (northwest end-part County), Lake Los Angeles (farthest east end-part County), and Leona Valley (farthest west end-part County).
Unlike nearby Santa Clarita or Los Angeles, the residents of Palmdale usually do not use the name of their particular 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.
The street system is set out in a grid. Each lettered east-westbound avenue is one mile (1.6 km) from the next letter. (Example: Avenue R is one mile (1.6 km) north from Avenue S.) In between each whole letter avenue, there are 15 sub avenues labeled -1 through -15. Along with the whole letter avenues, the -8 avenues are also major thoroughfares. (Example: Avenue R-8 is a major road just like Avenue R and Avenue S). Sometimes the -8 avenues are renamed to other names (Example: Avenue Q-8 has been renamed Palmdale Boulevard and Avenue P-8 has been renamed Technology Drive or Bulldog Avenue depending on which stretch you're on.) The city is essentially on a perfect grid, and the traffic signals are coordinated by a central processing facility at the Civic Center.
Major streets which run north to south are numbered inside their direction i.e. 10th Street West and 10th Street East. Each 0 and 5 street is a major thoroughfare with each 0 street being 1-mile (1.6 km) from the previous 0 street. (Example: 40th Street East is one mile (1.6 km) east of 30th Street East.) The east-west dividing line is Division Street in downtown, which would be the equivalent of 0th Street East/West.
All the addresses on east-west street correspond to this numbering system. For instance, 6066 West Avenue M-2 is at the second street between Avenues M and N just past 60th Street. Avenue M, is the general border of the connected population between Palmdale and Lancaster. Avenue L is actually the longer border between the two cities, east of Challenger Way, but is not as heavily populated. Avenue M has recently been named Columbia Way out of respect for the astronauts onboard the Space Shuttle Columbia that disintegrated on re-entry in 2003. 10th Street East north of Columbia Way was renamed Challenger Way in 1987, in honor of those lost in the Challenger Disaster. All of the shuttles were built in Palmdale.
Palmdale is located in the High Desert, where the summers are very hot and dry, and winters are cold and windy. Palmdale has over 300 days of sunshine per year. The same weather pattern that brings the marine layer stratus and afternoon sea breeze to the Los Angeles Basin brings gusty winds to Palmdale, especially near the foothills on the south side. Except during Santa Ana (northeast) wind events (usually fall and winter), gusty southwest winds blow over Palmdale almost every afternoon and evening all year round. The wind is so reliable that wind turbines are used to generate electricity.
Winter – Relatively chilly, 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 and is prone to flash flooding during this time. On occasion, it will snow. Average day time highs are in the upper 50s to low 60s while being in the low to mid 30s overnight.
Spring – Moderate temperatures. Still occasionally wet. Very windy. Transitional period from winter to summer temperatures is very short. Average daytime highs are in the upper 70s to low 80s while being in the upper 40s to low 50s overnight.
Summer – Very hot, dry heat 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 somewhat at night, unlike the low desert cities of Palm Springs and Blythe. Average day time highs are in the upper 90s while dropping into the mid to upper 70s after midnight. Local electrical bills spike during this period with air-conditioning units running day and night, until early October. Despite the hot temperature, it is very common to experience "summer storms" in which temperatures are consistent but there is heavy rain and thunderstorms.
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, with a short color change. Average day time highs are in the upper 70s and low 80s while dropping into the mid 40s to mid 50s overnight.
|Weather data for Palmdale, California|
|Record high °F (°C)||81 |
|Average high °F (°C)||59 |
|Average low °F (°C)||34 |
|Record low °F (°C)||6 |
|Precipitation inches (cm)||1.6 |
|Source: weather.com Aug 2007|
As of[update] the census of 2000, there were 116,670 people, 34,285 households, and 28,113 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,111.6 people per square mile (429.2/km²). There were 37,096 housing units at an average density of 353.4/sq mi (136.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 37.71% of the population.
There were 34,285 households out of which 54.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.8% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.0% were non-families. 13.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.40 and the average family size was 3.72.
In the city the population was 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 were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,941, and the median income for a family was $49,293. Males had a median income of $42,190 versus $29,401 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,384. About 12.9% of families and 15.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.1% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
Downtown Palmdale is located at  at an elevation of 2,655 feet (809 m) above sea level.,
According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 105.1 square miles (272.2 km²), of which, 104.59 square miles (271.8 km²) of it is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km²) 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.
The city lies in close proximity to the San Andreas Fault, making it, like many other regions of California, prone to strong earthquakes. This faultline cuts across the Antelope Valley Freeway just north of the Avenue S off-ramp; running westward along the old Butterfield Stage Line (now Elizabeth Lake Road) into Leona Valley.
The Palmdale vicinity currently has a total of ten ZIP codes:
Other cities and towns in the Palmdale vicinity include:
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