Whittier is a city in Los Angeles County, California about 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Los Angeles. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 83,680. It is the home of Whittier College.
The city's population as a whole has grown since its founding days but has experienced rapid growth particularly starting in the 1990s. It has increased from 77,807 in 1990 to 83,680 in 2000 and is projected to grow to 90,041 in 2010.
The roots of Whittier can be traced to a Spanish soldier, Manuel Nieto, who in 1784 received a Spanish land grant of 300,000 acres (1,200 km²), Rancho Los Nietos, as a reward for his military service and to encourage settlement in California. Nieto's area was reduced in 1790 because of a dispute with the Mission San Gabriel, but he still laid claim to 167,000 acres (680 km²) stretching from the hills north of Whittier, Fullerton and Brea, south to the Pacific ocean, and from today's Los Angeles River, east to the Santa Ana River. Nieto constructed a dwelling for his family near the present town of Whittier, stocked the land with cattle and horses, and cultivated corn. Upon his death in 1804, his children inherited his property.
After the Mexican-American war, Jacob Gerkens, a German immigrant who paid $234 to the U.S. government to acquire 160 acres (0.6 km²) of land under the Homestead Act. He built a cabin on the land which is today known as the Jonathan Bailey House. The land had several owners before a group of Quakers bought the land, which had since been expanded to 1,259 acres (5 km²), with the purpose of founding a Quaker community. The area soon became known as a thriving citrus ranching area, with "Quaker Brand" fruit being shipped all over the United States. Soon after walnut trees were planted, and Whittier became the largest walnut grower in California.
Whittier became a charter law city and was incorporated in 1898. Like many other southern California communities, Whittier experienced a population increase after World War II.
Whittier's Redevelopment Agency has numerous projects underway to revitalize the community. This includes a $7 million dollar project near historic Hoover Hotel.
The city's recognizable auto sales spine aligned along CA-72 has dealerships such as Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Toyota, Saturn and many others. The city has also attracted many known restaurant chains such as Chili's and the Olive Garden to the Quad at Whittier shopping center anchored by Burlington Coat Factory, Old Navy, and a Ralph's.
The Whittwood Town Center (formerly the Whittwood Mall) anchored by JC Penney, Target, Sears, Vons, and Mervyn's has made way for Red Robin and Black Angus. Carino’s Italian Grill is scheduled to open soon. The city still waits to attract more well known businesses and open new residential town homes with the revival of its Uptown district.
In addition, the agency is working on developing a 480 acre (1.9 km²) project area near Whittier Blvd. The master plan was adopted in June 2005 by the City Council.