California City, incorporated in 1965, is a city located in the northern Antelope Valley in Kern County, 65 miles southwest of Death Valley National Park, in the U.S. state of California. The population was 8,385 at the 2000 census. Estimated population in July 2006 is 12,659.
California City has one prison (the California City Correctional Center, operated by the Corrections Corporation of America), one landowners' resort, one PGA golf course, and one municipal airport. Much of the workforce of Edwards Air Force Base, which is located just to the south of the city, is made up of city residents. Other major sources of employment include California City Prison, Silver Saddle, Mojave Airport and its boneyard plane salvaging operations, the Honda Proving Center to the north, the new Hyundai/Kia Proving Grounds located to its southwest, and nearby cities such as Tehachapi, Ridgecrest, Boron, Palmdale, and Lancaster.
Temperatures range from about 33 °F (1 °C) to about 118 °F (48 °C).
The area where California City now exists was largely uninhabited prior to the last half century. Padre Francisco Garcés, a Franciscan missionary, camped at Castle Butte in what is now California City in 1776 during his exploration of Arizona and southern California. In the late 19th century, the Twenty Mule Team Trail, which carried loads of borax to the railhead in Mojave from mines in the east, ran through the California City area.
California City had its origins in 1958 when real estate developer and sociology professor Nat Mendelsohn purchased 80,000 acres (320 km2) of Mojave Desert land with the aim of master-planning California's next great city. He designed his model city, which he hoped would one day rival Los Angeles in size, around a Central Park with a 26-acre (11 ha) artificial lake. Growth did not happen anywhere close to what he expected. To this day a vast grid of crumbling paved roads, scarring vast stretches of the Mojave desert, intended to lay out residential blocks, extends well beyond the developed area of the city. A single look at satellite photos shows the extent of the scarred desert and how it stakes its claim to being California's 3rd largest geographic city, 34th largest in the US. California City was incorporated in 1965.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 203.6 square miles (527 km2), of which 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) or 0.04% is water. Although one of California's smaller cities in terms of population, California City is the third largest city in California by land area (34th in the United States, and 21st when consolidated city-counties are excluded).
According to the census of 2000, there were 8,385 people, 3,067 households, and 2,257 families residing in the city. As of 2006 the city's population grew 8.9% from 12,106 to 13,219. California City outpaced rivals Palmdale and Lancaster, making the city the 12th fastest growing city in California. This also made California City the fastest growing city in the Antelope Valley. The population density was 41.2 inhabitants per square mile (15.9 /km2). There were 3,560 housing units at an average density of 17.5 /sq mi (6.8 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 68.19% White, 12.82% Black or African American, 1.56% Native American, 3.73% Asian, 0.32% Pacific Islander, 7.43% from other races, and 5.94% from two or more races. 16.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 3,067 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.8% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 21.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.7% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $45,735, and the median income for a family was $51,402. Males had a median income of $44,657 versus $28,152 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,902. About 12.5% of families and 17.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.0% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.
Only 807 workers lived and worked in California City in 2006. This was 24.3% of the city's population. 31% of the male population were public administrators in 2006. Public administration is the most common job in California City. *City-Data.com
Although the growth of the city has not met its founders' expectations, California City has seen substantial population growth over the past several years. The Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance estimates California City's population at 12,048 as of 1 January 2006. California City's population increased an estimated 4.2% in 2005, over three times the growth rate of the state as a whole. California City currently ranks 345th out of 478 incorporated cities in California, up from 348th in 2005.
In the 2004 Presidential election, 67% voted for the Republican candidate, and 33% voted for the Democratic candidate.
The crime index for 2006 was 251.8 (239.8 was the national average.) There were 15 full-time law enforcement officers. There were two murders in 2006. 53 people were in federal prisons and detention centers.