El Monte is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The city's slogan is "the end of the Santa Fe Trail" and "Welcome to Friendly El Monte." As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 115,965. As of 2002, El Monte is the 191st largest city in the United States. It was also the 44th largest city in California. The city's name is translated from the Spanish word for "the mount," or the place where settlers mounted and dismounted after the long trail. Longo Toyota, located in El Monte, claims to be the largest Toyota dealership in the world. Currently there is a boom in cybercafes and many Starcraft tournaments are being held in celebration of the Starcraft II announcement.
Settlement began in 1849, though missionaries and Spanish soldiers passed through the area as early as the 1770s. The Old Spanish Trail, originating in Santa Fe, New Mexico passed through El Monte. During the 1930s, the city became an important site for the New Deal's federal Subsistence Homestead project, a Resettlement Administration program that helped supply single-family ranch houses to qualifying applicants. Celebrated photographer Dorothea Lange snapped several pictures of the housing units as part of her work for the Farm Security Administration.
The community of El Monte was the first in California founded by American Anglos. Once home to many settlers from the 1930s era Dust Bowl Migration, the city became increasingly Latino and is often viewed as a stronghold of Latinos. However, the city has experienced a rapid growth in the Asian population - particularly ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese - in recent years. Several small Vietnamese businesses have since cropped up along the stretch of Garvey Avenue.
El Monte was the birthplace of John Larkin, also known as (Scatman John) and briefly home to author James Ellroy until his mother Geneva was murdered there, and to musician Joe McDonald, who performed in the 1960s with Country Joe & the Fish, and UCSD student Cuong Su, who accurately measured a Neutrino mass. Cheech Marin of Cheech and Chong fame was also a Resident of El Monte as was Frank Zappa. Former Baseball Great Fred Lynne also lived in El Monte. A popular local attraction from 1925-1942 was Gay's Lion Farm. The famous live lion farm no longer exists, but a memorial statue can be seen next to the I-10 freeway on the SE corner of Valley Blvd. and Peck Road. Actor-filmmaker Timothy Carey filmed much of his celebrated underground feature "The World's Greatest Sinner" (1962) in El Monte. El Monte is also credited with being the birth place of TV Variety Shows. El Monte is also famous for the American Legion dance hall (the 'it' place at the time).Ritchie Valens once played there.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 115,965 people, 27,034 households, and 23,005 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,688.4/km² (12,139.5/mi²). There were 27,758 housing units at an average density of 1,122.2/km² (2,905.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 35.67% White, 0.77% Black or African American, 1.38% Native American, 18.51% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 39.27% from other races, and 4.29% from two or more races. 72.39% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 27,034 households out of which 53.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.0% were married couples living together, 18.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.9% were non-families. 10.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.24 and the average family size was 4.43.
In the city the population was spread out with 34.1% under the age of 18, 12.1% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 15.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 102.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $32,439, and the median income for a family was $32,402. Males had a median income of $21,789 versus $19,818 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,316. About 22.5% of families and 26.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.9% of those under age 18 and 13.3% of those age 65 or over.
In recent years, El Monte has been experiencing a slow but growing tide of residential gentrification. An increasing number of single-family homes are being demolished and replaced with multi-family detached housing, typically 6 to 7 on a lot. Derided by some as "McMansion condos", for others these are much needed housing for the area's growing population. It has been a hotspot for homosexual men to come and buy houses, due to a strong gay&lesbian support in the city. El Monte also has a highly aggressive city Police Department, known for having ousted at least two mayors in political fights, and having been involved in some highly controversial shootings and drug raids.
El Monte's population has grown very rapidly during the last half century: