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About Indio

Indio, California, is a U.S. city located in the Coachella Valley of Southern California's desert region; located in Riverside County,26 miles (42 km) east of Palm Springs, 70 miles (113 km) east of Riverside and 125 miles (201 km) east of Los Angeles. The population was 49,116 at the 2000 census, but has experienced fast-growth like many exurban cities in Southern California. According to the book History of the Coachella Valley Water District, the word indio is Spanish for Indian. Indio sits on an earlier site of a Cahuilla village, Teikweit before the 1880s. [citation needed]

Indio is one of Southern California's most important agricultural regions as well, once responsible for a large percentage of the nation's date crop, however with all the new development the date groves are being pushed more to the south of Indio. Even the grove of date palms at the Riverside County Date Festival fairgrounds has been torn out by the county. Travelers from around the world still can stop by Shields Date Gardens, a famous date grower that maintains a large retail store along Hwy 111 in Indio. There are citrus groves and vegetable fields surrounding the city limits, but rapid development of new housing tracts and golf courses in the "East Valley" in the 1990s and 2000s displaced most of the agricultural space.


Points of interest

Indio has a shopping mall at its main intersection of Monroe Street and Hwy 111. Indio Fashion Mall has over 40 unique shops and restaurants. The Fashion Mall is enclosed and offers customers air conditioned shopping at department stores, boutiques and eateries. Opened in 1975, the Indio Fashion mall was stable until the economic downturn and vacancies in the 1990s, until the local economy turn-around has filled the mall with more shops and customers. In December 2006, the current property owners, Weintraub Properties announced the mall's older building will be torn down, rebuild to a larger mall to add new shops, a five-story/ resort hotel facility surrounded by an artificial lake, and will expand southward to add a movie theater, an ice skating rink and a parking garage for expected additional traffic and customers.

There are two major regularly-scheduled festivals held in Indio. Among them are the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival held each February in the Date Festival/Desert (county) Fairgrounds has been known internationally as the celebration of the area's main harvest time for date fruits. And the city's own world-famous Indio International Tamale Festival held each December. The Tamale Festival has earned two Guinness world records: one for the largest tamale festival and the other for creating the world's largest tamale which was by Chef John Sedlar (over 1 foot (0 m) in diameter and 40 feet (10 m) long). Also in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records states the Tamale festival is the world's largest cooking and culinary festival. [citation needed]

Indio has been the location of the world famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival since 1999 at the Empire Polo grounds. Rolling Stone magazine called it one of the most beautiful festival sites in the world. Expanded to 3 days for May 2007, the festival has also announced that an all-country weekend will be added, featuring performances by Willie Nelson, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Lucinda Williams, Sugarland and others yet to be named. The Date festival/county fairgrounds' Shalimar Stadium is the site for live music concerts (mostly amateur bands), 4x4 monster truck rallies, rodeo or horse riding events and world-famous camel races during the National Date Festival.

There are other festivals and special events within Indio and the chamber of commerce created Indio's official nickname: "The City Of Festivals." Indio is also the site of the annual Southwest Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club, the Cabazon Indian National Pow Wow in November at Fantasy Springs Casino, the Palm Springs Kennel Club's annual dog show at Empire Polo held in January, the Family Motor Coach Association's annual western region RV rally at the Date Festival grounds in January, and the U.S. Field Hockey Association's annual Hockey Festival held at Empire Polo in every November. In nearby Coachella, the city holds an annual Cinco de Mayo event and the Mexican Independence Day parade represents the area's largely Hispanic culture.

Indio Hills Palms, state park property, are native California fan palms thrive in many locations but rarely in such numbers as in the canyons of the Indio Hills. Here, along a line where the San Andreas fault captures groundwater that nurtures the palms, is a wild parkland which is part of the adjacent Coachella Valley Preserve. The park contains some fine native palm groves that include Indian, Hidden, Pushawalla, Biskra, Macomber and Horseshoe palms. The nearest palm groves are relatively easy to reach from the trailhead and parking area 4 miles (6 km) north of Indio. There are currently no marked access roads to the property.

Indio's old town historic mural program

In the fall of 1996 the Indio Chamber of Commerce formed a committee to develop a Historic Mural Project to help revitalize the local economy at the time of the statewide economic recession, as Indio was one of California's most economically affected areas at the time. This concept is not new. Several communities have benefited from similar programs, such as Chemainus, Canada, El Paso, Eureka, Bishop, Needles and 29 Palms, California, as well the famous Chicano Park mural to commemorate Hispanic-American life in Barrio Logan, San Diego in the late 1970s. [citation needed]

It began with a suggestion to start a mural project first brought to the city by David Hernandez, a former Indio city council member, after he visited Chemainus. Very little happened with this concept until 1996, when the Riverside County National Date Festival's executive director Bruce Latta and commissioned artist Bill Weber of San Francisco to paint a mural of the Taj Mahal on the Taj Mahal (Garden of Allah) building at the fairgrounds. At the same time, local businessman Bruce Clark, who was instrumental in promoting Historic U.S. Route 99 (Indio Blvd.) to its former status as the Main Street of California, brought the mural idea forward again, after seeing the success of a similar program in 29 Palms. When Clark presented the idea to the chamber board of directors, the timing and membership was right and the idea was immediately recognized as something that could provide a major impact on city economics, pride and tourism. Indio since now has ten murals about the city's history and development on the sides of various buildings in old town.

History and transportation

The town was laid out in 1894 by A.G. Tingman, a Southern Pacific Railroad construction boss. Tingman was also Indio's first storekeeper and postmaster. Millionaire land owner and railroad tycoon Henry E. Huntington of Los Angeles jointly funded the town site. A previous small "gulch" in the 1880s known as Indian Wells was in the current day intersection of Bliss Avenue and Fargo Street. Indio was chosen as a railroad stop because it was the halfway point between Los Angeles and Yuma, Arizona. Tingman Avenue, once downtown Indio's main street was named in his honor; it was removed during the construction of a highway overpass on Jackson Street designed to eliminate a railroad grade crossing and traffic congestion along Indio Boulevard (old Highway 99, which see). Another over-the-track bridge, Auto Center (now Golf Center) Drive, an extension of California State Route 111 opened in 1977, and the Monroe Street bridge opened in 1989.

Today, the Southern Pacific's successor, the Union Pacific Railroad maintains that original rail corridor as the main transcontinental line between Los Angeles and New Orleans, Louisiana, but the large train switching yard that brought Indio growth over the years is gone, moved to Colton several years ago, and also the coming of U.S. Highway 99 in 1926 contributed to Indio's growth. Once California's main north-south highway, US 99 was decommissioned in 1964. Its present-day replacements are California State Highway 111, California State Highway 86 and Interstate 10. But locals still used Indio Blvd., declared "Historic Route US 99" in 2001 as a major traffic artery and it is part of Indio's "East Valley renaissance" of renewed economic growth and expanding tourism.

The original 1903 railroad station, a two-story wooden structure unique to the Southern Pacific, burned to the ground in 1966. Some of the station's artifacts were salvaged and can be viewed at the Coachella Valley Historic Museum and Cultural Center in downtown Indio. The Southern Pacific rail depot is just east of Jackson Street on Ave 45, but the railroad's regional headquarters moved to Colton near San Bernardino, California in 1990. The other major business in Indio was the aerospace/military defense contractor Giannini Research Institute moved in 1967, but closed in 1985. The city had unemployment rates (some cases over 20 percent) in the late 20th century, but the current rate for 2006 is under 5 percent. [citation needed]

The aforementioned present-day Indio Boulevard was the site of the world's first use of a painted line to delineate lanes of traffic in 1915 and was spearheaded by Dr. June McCarroll for whom a stretch of Interstate 10 through the city is named. The I-10 was constructed in the mid-1970s when Indio was smaller, so the route bypasses the city and as a result, drivers didn't go down to downtown Indio as in the past and business activity declined in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Indio is growing and developing the area along I-10 and more drivers notice the city, and can take an off-ramp to downtown Indio.

The site of the Coachella Valley Historic Museum and Cultural Center was the home of Dr. Reynaldo Carreon, the area's first doctor opened a hospital in 1933 (the building was torn down for the Larson Justice Center, a county courthouse and prison). The Carreon ranch was given to John Nobles in the 1940s, established a mostly black residential area known as "Nobles Ranch" (on the original site of the Indio Polo Club), and his home was demolished in 2004 to make way for a shopping center.

Bermuda Dunes Airport (FAA designator: UDD) along the I-10 Freeway just west of Jefferson Blvd. has a 5,000 foot runway and is on the north-western border of Indio, serves small private planes, air carriers and commuter jets. The Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal just a few minutes from Indio is named for the famous 1920s pilot and Indio resident and used for cargo planes to ship agricultural products, also on the four-lane SR 86 expressway or the "NAFTA highway" for international traffic.

The Greyhound and Amtrak passenger buses have a highly-used bus depot in downtown Indio, where buses stop by regularly on the way to stops in Southern California, Arizona and the Mexican border. The city is part of the local SunBus line, which services much of the Coachella Valley.[1] It’s substation is located on State Highway 111 and Golf Center Drive, part of business route 10 that connects Indio and Coachella.


Indio is located at 33°43′12″N, 116°13′55″W (33.719871, -116.231889).GR1

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 69.2 square kilometers (27 sq mi). 69.1 km² (27 sq mi) of it is land and 0.04% is water.

The telephone area code is 760 (was 714 and 619 in the past, but Indio and the Coachella Valley is expected to have a new area code by 2009). The city's Zip codes are 92201 and 92203 north of Interstate 10.

About 3 miles (5 km) north and east of Indio is the San Andreas Fault, a major tectonic plate boundary of the Pacific and North American plates.

Indio has the Riverside county's eastern branch offices, because Indio was historically the main population center of the Coachella valley, (except when Palm Springs had more people from 1955 to 1992, when the US census announced Indio surpassed Palm Springs and that title went back to Indio).

The official elevation of Indio is below sea level, the city hall is on 14 feet (4 m) below sea level, as the Eastern half of the Coachella valley drops as low as 150 feet (50 m) below sea level (the lake shore of the Salton Sea is 15 miles (24 km) South of Indio).


As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 49,116 people, 13,871 households, and 11,069 families residing in the city. The population density was 710.5/km² (1,840.3/mi²). There were 16,909 housing units at an average density of 244.6/km² (633.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.4% White, 2.77% Black or African American, 1.04% Native American, 1.51% Asian American, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 42.02% from other races, and 3.89% from two or more races. 65.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 13,871 households out of which 48.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.9% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.2% were non-families. 16.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.48 and the average family size was 3.88.

In the city the population was spread out with 35.3% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 15.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,624, and the median income for a family was $35,564. Males had a median income of $25,651 versus $21,093 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,525. About 16.8% of families and 21.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.2% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.

Population growth

The California Department of Finance's annual report estimating city populations listed Indio with a population of 66,539 in 2005 and 71,654 as of January 1, 2006. Indio ranks one of the 10 fastest growing cities in California. If current trends continue, Indio will have over 80,000 by 2010 or pass the 100,000 mark in the next decade.

When nearby golf resort cities of Palm Springs are built-up and expensive, Indio, the neighboring towns of Coachella and La Quinta became popular destinations for new movers relocating to the area, and year-round residents sought a moderately-priced home.

Expected to have 5,000 new single family homes and 1,000 apartment units by the year 2012, Indio handles unprecedented growth for being a selection for new residents. City leaders and other locals are expanding city public services, including new recreation activities, commercial retail centers, and industrial complexes.

Indio is called the only "year-round" community in the Coachella Valley, because three-fourths of residents in the year 2000 live full-time. Also to note in the 2000 census, over 75 percent of residents were born or raised in Indio, had parents or grandparents in the same town, or had lived in the city for over 10 years.

The majority of residents and newcomers are Latino, and a high proportion of immigrants from Mexico have arrived. The number of foreign born residents is high in ratio to the town's population. The proximity to the border is 80 miles (130 km) away has given the town and nearby Coachella, where Hispanics are 90 percent of the local population, to have a "borderland" reputation.

In recent years, Indio served as a magnet of job opportunities for immigrants, and newcomers from parts of California and across the nation. Job fields, such as agriculture, construction, hospitality (hotel resorts), maintenance, retail and housekeeping are highly needed in the area.

Indio sought more corporate businesses and office professions, like fruit packing and shipping firms. Locally-based United States Filter Corporation, Guy Evans Inc., Dimare and Sun World; and move-in companies: Armtec Defense Products, Ernie Ball, Ernst and Young, Ferguson, Fulton Distributors and SunScape Tech choose Indio for the location of transport routes, low economical costs and growth potential.

The growth in population increased political representation, as the area (including Indio and Palm Desert, California) are covered by the 45th and 46th US congressional, and 64th and 80th state assembly districts, created by each city's partisan majorities (Monroe Street and Interstate 10, where the elevation is sea level, also is a political representative boundary-mostly Democrat to the east, mostly Republican west), signified the city's new socioeconomic divide, replaced the older north/south divide of Indio Boulevard.

Notable residents

One celebrity hails from this city, Las Vegas actress Vanessa Marcil, while movie writer/director Cameron Crowe attended schools in Indio, and San Diego Chargers/Minnesota Vikings lineman Ed White (football) played for Indio High School in the early 1960s. Los Angeles news anchorwoman, Lisa Hernandez of KABC-TV, hails from Indio, graduating from Indio High School in the late-1990s. TV actor Marco Sanchez is an Indio native who graduated from Indio High School in the early-1990s, later appearing in the NBC drama Seaquest DSV. Music Video/Commercial/Film Director Rich Newey grew up in Bermuda Dunes and went to La Quinta Middle School before graduating Indio High School in the early-1990s. USC college football star Oscar Lua went to Indio high school in the early-2000s. Baseball athlete Gerik Baxter, draft pick of the San Diego Padres was killed in an auto accident in 2002 on Interstate 10. He was playing baseball at the time in Lake Elsinore, Ca. Jeff Webb of the Kansas City Chiefs went to Indio Middle School before attending La Quinta High.

In the past, other celebrities like Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra are known to visited Indio in the 1950s, often their private air planes arrived in the Indio Airport closed in 1960 and the landing strips became a residential area. Current renowned residents are actor William Devane and farm labor activist Sam Maestas, and the city's Indian Palms and Indian Springs country clubs are places for celebrity star-sightings, such as Lindsay Lohan and Salma Hayek. Local rumor has it that Anna Nicole Smith had a vacation home in Indio and visited Lake Cahuilla with her son, Daniel Smith, as the trip was featured in an episode of The Anna Nicole Show.

Perhaps the most notable resident in the 1940s was Lieutenant-General George Patton, he visited Indio often during his training of U.S troops at nearby Camp Young during World War II. His wife Bea Patton had a home, known as Whittier Ranch in Indio, but he mostly stayed on base with his troops. The recently restored home still stands today on the corner of Jackson Street and Avenue 48 and will stay in it's current location when sold to a private buyer. Recently, three of the over 3,000 War in Iraq soldier causalities lived in Indio, but one Jesus Gonzalez is an Indio native, has a memorial plaque dedicated to him in the Civic Center.



Indio is served by two public school districts: Desert Sands Unified School District and on the city's south eastern corner Coachella Valley Unified School District. The headquarters are located in La Quinta has the Horizon independent studies School for all grades. Indio's 6 grade schools and 2 middle schools are highly rated under the California Distinguished Schools program. Because of Indio's growing population and above-average number of young people with family size, the two school districts are building new schools and have plans to build additional schools for several more years, along with remodeling the older schools with new buildings and designs.

Public schools in and near Indio:

Desert Sands district

Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Van Buren, Dwight Eisenhower, Andrew Jackson, Dr. Reynaldo Carreon, Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, James Madison, Carrillo Ranch, a new grade school opens in 2007, and Horizon Grade School (independent studies).

Thomas Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, John Glenn, Indio, a proposed middle school to open in 2009, and Horizon Middle School (independent studies).

Indio High School, La Quinta High School in nearby La Quinta, and a new high school slated to open in 2007. Amistad High School, a continuation high school and Horizon High School (independent studies) in La Quinta.

Coachella Valley district schools

Mountain Vista Elementary School (K-5), Cahuilla Desert Academy (6-8) and Coachella Valley High School in Thermal.

Two private schools serve the city: Indio Community School under Riverside County board of education and Eagles' Peak Charter School (formerly Indio Charter School)[2], and one Christian school: Desert Christian High School/Grade school in nearby Bermuda Dunes.

College of the Desert, the valley's community college has a campus facility in the Riverside County Employment Developmental Center opened in 2002 on Monroe Street in Indio and it has expanded its classes to a new "East Valley" Educational center in Mecca. Riverside County has a Regional Occupational Program facility in Indio that provides vocational educational courses in the Coachella valley's job market.

Health care

John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital is a General Acute Care Hospital in Indio with Basic Emergency Services as of 2006.[3] One of three hospitals in the Coachella Valley, JFK hospital boosts of being one of the state's busiest maternity wards and in 2005, opened a new maternity center in part of hospital expansion plan for more surgical rooms, intensive care units and a new concrete emergency heliport. The Indio (renamed John F. Kennedy) hospital opened in a new location in 1983 on land donated by Dr. Carreon himself. [citation needed]

Local media

Three daily newspapers serve Indio, the Desert Sun, Riverside-based the Press-Enterprise and the Los Angeles Times are available in markets, coffee shops and book stores. Two weekly papers, The Indio Sun owned by the Desert Sun is focused on local news and issues, and the Desert Post Weekly and the D from the Press-Enterprise, are artistic/pop culture variety papers.

Indio has ten local television stations serving the Coachella Valley, and six Spanish-language networks (local or regional affiliates like KUNA-LP and KVER-CA), some are over-air signals from Mexico). About eight Los Angeles television stations are available on cable and satellite service.

Three out of 20 Palm Springs area's radio stations are based in Indio: KESQ 1400 AM (in Spanish) owned by KESQ-TV/KDFX-CA, KKUU 92.7 FM (Urban/Hip-hop/R&B) owned by Morris Communications, and KJJZ 102.3 FM (Jazz/easy listening) owned by Infinity Broadcasting according to their web sites.


  1. ^ http://www.youthyack.com/content/SunLineSchedule.pdf
  2. ^ Mayer, Robert. "Charter school flourishing" The Press-Enterprise, March 13, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2007.
  3. ^ California Department of Health Services

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