Paso Robles (full name: El Paso de Robles) (English: "Pass of the Oaks") is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, United States. Paso Robles is the fastest growing city in San Luis Obispo County: Its population at the 2000 census was 24,297; by 2007 this number had risen to 29,297, with a greater area population of 41,249. It is estimated that by 2010 the population will be approximately 32,400, and that it will reach 44,000 by 2025. Located on the Salinas River north of San Luis Obispo, California, the city is known for its hot springs, its abundance of wineries, and for playing host to the California Mid-State Fair. Translated to English, the city name means "Oak Pass" or "The Pass of the Oaks."
Paso Robles is located at United States Census Bureau, the Paso Robles city limits contain a total land area of 19.9 square miles (51.56 km²), all of it land., approximately halfway between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco on what is known as the "Central Coast". The elevation of Paso Robles ranges from 675 to 1,100 feet, but the majority of the main downtown area of the city sits at about 740 feet above sea level. According to the
The topography of the area consists of gentle rolling hills on the eastern half of the city, and foothill peaks which rise in elevation to the Santa Lucia Coastal Range on the west, which are all blanketed in the Californian chaparral environment, which is mainly dry grassland and oak woodland. Simply "Paso", as it is referred to by locals, sits on the eastern foothills of the Santa Lucia Coastal Mountain Range, which lies directly to the West of the city, and runs in a North-South direction, starting at Monterey, then runs down South to its terminus, in the San Luis Obispo area. The city is located at the southern end of the fertile Salinas River Valley, which is centered in between the Temblor Range (including the San Andreas Fault), which lie about 28 miles to the East, and the Santa Lucia Coastal Range, which lie directly west, rising up from the city's western border. Paso Robles sits at the border where northern San Luis Obispo County and southern Monterey County meet, and is situated roughly 24 miles, or 20 minutes, inland from the Pacific Ocean.
The Paso Robles area actually consists of two different climate types and classifications, as based on the Koppen climate classification (KCC) system, which are KCC type BSk, a semi-arid, dry, steppe-type climate, and KCC type Csb, which is the typical, coastal Californian & 'Mediterranean' type. The area receives a mixture of these two types of climates, but the primary climate is defined by long, hot, dry summers and brief, cool, sometimes rainy winters. Paso Robles enjoys long-lasting, mild autumns and occasional early springs, giving the region a unique climate suitable for growing a variety of crops (ranging from primarily grapes, to olives, to almonds and other tree nuts). The city receives an average annual rainfall of about 14.71 inches (374 mm) per year, and most of this precipitation falls during winter and early spring. Paso Robles often receives less than 10 inches (250 mm) of rain per year and typically, no rain falls from May through September. Summers in Paso Robles tend to be very hot, with daily temperatures frequently exceeding 100 °F (38 °C) from late June to as late as mid September, and occasionally exceeding 110 °F (43 °C). Paso Robles' summers feature an unusually large daytime-nighttime temperature swing, where there may be a profound temperature difference, as much as 50°F (28°C), between the daytime highs and the overnight lows. Winters are often very cool and moist, with daytime temperatures reaching into the low 50s°F (10°C). Mornings and nights differ from the daytime average, as they tend to very frigid (especially in December and January), where lows reach as low as 25 °F (−4 °C). Due to the somewhat close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the marine layer occasionally makes it over the coast range and into Paso Robles, creating occasional fog. However, unlike typical California coastal marine fog in areas such as San Francisco, this fog is never long lasting, and typically burns off before 10am.
The all-time record high temperature at the National Weather Service cooperative city office was 117°F on August 13, 1933. The record low temperature was 0°F on January 6, 1913, making Paso Robles the lowest elevation in California to reach that low temperature. There are an average of 81.0 days with high temperatures of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 64.0 days with low temperatures of 32°F (0°C) or lower. The 30-year average (1971-2000) annual precipitation is 15.17 inches, falling on an average of 47 days. The wettest year was 1941 with 29.19 inches of precipitation and the dryest year was 1947 with 4.24 inches. The most precipitation in one month was 14.76 inches in January 1916. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 5.25 inches on December 6, 1966. Although snow is rare in Paso Robles, 4.0 inches fell on April 5, 1929, and on December 15, 1988.
At the Paso Robles FAA Airport, the record high temperature was 115F° on June 15, 1961, and July 20, 1960. The record low temperature was 8°F on December 22, 1990. There are an average of 86.7 days with highs of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 53.6 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. The 30-year average (1971-2000) annual precipitation is 12.57 inches, falling on an average of 42 days. The wettest year was 1995 with 25.56 inches and the dryest year was 2007 with 4.20 inches. The most precipitation in one month was 12.19 inches in January 1969. The most precipitation in 24 hours was 5.47 inches on March 10, 1995. The record snowfall was 4.0 inches on December 15, 1988.
|Weather data for Paso Robles, California|
|Average high °C (°F)||16 |
|Average low °C (°F)||1 |
|Precipitation mm (inches)||82 |
|Source: weather.com 03/02/2009|
This area of the Central Coast known as the City of El Paso de Robles or Paso Robles and simply “Paso” to locals, has always been renowned for thermal springs. The Salinan Indians—the most historical inhabitants of the area—were here thousands of years even before the mission era. They knew this area as the “Springs” or the “Hot Springs.” The Indians, and later the Mission Fathers and their congregations, found relief from various ailments in the therapeutic waters and soothing mud baths.
The area was originally part of a 25,000 acre (101 km²) Spanish land grant that was purchased by James and Daniel Blackburn in 1857. The land was a rest-stop for travelers of the Camino Real trail, and was known for its mineral hot springs. In fact, Franciscan priests from neighboring Mission San Miguel constructed the first mineral baths in the area. During this period, Paso Robles began to attract the pioneer settlers who would become the founding members of the community. They would later establish cattle ranches, apple and almond orchards, dairy farms, and vineyards.
In 1864, the first El Paso de Robles Hotel was constructed and featured a hot mineral springs bath house.
James and Daniel Blackburn donated two blocks to the city for a public park to be used for the pleasure of its citizens and visitors. By original deed, the land was to revert to the donors if used for any other purpose than a public park. The grounds were laid out by a Mr. Redington and a planting day was held when each citizen set out his own donation. Originally, the whole park was hedged in by a fence of cactus, and in 1890 a bandstand was built with money raised by private theatricals.
In 1886, after the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad, work began on laying out a town site, with the resort as the nucleus. Two weeks after the first train arrived on October 31, 1886, a three-day celebration was held including a special train from San Francisco bringing prospective buyers, who toured the area and enjoyed the daily barbecues. On November 17, the “Grand Auction” was held, resulting in the sale of 228 lots.
The local agent for the SPR when it arrived in Paso Robles was R. M. 'Dick' Shackelford, a Kentucky native who had come to California in 1853 to dig for gold. Shackelford had a varied career, going from gold mining to hauling freight by ox team, to lumbering, which took him to Nevada, where he served one term as a delegate in the state's first legislature for Washoe County. By 1886 Shackelford had returned to California and was living in Paso Robles, where he began buying up extensive property, building warehouses and starting lumber yards along the railroad's route. Shackelford also established the Southern Pacific Milling Company, which had a virtual monopoly on local milling until local farmers, in an effort to break Shackelford's strangehold, themselves organized their own milling cooperative, the Farmers' Alliance Flour Mill.
In 1889, the same year that Paso Robles incorporated as a city, construction began on a magnificent new hotel. The hotel required over one-million bricks and cost a princely $160,000. The new El Paso de Robles Hotel opened for business in 1891. The new hotel was three stories tall and built of solid masonry, set off by sandstone arches. This ensured the hotel was completely fireproof. The hotel also featured a seven acre (28,000 m²) garden and nine hole golf course. Inside there was a library, a beauty salon, a barber shop, and various billiard and lounging rooms. The new hotel also offered an improved hot springs plunge bath as well as 32 individual bath rooms. The 20 by 40-foot (12 m) plunge bath was considered one of the finest and most complete of its time in the United States.
In 1913, the world's most well-known concert pianist and composer came to the hotel: Ignace Paderewski. After three months of treatments at the hotel's mineral hot springs for his arthritis, he resumed his concert tour. He later returned to live at the hotel and bought two beautiful ranches just west of Paso Robles.
During the next 30 years, the hotel was visited by other notables: Boxing champion Jack Dempsey, President Theodore Roosevelt, Adela Rogers - St. John, Phoebe Apperson Hearst (the mother of William Randolph Hearst), actors Douglas Fairbanks, Boris Karloff, Bob Hope, and Clark Gable all stayed at the El Paso de Robles Hotel. And when Major League baseball teams used Paso Robles as a spring training home, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox stayed at the hotel and soaked in the mineral hot springs to sooth tired muscles.
For a time, Paso Robles was known as the “Almond City” because the local almond growers created the largest concentration of almond orchards in the world. The ranchers in the outlying areas were very important to the Paso Robles area. On these ranches were cattle and horses, grain crops (primarily wheat and barley), garden produce and fruit and nut orchards. Many of these ranch lands and orchards have become vineyards for the many wineries which currently draw tourists to the area.
To show their appreciation to the ranchers, the business people established Pioneer Day in October 1931, which is still a huge annual celebration. Pioneer Day is celebrated every year on the Saturday prior to October 12. It was originally organized by community volunteers working with generous donations of time, materials and money from individuals, businesses, churches and service organizations. Their goal was to provide a day of community friendship and a commemoration of the heritage of the Paso Robles area. It would also become a day set aside to say “Thank You” to all of the people who support the business and professional community of the area throughout the year. Most businesses closed so that their employees could enjoy and participate in the activities and family reunions. There were to be no charges for any of the events, no commercial concessions and lunch would be provided at no cost.
In December 1940, tragedy struck. A spectacular fire completely destroyed the "fire-proof" El Paso de Robles Hotel. Guests staying the night escaped unharmed. However, the night clerk who discovered the fire suffered a fatal heart attack immediately after sounding the alarm. Within months after the blaze, plans for a new hotel to be built on the site were drawn up. The design was an entirely new concept: A Garden Inn - Hotel, designed to accommodate motor vehicle travellers. By February 1942 construction was complete and the new Paso Robles Inn opened for business.
Through the 1960s and 1970's, few changes occurred at the Paso Robles Inn. However, the City of Paso Robles experienced significant growth. The area's wine industry flourished, the California Mid-State Fair expanded into a regional attraction, local lakes, such as Lake Nacimiento, became family vacation destinations and Paso Robles' reputation as a charming and friendly community grew.
As far back as 1795, Paso Robles has been spoken of and written about as “California’s oldest watering place”—the place to go for springs and mud baths. In 1864, a correspondent to the San Francisco Bulletin wrote that there was every prospect of the Paso Robles hot springs becoming the watering place of the state. By 1868 people were coming from as far away as Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and even Alabama. Besides the well-known mud baths, there were the Iron Spring and the Sand Spring, which bubbles through the sand and was said to produce delightful sensations.
In 1882, Drury James and the Blackburn brothers issued a pamphlet advertising “El Paso de Robles Hot and Cold Sulphur Springs and the Only Natural Mud Baths in the World.” By then there were first class accommodations—a reading room, barber shop, and telegraph office; a general store, a top-of-the-line livery stable, and comfortably furnished cottages for families that preferred privacy to quarters in the hotel. Visitors could stay in touch with the rest of the world, as there were two daily mails, a Western Union telegraph office, and a Wells Fargo agency with special rates for guests. As the springs became more and more a destination of the well-to-do as a place to go to socialize, the original purpose of the springs—to heal—became peripheral.
The bathhouse was erected over the sulphur spring in 1888, with a plunge and thirty-seven bath rooms. In the following year, work began on the large Hot Springs Hotel, (today the Paso Robles Inn), which was completed in 1900 and burned down 40 years later. Since the privileges of using the baths were restricted to guests of the hotel and many sufferers of the ailments the baths cured could not pay the rates of the fashionable hotel, a few businessmen in Paso Robles made arrangements with Felix Liss for the right to bore for sulphur water on a lot which Liss owned. A sulphur well was reached, a bath house built and baths offered at an affordable rate of twenty-five cents. The establishment was later offered to the City and is currently the site of the Municipal Pool.
Paso Robles’ growth as industry—wine—has a long history with the area. Wine grapes were introduced to the Paso Robles soil in 1797 by the Spanish conquistadors and Franciscan missionaries. Spanish explorer Francisco Cortez envisioned an abundant wine-producing operation and encouraged settlers from Mexico and other parts of California to cultivate the land. The first vineyardists in the area were the Padres of the Mission San Miguel, and their old fermentation vats and grapevine artwork can still be seen at the Mission, north of the city of Paso Robles.
Commercial winemaking was introduced to the Paso Robles region in 1882 when Andrew York, a settler from Indiana, began planting vineyards and established the Ascension Winery at what is now York Mountain Winery. When York purchased the land, it was primarily apple orchards, with a small plot of wine grape vines. York found that the climate and soil were more suitable for vineyards and he expanded the vineyards. Within a few years, he found that the vines were yielding more than he could market, prompting him to build a small, stone winery.
Following Andrew York’s early success in the wine business, Gerd and Ilsabe Klintworth planted a vineyard in the Geneseo/Linne area in approximately 1886. They were licensed to sell jugs of Zinfandel, Port, and Muscatel, as well as some of the area’s first white wine made from Burger grapes. The Casteel Vineyards in the Willow Creek area were planted just prior to 1908. Casteel wines were stored and aged in a cave cellar. Cuttings from the old vines provided the start for other vineyards, still producing in the area today.
As the popularity of wines began to grow, so did the Paso Robles wine region. Lorenzo and Rena Nerelli purchased their vineyard at the foot of York Mountain in 1917. Their Templeton Winery was the area’s first to be bonded following the repeal of Prohibition.
The early 1920s saw a flurry of winemaking activity when several families immigrated to the area to establish family vineyards and wineries. Sylvester and Caterina Dusi purchased a vineyard in 1924. The old head-pruned Zinfandel vines are now owned and cultivated by their son, Benito. The Martinelli, Busi, Vosti and Bianchi vineyards were also established around this time.
The Paso Robles wine region gained more notoriety when Ignace Paderewski, the famous Polish statesman and concert pianist, visited Paso Robles, became enchanted with the area, and purchased 2,000 acres. In the early 1920s, he planted Petite Syrah and Zinfandel on his Rancho San Ignacio vineyard in the Adelaide area. Following Prohibition, Paderewski's wine was made at York Mountain Winery. The wines produced from grapes grown on Rancho San Ignacio went on to become award-winners. Paso Robles’ reputation as a premier wine region became firmly established as a result of this and later successes, and through to the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new generation of vineyard pioneers came forth and flourished in the Paso Robles area.
At 11:15am PST on December 22, 2003, an earthquake, known as the San Simeon earthquake, struck about 25 miles North-West of Paso Robles. The quake registered a magnitude 6.6 on the Richter Magnitude Scale, and caused two deaths when the roof slid off the clock tower building, a popular landmark in downtown Paso Robles. The dormant underground springs that had once been used for the spa were brought back to life by the quake, causing flooding and a large sinkhole in the parking lot of the city hall and library. As of 2008, this sinkhole still requires pumping to move the natural sulfur mineral water from the center of the city to the riverbed, where it is allowed to flow unimpeded in the Salinas River. The sinkhole has also continually released sulfur gas since the earthquake, creating an odor that occasionally lingers over the area immideately surrounding the hole. Paso Robles has dedicated a new clock tower in memory of the two women who died on that day.
As of the census of 2000, there were 24,297 people, 8,556 households, and 6,040 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,401.6 people per square mile (541.3/km²). There were 8,791 housing units at an average density of 507.1/sq mi (195.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.70% White, 3.32% Black or African American, 1.30% Native American, 1.89% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 13.68% from other races, and 3.97% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27.72% of the population. There were 8,556 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 12.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 23.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.23. In the city the population was spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 18.6% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 102.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.6 males. The median income for a household in the city was $39,217, and the median income for a family was $44,322. Males had a median income of $35,514 versus $24,058 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,974. About 10.7% of families and 13.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.7% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.
During the past 7 years, since the last census was conducted in the year 2000, the city of Paso Robles has experienced phenomenal population growth, with an average annual population growth rate of 3.18%. As calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau and the State Department of Finance, the city limits population of Paso Robles as of early 2007 was 29,934, with a Greater Area/"Metro" population of 41,249.
NoteThe following demographics are taken and computed from the United States Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) data profiles. The demographics are compiled by the Census Bureau using data and surveys collected from the ACS, Census Bureau Population Estimates ProgramLink, and the California State Department of Finance from years 2005-2007. Although these US Census Bureau statistics are Estimates, they have been proven to be incredibly accurate year after year with a very small margin of error. These updated figures, although not necessary, give a better, and more current, idea of statistics such as population percentages, income figures, racial and age makeup, etc.
As of the 2007 ACS Census Update, the city limits population was estimated at 27,868 people, 7,880 families within the city, and an average citizen age of 33.2 years old. The city limits population density was 1,504.2 people per square mile (29.18 km2), there were 11,218 total available housing units with 10,876 of them occupied (total households). The racial makeup of the city was 82.0% White, 2.8% Black or African American, 1.1% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 12.1% from other races, and 3.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 32.9% of the population. There were 10,876 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.6% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.5% were non-families. 20.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 2.96. In the city the population was spread out with 27.7% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 25.7% from 25 to 44, 23.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.2 years. The median income for a household in the city was $51,172, and the median income for a family was $57,114. Males had a median income of $42,357 versus $29,311 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,544. About 11.4% of families and 13.5% of the population as a whole were below the poverty line, including 18.2% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.
In the state legislature Paso Robles is located in the 15th Senate District, represented by Republican Abel Maldonado, and in the 33rd Assembly District, represented by Republican Sam Blakeslee. Federally, Paso Robles is located in California's 22nd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +16 and is represented by Republican Kevin McCarthy.
Paso Robles is at the major ground transportation crossroads of U.S. Highway 101 and State Highway 46 East, halfway between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area with direct eastbound access to the San Joaquin Valley and Interstate 5. Paso Robles is currently serviced by 1 freeway and 2 highways:
Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, serves Paso Robles, operating its Coast Starlight daily in each direction between Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles. Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner that operates between San Diego and Paso Robles connects by bus transfer from San Luis Obispo Train Station.
Paso Robles has one airport serving the city, Paso Robles Municipal Airport. Paso Robles Municipal is a regional general aviation airport located about 5 miles northeast of downtown Paso Robles. Paso Robles Municipal does not currently offer scheduled passenger service, as the scheduled passenger market is already served by nearby San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, 25 miles to the south in San Luis Obispo. Although Paso Robles Airport does not currently offer scheduled passenger service, they do however have a large amount of daily Business Aviation operations, in addition to serving as a large General Aviation base. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has an air attack base at the airport. Here, aircraft are reloaded with fire fighting chemicals, which are dropped on brush and forest fires. Also, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) house a fixed wing aircraft, used for speed enforcement, and a helicopter, used for search and rescue. The area immediately surrounding the Paso Robles Airport, known as Airport Road Industrial Park, is also home to many aviation maintenance providers and facilities, as well as home to many aviation parts manufacturers and other related businesses.