Poway is located at United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 101.9 km² (39.3 mi²). 101.6 km² (39.2 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it (0.25%) is water. The city is known in Diegueño as Pawiiy.(32.969895, -117.038479). According to the
Artifacts such as arrow heads, spear points, metates, grinding stones, and pottery found along the bed of Poway Creek all indicate an early Diegueño presence. Various pictographs adorn many of Poway's boulders, and modern techniques suggest that these paintings date back to the 1500s or earlier. Poway's contemporary history began in 1758, when padres from the Mission San Diego de Alcala kept cattle in the valley. The name "Paguay", one of many original spellings, appears on mission documents in 1774. The name, also written as Paguai, Paui, Pauai, Pauy, Powaii, and finally Poway, has incurred dispute as to its meaning. While one Native American linguist insists that it means "here, where the waters meet", the consensus has traditionally translated the word as "the two little valleys".
For approximately a century, Poway served as a stock range for the mission, until settlers began to come to the valley for farming purposes in the late antebellum period. Few records of this time have survived, and not until 1894 and the inception of the Poway Progress did the town's history become a thing of record. In 1887, about 800 people lived and farmed in Poway. Around the turn of the century Poway farmers had moderate success in the production and vending of fruit, grain, and dairy products. Expansion, however, failed to follow agricultural success. Though the farmers prospered, the town existed in a static state for decades, varying only slightly in population, demographics, crop selection, and the like.
Poway has a creek and fertile soil, but the lack of easily available water prevented the settlement from attracting large-scale farmers and the accompanying population growth. Not until 1954 did the town establish the Poway Municipal Water District, which utilizes water from the Colorado River Aqueduct to irrigate all of Poway's 10,000 acres (40 km²). When water came to the town, people did as well. In 1957, following the sewer system's completion, developers built housing tracts, and modern Poway grew from there. In 1980 Poway incorporated and officially became the City of Poway (nicknamed "the City in the Country") rather than a part of San Diego. Poway no longer depends on agriculture for its primary source of income, and has instead transitioned into a residential community for those who work for employers in and around the San Diego area. According to a recent state government estimate, the population of Poway has grown since that last census to 50,542.
Though many residents today mistake Poway for an old Western-style cowboy town, its original roots lie in agriculture. The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged Westward migration, and accordingly many of Poway's first white settlers came to farm. The fecund soil proved well-suited to a variety of crops, including peaches, Muscat grapes, apricots, pears, hay, and alfalfa. Some farmers captured swarms of wild bees and cultivated honey. Dairying also proved lucrative. Most families kept a cow for milk and butter, chickens for eggs and meat, and perhaps a hog to sustain them while they farmed. Crops sold well around the San Diego area. Between the seasons of 1894 and 1896, the Poway Progress reported bits of agricultural information such as:
The success of these crops depended on the annual winter rainfall, however, and so remained subject to variations in precipitation until the establishment of the Poway Municipal Water District in 1954. With water readily available, the town's farming interest shifted to two principal crops, avocados and citrus fruits. Ironically, despite the relative success of these ventures, Poway ceased to exist as a farming town once the water needed to make it a true agricultural haven appeared. With water came new residents, and the former farm town transformed into a locale full of small commercial businesses and modest shopping centers.
The Community Church of Poway, the town's first church, has remained in operation since 1883. Today, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Mormons constitute the majority of Poway's religious demographic. There are two Catholic churches in Poway, St. Michael's and St. Gabriel's There is also a small Jewish community, with a Reform and a Conservative temple as well as a Chabad. In addition to that, there is a Sikh temple, one of several in San Diego, located in Poway.
Poway established its school district in 1871, but did not have a schoolhouse until 1885, when a one-room schoolhouse was built at Midland Road about a 2-3 minute walk south of the Templar's Hall. The site is still in use today as an elementary school (Kindergarten through 5th grade), though it was torn down and rebuilt in 1945, and again in 2004-2006. First through eighth graders were included in one classroom. Children learned to read and write using slates, and eventually progressed to study subjects such as arithmetic, spelling, English, language (German or Latin), grammar, history, and geography. Students did not usually attend high school, and had to travel to Escondido if they wished to do so. In 1909, only three students from Poway graduated from high school. Women who went on to more school from there usually had teaching ambitions. Education, while compulsory and considered a worthwhile pastime, had few far-reaching applications for Poway's farmers' children. Enrollment in the Poway School first through eighth grades did not reach 100 until 1932.
Today, the Poway Unified School District (PUSD) has grown to more than 30 elementary, middle (6th through 8th grades), and high (9th through 12th grades) schools, and even has a home-schooling program. PUSD has a record of high performance, and one of its students, Anurag Kashyap (an eighth grader at the time), became the 2005 National Spelling Bee Champion after winning on the word "appoggiatura".
Poway's transportation history parallels that of early California. In 1888 the first stagecoach began to service the towns from San Diego to Escondido, including Poway. The stage made one stop in town, at the Poway Post Office, and also delivered mail to the farmers who would wait along the road for its arrival. The men would trot alongside the coach and inquire as to the state of the mail, and thus receive letters without requiring it to stop. Eight to ten passengers could accompany the stagecoach on its three-day journey for a modest $1.00 fee, or purchase a round trip for the bargain price of $1.50. The route itself, though not treacherous when passing through Poway, did pose a significant challenge to the team and driver at various points. Windy mountain trails often caused the stage to turn over, spilling both mail and passengers onto the rocky turf. The city of San Diego discontinued the stage line in 1912, when the advent of the automobile facilitated an easier and less time-consuming method of mail delivery. Poway established a County Road Station in 1920, to oil and maintain the roads so that automobiles could use them with ease. The road station remained in operation until 1961, when Poway achieved an 80% paved road rate. To this day, though, the town still boasts a number of dirt roads, for use by cars, horses, bikers, pedestrians, and hikers.
Perhaps the most famed incident in Poway's transportation history comes from an event that never actually took place. The story goes as follows: in October 1895, representative from the Pacific Beach Railroad Company approached the citizens of Poway with the prospect of directing their railroad route through the center of town. A.K. Cravath and C.B. Boyd, company superintendents, met with town leaders and discussed the prospect, piquing the community's interest, as the Poway Progress reportage of November 23, 1895 demonstrates:
Superintendent Boyd of the PBRC returned recently from an extended trip throughout the east… he says the prospects of a largely increased tourist traffic during the coming season are especially good. As the years go by, Southern California is becoming more and more advertised, and Mr. Boyd says that everywhere he heard people talking of this region and not forgetting to place San Diego on the itinerary of their proposed travels. The prospects for the extension of the road to Santa Maria, he says are brighter than ever and the road will undoubtedly be built and in running order within a year.
The newspaper's editor, L. E. Kent, met with Boyd and Cravath on many occasions, and obviously caught the flavor of their sales patter. His enthusiasm for the subject of the railroad, based on repeated assurances from the PBRC that the cars could not fail to run, spread like wildfire to the townspeople. On the first of December the town held a "Railroad Social" wherein, according to plan, the PBRC representatives would meet with the entire town and, after a considerable amount of entertainment and hubbub, present the railroad contract to the townspeople for their approval and signatures. The night began without a hitch. According to the December 7 Poway Progress, "a program of good and appropriate things was provided by local talent, which furnished fun and amusement to all. Following the entertainment, a sumptuous supper was served free to the hungry crowd, after which games and youthful antics continued into the late hours" (31). The "entertainment", according to the evening's program, published by the newspaper the following morning, surpassed all expectations. Local residents performed vocal duets, played the violin and the organ, and even sang a "Railroad Song" en masse. Perhaps the most telling entertainment came in the form of a "recitation" by Flora Kent, L.E. Kent's wife, who composed an original poem on the subject and performed it for the crowd. Her proud husband esteemed his wife's literary talents so highly that he published the full text of her poem in the Progress the next day. The following excerpts (two out of a total six stanzas) give an adequate representation of the work's flavor:
The poem gives an excellent indication of Poway's general excitement concerning the new railroad. The comment that Poway's "slumber has been long", especially, suggests that Poway residents recognize the sleepiness and overall torpor of their town, and long for an agent such as the railroad to awaken them from their doze into a new world of economic prosperity. This new reality, however, seemed dubious when, on the very night of the Railroad Social, with all the town's residents in attendance, the PBRC representatives failed to materialize. "There was one disappointment that shadowed the whole affair—" the Progress reports: "the nonappearance of the gentlemen who were expected to be present to give the railroad talk, setting for the plans, purpose, and contracts of the enterprise." The fact that the superintendents never attended the contract signing should have, perhaps, indicated to the Powegians that the PBRC did not act entirely in good faith concerning the venture. The same newspaper article, though, states "In justice to the gentlemen named, we are authorized to state that they fully intended to be present at the social, but other engagements prevented them—explanations promised." At this time in the venture, Poway had collectively given upwards of $100,000 worth of bonds and land to the PBRC. Gullible as the superintendents doubtless expected to find them, Poway residents continued to pursue the railroad project for another year in its entirety, with the paper constantly reporting news such as this, in July 1896. (39)
Although there is at present a death-like sentence as to our railroad project, we are glad to note indications that the enterprise is not abandoned, nor at a standstill entirely. Mr. Boyd… [said] that they would "get there" without fail. He gave the impression, in short, that the construction of the road can be depended on.
Not until October 1896 did Poway finally abandon hope for the project and demand its money back. Remarkably, the sum of $85,000 worth of land and notes came back into the town's coffers. The financial losses incurred by the townspeople, then, did not prove devastating, but the town's spirit never fully recovered from the blow. L.E. Kent himself took the news so poorly, having had the personal assurances of Cravath and Boyd many times, and having staked his journalistic reputation, such as it was, on these assurances, that he only continued to publish the Poway Progress until 1897, one year after the railroad fiasco concluded. After all, progress did not seem imminent in Poway's future any longer. When news of the coming railroad spread, an English firm, Baird and Chapin, came to the valley and laid out a subdivision plan called Piermont. A plan filed in 1887 shows such elegant names as Devon, Norwalk, Aubrey, Edgemoor, York, Rydal, Windsor and Midland Avenues. Residential areas were planned around small parks: Ashton Court, Chatham Court, Hampton Court, St. Alban's Court and many others. Poway's new railroad would bring the grandeur, elegance, and cultivation that the town currently lacked, and the developers named the areas accordingly. When the railroad did not materialize, though, the valley began to lose some of its settlers, and the developers left as well. Poway existed in a stagnant inertia for close to three quarters of a century before water revitalized the town.
Poway's greatest change started in the 1950s when water came to the valley. On January 29, 1954 an election was held on the formation of the Poway Municipal Water District, which passed with an overwhelming majority of 210 ayes to 32 nayes. At a second election on March 25, 1954, the citizens voted to annex to the San Diego County Water Authority. At a third election held April 22, 1954, the citizens voted to incur bonded debt of $600,000 to build a water system. The first water delivery was made in July, 1954 to Gordon's Grocery on Garden Road. In 1972 Poway Dam was built to provide a dependable supply of water.
In 1957, the Pomerado County Water District was organized to provide sewer service to 1,610 acres (6.5 km²) along Pomerado Road. In 1959 the first subdivision homes were built and sold as Poway Valley Homes and Poway's population began to climb. On December 1, 1980, the City of Poway incorporated and the two districts, Poway Municipal Water and Pomerado County Water, became part of the City structure.
In 1980, Poway incorporated and became the City of Poway, an entity separate from the County of San Diego. It justifies its nickname of the "City in the Country" despite its burgeoning population because it has been designated a "Tree City" for the last nine years. Poway is the location of the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, Lake Poway, and many minor hiking and horse riding trails. Major portions of the town were evacuated during both the 2003 Cedar Fire and 2007 Witch Creek Fire. In 2004, the City of Poway adopted the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, based out of nearby Camp Pendleton. The Fred L. Kent Post 7907 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been the official go-between with the battalion, which has been redeployed at least once to Iraq since its adoption.
The City of Poway suffered a tragedy on April 11, 2009, following the death of Mayor Michael "Mickey" Cafagna due to complications resulting from kidney cancer. A real-estate broker and contractor, Cafagna was born in Detroit, Michigan and had been a resident of Poway for 34 years. He sat on the city council from 1992 until his death, becoming mayor in 1998 (he was in his third term at the time of his death). Among his efforts were the construction of Poway City Hall, the development of the business park on Poway Road, and establishing relationships with the business community and the Chamber of Commerce. He has been acknowledged as "a true leader and friend" and lauded for his efforts to improve the city, as well as for his leadership during the Cedar and Witch Creek fires. Due to Cafagna's constant illness - including anemia caused by the chemotherapy treatments, as the cancer had metastasized to his lungs - Deputy Mayor Don Higginson has been acting Mayor of Poway. Cafagna was survived by Sharon Green Cafagna, his wife of 43 years, their two children and their five grandchildren. After funeral services, he was buried at Dearborn Memorial Park in Poway.
The City Council met on April 28 to decide whether to appoint a new mayor to replace Cafagna, or to hold an election in November. The following day, it was announced that Deputy Mayor Don Higginson has been appointed mayor of Poway until the current term expires in November 2010. A 43-year resident of Poway, Higginson has served on the City Council since 1986 and was in fact Cafagna's predecessor as mayor of the city.
Poway High School, home of the Titans, is known for its wrestling, baseball and football teams. The Titan wrestling team, coached by Wayne Branstetter since 1978, has won 25 consecutive CIF San Diego Section Championships, placed in the top five statewide 20 times, and won four CIF State Wrestling Team Championships, in 1986, 1999, 2005 and 2009. The Poway High Varsity Football team, coached by Damian Gonzalez won the CIF San Diego Division I semifinals in 2006 and won the CIF San Diego Division I title in 2007, going undefeated (12-0) for the first time in the school's history. The Poway High Varsity Baseball team won the CIF Division I championship in 2006 and 2008. The Poway High Girls Varsity Basketball team won the CIF Division I championship in 2008 and set a school record with 29 wins in 2009. The Emerald Brigade, the school's marching band, competes throughout the year and has won sweepstakes and top honors. The Emerald Brigade won top honors in regional and national competitions in the late 1990s. The Poway High School Choir department sends its top choirs (Die Lieders and Women's & Men's Ensembles) to compete nationally, acquiring top awards in various major cities around the United States, including Chicago, Illinois and Orlando, Florida. Tom DeLonge of the band, blink-182, attended Poway High School but was expelled for drinking at a school basketball game.
Family Plots is a reality television show that followed the ongoing events and the eccentric employees that work at the family-run Poway Bernardo Mortuary. It ran for two seasons on the A&E Network. The show mainly focused on the relationships between the employees. At times it also focused on the deceased that passed through the mortuary. The deceased were seen from time to time on the show, but care was taken by crew to ensure privacy. While the work done in the preparation room was shown, the more graphic portions of the work were not shown in order to keep a PG rating. Yet, it was still shocking to some because of blood going through tubes. Family Plots was cancelled in late 2005. Fan sites and clubs have reacted strongly to the cancellation and there are indications that A&E executives may be reconsidering the cancellation.
As of the census of 2000, there were 48,044 people, 15,467 households, and 12,868 families residing in the city. The population density was 473.0/km² (1,224.8/mi²). There were 15,714 housing units at an average density of 154.7/km² (400.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 82.85% White, 7.46% Asian, 1.67% African American, 0.48% Native American, 0.28% Pacific Islander, 3.27% from other races, and 3.99% from two or more races. Across all races 10.35% are Hispanic or Latino.
There were 15,467 households out of which 47.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.8% were married couples living together, 10.5% have an unmarried female householder, and 16.8% were non-families. 12.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.08 people and the average family size was 3.35 people.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.7% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 25.5% from 45 to 64, and 8.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 97.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.9 males.
The median income for a household in Poway is $71,708, and the median income for a family was $77,875, making it the 25th most expensive zip code in the United States (these figures had risen to $92,083 and $103,972 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $53,322 versus $52,742 for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,788. About 3.1% of families and 4.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.9% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.
According to estimates by the San Diego Association of Governments, the median household income of Poway in 2005 was $96,474 (not adjusted for inflation). When adjusted for inflation (1999 dollars; comparable to Census data above), the median household income was $78,340.