Turlock is a city in Stanislaus County, California, United States. As of the 2000 Census, the city had a total population of 55,810, the second-largest city in Stanislaus County. The city's recent rapid growth is evident in its current official population of 70,158.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.3 square miles (34.4 km²), all land.
Turlock was founded on December 22, 1899 by John W Mitchell, a prominent cattle rancher in the area. Construction of the Central Pacific Railroad at that time had reached a station to be named after Mitchell, but he declined to have the station named after himself and suggested instead it be named after Turlough in County Mayo, Ireland. Thus, the new railroad town was named Turlock.
While it grew to be a relatively prosperous and busy hub of activity throughout the end of the 19th century, it was not incorporated as a city until February 15, 1908. By that time intensive agricultural development surrounded most of the city (agriculture remains a major economic force in the region in current times). Turlock became known as the "Heart of the Valley" because of its agricultural production. In the 1930s Turlock was cited by Ripley's Believe It or Not as having the most churches per capita in the United States; the number of churches had partly to do with the variety of ethnic churches, which were established for the relatively small settler population. Various religious centers reflecting a diverse population such as Sikh Gurdwaras, various Christian Assyrian churches, and many mainline Protestant, Mormon and Catholic churches have been built. During World War 2 and after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Government placed Japanese-Americans into internment camps all over the country. The Stanislaus County Fairgrounds was the site of one of these camps and held over 3,000 interned American citizens.
In 1960, California State University, Stanislaus, opened to students, helping to spur growth in the city as the university expanded in its early years. In the 1970s, State Route 99 (formerly U.S. Route 99) was completed through the area, largely bypassing the then-incorporated areas of Turlock in a route to the west of the city through mostly undeveloped land. Since that time, the city has grown westward considerably to meet the freeway's north-south path, although urban development west of the freeway has only recently begun to take hold. In an attempt to allow for orderly growth of the city, comprehensive growth master plans have established urban growth boundaries since the 1960s.
Turlock experienced extensive growth of both residential and commercial areas in the 1980s, following a statewide boom in housing demand and construction. The housing boom of the 1980s diminished in the early 1990s but increased again in the second half of the 1990s, especially as a result of San Francisco Bay Area growth, which placed a higher demand for more affordable housing in outlying areas. Following the Bay Area's "dot-com bust," housing demand has intensified, suggesting a strong local demand for housing. In recent years, Bay Area influence in housing demand has produced higher and higher house prices in an area formerly known for its affordable housing.
A recent boom in the retail sector has produced a considerable amount of growth along the Highway 99 corridor.
The city's long-established northern urban growth boundary limit, Taylor Road, has already been reached as a result of rapid residential development from the late 1990s to the present. Urban growth any further north than Taylor is restricted by the city's Master Plan.
During WWII, the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds was the location of one of the ten Japanese American Internment Camps.
As of the United States 2000 Census, there are 55,810 people, 18,408 households, and 13,434 families residing in the city. The population density is 4,194.7 people per square mile (1,620.2/km²). There are 19,095 housing units at an average density of 1,435.2/sq mi (554.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 72.33% White, 1.43% African American, 0.94% Native American, 4.51% Asian, 0.27% Pacific Islander, 15.16% from other races, and 5.35% from two or more races. 29.42% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
4.9% of Turlock's population reported ancestry in the category "Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac". This was the fourth highest percentage in the United States for this category, the highest for a community outside of Oakland County, Michigan and the only one of the top seven places in this category that was not one of Detroit's northern suburbs.
There are 18,408 households out of which 40.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.8% are married couples living together, 13.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 27.0% are non-families. 21.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.92 and the average family size is 3.42.
In the city the population is spread out with 29.8% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 18.1% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $39,050, and the median income for a family is $44,501. Males have a median income of $35,801 versus $27,181 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,844. 16.2% of the population and 12.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 18.8% of those under the age of 18 and 9.8% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Culturally, the area is home to large concentrations of Americans of South Asian descent (particularly Sikhs), Mexican-Americans, and people of varied European descent. Swedes and Portuguese were early settlers to the area. Continued immigration from the Azores Islands (Portugal) in recent decades has established a large Portuguese-speaking community within the city. Turlock is a major center for the Assyrian community in the United States, who began to arrive in the 1910s seeking opportunities in farming. By 1924 the Assyrian Evangelical Church was established and by the 1950s, 8% of the population of Turlock was Assyrian. There was an increased influx into Turlock in the 1970s following political strife in Iraq and in the 1980s following the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
In the state legislature Turlock is located in the 12th Senate District, represented by Republican Jeff Denham, and in the 26th Assembly District, represented by Republican Greg Aghazarian. Federally, Turlock is located in California's 19th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +10 and is represented by Republican George Radanovich.
Turlock is the home of California State University, Stanislaus, a liberal arts university, and part of the 23-campus California State University system. As of March 2005, CSU Stanislaus reported a student population of 6,192 undergraduate students. The number rises to 7,858 when considering all students, including graduate students.
Turlock is home to two public high schools: Turlock High School and John H. Pitman High School. It also has two continuation schools: Roselawn High School and John B. Allard High School.Turlock High School opened in 1907, and Pitman opened in a major growth zone of northern Turlock in 2002. Pitman High School achieved the Distinguished School award in 2007. Turlock Christian is a private high school.