Ontario, California

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Ontario, California
Skyline of Ontario, California
Nickname: The Gateway to Southern California
Location within San Bernardino County in the state of California
Location within San Bernardino County in the state of California
Coordinates: 34°03′10″N, 117°37′40″W
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino County
 - Mayor Paul S. Leon
 - City  498.3 sq mi (129.1 km²)
 - Land  49.8 sq mi (128.9 km²)
 - Water  0.1 sq mi (0.2 km²)
Elevation  925 ft (282 m)
Population (2000)
 - City 170,373
 - Density 3,173.9/sq mi (1,225.5/km²)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
Website: www.ci.ontario.ca.us

Ontario is a city located in San Bernardino County, California, United States. As of the 2000 Census, the city had a total population of 158,007. It is the home of LA/Ontario International Airport and the huge Ontario Mills shopping mall (the largest in Southern California and one of the largest in North America). It is also the former home of the Ontario Motor Speedway. It takes its name from the Ontario Model Colony development established in 1882 by Canadian engineers George Chaffey and William Chaffey, who named the settlement after their home province of Ontario, Canada.


[edit] History

The area that is now Ontario was probably part of the lands used for hunting and foraging by the nomadic Tongva (Gabrieleño) Indians, who were known to roam as far east as the western San Bernardino Mountains. The Serrano Indians may have also used the land; the remains of a Serrano village were discovered in the neighboring foothills of the present-day city of Claremont. Juan Bautista de Anza is said to have passed through the area on his 1774 expedition, and to this day a city park and a middle school bear his name. Following the 1819 establishment of San Bernardino Asistencia, which served as an outpost of the San Gabriel mission, it became part of a large, vaguely identified area called "San Antonio". In 1826, Jedediah Smith passed through what is now Upland on the first overland journey to the West coast of North America via the National Old Trails Highway (present-day Foothill Blvd).

Looking north on Euclid Ave., Ontario, 1885
Looking north on Euclid Ave., Ontario, 1885

The 1834 secularization of California land holdings resulted in the land's transferral to private hands. In 1881, the Chaffey brothers purchased the land (which at that time also included the present-day city of Upland) and the water rights to it. They engineered a drainage system channeling water from the foothills of Mount Baldy down to the flatter lands below that performed the dual functions of allowing farmers to water their crops and preventing the floods that periodically afflict them. They also created the main thoroughfare of Euclid Avenue (California Highway 83), with its distinctive wide lanes and grassy median. The new "Model Colony" (called so because it offered the perfect balance between agriculture and the urban comforts of schools, churches, and commerce) was originally conceived as a dry town, but attracted farmers (primarily citrus) and ailing Easterners seeking a drier climate. To impress visitors and potential settlers with the "abundance" of water in Ontario, a fountain was placed at the Southern Pacific railway station, where it was set to turn on once an hour--just at the moment the train arrived. Today the fountain is located outside the Ontario Museum of History and Art. Agriculture was vital to the early economy, and many street names recall this legacy. The Sunkist plant also remains as a living vestige of the citrus era. The Chaffey brothers left to found the settlement of Mildura, Australia, which was not as successful. Charles Frankish continued their work, and was instrumental in the 1887 creation of the mule cart, which travelled up Euclid Avenue to 24th street and allowed the mule to ride on the way down. No longer in use, the mule cart is commemorated with an enclosed statue south of C Street on the Euclid median. Ontario was incorporated as a city in 1891, and North Ontario broke away in 1906, calling itself Upland.

The first gangs formed in Ontario in the 1940s from the vestiges of the farmworking Mexican American community that came to work in Ontario's citrus and olive groves. By the 1950s, the gang Onterio Varrio Sur had established itself, and by the 1980s, some of its members rose to prominent positions in the Mexican Mafia.

[edit] Economy

In the years following Ontario's founding, the economy was driven by its reputation as a health resort. Shortly thereafter, citrus farmers began taking advantage of Ontario's rocky soil to plant lemon and orange groves. While few groves remain, the Sunkist Growers, Incorporated continues to operate a processing plant in the city. Agricultural opportunities also attracted vintners and olive growers. The Graber Olive House, which continues to produce olives, is a city historical landmark and one of the oldest institutions in Ontario. Dairy farming is also prevalent, as it continues to be in neighboring Chino.

A major pre-war industry was the manufacture of clothing irons. During and after World War II, Ontario experienced a housing boom common to many suburbs. The expansion of the Southern California defense industry attracted many settlers to the city.

Today, Ontario still has a manufacturing industry, the most notable of which is the Maglite corporation, which produces flashlights there. However, manufacturing has waned, and today Ontario's economy is dominated by service industries and warehousing. Much of southern Ontario still contains dairy farms and other agricultural farms. However, the area is currently under planning to be developed into a mixed-use area of residential homes, industrial and business parks, and town centers, collectively known as the New Model Colony.

In 1996, the Ontario Mills was opened on the eastern side of the city. Since then, the previously-undeveloped area has undergone a surge of commercial and residential construction.

[edit] Traditions

Since 1959, Ontario has placed three-dimensional scenes from the life of Jesus on the median of Euclid Avenue. The scenes, featuring statues by the sculptor Rudolpho Vargas, were challenged in the 1998 as a violation of church-state separation under the California Constitution by atheist resident Patrick Greene, but the dispute was resolved when private organizations began funding the storage and labor involved in the set-up and maintenance of the scenery in its entirety.[1]

The All-States Picnic, an Independence Day celebration, began in 1939 to recognize the varied origins of the city's residents. Picnic tables lined the median of Euclid Avenue from Hawthorne to E Street, with signs for each of the country's 48 states. The picnic was suspended during World War II, but when it resumed in 1948, it attracted 120,000 people. A 1941 Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon listed Ontario's picnic table as the "world's longest". As native Californians came to outnumber the out-of-state-born, the celebration waned in popularity until it was discontinued in 1981. It was revived in 1991 as a celebration of civic pride.[2]

[edit] Geography

Ontario is located at 34°3'10" North, 117°37'40" West (34.052811, -117.627861)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 129.1 km² (49.9 mi²). Of that, 128.9 km² (49.8 mi²) is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) is water. The total area is 0.14% water.

The Ontario City Library following its 2006 reopening after extensive remodeling
The Ontario City Library following its 2006 reopening after extensive remodeling

[edit] Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 158,007 people, 43,525 households, and 34,689 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,225.5/km² (3,173.9/mi²). There were 45,182 housing units at an average density of 350.4/km² (907.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 47.83% White, 7.51% African American, 1.06% Native American, 3.88% Asian, 0.37% Pacific Islander, 34.05% from other races and 5.30% were from two or more races. 59.88% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 43,525 households out of which 49.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.9% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.3% were non-families. 15.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.60 and the average family size was 3.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 34.4% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 16.1% from 45 to 64, and 5.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 100.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $42,452, and the median income for a family was $44,031. Males had a median income of $31,664 versus $26,069 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,244. 15.5% of the population and 12.2% of families were below the poverty line. 19.1% of those under the age of 18 and 7.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

[edit] Current estimates

As of the censusGR2estimates of 2006, there were 180,007 people, 45,525 households, and 37,689 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,225.5/km² (3,173.9/mi²). There were 48,182 housing units at an average density of 350.4/km² (907.6/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 18.67% White, 7.51% African American, 0.4% Native American, 3.88% Asian, 0.37% Pacific Islander, 34.05% from other races and 5.30% were from two or more races. 69.13% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

[edit] Transportation

The Ontario International Airport provides domestic and limited international air travel. Because of the many manufacturing companies and warehouses in the city, the airport also serves as a major hub for freight, especially for FedEx and UPS.

Because Ontario is a major hub for passengers and freight, the city is also served by several major freeways. Interstate 10 and the Pomona (60) freeway run east-west through the city. Interstate 10 is north of the Ontario airport while the Pomona freeway is south of the airport. Interstate 15 runs in the north-south directions at the eastern side of the city. California State Route 83, also known as Euclid Avenue, also runs in the north-south direction at the western side of the city.

Ontario also has an Metrolink station off of Haven Avenue. It connects Ontario with much of the Greater Los Angeles area, Orange County and the San Fernando Valley. Public bus transportation is provided by Omnitrans.

[edit] Education

Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium on the campus of Chaffey High School in Ontario
Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium on the campus of Chaffey High School in Ontario

Ontario has 25 public elementary schools, 6 public middle schools and 5 public high schools under the combined oversight of four school districts. There are also several private schools throughout the city as well as two private military schools. Ontario also has 9 trade schools. Providence Christian College, a 4-year Christian liberal arts college, opened in 2005. The University of La Verne College of Law and Chaffey College Ontario Campus are located in downtown Ontario. Chapman University has a satellite campus near the Ontario Mills mall.

[edit] Sister cities

Ontario has five sister cities around the world [3]. They are:

[edit] Notable Residents

[edit] External links

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