Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Inland Empire (California)
For residents of Southern California, the Inland Empire is a popular informal term for the region that is centered on the oldest cities in the region: (in no particular order) Ontario, San Bernardino, Redlands, Upland, and Riverside. These cities were established at about the end of the 19th century and were major centers of agriculture including citrus, dairy, and wine-making. The name "Inland Empire" was first used in the 1950s to distinguish the region from the communities of the nearby Los Angeles area, and Los Angeles itself, located about 60 miles to the west. Note that there is no physical or geographic boundary between them such as a river or mountain range. Between Los Angeles and the Inland Empire there was limited development (if any) and the distinction between the two 'developed' regions was this lack of development until about the 1970's. However, since then rapidly growing population and, therefore, residential, commercial, and industrial development, has led to cities being established in this rural, 'intermediate' area. Thus, these days it is increasingly difficult to determine where the Los Angeles region 'ends' and where the Inland Empire 'begins'. The best, although not the most logical, boundary could be considered to be the county line that separates Los Angeles County and San Bernardino/Riverside Counties.
Prior to the mid-19th century, the area was sparsely populated by Native Americans; the Spanish and Mexicans who once controlled the area considered it largely unsuitable for colonization. The first group of white American settlers arrived over the Cajon Pass in 1851, in the form of Mormon pioneers who were the first settlers of San Bernardino. Although the Mormons left a scant six years later, recalled to Salt Lake by Brigham Young during the church's standoff with the US government, more settlers soon followed.
The arrival of railroads in subsequent decades and the importation of navel and Valencia orange trees touched off explosive growth, with the area becoming a major center for citrus production. This agricultural boom continued with the arrival of water from the Colorado River and the rapid growth of Los Angeles in the early 20th century, with dairy farming becoming another staple industry. In 1926, Route 66 came through the northern parts of the area, bringing a stream of tourists and migrants to the region.
As with the other agricultural areas in Southern California, such as the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys and Orange County, urban development eventually came to the Inland Empire. Since the 1980s, the area has evolved and is now comprised of numerous suburban cities such as Rancho Cucamonga, otherwise known as bedroom communities. Affordable home ownership is the primary motivation behind the growth in these Inland Empire communities as homes in the Inland Empire are generally less expensive than comparable homes in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. Unfortunately, the rapid rise in population and the strong demand for single family residential structures (as opposed to high-density development such as apartments) has led to seemingly unplanned and uncontrolled suburban sprawl. Like most suburban areas, the Inland Empire is also home to several shopping malls, including Ontario Mills, the largest one-level enclosed shopping mall west of the Mississippi River.
Cheap land and excellent transportation connections have also made it a major industrial center, with freight distribution (from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the rest of the country) a particularly important sector. As a result, traffic congestion has become problematic, and air pollution--both locally generated and blown into the region from the Los Angeles Basin and San Gabriel Valley--has reached crisis level. In 2004, the EPA rated the San Bernardino-Riverside area as having the worst particulate air pollution in the United States (although the San Joaquin Valley in central California had the worst overall air pollution).
Some residents (mainly adolescents and children) call the area the "909" (the region's primary telephone area code) or "the IE" (a label more closely associated with the region's notorious Chicano gangs). The latter term has even been picked up on popular radio and television programs such as The OC (which centers around a character originally from Chino who relocates to wealthy Newport Beach). As of 2004, however, the area code 909 only covers San Bernardino County; the Public Utilities Commission split Riverside County off and gave it a new area code, 951, in order to meet growing demand for telephone numbers. Also, Riverside County wants to distance itself from the notoriety that comes from the reputation of "the 909 area," an image produced by and popular among the area's adolescent population.
The massive region covers the western portions of Riverside County and San Bernardino County, from their boundaries with Orange and Los Angeles counties to the San Jacinto Mountains on the east, and from the San Bernardino Mountains on the north to the San Diego County line on the south. The Victor Valley, lying to the north of the San Bernardino range and to the east of the Antelope Valley in the southern Mojave Desert, is also considered part of the Inland Empire.
Valleys in the Inland Empire include:
Incorporated cities in the Inland Empire include:
- Apple Valley
- Canyon Lake
- Chino Hills
- Grand Terrace
- Lake Elsinore
- Loma Linda
- Moreno Valley
- Rancho Cucamonga
- San Bernardino
- San Jacinto
Freeways serving the Inland Empire include:
- Foothill Freeway
- San Bernardino Freeway
- Pomona Freeway
- Moreno Valley Freeway
- Riverside Freeway
- Mojave Freeway
- Ontario Freeway
- Escondido Freeway
- Chino Valley Freeway
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