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Arcadia, California
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Arcadia, California

Arcadia is a city located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 53,054. It is the site of the Santa Anita Park racetrack.


Arcadia was originally inhabited by the Gabrielino Indian tribe, who were forced into slavery by Spanish colonizers at the San Gabriel Mission (in present-day San Gabriel, California). The Gabrielinos quickly were wiped out through a combination of overwork and exposure to European diseases. During the Mexican rule of California, a large area of land that included the present-day borders of Arcadia was sold to a Scottish immigrant, Hugo Reid. The land holding changed owners several times before falling into the hands of "Lucky" Baldwin, a real estate speculator who made millions off a silver mine in Virginia City, Nevada.

"Lucky" Baldwin made Arcadia into what it is today. He built the Race Track and Arboretum. He made sure there was a railroad stop at his ranch in Arcadia which later was crucial for local development. He also controlled the flooding of the San Gabriel River and installed modern plumbing. When Baldwin was going through a personal financial crisis, he was forced to sell much of his Southern California land, retaining only Arcadia and establishing more or less the city's present-day boundaries.

During World War II, Arcadia's Santa Anita Race Track was at one point the largest Japanese-American concentration camp in the United States. Over 100,000 American citizens were forced by the government to abandon their homes and businesses, many never recovering them, and go live in appalling conditions at the Race Track, some for more than a year before being moved to permanent "relocation" camps in Manzanar, California and Wyoming. These Japanese-Americans, imprisoned solely because of their ethnicity, lived 3 families to a barrack (or horse-stable in some cases), took group showers and lacked private bathrooms, and lived under 24 hour armed surveillance. The Arcadia city leaders at the time were very vocal in their desire to establish the concentration camp at the Race Track.

Until a Supreme Court ruling in 1965, every property sale contract within the borders of Arcadia had to include a provision that the new owner could only sell the property to a white Protestant, though many non-Protestant families did in fact own homes and live in Arcadia long before that ruling.

James Dobson, a then-Arcadia resident, founded the nonprofit Christian ministry Focus on the Family in the city in 1977. Its original office still stands on the south side of Foothill Blvd. Focus grew to larger quarters in the city, and in intervening years expanded to Monrovia for warehouse space before moving out of Arcadia completely in 1990.

In the late 1990s, Native American activists threatened to sue Arcadia High School over its use of the "Apache" mascot. The High Schools use of Native American symbols, including an "Apache Joe" mascot, the "Pow Wow" school newspaper, the "Smoke Signals" news bulletin boards, and the school's auxilary team's marching "Apache Princesses" were viewed by these Native American activists as offensive. The school consulted with Native American groups and made some concessions but refused to change the mascot. Some residents of Arcadia, who are former students at the school and have Native American ancestory, do not take offense to the schools use of these symbols.

The famous route 66, imortalized in song and literature, passes through Arcadia and is named now as Huntington Drive. Arcadia is mentioned by Jack Kerouac in his novel "On The Road". In the novel, the main protagonist, Dean, is essentially run out of town by a group of hostile teens when Dean, accompanied by a young mexican woman, attempts to stop for food at a local drive-in restaurant. The incident is meant to demonstrate the intolerance and racism prevalent in many places during 1950's America. The drive-in restaurant in the novel is likely based on Carpenter's, a popular drive-in during this time that was located on Route 66 next to Santa Anita Racetrack. Also, it was in a motel located in Arcadia, also across the street from Santa Anita Racetrack, that author Hunter S. Thompson wrote much of his infamous novel, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" in the 1970's


Arcadia is located at 34°7'58" North, 118°2'11" West (34.132688, -118.036491)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.8 km² (11.1 mi²). 28.4 km² (11.0 mi²) of it is land and 0.3 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 1.08% water.


Arcadia has experienced a tremendous demographical shift in recent years. A community that was once almost uniformly white Protestant is now 45% Asian and is expected to have an Asian majority in the 2010 census. The majority of students in Arcadia Schools are already Asian, as the majority of the caucasian families have now passed school age and are not being replaced. The city is considered to be extremely desirable by young upper-middle class Asian immigrant families because of the excellence of its public schools, the large current Asian population and the high level of quality of life.

As of the census of 2000, there are 53,054 people, 19,149 households, and 14,151 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,865.6/km² (4,830.0/mi²). There are 19,970 housing units at an average density of 702.2/km² (1,818.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 45.58% White, 1.13% African American, 0.25% Native American, 45.41% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 4.16% from other races, and 3.39% from two or more races. 10.61% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 19,149 households out of which 35.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.8% are married couples living together, 11.9% have a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1% are non-families. 22.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.74 and the average family size is 3.23.

In the city the population is spread out with 23.3% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 26.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 40 years. For every 100 females there are 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $56,100, and the median income for a family is $66,657. Males have a median income of $50,594 versus $36,138 for females. The per capita income for the city is $28,400. 7.9% of the population and 6.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 7.8% are under the age of 18 and 6.1% are 65 or older.

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