The Inland Empire is a region mainly located in the Riverside and San Bernardino counties of Southern California and generally encompasses the urbanized, western areas of those counties. The Inland Empire is centered in the region's oldest cities: Ontario, San Bernardino, 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 coastal communities of the Greater Los Angeles Area, and Los Angeles itself.
The "Inland" part of the name is derived from the region's location about inland from the Pacific Ocean (from Huntington Beach) and east of downtown Los Angeles. The most accepted physical boundaries between Los Angeles and the Inland Empire from west to east are the San Jose Hills splitting the San Gabriel Valley from the Pomona Valley, leading to the urban populations centered in the San Bernardino Valley. Cities in southeastern Los Angeles County lying east of the hills, such as Pomona, Diamond Bar, La Verne, and Claremont, are often included because of their location in the Pomona Valley and proximity to the Riverside/San Bernardino county line. From the south to north, the Santa Ana Mountains physically divide Orange from San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. The Santa Rosa Mountains, as well as the Southern California portion of the Sonoran Desert, physically divides Riverside from San Diego county. Interconnectivity provided by one of the most comprehensive freeway systems in the United States has eroded any sense of physical boundaries between the Inland Empire and the Greater Los Angeles area.
Since the 1970s a rapidly growing population has led to more residential, commercial, and industrial development in this rural 'intermediate' area east of LA and Orange County, and north of San Diego County. With a population of over 4 million people, the Inland Empire is the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
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 entire landmass of Southern California was subdivided according to the San Bernardino Meridian, which was first plotted as part of the Public Land Survey System in November 1852, by Col. Henry Washington. Base Line road, a major thoroughfare, today runs from Highland to San Dimas, intermittently along the absolute baseline coordinates plotted by Col. Washington.
San Bernardino County was first formed out of parts of Los Angeles County on April 26, 1853. While the partition once included what is today most of Riverside County, the region is not as monolithic as it may sound. Rivalries between Colton, Redlands, Riverside and San Bernardino over the location of the county seat in the 1890s caused each of them to form their own civic communities, each with their own newspapers. On August 14, 1893 the Senate allowed Riverside County to form out of land previously in San Bernardino and San Diego counties, after rejecting a bill for Pomona to split from LA County and become the seat of what would have been called San Antonio County.
The arrival of railroads and the importation of navel and Valencia orange trees in the 1870s touched off explosive growth, with the area quickly 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 (now known as Foothill Boulevard) came through the northern parts of the area, bringing a stream of tourists and migrants to the region. Still, the region endured as the key part of the Southern California "Citrus belt" until the end of World War II, when a new generation of real-estate developers bulldozed acres of agricultural land to build suburbs. The precursor to the San Bernardino Freeway, the Ramona Expressway, was built in 1944, and further development of the freeway system facilitated the expansion of suburbs and human migration throughout the Inland Empire and Southern California.
Unlike most metropolitan areas that have grown up around a central city, the Inland Empire is composed of many small and medium sized cities and unincorporated communities that together form the 14th-largest metropolitan area in the nation. Los Angeles County and Orange County border the Inland Empire to the West; Inyo and Kern to the North, San Diego and Imperial County to the South and the States of Arizona and Nevada to the East. The Inland Empire stretches from the Pomona Valley through the San Bernardino Valley, encompassing the San Bernardino Mountains and the high and low deserts to the Nevada and Arizona state lines. Suburban sprawl, centering around the cities of Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ontario, spreads out to form a unified whole with the Greater Los Angeles area, with further development encroaching past the mountains into the outlying desert areas. The San Bernardino valley floor houses roughly over 80% of the total human population in the IE.
Elevations range from 11,499 feet (3,505 m) at the top of the San Gorgonio Mountain to 220 ft (-67.1 m) below sea level at the bottom of Salton Sea. The San Bernardino mountains are home to the San Bernardino National Forest and the resort communities of Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Running Springs. The Santa Ana River extends from Mt. San Gorgonio for nearly through San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange counties before it eventually spills into the Pacific Ocean at Newport Beach and Huntington Beach. While temperatures are generally cool to cold in the mountains, it can get hot in the valleys. In the desert resort of Palm Springs, near Joshua Tree National Park, summer temperatures can reach well over 110 degrees.
The developed area of the IE consists of the following valleys: Chino Valley, Coachella Valley, Cucamonga Valley, Menifee Valley, Murrieta Valley, Perris Valley, Pomona Valley, San Bernardino Valley (Largest valley in the Inland Empire), Temecula Valley, and Victor Valley. The Inland Empire is popular for recreational activities such as skiing the San Bernardinos. In Southwestern Riverside County, Lake Elsinore is popular among boating enthusiasts.
Only a few cities on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County that share an area code with the rest of the region are also considered to be in the Inland Empire. Some residents call the area "the 909" (after the region's primary telephone area code, 909). This term has been picked up on popular radio and television programs such as The O.C. (which centers on a character originally from Chino who relocates to wealthy Newport Beach). In 2004 because of growing demand for telephone numbers most of Riverside County was granted a new area code, 951.
Since the 1950s, the area has evolved from a rural to a suburban environment. In addition to existing cities such as Riverside and San Bernardino, the region now comprises numerous suburban cities known as bedroom communities such as Rancho Cucamonga. Affordable home ownership is the primary motivation behind the growth in these Inland Empire communities as homes there are generally less expensive than comparable homes in Orange and Los Angeles Counties, however, still generally more expensive than the rest of the nation. The steady rise in population and the strong demand for housing has led to a dramatic increase in single-family residential construction on lots of 1/4 acre (1,000 m²) or more (as opposed to high-density development such as multi-level apartments or condominiums). Much of the vacant land is rapidly being developed to the chagrin of those who grew up living 'in the country'. In addition, much of the land that was used for agriculture is now being sold by their owners and being converted for use for more intensive purposes such shopping centers, industrial warehouses, etc. This continuous development, due to the various interests involved, has become seemingly unplanned and uncontrolled suburban sprawl.
Retailing in the area has increased to keep abreast with the rapidly growing suburban population. The region is home to several large upscale shopping malls, including the Montclair Plaza in Montclair, the Galleria at Tyler in Riverside, Ontario Mills in Ontario, Dos Lagos in Corona, Promenade Mall in Temecula, Moreno Valley Mall in Moreno Valley, Victoria Gardens Mall in Rancho Cucamonga and the Inland Center mall in San Bernardino, California. In fiscal year 2006, retail sales in San Bernardino County grew by 11.9% to $31.2 billion, while sales in Riverside County were up 11.3% to $29.6 billion.
Inexpensive land prices (compared to Los Angeles and Orange Counties), a large supply of vacant land, and a transport network where many highways and railroads intersect have made the Inland Empire a major shipping hub. Some of the nation's largest manufacturing companies have chosen the Inland Empire for their distribution facilities including Toyota Motor Corporation's North American Parts and Logistics Distribution (NAPLD) center in Ontario and APL Logistics in Rancho Cucamonga. Whirlpool Corporation recently leased a distribution center in Perris that is larger than 31 football fields and one of the biggest warehouses in the country. These centers operate as part of the system that transports finished goods and materials from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to destinations to the north and east such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Denver. More than 80% percent of the state's imported cargo is shipped through the Los Angeles/Inland Empire Corridor. Three major airports service the area, the San Bernardino International Airport, Palm Springs International Airport, and the LA/Ontario International Airport.
While urbanization continues to cut into agricultural lands, the Inland Empire still produces substantial crops, from grapefruit in the Coachella Valley to milk in Chino. Although of irrigated land was lost between 2002 and 2004, agriculture still brought in more than $1.6 billion in revenues to the two-county region in 2006.
|The Inland Empire is subject to smog conditions on a regular basis as seen here, looking south, from the north terminus of Haven Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga. Note how the street 'fades' into the smoggy haze and the Santa Ana Mountains are completely obscured.||The Inland Empire is also subject to Santa Ana Winds that lead to generally clear days, free of smog or the marine layer. Note how the street that 'faded' into the smoggy haze and the Santa Ana Mountains that were completely obscured in the image to the left are now visible.|
Air pollution, or suspended particulate matter locally generated from the increased number of automobiles in the area, from point sources such as factories, dust carried into the air by construction activity, and the contribution of similar pollutants from the Los Angeles area has regularly caused the Inland Empire to be at, or near, the bottom of many air quality ratings. 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). The air pollution problem is exacerbated by the region's location which is surrounded by mountain ranges to the north and east; the mountains 'contain' these aerosols which otherwise would be carried out of the region by the prevailing winds which typically flow from west to east.
Traffic congestion problems on the roadways, as with elsewhere in Southern California, is, simply stated, the result of the steady increase in the number of vehicles and a transportation infrastructure network that has not been expanded accordingly. Many of the existing freeways were completed in the late 1970s. With the exception of the segment of the Foothill Freeway, State Route 210 (SR 210) between San Dimas and San Bernardino recently completed in July, 2007, no new freeways or highways are planned in the Inland Empire. Another problem is the jobs vs. housing imbalance. In general, most of the higher paying jobs are located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Thus, workers must commute daily up to two hours (each direction) on the existing network. As the population increases, the problem is most certainly going to increase as well. Forbes Magazine recently ranked the area first in its list of America's most unhealthy commutes, beating out every other major metropolitan area in the country, as Inland area drivers breathe the unhealthiest air and have the highest rate of fatal auto accidents per capita.
The Inland Empire is described as a Metropolitan Statistical Area by the U.S. Census Bureau, notated as Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA. With 4.03 million people, it is the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States. In addition, according to the 2000 Census, it is the fastest growing area in the state. Between 1990 and 2000, Riverside and San Bernardino counties added 700,000 to their population totals, an increase of 26%. 1.60 million of the IE's 3.71 million residents as of 2004 were White (43.2%), slightly more than the 1.56 million who culturally classified themselves as Hispanic (42.0%). African Americans were the next largest group at 267,479 (7.2%). They were followed by Asian Americans at 188,736 (5.1%). All other groups represented 93,759 people (2.5%). From 1990-2004, the Inland Empire's White population declined slightly by 20,470 (-1.8%), while the number of Blacks grew by 97,064 (8.7%), Asians grew by 93,864 (8.4%) and Hispanics grew 881,307 (78.7%).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2006, 33.1% of people in the San Bernardino-Ontario area were overweight, and 30.8% were obese. Forbes Magazine ranks the area as the fourth fattest in the country.
A substantial majority of residents (76.6%), last comparatively surveyed in 2001, rated their respective counties as good places to live. Over 81% of Riverside County residents indicated that their county is a very good or fairly good place to live, while about 72% of residents in San Bernardino County felt the same way. Survey respondents cited "nice living area," "good climate," and "affordable housing" as the top positive factors in assessing their respective communities. Smog was by far the most important negative factor affecting respondents’ ratings in both counties, while traffic was the 2nd highest concern in Riverside County and crime the 2nd highest concern among San Bernardino County residents.
Latino gangs have been active in the region since the area's citrus days while a continual migration of African American gangs from LA has flowed into the area since the Watts Riots. Today, the number of gangs with roots outside the area far exceeds the number of local gangs active in the IE, which is easily notable as gang members frequently identify themselves with tattoos bearing their home turf and affiliations. The increased diversity in the region between 1990 and 2000 is also associated with a 20% increase in hate crime in the same period, mostly ascribed to increased gang activity. According to data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program, taken together, Riverside and San Bernardino counties showed a total of 51,237 crimes reported to county police/sheriffs (but not to city or other agencies) in 2006; this combined total exceeded the totals for all other California counties—considered individually—except for Sacramento.
Of Inland residents 25 years and over in 2004, Asians were the best educated. 44.4% had bachelor’s or higher degrees, and nearly 70% had at least attended college. Among Whites, 22.8% had 4-year degrees or higher, and 60.8% at least attended college. In the African American community, the number with bachelor’s or higher degree was 21.3%, and 65.2% had either a community college degree or had attended college. Only 6.9% of Hispanic adults had a 4-year or higher degree, and only 30.2% attended college at all.
Among students transferring from Inland community colleges to private schools in 2004-05, the most frequent choice was the University of Phoenix.
Established bands from the IE include Alien Ant Farm, The Bellrays and the Voodoo Glow Skulls, from Riverside, and Cracker from Redlands. House music pioneer DJ Lynnwood got his start at the age of ten spinning records at KUOR in Redlands. Local hip-hop artists such as Saint Dog, Suga Free, Miah Lanski, Sly Boogy, Dirty Birdy, Lighter Shade of Brown, Lil Blacky, SkiLL from San Bernardino in the Christian Rap genre, and artists represented by Homeless Records, have brought about much attention to the growing rap community in and around the area, some rock journalists dubbing it a new genre, "Cali 909." A number of artists associated with the Palm Desert Scene have also forged a new genre, "Desert rock." A Danish record label, Musikministeriet, recently opened up an office in Redlands in hopes of further cultivating the IE music scene.
Frank Zappa lived in the Pomona Valley area and owned a restaurant in Upland on Foothill Boulevard during the early 1960s where he played shows on a makeshift stage for college crowds.Singer Roy Collins still lives in the area and is a Iconic Treasure in the Town of Claremont.
Grammy winning Ben Harper of the Innocent Criminals had his start in the Claremont Folk Music Shop owned by his grandparents. The shop is still there today run by his mother and brother.Its another Inland Empire jewel and resource as they have lessons and feature the best of national folk talent in the Annual Claremont Folk Festivalthey hold near the shop.
Reggae is alive and well in the Inland Empire! Many International Reggae legends have found their home here.Garth Dennis is a prominent resident and the torch has been passed to the local talent making it big. Inhale, CommonGround and Kindread as well as Full Watts big up the club scene with live reggae nightly in the many lovely venues throughout the I.E.
There's also a tribute band presence with One Drop Redemption holding down the authentic sounds of Bob Marley and the Wailers to many venues within the I.E. DaSpirit Records located in the Upland area is busy collaborating with international stars such as Ras Micheal(JA), Keys of Creation(HI) and local artists with a national presence, such as Jahtiva, as well.
From the late 80s until the late 90s, many up-and-coming musical acts, such as Rage Against the Machine, Blink-182 and No Doubt cut their teeth playing venues in Riverside. However, these historic venues (Spanky's Cafe, the Barn at UCR, and the De Anza Theatre) have since been closed and converted to other purposes. Emerging music venues in the IE include the Showcase Theatre in Corona, Red Planet Records in Riverside, the Vault in Redlands, the Buffalo Inn in Upland, the Twins Club in Rancho Cucamonga, the Press Restaurant in Claremont, and the Glass House in Pomona.. The List of bands from Inland Empire has artists and musicians that are from the Inland Empire.
During the recent trend of Heavy Metal and other similar music genre's in the Southern California area, the Inland Empire has been a hub of the up-and-coming Hardcore scene. pulsing beats and rythmic sequences make this Inland Empire music distinctive from its genre counterparts in the rest of the music industry. The growing scene has atracted many youth in in California, and most of the Venues that promote this music are located in the Inland Empire.See The Glass House and The Showcase.
|Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino||CaL, Baseball||Arrowhead Credit Union Park||1941||5|
|Lake Elsinore Storm||CaL, Baseball||Lake Elsinore Diamond||1994||2|
|Rancho Cucamonga Quakes||CaL, Baseball||The Epicenter||1993||1|
|Ontario Reign||ECHL, Ice hockey||Citizens Business Bank Arena||2008||0|
| Riverside County |
| Year |
| Population, |
| Median Income,|
|Desert Hot Springs||1963||22,011||$33,263|
| San Bernardino County|
| Year |
| Median Income,|
|Big Bear Lake||1981||6,207||$43,983|
| Los Angeles County |
| Year |