The United States gained control of California in the Mexican-American War, 1846-1848. The valley was acquired by Thomas Diblee,Albert Diblee and William Welles Hollister, the latter of whom sold his portion in 1874 to the Lompoc Valley Land Company. It is from that portion that the present-day Lompoc was established as a temperance colony. The town was originally intended to be called New Vineland, modeled after the temperance colony in New Jersey. The city was incorporated in 1888. The coastal branch of the Southern Pacific Railroad replaced ship transportation around 1900. A paved road linked Lompoc to Buellton, and the rest of California, around 1920. In 1923, the largest peacetime naval loss of ships occurred, just off the coast: the Honda Point Disaster. During the Great Depression, Mission La Purisma Concepcion was restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The W.C. Fields movie The Bank Dick (1940), was set in Lompoc (although the name was mis-pronounced as Lom' poc). During World War II, the coast west of Lompoc was the site of Camp Cooke, a U.S. Army training camp where large units could practice maneuvers.
Lompoc grew slowly until 1958, when the U.S. Air Force announced that the former Camp Cooke would be a test site for the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile, and the first operational base for the Atlas intercontinental-range ballistic missile. Lompoc then began to grow rapidly to provide housing for thousands of civilian and contractor workers employed at what was soon named Vandenberg Air Force Base. Vandenberg Air Force Base was the first missile base of the United States Air Force. The Space Shuttle program was slated to begin launches in the late 1980s. The city experienced a boom in restaurant and hotel construction in the mid 1980s, due to the anticipated influx of tourists coming to see shuttle launches. However, when the Challenger exploded during take-off from Cape Canaveral in 1986, the West Coast Shuttle Program was terminated, leaving Lompoc in a severe recession.
The Lompoc Valley responded to the Shuttle disaster by focusing on tourism as a means of fighting its way through the recession. By focusing on the natural beauty of the Valley, its flower industry, the pristine Central Coast, and by developing a successful downtown mural program, the City of Lompoc has built an excellent tourism industry that is to this day a primary component of the Lompoc economy. Today, the City of Lompoc is dubbed "The City of Arts and Flowers".
The city was long known as the flower seed capital of the world. Flower fields have diminished in recent years, so it's debatable whether that title still stands. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.6 square miles (30.1 km²), all of it land.
There were 13,059 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.0% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 23.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.88 and the average family size was 3.42.
In the city the population was spread out with 29.9% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 113.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 116.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,587, and the median income for a family was $62,199. Males had a median income of $35,074 versus $26,824 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,509. About 12.6% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.8% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.
Wine production and wine tourism comprise the rapidly expanding value-added agricultural sector of the Lompoc economy. Lompoc Valley is the gateway to the Sta. Rita Hills wine appellation, internationally recognized for premium pinot noir and chardonnay. Thirty premium boutique wine labels are produced in Lompoc at wineries in the affectionately termed "Lompoc wine ghetto" industrial park and other locations across town. Numerous other wineries are located along Highway 246, linking Lompoc with Buellton, and on Santa Rosa Road. Lompoc hosts the Santa Barbara County Vintners' Festival held at River Park in the spring. Wine tasting rooms are located in the "Wine Ghetto" and other locations in Lompoc.
Napoleon Kaufman, retired NFL running back & college All-American
Roy Howell, Retired Major League Baseball 3rd baseman for the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and Milwaukee Brewers.
The creators of the 1960s cult cartoon Roger Ramjet were from Lompoc and worked in frequent references to the city (although it was deliberately mispronounced).