Fontana is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States.
Located in the heart of the Inland Empire region of southern California, the City of Fontana is a fast-growing community known for its varied and colorful history, and for some of its important new local landmarks. Originally a rural town known for an abundance of chicken ranches, over the past century Fontana has developed rapidly into a major commuter suburb for Los Angeles and other nearby cities, as well as a strategic regional hub of the trucking industry. This is arguably the result of Fontana's location at the meetingplace of several major regional thoroughfares: Interstate highways 10 and 210 both transect the city from east to west, and Interstate 15 passes diagonally through the northwestern part of the city. These highways have given rise to dozens of distribution centers in the city's industrial areas, where goods are brought by road and rail from the seaports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, then shipped throughout the continent.
Fontana is also thus within easy driving distance of several of the mountain resorts, beaches, lakes and desert areas of Southern California. But Fontana is rapidly becoming a destination in its own right, with such recent additions as the largest of the San Bernardino County system libraries, as well as the relatively new Auto Club Speedway, a NASCAR racetrack located on the site of the historic Kaiser Steel Mill. Fontana is also home to the Fontana Days Half Marathon and 5K run. This race is on record as the fastest half marathon course in the world.
The U.S. federal Census estimates for 2006 placed Fontana's population at 170,099, but the California State Department of Finance estimated the fast-growing city's 2008 population at 188,498. This growth was primarily the result of the city's campaign to annex numerous unincorporated San Bernardino County "island" areas within its Sphere of Influence, as well as with continued suburban growth.
Founded in 1913 by A.B.Miller , Fontana was originally an agricultural town of citrus orchards, vineyards and chicken ranches astride U.S. Route 66
(now known as Foothill Boulevard
) and criss-crossed by numerous rail lines. Fontana was radically transformed during World War II
. Henry J. Kaiser
’s steel mill in Fontana was the only steel mill west of the Mississippi River. The routing of the San Bernardino Freeway
through a section of the town was followed by explosive growth, with the area becoming a prominent industrial suburb of San Bernardino
The Hells Angels motorcycle gang was formed in Fontana in 1948.
Ross and Violet Gesler immigrated to Fontana, Ross developed the Ross Gesler orchid in the greenhouses on his Arrow Blvd. home. Later his grandson David Eshleman became mayor of the city.
In the 1950s and '60s Fontana was home to a famous drag racing strip that was a significant venue in the NHRA circuit. Known officially as Mickey Thompson’s Fontana International Dragway, it was also referred to as Fontana Drag City or just plain old Fontana Drag Strip. The original Fontana strip is long since defunct, but the owners of NASCAR’s new Fontana Raceway will be opening a new NHRA-sanctioned drag strip in Fontana in mid-2006 to resurrect Fontana’s drag-racing heritage.
Ro-Val's automobile museum, located on Foothill Blvd on the western outskirts between Fontana and Cucamonga, was for a while the home for many classic automobiles of the 1920s and '30s, including a huge vehicle once owned by screen actor Fatty Arbuckle. When the Ro-Val museum closed, the vehicles were sold to Bill Harrah, a Nevada casino owner and automobile collector, who placed them on display in the museum located at his casino.
As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 128,929, but the present population is now estimated to have reached 188,498 (2008). This rapid expansion had much do do with the numerous large, new residential developments in the almost totally undeveloped northern part of the city, as well as with the city's aggressive (and highly successful) campaign to annex several unincorporated, but developed, San Bernardino county island areas in 2006-2007.
Fontana is located at (34.097744, -117.458222).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.1 mi² (93.6 km²) all land.
The city is frequently affected by the infamously strong, hot and dry Santa Ana Winds as they blow through the nearby Cajon Pass of the San Gabriel mountains, from the Mojave Desert.
Most of the city of Fontana, like its eastern neighbors Rialto
and San Bernardino
, is built atop a relatively young, gently southward-sloping alluvial fan
from nearby Lytle Creek
, deposited mainly during the Holocene
and late-Pleistocene epochs
. There are also sedimentary deposits of similar age from Etiwanda Creek on the western edge of the city. However, the northern and southern edges of the city are formed by the much older San Gabriel
and Jurupa mountain ranges, respectively. The Jurupa Mountains are composed primarily of Cretaceous
rocks, as are the San Gabriels, which also include even older, Proterozoic
formations. The most prominent of the San Gabriel Mountains visible from Fontana is Cucamonga Peak
, elevation 8,859 feet (2,700m). Additionally, the Cucamonga Fault
Zone, contiguous with the Sierra Madre Fault Zone, runs through the northern part of the city, along the base of the San Gabriels, notably through the Hunter's Ridge and Coyote Canyon planned communities
. It is estimated to be capable of producing earthquakes approximately of Magnitudes 6.0 to 7.0.
The city's listed elevation, measured from the northeast corner of the intersection of Upland Avenue and Sierra Avenue, downtown by City Hall, is 1,237 feet. However, the highest elevation within the city limits is approximately 2,600 feet (792.48m), in the northernmost part of the Panorama neighborhood of Hunter's Ridge. The lowest point within the city limits is approximately 840 feet (256.03m), at the intersection of Etiwanda and Philadelphia avenues, the extreme southwestern corner of the city. This difference in elevation is due to the southward slope of the Lytle Creek alluvial fan.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 128,929 people, 34,014 households, and 29,013 families residing in the city. The population density
was 1,378.2/km² (3,569.7/mi²). There were 35,908 housing units at an average density of 383.8/km² (994.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.99% White
, 11.83% African American
, 1.12% Native American
, 4.36% Asian
, 0.33% Pacific Islander
, 31.94% from other races
, and 5.42% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 57.72% of the population.
There were 34,014 households out of which 57.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.5% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.7% were non-families. 10.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.78 and the average family size was 4.02.
In the city the population was spread out with 37.8% under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 14.7% from 45 to 64, and 4.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $45,782, and the median income for a family was $46,957. Males had a median income of $36,062 versus $26,305 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,208. About 12.2% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.2% of those under age 18 and 10.3% of those age 65 or over.
2012 Projection: 201,269
2007 Estimate: 181,640
2000 Census: 128,929
1990 Census: 87,444
Population Growth 1990 - 2000
2012 Projection: 50,426
2007 Estimate: 43,852
2000 Census: 34,014
1990 Census: 26,283
Households Growth 1990 - 2000
2007 Est. Population by Single Classification Race
White Alone: 66,568; 38.72%
African American Alone: 21,470; 12.49%
American Indian and Alaska Native Alone: 1,901; 1.11%
Asian Alone: 8,091; 4.71%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Alone: 520; 0.30%
Some Other Race Alone: 63,661; 37.03%
Two or More Races: 9,705; 5.65%
2007 Est. Population Hispanic or Latino
Not Hispanic or Latino: 60,368; 35.11%
Hispanic or Latino: 111,548; 64.89%
Puerto Rican: 1,250; 1.12%
All Other Hispanic or Latino: 20,815; 18.66%
2007 Tenure of Occupied Housing Units
Owner Occupied: 30,727; 70.07%
Renter Occupied: 13,125; 29.93%
2007 Average Household Size
2007 Est. Households by Household Income
Income Less than $15,000: 4,210; 9.60%
Income $15,000 - $24,999: 4,180; 9.53%
Income $25,000 - $34,999: 4,431; 10.10%
Income $35,000 - $49,999: 6,669; 15.21%
Income $50,000 - $74,999: 9,546; 21.77%
Income $75,000 - $99,999: 6,778; 15.46%
Income $100,000 - $149,999: 6,045; 13.79%
Income $150,000 - $249,999: 1,731; 3.95%
Income $250,000 - $499,999: 227; 0.52%
Income $500,000 and over: 35; 0.08%
2007 Est. Average Household Income
2007 Est. Median Household Income
2007 Est. Per Capita Income
Source: Claritas Inc. July 2007
Fontana is home to the new Lewis Library and Technology Center, which opened in April 2008. At an estimated cost of over $60,000,000, this state-of-the-art facility was made possible through a mixture of private and public funds. It is the largest library in the San Bernardino County Library System.
Located downtown, some features of the new Library include:
- New book shelving, reading areas and a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Children's Library.
- An expanded collection exceeding 142,000 items, including 7,850 reference, media, and periodical items.
- Electronic databases, software applications, remote access to online informational resources and Internet access.
- Homework clubs and a homework center.
- Spanish language and homework materials.
- A computer technology support and training center.
- A literacy center with tutoring programs.
- A career center.
- 203 public use computer work stations including 25 Spanish language computers.
- Community meeting rooms and a 330-seat auditorium for meetings, lectures and special presentations.
- A bookstore and coffee bar.
The Fontana Unified School District
operates these high schools:
Most residents of the city attend schools within the Fontana Unified School District
The Northwest area of the city is served by the Etiwanda School District (K thru 8 only) and the Chaffey Joint Union High School District (High Schools only).
Mary Vagle Science and Nature Center
The Mary Vagle Science and Nature Center offers an opportunity for a wide range of environmental education activities, which include a reptile viewing area, displays, diorama, and hands on programs. There is a one acre pond, three miles of self guided hiking trails, and the ninth most significant petroglyph site in the state. Hawks, rabbits, deer, rattlesnakes, foxes, and bobcats thrive in this protected habitat. After school science adventures club and summer science adventures day camp are also available along with a Junior Ranger Program, Eagle Scout Program, Nature Discovery Walk & Native American Indian Presentation.
Many dedicated individuals and community groups volunteer their efforts in working toward the beautification, preservation and maintenance of the Center.
Arts and Culture
The city's quarterly Artist Showcase program was developed as part of the City of Fontana’s dedication to the Cultural Arts. Through the provision of quarterly artist showcases, Fontana residents are introduced to local artists.
One of the objectives of the program is to introduce the process used by the artist to develop the art form, and methods used to bring the work to life. Each artist selected for the quarterly showcases is asked to exhibit their work for a three month period in the City Council Chamber Foyer located at City Hall. The artist will also be showcased in a small presentation, invited to dine with the members of the Fontana Community and presented to City Council. Additionally, each artist selected will be awarded a nominal stipend from the local Fontana business community.
The Art Depot is one of Fontana's original community centers, and is a specialized Cultural Arts facility. Originally built as a freight depot of the Pacific Electric Railway in 1915, the Art Depot sits along side the newly landscaped Pacific Electric Trail in the Helen Putnam Historical Plaza. The Art Depot offers art classes, open studio activities, and special events.
Next door to the new library, a block south along Sierra, stands the Center Stage Theater. Built in the Art Deco
style in 1937, and designed by architect C.H. Boller
, the former Fontana (movie) Theater was recently renovated during 2004-2008 after several decades of various other uses, into a live dinner theater, with $6,000,000 in funds earmarked by the Fontana City Council. It reopened to the public on July 25
Sports and Recreation
Auto Club Speedway
Auto Club Speedway
, a racetrack that plays host to two NASCAR Sprint Cup
events a year and various smaller races, is located in an unincorporated part of Fontana, on Cherry Avenue. It is built on the former site of the Kaiser Steel
mill. The large smelting furnaces of the mill were sold to China
, and the rest remains an operating steel mill (though Japanese-owned) named California Steel Industries.
Currently under construction in the northern part of the city (at Summit Avenue and Lytle Creek Road), Fontana Park will be the city's second largest municipal park, featuring a large state-of-the-art community center, aquatic center, skate park, and several child-oriented play areas.
Current Mayor and Council
- Mayor: Mark Nuaimi
- Mayor Pro Tem: Acquanetta Warren
- John Roberts
- Janice Rutherford
- Frank Scialdone
Other City Officials:
- City Manager: Kenneth Hunt
- City Attorney: Clark Alsop
- City Clerk: Toni Lewis
- Treasurer Janet Koehler-Brooks
The City of Fontana has now formed its own Fire Protection District (similar to a Fire Department); as of July 1,2008, the City officially severed its links to the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Fontana also maintains its own police department, but for the unincorporated areas (like the nearby town of Bloomington), the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is used (mainly from the Fontana satellite station, or backup deputies from the West Valley/Rancho Cucamonga Regional Station).
In the state legislature
Fontana is located in the 32nd Senate
District, represented by Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod
, and in the 62nd and 63rd Assembly
Districts, represented by Democrat Wilmer Carter
and Republican Bill Emmerson
respectively. Federally, Fontana is located in California's 43rd congressional district
, which has a Cook PVI
of D +10 and is represented by Democrat Joe Baca
Fontana's current economy is driven largely by industrial uses, particularly distribution centers for such companies as:
- Southern California Edison
- Home Shopping Network
- Avery Dennison
The city is also home to several local commercial centers, as well as commercial strip zoning along its major avenues and boulevards.
The Metrolink rail service to the greater Los Angeles area runs through the center of town. The City of Fontana is ten minutes away from Ontario International Airport
The city is also served by Omnitrans bus service.
Fontana is also served by several major freeways and highways.
Fontana receives electrical power through the Southern California Edison
Company. Gas service is provided by the Southern California Gas Company
. Telephone and DSL internet service are through AT&T
, though Verizon serves a smaller portion of the city. Time Warner
Cable also provides television and cable internet access. Burrtec Waste provides rubbish and trash collection throughout the city. Fontana is served by five different water companies, but none of their service areas overlap. These companies are: Fontana Water; the Cucamonga Valley Water District; Marygold Mutual Water; West S.B. County Water; and Crawford Canyon Water. Sewage service in the city is provided by the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, but is billed out by the City of Fontana itself.
Fontana is home to the Kaiser Permanente-Fontana Hospital. Located on Sierra Avenue, and occupying most of the block between Sierra, Marygold, and Palmetto Avenues, and Valley Boulevard, The campus forms one of the largest healthcare facilities in the Inland Empire Region. On more of a side note, the various facilities are also among the tallest and largest buildings in the city (other than industrial distribution centers).
The hospital is home to sixty different specialized departments, plus emergency care.
Also, located in the north end of the city, along the "Miracle Mile" of Sierra Lakes Parkway and the 210 freeway, is the Sierra San Antonio Medical Plaza, a 60,000 square foot outpatient center and medical office building supported by San Antonio Community Hospital. Services currently available from SSAMP are urgent care, diagnostic radiology, physician offices, and a pharmacy.
The facility also boasts a 3,000 square foot educational suite where community lectures, health screenings, awareness campaigns, maternity and CPR classes are held.
Also along miracle mile, another new medical facility of apparently similar size is currently under construction, east of Sierra Ave.
In popular culture
- Pigmy Love Circus has a blazin' song called "Drug run to Fontana" on the album The Power of Beef.
- Fictional cartoon character Speed Racer was from Fontana.
- The steel mill scene in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie “Terminator 2” was filmed in the abandoned Kaiser Steel Mill.
- Part of the freeway scene in Transformers was shot on Interstate 210 in north Fontana, and in neighboring Rialto.
- Nick Barnett, NFL player, Green Bay Packers
- Travis Barker, drummer for The Aquabats, Blink-182, The Transplants, Plus 44, and Box Car Racer
- Corey Benjamin, NBA Player (1st Round Pick in 1998 for the Chicago Bulls/NBA) and College Basketball Star at Oregon State University before leaving after his Sophomore Season
- Patrick Brayer, singer/songwriter/musician
- Shelton Brooks, legendary songwriter and bandleader of the early 20th century, spent several decades in his later years living in Fontana. The writer of such hits as ”Darktown Strutters’ Ball” and ”Some of These Days,” he would buy a new Cadillac every year with his songwriter royalties. As a leader of his own successful big band, he hobnobbed with the Hollywood elite and became especially close to torch singer Sophie Tucker, known as “The Last of the Red Hot Mammas.”
- Gangster Al Capone once had a home in Fontana, which was notable for the initial "C" displayed on one of the home's chimneys. It was rumored that secret passageways/tunnels led from the home to a different part of the city of Fontana, allowing for a quick escape.
- Greg Colbrunn, MLB Player
- The Crlenica Brothers [pronounced tsir-LEN-itsa], a local Slavic “Tamburitza” musical group, lived in Fontana, had a music store on Arrow Blvd., and played music locally for Fontana's large Slavic population. Unbeknownst to most Fontana residents, they also did some movie work in Hollywood, performing on the soundtrack of "Dr. Zhivago" (Lara’s Theme), and also in the movie “Patton,” in the Russian dance scene.
- Mike Davis, author and social commentator
- Maurice Edu, Soccer Player for Rangers F.C.
- Bill Fagerbakke, television actor and voice of Patrick Star on SpongeBob SquarePants
- Sammy Hagar, rock musician (guitarist and vocalist), former member of Montrose and Van Halen, and a soloist. Entrepreneur and purveyor of Cabo Wabo brand tequila. Although Hagar was born in Monterey, California, he lived in Fontana, and graduated from Fontana High School.
- Nick Johnson, MLB Player, now married.
- Sam Khalifa, former professional baseball player.
- Jeff Liefer, MLB Player
- D-Loc, one of the lead singers of the Kottonmouth Kings.
- Josh Logan, Actor appearing in the hit T.V. series Smallville and guest starring in the cult classic American Warewolf in London
- Whitman Mayo (1930-2001), the actor who played Shady Grady in the TV series “Sanford and Son,” moved with his family from New York City to Fontana in 1967, when he was 37. While living in Fontana he attended Chaffey College in nearby Cucamonga (now called Rancho Cucamonga). He once served as the Grand Marshall in the Fontana Days parade.
- Legendary motorcycle builder and innovator Denver Mullins was from Fontana. He started a bike shop, Denver’s Choppers, in San Bernardino in 1967, where he was a pioneer in the building of custom bikes and replacement bike parts. The shop later moved to Henderson, Nevada, just outside Las Vegas, where it still operates to this day, although Denver died in a racing boat accident in 1992.
- Troy Percival, relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays
- Alexis Serna, place kicker
- Dirty Red, Rapper from Ruthless Records who's actually from Los Angeles but lived in Fontana.
- Leo Romero, Professional skateboarder
- Sean Rooks, NBA Player (1st Round Pick). Played college ball at University of Arizona and went onto play a number of season with several teams in the NBA, before retiring in 2005.