According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.8 square miles (15.0 km²), all of it land.
There were 4,001 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.7% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.90.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,454, and the median income for a family was $46,875. Males had a median income of $36,711 versus $28,095 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,151. About 9.3% of families and 12.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.9% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.
Placerville was a central hub for the Mother Lode region's mining operations. The town had many services, including transportation (of people and goods), lodging, banking, and had a market and general store. The history of hard-rock mining is evidenced by an open and accessible Gold Bug Park & Mine, now a museum with tours and books.
The Southern Pacific Railroad once had a branch line that extended from Sacramento to Placerville. The track was abandoned in the 1980s. The Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad (now abandoned) also operated an shortline that operated between Camino, California and Placerville until June 17 1986. As of March 29, 2007, of the right-of-way have been purchased by the city of Folsom, and eighteen miles (29 km) of track have been restored. Plans are under consideration for a tourist excursion train along the route.
Placerville is a historic community from the gold-rush days, and accordingly there are many old buildings from this period.. A walk down Main Street also reveals many historical markers, signifying spots of certain events or persons of importance during this period. Placerville was also on the line of the Pony Express, a short-lived mail carrier service that connected California to the Midwest and East (basically from Sacramento to St. Joseph, Missouri). The Pony Express eventually gave way to the efficiencies of railroad transportation.
The branch line was actually never allowed to be abandoned and was purchased from the Union Pacific in 1996 for $14 million by the Joint Powers Authority consisting of Sacramento County, Folsom, and El Dorado County. There was a group that was restoring the line to run historic excursion trains from Folsom to Placerville a total of of track, but the train stopped running around 1985. There is also a mountain bike trail and equestrian trails.
Over the years many notable and influential people had shops in Placerville, mostly along the now historic Main Street.
Modern notable people: