The area of La Quinta was first established in the early 18th century by Spanish conquistadores under the command of Captain Juan Bautista De Anza, as the fifth resting point for travellers along the route from present-day Mexico to the San Gabriel Missions of Los Angeles and present-day Riverside and San Bernardino 60–100 miles away. The words "la quinta" are Spanish, translating to "the fifth". More specifically, the word "quinta" is known in Mexico as a type of hacienda. Spanish and later Mexican settlement in the "East Valley" (Eastern Coachella Valley) was sparse, most residents were members of the indigenous Cahuilla tribe. The earliest records of any inhabitation of La Quinta and other communities was in 1823, after Mexico declared independence from Spain, prior to California's annexation by the United States in 1848.
In the late-19th century and early-20th century (1880–1920), agriculture developed in present-day La Quinta and "East Valley" by pre-modern (mountain water runoff or open water springs) and modern irrigation techniques. At the time, California and federal land surveyors declared the sand dunes uninhabitable, only the hard rock ground of the "Marshall Cove" held potential farming and residential development.
In 1927, Walter Morgan established the La Quinta Resort at the northern section of "Marshall Cove", as a type of secluded hideaway for nearby Hollywood's celebrities and socialites. The Resort was the site for the Coachella Valley's first golf course, coinciding with the construction and pavement of State Route 111 in the 1930s. Further expansion of Washington Street in the 1950s and 1960s connected La Quinta with US Highways 60 and 99 (became Interstate 10 in the 1970s).
As nearby desert cities grew to capacity, La Quinta's growth rose dramatically by the mid-1990s, which led to its incorporation as a city in Riverside County in 1982. In the 1980 census, La Quinta had 4,200 residents, then increased to 11,215 by 1990 in the city's early phases of residential area growth. Once predominantly a part-time community until the early-1990s, more full-time residents live in La Quinta to make it possibly more populous than Palm Springs by 2006, according to some demographers.
La Quinta is located at (33.675373, -116.297391). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.2 square miles (83.4 km²), of which, 31.8 square miles (82.2 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²) of it (1.37%) is water. The city's elevation is 56 feet (20 m) above sea level.
The most prominent feature of the La Quinta area is its Santa Rosa Mountains. Visitors to Disney's California Adventure in Anaheim, California can be treated to a brief glimpse of the foothills in one of the park's attractions: Soarin' Over California. The "Palm Springs" segment of Soarin' Over California was actually shot at the world-famous PGA West golf complex in La Quinta. The Santa Rosa Mountains (California) are nestled against the golf course and can be seen easily in the segment.
The area is very close to the earthquake-causing San Andreas Fault, with some companies offering jeep tours to the fault line.
According to its nearest neighboring city, Indio, California, La Quinta has an approximate yearly average temperature of 89.0F (High) and 57.9F (Low). In the summer it reaches temperatures of 110 on a daily basis.
La Quinta is in the Coachella Valley and is relatively close to all major cities in that valley, including:
|City||Population (2000 census)||Population (2005 estimate)|
|Desert Hot Springs||16,582||19,386|
In 2006, local demographers and ethnic organizations (the Desert Chapter of the NAACP and the Coachella Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) began to re-estimate the percentages of whites, African Americans and Hispanics in La Quinta, but not yet officially stated in the US census at this time. They concluded results that La Quinta is more diverse: 7–8% are African American, 50% Latino (could well be a majority of residents) and 3–5% Asian American.
La Quinta has developed a culturally diverse community, as large ancestry groups include Armenians, British, French, Germans, Italians, Poles and Jews of multiple nationalities. The La Quinta resort had an "open door" policy not to discriminate on race and ethnicity in the 1940s and 1950s, catered to celebrities whom vacationed in the area didn't encounter ethnic discrimination, like billionaire Walter Annenberg was reportedly at the La Quinta resort.
Hispanics, especially Mexican Americans are the city's largest single ethnic group, after waves of immigration from Mexico settled the area since the 1950s. The Hispanic category includes Central Americans, Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans recently moved to La Quinta in high frequency. Mostly Latino neighborhoods are located in older homes of the Cove and old Town sections. La Quinta's sister city is in Tequila, Jalisco in Mexico brought by international ties with that country and the city holds an annual "16th de Septiembre" (Mexican Independence Day) festive event in September.
La Quinta's permanent population growth has brought more people from other urban areas in California, where home prices are higher come to the city's affordability. They joined newcomers from around the nation and the world, such as Canada (a large percentage of "snowbirds" or part-time residents are Canadian), and from the Asian continent (see Asian Americans, such as recent growth of Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos and Koreans) brought on a multi-cultural character in the growing city.
There were 8,445 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.6% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 17.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.16, above national average of 2.35 according to the 2000 United States Census .
In the city the population was spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males. Families of young children came to the city in droves for a better place to raise a family, thus the percentage of young people under age 18 is high, nearly 30 percent.
The median income for a household in the city was $54,552, and the median income for a family was $56,848. Males had a median income of $40,553 versus $31,627 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,284. About 5.0% of families and 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.1% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over. La Quinta has a large minority of residents whose income is well over a million dollars (millionaires and multi-millionaires).
La Quinta and nearby Bermuda Dunes are home to large numbers of senior citizens come to buy a home for the winter or year-round to enjoy the amenities provided by the city's golf clubs, tennis courts and recreation halls. The area's country clubs and golf course communities known for large percentages of retired part-time and full-time residents are Bermuda Dunes, Indian Springs, La Quinta (Hotel, Lago, Citrus and Dune courses), Mountain Vista, the Traditions of La Quinta, the Village at the Palms and PGA West.
The city is part of the SunBus line, which services much of the Coachella Valley.
The city has a new public library that began operations in 2005.
The Desert Sands Unified School District services the entire city of La Quinta, and maintains the following public schools:
Additionally, the musician/actor Tyler Hilton was a former resident of La Quinta, and attended La Quinta High School. La Quinta is said to be hometown of actress Vanessa Marcil, but her official web site states Indio is her birthplace and attended Indio High School. Colonel Mitchell Paige is a World war II Medal of Honor veteran resided in nearby Palm Desert had a middle school in La Quinta named for his honor. Actress Samantha Lockwood was born in La Quinta and went to Palm Valley High School. NFL Football player Jeff Webb went to La Quinta High School, though he lived in Indio. Richard Dreyfus has small residence there, built five years ago. Singer Jack Jones now lives is La Quinta with his daughter Nicole.
In the early-1980s, La Quinta teenager Ken McCormick committed suicide while listening to an Ozzy Osbourne record, right on the song Suicide Solution through his stereo earphones when the sheriff found him already dead. His parents reportedly sued Ozzy Osbourne for their son's death, although he suffered clinical depression, and Osbourne agreed to remove any pro-suicide references in his songs ever since.