San Gabriel Valley is in Los Angeles County. The incorporated cities and unincorporated neighborhoods of the San Gabriel Valley include:
Many people consider the communities of Glendale and La Crescenta-Montrose to be part of the San Gabriel Valley, although they are part of the San Fernando Valley and the Crescenta Valley, respectively.
Whittier is considered both a San Gabriel Valley city and part of the Gateway Cities region. Some of Whittier sits below the Whittier Narrows. Although these hills are considered extremely small compared to the San Gabriel Mountains, the fact that most of the city sits around them is said to make Whittier a San Gabriel Valley city, despite its area codes—most of Whittier is served by the 562 area code, though a large portion is served by the 626 area code, with which the valley is primarily associated. This is similar to Montebello, which is situated in the 323 area code and is a member of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments, despite geographically being part of the San Gabriel Valley.
San Dimas, Claremont, Pomona, Diamond Bar, and La Verne are adjacent to the San Gabriel Valley, and although are properly considered part of the Pomona Valley, they are also commonly considered as part of the San Gabriel Valley. They share the 909 area code with other cities in the San Bernardino Valley portion of the Inland Empire. The 57 Freeway (Orange Freeway) is generally considered the dividing line between the Pomona and San Gabriel Valleys. However, for statistical and economic development purposes, the County of Los Angeles generally includes these five cities as part of the San Gabriel Valley.
Unofficial estimates place the combined population of the San Gabriel Valley at around 2 million -- roughly a fifth of the population of Los Angeles County.
The African American population in the San Gabriel Valley is relatively low, particularly when compared to that of more central Greater Los Angeles communities like Inglewood. However, there are sizable, long-established African American communities in the western Altadena area and in northwest Pasadena, as well as in Monrovia.
Hispanics, mainly Mexican Americans, are especially dominant in Azusa, Baldwin Park, City of Industry, El Monte, La Puente, Montebello, Rosemead, South El Monte, West Covina, and Whittier. Mexican Americans have been present in the area since the 1840s, when the U.S. government obliged Mexico to sell this territory after the Mexican-American War. In the predominantly Asian American city of Monterey Park, Hispanics are concentrated in the southwestern part of the city near East Los Angeles and the Belvedere district of Los Angeles. The southwestern portion was formerly East Los Angeles before annexation by Monterey Park years ago.
The San Gabriel Valley has the largest concentration of Chinese American communities in Southern California. Eight of the ten cities in the United State with the largest proportion of Chinese Americans are located in the San Gabriel Valley. Communities with a high percentage of Asian Americans include Alhambra, Arcadia, Diamond Bar, Hacienda Heights, Monterey Park, Rosemead, Rowland Heights, San Gabriel, San Marino, Temple City and Walnut. According to a 2004 report by the Asian-Pacific American Legal Center, the cities of Walnut, San Gabriel, San Marino, Rosemead and Monterey Park contain an Asian American majority.
Other Asian American groups include smaller pockets of Filipino Americans, many of whom reside in West Covina and Walnut, and Vietnamese Americans in San Gabriel, Rosemead, and El Monte. Many Vietnamese Americans have blended in with the general Chinese American population. Smaller pockets of Korean Americans live in Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, and Diamond Bar. The Indian American population is small compared to the other groups, but there are sizable concentrations in Arcadia, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Diamond Bar. A longstanding Japanese American population exists in the southwestern area near northern Montebello.
Many parts of the San Gabriel Valley are working-class areas although, like many other regions, some cities in the valley have middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods as well. Predominantly working-class communities include Azusa, El Monte and La Puente. Middle-class communities include Alhambra, Monterey Park, Pasadena, West Covina, and Whittier. Wealthier communities include Arcadia, Bradbury, Diamond Bar, San Marino, and Walnut. The richer areas of the San Gabriel Valley such as San Marino, Walnut, and Arcadia contains the highest concentration of Taiwanese Americans in the area. Otherwise, Cantonese people and Vietnamese are predominantly the main subgroup in cities of Monterey Park, Alhambra, Rosemead, San Gabriel, and El Monte. This can be seen by the variety of Cantonese speaking and Vietnamese speaking commercial businesses that respond to the surrounding communities' needs such as Hong Kong Market, 99 Ranch Market in Monterey Park, Shun Fat Market, NBC Restaurant and other businesses in these cities.
The San Gabriel Valley is also home to the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, which is broadcast live on television on New Year's Day from Pasadena. After the parade, the Rose Bowl game between two competing rival college football teams is also live from Pasadena.
As the oldest incorporated city in the valley, the city of Pasadena serves somewhat of a cultural center for the San Gabriel Valley. Several art-house film and play theatres are located in Pasadena, including the renowned Pasadena Playhouse. In addition, the local news/talk National Public Radio station KPCC 89.3 FM broadcasts from Pasadena City College, although it is operated by Minnesota Public Radio.
Old Town Pasadena, which has been restored and rejuvenated, remains highly popular. Old Town has an active nightlife, a shopping mall, chic boutiques, outdoor cafés, nightclubs, comedy clubs, and fancy restaurants. It is also pedestrian friendly. The area is envied by many other communities which hope to emulate its successes through commercial redevelopment and reviving their own downtown areas or "Main Streets". For example, the city of Azusa has attempted to encourage redevelopment of its once-dilapidated downtown section by using a Route 66 theme. Covina has had moderate success with its nostalgic Downtown Covina, with emphasis placed on a small-town America atmosphere and mom-and-pop merchants rather than big-box retail chains; Monrovia has also embraced this theme for their "Old Town." Alhambra has also worked to renovate its downtown along Main St.
The California Institute of Technology is located in Pasadena. The university is ranked in the top 10 universities worldwide by metrics such as citation index, Nobel Prizes, and general university rankings. CalTech also responsible for the well-known Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which designs and engineers many of NASA's spacecraft.
The city of Baldwin Park is the birthplace of the popular hamburger fast food chain In-N-Out Burger. Its first location opened in the city in 1948.
In 2003, voters in the unincorporated community of Hacienda Heights defeated a proposal to incorporate as a city. It remains an unincorporated district governed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors rather than by a locally-elected mayor and city council.
The view of the San Gabriel Mountains is sometimes obscured by smog which blows west into the valley from Los Angeles. However, the smog tends to be cleared after heavy rains or winds thus improving the view.
Given the San Gabriel Valley's burgeoning population of Asian Americans (specifically Chinese Americans), several business districts were developed to serve their needs. Hence, there are four major de facto "Chinatowns" in the Valley. This trend began in the city of Monterey Park during the late 1970s when many affluent Chinese professionals, mostly from Taiwan, began settling in the area. At the time, Monterey Park was marketed by realtors in Taiwan as the "Chinese Beverly Hills" — because of its many green rolling hills — to encourage and entice future investors. (It should be noted that the Downtown L.A. Chinatown, with predominantly blue-collar Cantonese Chinese-speaking residents, was considered unattractive to investors then and now.) Other Mandarin Chinese-speaking immigrants of the middle and working classes from Taiwan and Mainland China later followed. Settlement in the city picked up the pace in the 1980s and in turn replaced white-owned businesses whose owners either resettled elsewhere or died. Soon, Chinese shopping centers—with supermarkets serving as anchors—were developed.
The city was also the site of xenophobia, as Chinese businesses were replacing others and Chinese-language materials began filling the local public library. Initially, many Chinese restaurateurs and business owners at the time used primarily Chinese script and not English or Romanized names on their business signs. This changed in 1986, however, as the predominantly white members of the city council of Monterey Park enacted an ordinance forcibly requiring the Chinese businesses to translate their business signs and describe the nature of their businesses in English as well. Nowadays, as a reflection of changing demographics, several elected Chinese Americans and Hispanics now sit on the city council.
Also, many of the public, private, and parochial schools in Monterey Park and adjacent cities like Alhambra now contain a majority of Chinese American — namely American-born Chinese — students. In order to immerse - or at least acquaint - the American-born Chinese in the Chinese language, culture, and arts, Chinese language classes are often held on the weekends at these schools and other facilities. A number of such academies have cropped up in the San Gabriel Valley and also in northern California.
Monterey Park, dubbed "New Chinatown" and "Little Taipei" (after the capital city of Taiwan or the ROC) by some people in the community, is widely regarded as the premier suburban Chinese American community by the Chinese-speaking community and some social scientists alike. Ironically, just as Monterey Park became first suburban community to attain an Asian American majority in the early 1990s, many well-to-do Chinese Americans have moved out of Monterey Park and vicinity and into upscale San Gabriel Valley neighborhoods such as Arcadia, Hacienda Heights, Diamond Bar, Rowland Heights and further south and east to the distant suburbs of Irvine, Chino Hills and Corona. Thus, this led to a formation of newer Chinese American communities in the Valley and beyond. Like its Los Angeles Chinatown counterpart, Monterey Park now contains a Cantonese Chinese-speaking majority. Interestingly, Diamond Bar is a sister city of Sanhsai, Taiwan.
In the late 1980s and 1990s, other Chinese American communities followed suit of Monterey Park and many businesses and modern, impressive shopping centers were then developed throughout the San Gabriel Valley (although the business districts are not as well-concentrated as Monterey Park). For instance, in Alhambra, an old 1950s-era carhop diner was purchased and converted into a Chinese seafood restaurant in the late 1980s (it has changed hands several times). In San Gabriel, a Chinese hypermarket and strip mall replaced a shuttered Target store. In the 1990s, a Rowland Heights bowling alley was demolished and was replaced by an indoor shopping center containing several Chinese restaurants and chic boutiques.
The large Chinese American supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market — based in Buena Park, California — operates several locations in these Chinese American communities. Battling for market share are its chief competitors of the smaller, albeit growing, chains of San Gabriel Valley-based Hong Kong Supermarket and Shun Fat Supermarket (the flagship stores of both chains are located in Monterey Park). These three supermarket chains often operate within the vicinity of each other.
Numerous Chinese — mainly Taiwanese and some Cantonese — and Vietnamese American businesses line the streets of:
Rosemead's smaller assortment of Vietnamese and Chinese business districts extends slightly from Monterey Park eastward on Garvey Avenue and San Gabriel eastward on Valley Boulevard. There are also smaller pockets of Chinese American businesses that are scattered in many San Gabriel Valley cities. Although Chinese Americans also live in other cities of the San Gabriel Valley (sometimes with a significantly lower population of Chinese Americans), these aforementioned suburban Chinatown-like areas tend to serve as a central hub.
In Rowland Heights, a handful of Korean American strip malls co-exist with Chinese American businesses (mainly on Nogales Avenue).
Another ethnic enclave is the Filipino American business district of Little Manila, which consists of a few strip malls and two supermarkets (including the Filipino chain Seafood City). It is located on Azusa Avenue and Amar Road in West Covina along with an Asian indoor and outdoor shopping center that replaced a Ralph Supermarket couple miles away from Little Manila located on Glendora Avenue caters to Chinese Indonesian with minority groups of Taiwanese, Thai, Burman, and Vietnamese.
Several cities provide their own in-city transportation shuttles. Cities known to provide such service are:
The San Gabriel Valley is served by several major freeways:
I-710 ends abruptly (or begins, depending on one's perspective) at the western border of Alhambra, near California State University, Los Angeles. A very small noncontiguous and mostly unsigned spur of I-710 starts at California Boulevard in Pasadena and ends at the junction of I-210 and SR 134. Since the late 1950s, the plan to connect the two portions of I-710 (formerly SR 7) has generated a long, controversial, and contentious debate (as well as prolonged litigation). Many residents in South Pasadena fear losing their homes and businesses to clear the way for construction. The MTA and Caltrans, an ardent proponent of the extension, has recently proposed the idea of constructing an underground tunnel to complete the so-called "710 gap." Because the entire valley suffers from severe traffic congestion, the I-710 completion plan is a major issue in the politics of all valley cities, and political candidates at all levels of government routinely assert positions on the issue.
At the end of the San Gabriel Valley, the eastern freeway segment of SR 210 (formerly designated SR 30 and still signed as such in some places in San Bernardino County) between SR 57 and I-15 had been a source of similar contention in the bordering community of La Verne, but was finally constructed and added to the Foothill Freeway in 2002.
State Route 39 leads north into the San Gabriel Mountains to the Crystal Lake Recreation Area The portion connecting the recreation area to the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) has been closed to the public since the early 1970s due to massive damage and rockslides.
Other San Gabriel Valley-wide publications include the weekly Mountain Views News magazine, The Mid Valley News, and the Core Media weekly newspaper chain, whose weekly newspapers cover several San Gabriel Valley cities.
Several large newspaper publishing companies serve the large Chinese-speaking readership in the Los Angeles area and the San Gabriel Valley is the media powerhouse for local Chinese Americans. The national daily Chinese-language newspapers Chinese Daily News (Los Angeles edition of the World Journal newspaper) and International Daily News are both printed in Monterey Park. The Los Angeles edition of the Hong Kong-based Sing Tao is printed in Alhambra and the newspaper is specifically tailored to the Cantonese-speaking readership. The youngest international Chinese-language newspaper company The Epoch Times (大纪元) is based in New York City and has its Los Angeles office in San Gabriel. These newspapers are circulated and distributed throughout Chinese American communities in the San Gabriel Valley, Chinatown, San Diego, and in Las Vegas, Nevada (where the latter two cities generally receive the Los Angeles editions due to a relatively lower population density of Chinese-speaking Americans).
90.1 KSAK-FM is aired from Mount San Antonio College but has limited reception since it can only be heard in some parts of Walnut. Several ethnic radio stations in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese are broadcast from Pasadena. KSPR is an online station streaming from Digital Business & Design College in El Monte.
The cities of Temple City and Rosemead served as the backdrop for the Emmy Award winning television dramady "The Wonder Years" (1988 to 1993). While Temple City's Las Tunas Drive served as the downtown for the Arnold Family's fictitious hometown, Rosemead High School stood in for the town's high school.
The city of Whittier is constantly hosting film crews for various motion picture, television and feature films. In Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future trilogy of time travel adventure movies (1985, 1989, 1990), Whittier High School was used as Hill Valley High School with Michael J. Fox's character travels back in time on the huge parking lot of the Puente Hills Mall in the City of Industry that served as the location of the fictitious Twin Pines Mall, the Gamble House in Pasadena provided the exterior of Christopher Lloyd's character's 1950s mansion, and El Monte served as a dilapidated future neighborhood. Another movie starring Fox, Teen Wolf, was largely filmed in Arcadia. Uptown Whittier was a principal location for the 1987 release Masters of the Universe, and many scenes of the film show the buildings of the neighborhood as they appeared before most of them were damaged or destroyed by the Whittier Narrows earthquake of that year.
Forrest Gump (1994), starring Tom Hanks, was partially filmed at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park. The downtown portion of Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia has been used in many movies and television commercials. Multiple locations throughout Monrovia also played the role of the fictitious Rome, WI in the TV series Picket Fences. This private residence on Royal Oaks Drive in Bradbury has also been used in several movies and at least one television commercial. The 90s television show Roswell filmed in Covina, most noticeably the downtown area. Most recently, the former location of a now closed Ikea in the City of Industry was used to film scenes in the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.