During the Spanish colonial period the area now covered by the City of Rosemead was part of the land administered by the San Gabriel Mission. After Mexican independence, the land was distributed to private citizens as part of the Mexican government's secularization act of 1834. The southern part of Rosemead was part of a ranch named Potrero Grande (Large Pasture) which was originally granted to an Amerindian man named Manuel Antonio, who was a "mayordomo" (overseer) at the San Gabriel Mission. The ranch was later transferred to Juan Matias Sánchez.
Following the Mexican-American War and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe which transferred sovereignty over the territory now known as the State of California to the United States, Anglo-American immigration began to flow to the area. In 1852, John Guess and his wife Harriet moved into the San Gabriel Valley from Conway County, Arkansas. In 1855 the couple camped where present-day Savannah Elemetary School is located on Rio Hondo Avenue. They rented land afterwards as the years passed. In 1867, John Guess purchased of a ranch and named it Savanna. The land stretched from Valley Boulevard to Marshall Street, and from Rosemead Boulevard to the Eaton Wash.
Other pioneers, Frank Forst and Leonard J. Rose, also settled in this valley. Rose and his wife Amanda bought about of land between Rosemead Boulevard and Walnut Grove. Rose bred and trained horses for a living. He later named his ranch "Rosemeade." Rosemeade was then renamed Rosemead which flourished with various rabbit and chicken farms.
Fire protection in Rosemead is provided by the Los Angeles County Fire Department with ambulance transport by Guardian Ambulance Service. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department provides law enforcement, operating out of the Temple Station.
Controversies over the development of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the southern portion of the city have been ongoing. It recently opened on September 13, 2006. A recall election to remove two councilmembers that supported the Wal-Mart was set for September 19, 2006; the voters defeated the recall in a 60 to 40 percent vote. However, in the general elections that followed shortly thereafter on March 6, 2007, Polly Low defeated incumbent and former recall target Jay Imperial, garnering the highest vote count among the five candidates vying for the two open seats on the council.
The city is bordered to the north by San Gabriel and Temple City, to the east by El Monte, to the south by the unincorporated area of South San Gabriel and Montebello and to the east by Monterey Park.
As of the census of 2000, there were 53,505 people, 13,913 households, and 11,632 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,011.3/km² (10,398.3/mi²). There were 14,345 housing units at an average density of 1,075.5/km² (2,787.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 26.57% White, 0.68% African American, 0.85% Native American, 48.76% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 19.69% from other races, and 3.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 41.30% of the population.
There were 13,913 households out of which 43.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.0% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.4% were non-families. 12.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.80 and the average family size was 4.11.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $36,181, and the median income for a family was $36,552. Males had a median income of $26,545 versus $22,353 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,146. About 19.4% of families and 22.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.6% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those age 65 or over.
Commercial "mom and pop" businesses are along Garvey and Valley Avenues although they are increasingly being cleared to make way for future high density mixed-use developments. The local homeless population tend to live along the Alhambra wash, and near the San Bernardino Freeway.
There is one public high school--Rosemead High School)--in the city and three public middle schools: Muscatel Middle School, Richard Garvey Intermediate School and Temple Intermediate School. Don Bosco Technical Institute is located in Rosemead.