The historic U.S. Route 66 isn’t called “the main street of America” for nothing—running from Chicago to Los Angeles, it is one of the original U.S. highways, and it touches just about every city along the San Gabriel Mountain foothills.
That includes the city of Duarte, which celebrates its own connection to the famous highway with an annual “Salute to Route 66” parade.
An earlier claim to historic fame for the city is its origins as part of a large rancho granted to former Mexican corporal Andres Duarte in the early 1840s. The rancho’s nearly 7,000 acres would eventually be transformed into parts of Arcadia, Monrovia, Irwindale, Azusa, Baldwin Park and all of Duarte and Bradbury. Along with Route 66, the city of Duarte shares a citrus industry legacy with these other cities.
But this city of about 21,000 also has several unique claims to fame, especially in the areas of health and medicine.
While many pioneer families sought out the dry, pleasant climate of the area as a good 19th century therapy for tuberculosis, today people come to Duarte for medical treatment at the City of Hope National Medical Center, a world-renowned leading center in the fight against various cancers.
Residents are also assisted by the Santa Teresita “Medical Center,” a hospital first started as a “rest home” by a group of Carmelite Sisters in 1930. In recent years, the city government has also devoted much energy to retail development, especially in its western section.
The city is bounded in the east by Azusa and Irwindale rock quarries as well as by the San Gabriel River—nearby, the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area is a popular location for active residents who enjoy running and cycling.
Two notable past residents are bandleader Glenn Miller and playwright Sam Shepard.
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