The city of El Monte has many personalities—residential community, industrial area, commercial city.
Its location, situated between the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers, was appealing as a rest stop for 19th century travelers headed to the gold fields of Northern California. It was an idyllic, tranquil spot that took its name from an old Spanish word for “meadow.”
The city also developed an early reputation as a rough-and-tumble frontier town with colorful stories about bandit gangs and gambling saloons.
El Monte has always been an important destination, either for goldseekers heading north or to pioneers coming West on the famed Santa Fe Trail. For many years, until the 1930s, El Monte was a popular place for white settlers leaving behind the Dust Bowl areas of the country. Today the city has a mostly Latino population of about 121,000, and the median household income is about $43,000. The estimated median value for homes or condos is about $350,000.
Such a large community requires a large public educational system, and children in the city are served by two: El Monte Union High School District and El Monte City School District.
Thanks to the city’s early success with agriculture, a hub of the Southern Pacific Railroad was built in town, and today the city continues to be a point of commerce and activity thanks to its accessibility to the 605 and 10 freeways.
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