Montebello is a member of the Gateway Cities, the association of 27 cities in southeastern Los Angeles County that embrace a variety of industries and lifestyles in the greater metropolis area.
But Montebello, with a population of about 63,000, also proudly clings to its roots as a quaint agricultural town, blooming in the early years of the 20th century.
The city first took shape, in 1899, when it was carved out of rancho lands held by several businessmen and investors. It was either the views of the majestic San Gabriel range or the rolling green hills of the community that may have contributed to the decision to name the city Montebello, which is Spanish for “beautiful mountain.”
Montebello was renowned as an agricultural center, especially because of its production of flowers and berries as well as fruits and vegetables.
As of 2011, the U.S. census reported that the city’ largest group was Latino -- which isn’t surprising since its neighbor to the west is another bastion of Latino population, East Los Angeles. Many other groups, however, call Montebello their home. A visitor driving past the city’s Bicknell Park, for instance, will notice a tall, gray, belltower-like structure built as a memorial to Armenian genocide: This is because the city also has a significant Armenian-American community.
The city’s families are served by a multitude of schools provided by the Montebello Unified School District, as well as several private parochial schools and the Applied Technology Center, a $30 million vocational high school that train students in cutting-edge technical fields.
The community has sought to preserve its greenspaces, and visitors will find a number of parks around the city, especially those connected to its history and to specific citizens. The Sanchez Adobe Park, for example, is home to the Juan Matias Sanchez Adobe, the oldest standing structure in the City of Montebello, built in 1845; while Reggie Rodriquez Park is an 11-acre park named in honor of a Montebello resident who was a Vietnam War hero.
With about 20,000 trees lifting their branches in neighborhoods across the city, Montebello has also been a continuous recipient of the “Tree City U.S.A.” award since 1991. No doubt, if the city’s founding citizens were alive today, they’d be proud.
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