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During World War II, the lake was used to test seaplanes, and a Douglas Aircraft plant making wing assemblies for Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers was located in the city.
The lake ran dry during most of the 1950s and was refilled in the early 1960s. Despite its relatively small African American population, it has the distinction of electing the first black mayor in California. Tom Yarborough was elected in 1966, three years before Douglas Dollarhide became the mayor of Compton.
In 1972, citizens of the city voted to rename it Lake Elsinore. More than a week of heavy rains in 1980 flooded the lake, destroying surrounding homes and businesses. Since then, a multimillion-dollar project has been put into place to maintain the water supply at a consistent level, allowing for homes to be built close to the lake. Overflow water in the Lake spills out via Alberhill Creek, a tributary of Temescal Creek. In 2007, an aeration system was added to help with the lake’s ecosystem.
Rapid population growth in the mid-2000s altered the appearance and image of Lake Elsinore from a small lakeside town of 3,800 people in 1976 to a bedroom community of upper middle-class professionals. The city was ranked as the 12th fastest growing city in California between 2000 and 2008. Now, over 51,821 residents as of the 2010 census live there, and formerly open hillsides have been converted into housing tracts.
Lake Elsinore, originally Laguna Grande, is the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California and is situated at the lowest point within the 750-square-mile (1,900 km2) San Jacinto River watershed at the terminus of the San Jacinto River, where its headwaters are found on the western slopes of San Jacinto Peak with its North Fork, and Lake Hemet with its South Fork. Lake levels are healthy at 1,244 feet (379 m) above sea level with a volume of 30,000 acre·ft (37 Gl) that often fluctuate, although much has been done recently to prevent the lake from drying up, flooding, or becoming stagnant. At 1,255 feet (383 m), the lake would spill into the outflow channel on its northeastern shore, known properly as Temescal Wash, flowing northwest along I-15, which feeds Temescal Creek, which dumps into the Santa Ana River just northwest of the City of Corona. It then flows to Orange County, out to the Pacific Ocean just south of Huntington State Beach.
Lake Elsinore is bordered by the Elsinore Mountains to the west, which are a part of the larger Santa Ana Mountain Range, and receive a few inches of snowfall a few days each year. Included in the Santa Ana Mountains is the Cleveland National Forest and the community of El Cariso. Lake Elsinore is northwest of Wildomar and the northern portion is part of the Temescal Canyon. To the east of the lake are the much older and more eroded slopes of the Temescal Mountains.
Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 25,073 persons (48.4%).
The census reported 51,389 people (99.2% of the population) lived in households, 224 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 208 (0.4%) were institutionalized.
Of the 14,788 households, 8,026 (54.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 8,735 (59.1%) were married couples living together, and 2,071 (14.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,155 (7.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,165 (7.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 143 (1.0%) same-sex partnerships. Some 1,952 households (13.2%) were made up of individuals and 521 (3.5%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.48. There were 11,961 families (80.9% of all households); the average family size was 3.79.
The population was distributed as 16,990 people (32.8%) under the age of 18, 5,261 people (10.2%) aged 18 to 24, 15,731 people (30.4%) aged 25 to 44, 10,874 people (21.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 2,965 people (5.7%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.5 males.
The 16,253 housing units averaged a density of 389.9 per square mile (150.5/km²), of which 9,761 (66.0%) were owner-occupied, and 5,027 (34.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 4.6%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.8%. About 32,891 people (63.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 18,498 people (35.7%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Lake Elsinore had a median household income of $62,436, with 13.2% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
Lakeside, Temescal Canyon, and Elsinore are the three main high schools of the Lake Elsinore Unified School District A very small portion of northeastern Lake Elsinore in the Canyon Hills subdivision is located in the Menifee Union School District for grades K-8, and Perris Union High School District for grades 9–12.
Additionally, three private schools are within the city of Lake Elsinore, including a K–12 preparatory academy.
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