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On August 24, 1962, Palmdale became the first community in the Antelope Valley to incorporate. 47 years later, in November 2009, voters approved making it a charter city. Its population was 152,750 at the 2010 census, up from 116,670 at the 2000 census. Palmdale is the 33rd most populous city in California. In 2013, the Palmdale / Lancaster urban area had an estimated population of 513,547.
In 1915, Palmdale’s first newspaper, the Palmdale Post, was published. Today it is called the Antelope Valley Press.
In 1921, the first major link between Palmdale and Los Angeles was completed, Mint Canyon/Lancaster Road, later designated U.S. Route 6. Completion of this road caused the local agricultural industry to flourish and was the first major step towards defining the metropolis that exists today. Presently this road is known as Sierra Highway.
In 1924, the Little Rock Dam and the Harold Reservoir, present day Lake Palmdale, were constructed to assist the agricultural industry and have enough water to serve the growing communities.
Agriculture continued to be the foremost industry for Palmdale and its northern neighbor Lancaster until the outbreak of World War II. In 1933, the United States government established Muroc Air Base (from an original founder’s name, Effie Corum, spelled backwards) six miles (10 km) north of Lancaster in Kern County, now known as Edwards Air Force Base. They also bought Palmdale Airport in 1952 and established an aerospace development and testing facility called United States Air Force Plant 42. One year later, in 1953, Lockheed established a facility at the airport. After this point in time, the aerospace industry took over as the primary local source of employment, where it has remained ever since. Today the city is even referred to as the “Aerospace Capital of America” because of its rich heritage in being the home of many of the aircraft used in the United States military.
Downtown Palmdale is located at 34°34′46″N 118°07′00″W, at an elevation of 2,655 feet (809 m) above sea level.
According to the United States Census Bureau the city has a total area of 106.2 square miles (275 km2), of which, 106.0 square miles (275 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it is water (including man-made Lake Palmdale, the most visible and scenic part of the municipal water supply system) . The total area is 0.24% water.
The city lies in close proximity to the San Andreas Fault, making it, like many other regions of California, prone to strong earthquakes. This faultline cuts across the Antelope Valley Freeway just north of the Avenue S off-ramp; running westward along the old Butterfield Stage Line (now Elizabeth Lake Road) into Leona Valley.
The Census reported that 152,551 people (99.9% of the population) lived in households, 158 (0.1%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 41 (0%) were institutionalized.
There were 42,952 households, out of which 23,345 (54.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 24,199 (56.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 7,821 (18.2%) had a female householder with no husband present, 3,318 (7.7%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 2,998 (7.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 316 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 5,828 households (13.6%) were made up of individuals and 1,880 (4.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.55. There were 35,338 families (82.3% of all households); the average family size was 3.87.
The population was spread out with 50,514 people (33.1%) under the age of 18, 17,089 people (11.2%) aged 18 to 24, 40,077 people (26.2%) aged 25 to 44, 34,963 people (22.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 10,107 people (6.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29.7 years. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
There were 46,544 housing units at an average density of 438.2 per square mile (169.2/km2), of which 29,167 (67.9%) were owner-occupied, and 13,785 (32.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 9.4%. 102,444 people (67.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 50,107 people (32.8%) lived in rental housing units.
During 2009–2013, Palmdale had a median household income of $53,922, with 21.2% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
The Palmdale School District is one of the largest elementary school districts in the nation consisting of 29 schools with about 28,000 students. This school district covers the majority of the city’s kindergarten through 8th grade students. One of the unique features of this school district was its practice of naming schools after desert flora and fauna. For instance, there are Tumbleweed, Juniper, Mesquite, Manzanita and Joshua Hills schools.
The Westside Union School District covers the schools on the far west-side of Palmdale and its western suburbs. This school district has over 8,250 students and 11 schools for K–8 education.
The Keppel Union School District covers the schools on the far east-side of Palmdale and its eastern suburbs. This school district has six schools and nearly 3,000 students for K–8 education.
The Antelope Valley Union High School District covers nearly all of the 9th–12th grade education for the entire metropolitan area, with the exception of private high schools. It has 12 schools with over 25,000 students.
The Palmdale Aerospace Academy is a joint venture between the city of Palmdale, the AERO Institute, and the Palmdale School District. It is a new independent charter school which is scheduled to open in August 2012. The Academy is a project-based learning environment within a STEM-centric professional learning community.
Colleges and universities
The Antelope Valley Community College District currently has a satellite campus in Palmdale with a student population of about 470. This temporary campus was set up until a permanent community college campus could be established within the city, which is being planned for the southside of the city on 25th Street East, south of Avenue S. The district has one full service campus in nearby Lancaster with about 14,000 students.
The California State University system also has a satellite campus from its Bakersfield facility in nearby Lancaster at the Antelope Valley College main campus.
DeVry University has a campus in Palmdale that includes its Keller Graduate School of Management.
Chapman University has a satellite campus in Palmdale.
University of Antelope Valley (private 4yr college)
University of La Verne has a satellite campus in Palmdale.
University of Phoenix has a satellite campus in nearby Lancaster.
The AERO Institute at the Palmdale Institute of Technology is a facility in Palmdale at the Civic Center. It is operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the City of Palmdale, and distance learning through a number of universities is available including Purdue, USC, University of San Diego, Pepperdine University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Caltech and Cal Poly Pomona. This specialized school offers graduate and undergraduate education in aerospace science, engineering, and technical skills.