Over the last twenty-five years, the City of Palmdale, California has been consistently rated as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States year after year. Rapid, frequent, booming growth are not words the earliest settlers would have used to describe the area.
The first group of European settlers, mostly German and Swiss Lutheran travelers from the American Midwest, arrived in the area in the late 1800’s. Apparently, the group had been told that they would know they had reached the Pacific when they saw palm trees. Upon entering the territory, they assumed the region’s local Joshua Tree was the illustrious palm tree they searched for so they settled the area and named it, “Palmenthal”. By the 1890’s the area began to fill with families who were attracted to the growth of grain and fruit. However, most were unfamiliar with desert farming and, with the arrival of the drought years, they abandoned their homes. By 1899, only one family remained in the area.
As of the 21st Century, Palmdale is home to more than 150,000 people and its 106 square mile boundary makes it the second largest city in Los Angeles County. A higher-education hotspot, the list of universities making a home in Palmdale include the Antelope Valley Community College District, California State University, DeVry University, Chapman University, University of La Verne, University of Phoenix, and the AERO Institute, operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Palmdale also offers distance learning from Purdue University, USC, University of San Diego, Pepperdine University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Caltech, and Cal Poly Pomona.
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