Arcadia, California

The city of Arcadia is one of the more well-known and well-off cities located in the San Gabriel Valley, in the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, California. Measuring at 11.1 square miles of land, Arcadia is of the larger cities in its area, allowing it to boast a larger population and more attractions than its neighbors.1 Evidence of all that the city has to offer can be realized in the fact that the city is home to not one, but two zip codes: 91006 and 91007.2 In recent years, a major influx of Asian American immigrants has dramatically brought about a change in its demographics different than that of its past.

Arcadia History

As with most of Southern California, the city of Arcadia´s history is interconnected with the happenings that resulted from interactions with the Native Americans and Mexican government. Originally a part of the San Gabriel Mission´s land holdings, Rancho Santa Anita, an area that encompassed most of the modern day borders of the city, was deeded to Hugo Reid by the Spanish government. One of the city´s first notable settlers, he was able to make a significant impact on the land by establishing a cattle settlement as well as building the city´s first structure. Following a succession of other owners, the next person to have a long-lasting impact upon the city can be found in Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin. He bought the land in 1875 for the modest price of $200,000, or roughly $25 an acre at the time. When Lucky Baldwin first laid eyes on the area´s beautiful landscape, adorned with lush greenery in endlessly abound, spotted with a myriad number of trees that shouted of that area´s ripe potential for growth, he exclaimed, "By Gads, This is Paradise." Entranced by the captivating beauty around him, Baldwin immediately began to construct buildings in the new city he named Arcadia. By designating the city as his home, he invested into making the area a blossoming a delight to live in. In 1903, the property in and around Baldwin´s home became incorporated as the city of Arcadia, then home to about 500 people. Since then, the city has grown to become an ideal destination for many people and their families, all desiring to grab a piece of the splendor that Baldwin so sharply named paradise.3

Santa Anita Park

One of the main attractions in Arcadia that add to its prestige is Santa Anita Park. Built in 1934, it remains one of California´s oldest race tracks and also one of the most venerable, especially in the Los Angeles County. Many innovations that are in place today in horse racing have come directly as a result of what Santa Anita Park has added to its races over the years, including but not limited to, the use of starting gates to begin races and photo finishes to record the winners at the end of races. The popular legend Seabiscuit ran its last race here, winning the Santa Anita Handicap in 1940. During World War II, Santa Anita Park was used as a Japanese American Internment camp, an obvious act of racial prejudice and wartime fears by the US government. However, after the small hiccup in Santa Anita Park´s history, it has continued to be a successful and prosperous location for horse racers of all kinds. In the 1984 Olympics, the racetrack was used as the site of the equestrian events. In 2006, the Sunshine Millions was hosted by the Park, with which 3.6 million dollars in stakes was held for horses bred in California and Florida.4

Shopping Mall of Arcadia

On the site of the Santa Anita Park´s former barns and housing stables, adjacent to the Park, stands the Westfield Santa Anita, a shopping mall with nearly 300 different stores to entice and enrapture its customers. Opened in 1974, the complex has gone through many different changes and renovations to make it even more of an attractive destination not only for those in neighboring cities but also tourists from around the world. Formerly known as Santa Anita Fashion Park, this main shopping mall of Arcadia once had JCPenney, The Broadway, Buffum's and J. W. Robinson'sas its anchor stores. With changing times, its current main attractions include only JCPenny as a holdover that has withstood the weathering times. New anchors include Macy´s, Nordstroms, Borders, Dave and Busters, Sport Chalet, and AMC Theaters. In 2008, the shopping center added another addition to its ever growing line-up with the completion of the Promenade outdoor structure, which boasts of more high end retailers such as Coach and Talbots. This indoor mall owned by the Westfield Group has 1.3 million square feet of retail space, enough to last the whole day for any shopper.5

Los Angeles Aboretum & Botanic Garden

Apart from the gigantic shopping center that serves as a central location for many would be shoppers, there is also the Los Angeles Aboretum & Botanic Garden, located right in the middle of the area formerly known as Rancho Santa Anita. The Aboretum of Arcadia is a unique 127 acre garden that boasts many types of flora and fauna. These plants are often of the endangered and exotic types, ones that people will be hard pressed to locate at any other location. In addition to this magnificent collection of precious green treasures, the Aboretum also showcases many historical and important items of California´s rich history, making this an educational house that is very rich with its rare and unique treasures.6

Arcadia Golf Course

Because of the large area that Arcadia boasts, it is able to dedicate a large portion of its land to greenery, a collective commons that allows the public to use at its discretion. Another gem of Arcadia is the Arcadia Golf Course, which is a fully operational 18-hole par 3 golf course with nearly 2000 yards of precious golfing space. The course, with lush greens, newly made bunkers, and lit paths make it an ideal destination for whenever one desires to play a round of golf. The Arcadia Golf Course has been serving the city since 1962.7 In addition to the greenery of the golf course, Arcadia is also able to boast one of the larger parks in the area in the Arcadia County Park, formerly known as Santa Anita. Located next to the golf course, the Arcadia County Park offers nearly 200 acres of open green space for one to enjoy to one´s heart´s desire.8

As of the 2000 census, the population of the city of Arcadia stood at 53,054 people, or 4,867 per square mile.9 Nearly 46% of the population is white, and another 46% of the population is Asian. The city has almost 11% of its population declaring themselves Hispanic or Latino of any race. The 2000 census stated that there were 19,149 households in Arcadia, with 14,151 families residing in the city. That equates to about 2.77 people per household and 3.75 people per family in Arcadia.10The estimated median household income in Arcadia was estimated to be about $71,238 in 2007, compared to a median household income of $59,948 for the state of California. The average value of a home or condo in Arcadia in 2007 was $1,090,157, compared to $532,300 for the state of California.11 Nearly a quarter of Arcadia´s population is under the age of 18, coming in at 23.3%.12

Arcadia Unified School District

Like any other city, Arcadia prides itself on a valuable and excellent quality of education for its future. With such a large number of residents, the Arcadia Unified School District oversees a large number of campuses scattered across the city that educate Arcadian residents. Its six elementary schools are Baldwin Stocker, Camino Grove, Highland Oaks, Holly Avenue Elementary School, Hugo Reid Elementary School and Longley Way Elementary. From those six schools, children are funneled into Arcadia´s three middle schools, with each taking a proportional share of the district´s students. The middle schools are First Avenue Middle School, Richard Henry Dana Middle School, and Foothills Middle School. Lastly, once students have completed their grade 6-8 education at one of the middle schools, they then move onto Arcadia High School, the only public high school within Arcadia´s borders.13According to Businessweek, Arcadia was named as the Best Place to Raise Your Kids California 2009 as a result of the outstanding education system in place.14

Arcadia High School

Once Arcadia students reach the gates of Arcadia High School, home of the Apaches, they embark upon a four year journey in which many opportunities allow for each student to make an impact not only upon the campus they attend but also the greater community, as AHS is a nationally recognized high school that extends beyond its academic credentials. Established in 1962, AHS has a large student body, numbering 3699 in the year 2007. These ambitious and dedicated students have helped Arcadia High earn a place on Newsweeks´ 2008 list of 1300 best public high schools in the nation (Ranked 521).15 In sports, the Arcadia Cross Country team has consistently been among the best in the state´s best, often sending both its men´s and women´s teams to the state championships. The high school also boasts of a nationally recognized 386-member Apache Marching Band and Colorguard, who received national coverage by marching in the 2005 Presidential Inauguration of President George W. Bush.16

Of a final important note is the Arcadia Invitational, a prestigious and selective track meet held annually in the Spring. The Arcadia Invitational features the best track athletes not only from the local area but also from the entire state of California as well as other well-recognized International young competitors. The 2009 Meet had interest from over 600 high schools from 24 different states.17 The Arcadia Invitational is also home to 25 national records as well as 142 Olympians.18


Daniel Chen
Daniel Chen
7220 N. Rosemead Blvd.,#118 San Gabriel CA 91775