San Marino, California

Seal of San MarinoThe city of San Marino is one of the smallest and richest cities in Los Angeles County. It measures only 3.8 square miles in size.1 A community of mostly white-collar workers, these well educated  professionals and high-achieving members of society and their families live in the 91108, or what is considered the 47th most richest zip code in the United States, as of the year 2009. San Marino retains its upper echelon status by way of its old historic buildings, mostly untarnished through the changing times, strict zoning laws that restrict the new building of condominiums to a minimal level, and its high-achieving well-accomplished schooling system.2

San Marino, which coincidentally shares the same name as the tiny Republic of San Marino, has roots similar to the other cities located in the San Gabriel Valley. Originally part of the vast holdings belonging to the San Gabriel Mission, a Mexican Land Grant in 1870 awarded a majority of the land to an Indian lady named Senora Victoria Reid, a widow of an Englishman. Mrs. Reid deeded the land to Don Benito Wilson, who in turn later deeded the land to J. de Barth Shorb. Mr. Shorb chose the San Marino name after his grandfather´s plantation back in Maryland, which traces its roots back to the Republic of San Marino.3

The modern-day boundaries of the city of San Marino were aggregated together by a collection of peoples in 1913. After Henry E. Huntington purchased the Shorb Estate, he and two other majority land owners of Wilson and Patton, along with a few other smaller land holders, incorporated their collective holdings into the city San Marino. George S. Patton, Sr. served as the first mayor.4

After Mr. Huntington passed away in 1927, his estate was converted into a house for the arts, a collection of treasures ranging from artful masterpieces to rare books and historical documents. He already had a passion for books, art, and gardens, as seen when he first began his collection in 1919. Huntington LibraryAlthough the location is named Huntington Library, there are actually three distinct branches to this so-called library: there exists an actual library, filled to the brim with an extensive collection of rare and intriguing books and manuscripts of British and American literature; an exquisitely comprehensive art collections of 18th and 19th century British and French creations; and an enormous botanical garden encompassing over 120 acres of land, with a myriad number of niche environments such as the Desert Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden , and the newest addition, the Chinese Garden, which opened in 2008.5

Another landmark of San Marino which dates back to the California Missions era is the El Molino Viejo, or The Old Mill. Completed in the year 1816 as a grist mill for the San Gabriel Mission, this is the oldest remaining commercial building in all of Southern California. The Old MillThe original building measured 53 by 26 feet, with walls that were five feet thick, composed of oven-baked brick and volcanic turf. Nowadays, having been converted into a historic site, the main entrance room, with a collection of antique items, once served as the main grinding room. In the lower room, there remains a small historical display showing how the mill once was operated on a daily basis. The operational basis of the mill was focused through water technology, using power from an adjacent lake which no longer exists today. That area of land now encompasses San Marino´s largest park.6

Lacy ParkThe aforementioned large park is known as Lacy Park and is situated in the middle of the city on what once used to be Wilson Lake, circa 1875. The City purchased the property in 1925 and converted this region into a luscious 30 acre park, complete with many large open green areas complemented with many varieties of trees and shrubs. The City often hosts numerous events here, seeing how its central location for most residents and ample open space make it an ideal meeting place for all.7

As of the 2000 census, the population of the city of San Marino stands at 12,945 residents, or 3406.6 residents per square mile.8

Nearly 49% of the population is white, 48% of the population claiming Asian heritage, and the remaining 3% comprising of other races. There are 4,266 households in the city and 3,673 families, which rounds out to an average household size of 3.03 people and an average family size of 3.26 members.9

The estimated median household income of families in San Marino in 2007 was $148,910, compared to $59,948 for the state of California. The average value of a home in San Marino in 2007 was $2,014,465, compared to $532,300 for the state of California.10

Over one-fourth of its residents were under the age of 25 in the 2000 census (or 26.5%).11

The education of the young peoples of San Marino takes place mainly within the San Marino Unified School district. Its elementary schools include Valentine Elementary School and Carver Elementary School. Once students have completed the 5th grade, they then attend Huntington Middle School for 6th-8th grade instruction. Students then finish out the remainder of their grade school years at San Marino High School. San Marino High SchoolEach of these four public schools is consistently ranked among the best in the state, if not the nation. All of the schools are also California Distinguished as well as United States gold medal schools (since 2006). In 2005 and 2006, the San Marino Unified School district ranked first among 328 California school districts based on the California Academic Performance Index. Additionally, the US News and World Report ranked SMHS the 82nd best school in the nation in its 2007 report.12

Other statistical measurements of SMHS´s success can be seen in its API score, which was 922 out of 1000 for the year 2006, ranking it fifth among comprehensive California high schools. 100% of graduating seniors for the class of 2006 took the newly revised SAT, averaging a score of 1824, with scores of 584 in verbal, 597 in writing, and 643 in math skills, Of 317 graduates in the class of 2006, 85% went on to enroll at four-year institutions.13

Asians make up nearly 70% of the student demographic in San Marino schools as of the year 2005. One may attribute such excellence in the realm of education to the strong support the Asian community has continued to provide.14

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