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Riverside County

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Riverside County

Riverside County, California
County of Riverside


Location in the state of California
Country  United States of America
State  California
Region Inland Empire
Incorporated 1893
Named for City of Riverside
County seat Riverside
Largest city Riverside
 • Board of Supervisors
 • Total 7,303.13 sq mi (18,915.0 km2)
 • Land 7,207.37 sq mi (18,667.0 km2)
 • Water 95.76 sq mi (248.0 km2)
Population (2010 Census) 2,189,641
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)

Riverside County is one of 58 counties in the U.S. state of California. The name was taken from the city of Riverside, which is the county seat. Rectangle-shaped, Riverside County covers 7,208 square miles (18,670 km2) in Southern California. Riverside County lies inland of Los Angeles County and is bordered on the west by Orange County; on the east by La Paz County, Arizona; on the southwest by San Diego County; on the southeast by Imperial County; and on the north by San Bernardino County. Together, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties have been dubbed the Inland Empire.

The population of Riverside County was 2,189,641 in 2010. It is the fourth-most populous county in California and among the fastest-growing areas of the United States in the past fifty years (since 1960). There is a high concentration of sprawling house tract communities around Riverside and along the Interstate 10, 15, and 215 freeways.

Geographically, the county is mostly desert in the central and eastern portions of the county and is a Mediterranean climate in the western portion of the county. Most of Joshua Tree National Park is located in the county.

The resort cities of Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, and Desert Hot Springs are all located in the Coachella Valley region of Riverside County. Large numbers of Los Angeles area workers have moved to the county in recent years to take advantage of relatively affordable housing. Alongside neighboring San Bernardino County, it was one of the fastest growing regions in the state prior to the recent changes in the regional economy. In addition, smaller, but significant, numbers of people have been moving into Southwest Riverside County from the San Diego-Tijuana metropolitan area. The cities of Temecula and Murrieta accounted for 20% of the increase in population of Riverside County between 2000 and 2007.


Early History

The indigenous peoples of what is now Riverside County are the Luiseño, Cupeño and Cahuilla Indians.[1] The Luiseño lived in the Aguanga and Temecula Basins, Elsinore Trough and eastern Santa Ana Mountains and southward into San Diego County. The Cahullia lived to the east and north of the Luiseño in the inland valleys, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains and the desert of the Salton Sink.

The first European settlement in the county was a Mission San Luis Rey de Francia estancia or farm, at the Luiseño village of Temecula. Grain and grapes were grown here. In 1819, the Mission granted land to Leandro Serrano, mayordomo of San Antonio de Pala Asistencia for the Mission of San Luis Rey for Rancho Temescal.

Following Mexican independence and the 1833 confiscation of Mission lands, more ranchos were granted. Rancho Jurupa 1n 1838, El Rincon in 1839, Rancho San Jacinto Viejo in 1842, Rancho San Jacinto y San Gorgonio in 1843, Ranchos La Laguna, Pauba, Temecula in 1844, Ranchos Little Temecula, Potreros de San Juan Capistrano in 1845, Ranchos San Jacinto Sobrante, La Sierra (Sepulveda), La Sierra (Yorba), Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Nuevo y Potrero in 1846.

New Mexican colonists founded the town of La Placita on the east side of the Santa Ana River at the northern extremity of what is now the city of Riverside in 1843.

When the initial 27 California counties were established in 1850 the area today known as Riverside County was divided between Los Angeles County and San Diego County. In 1853 the eastern part of Los Angeles County was used to create San Bernardino County. Between 1891 and 1893 several proposals, and legislative attempts, were put forth to form new counties in Southern California. These proposals included one for a Pomona County and one for a San Jacinto County. None of the proposals were adopted until a measure to create Riverside County was signed by Governor Henry H. Markham on March 11, 1893.[2]

County History

The new county was created from parts of San Bernardino County and San Diego County. On May 2, 1893, seventy percent of voters approved the formation of Riverside County. Voters chose the city of Riverside as the county seat, also by a large margin. Riverside County was officially formed on May 9, 1893, when the Board of Commissioners filed the final canvass of the votes.[2]

Riverside County is the birthplace of lane markings, thanks to Dr. June McCarroll in 1915 when she suggested her idea to the state government. Riverside county was a major vocal point of the Civil Rights Movements in the USA, especially the African-American sections of Riverside and heavily Mexican-American communities of the Coachella Valley visited by Cesar Chavez of the farm labor union struggle.

As well as modern Native American Gaming enterprises. In the early 1980s, the county government attempted to shut down small bingo halls operated by the Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians and the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. The tribes joined forces and fought the county all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in the tribes' favor on February 25, 1987.[3] In turn, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988 to establish a legal framework for the relationship between Indian gaming and state governments. Naturally, both tribes now operate large casinos in the county: the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa and the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino adjacent to Spotlight 29 Casino.

The county's population surpassed one million people in 1980 when the current trend of high population growth as a major real estate destination began in the 1970s. Once strictly a place for long distance commuters to L.A. and later Orange County, the county and city of Riverside has became more of a place to establish new or relocated offices, corporations and finance centers in the late 1990s and 2000s. More light industry, manufacturing and truck distribution centers became major regional employers in the county.


According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 7,303.13 square miles (18,915.0 km2), of which 7,207.37 square miles (18,667.0 km2) (or 98.69%) is land and 95.76 square miles (248.0 km2) (or 1.31%) is water.[4] At roughly 180 miles (290 km) wide in the east-west dimension, the area of the county is massive. Riverside County, California is roughly the size of the State of New Jersey in total area. County government documents frequently cite the Colorado River town of Blythe as being a "three-hour drive" from the county seat, Riverside. Some view the areas west of San Gorgonio Pass as the Inland Empire portion of the county and the eastern part as either the Mojave Desert or Colorado Desert portion. There are probably at least three geomorphic provinces: the Inland Empire western portion, the Santa Rosa Mountains communities such as Reinhardt Canyon, and the desert region. Other possible subdivisions include tribal lands, the Colorado River communities, and the Salton Sea.

Incorporated cities

Riverside County
Median household income,
Banning 1913 28,272 $41,268
Beaumont 1912 28,250 $39,553
Blythe 1916 22,178 $45,302
Calimesa 1990 7,415 $47,406
Canyon Lake 1990 10,939 $70,106
Cathedral City 1981 51,081 $50,654
Coachella 1946 35,207 $33,402
Corona 1896 144,661 $72,162
Desert Hot Springs 1963 22,011 $33,263
Eastvale 2010 55,000
Hemet 1910 69,544 $31,749
Indian Wells 1967 4,865 $120,074
Indio 1930 71,654 $45,143
Jurupa Valley 2011 88,000
Lake Elsinore 1888 40,985 $54,595
La Quinta 1982 38,340 $71,127
Menifee 2008 60,000
Moreno Valley 1984 174,565 $52,426
Murrieta 1991 103,466 $75,102
Norco 1964 27,262 $62,652
Palm Desert 1973 49,539 $61,789
Palm Springs 1938 46,437 $46,399
Perris 1911 47,139 $35,338
Rancho Mirage 1973 16,672 $78,434
Riverside 1883 287,820 $52,023
San Jacinto 1888 31,066 $39,235
Temecula 1989 93,923 $71,754
Wildomar 2008 14,064 $49,081

Unincorporated communities and neighborhoods

Indian reservations

Riverside County has 12 federally-recognized Indian reservations, which ties it with Sandoval County, New Mexico for second most of any county in the United States. (Sandoval County, however, has two additional joint-use areas, shared between reservations. San Diego County, California has the most, with 18 reservations.)

Adjacent counties

National protected areas

There are 19 official wilderness areas in Riverside County that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Some are integral parts the above protected areas, most (11 of the 19) are managed solely by the Bureau of Land Management, and some share management between the BLM and the relevant other agencies. Some extend into neighboring counties (as indicated below):

  • Agua Tibia Wilderness (Cleveland NF / BLM) mostly in San Diego County, CA
  • Beauty Mountain Wilderness (BLM)
  • Big Maria Mountains Wilderness (BLM)
  • Cahuilla Mountain Wilderness (San Bernardino NF)
  • Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness (BLM)
  • Joshua Tree Wilderness (Joshua Tree NP) partly in San Bernardino County, CA
  • Little Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness (BLM) partly in Imperial County, CA
  • Mecca Hills Wilderness (BLM)
  • Orocopia Mountains Wilderness (BLM)
  • Palen/McCoy Wilderness (BLM)
  • Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness (BLM) mostly in Imperial County, CA
  • Pinto Mountains Wilderness (BLM)
  • Rice Valley Wilderness (BLM)
  • Riverside Mountains Wilderness (BLM)
  • San Gorgonio Wilderness (San Bernardino NF / BLM) mostly in San Bernardino County, CA
  • San Jacinto Wilderness (San Bernardino NF)
  • San Mateo Canyon Wilderness (Cleveland NF) partly in San Diego County, CA; Orange County, CA
  • Santa Rosa Wilderness (BLM / San Bernardino NF)
  • South Fork San Jacinto Wilderness (San Bernardino NF)

Flora and fauna

There is a diversity of flora and fauna within Riverside County. Vegetative plant associations feature many desert flora, but there are also forested areas within the county. The California endemic Blue oak, Quercus douglasii is at the southernmost part of it its range in Riverside County.[6]

Transportation infrastructure

Major highways

Public transportation

Riverside County is also served by Greyhound buses. Amtrak trains stop in Riverside and Palm Springs, and Amtrak California provides bus connections to the San Joaquins in Riverside, Beaumont, Palm Springs, Thousand Palms, Indio, Moreno Valley, Perris, Sun City and Hemet. Metrolink trains serve five stations in Riverside County: Riverside-Downtown, Riverside-La Sierra, North Main-Corona, West Corona, and Pedley Station (in unincorporated Pedley, California). These trains provide service to Orange, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties seven days a week, with a primarily commuter-oriented schedule.

In the late 2000s, local transportation options has expanded, such as the addition of new railroad stations in Perris, California to connect travelers and commuters to or from southwest Riverside county, as well the Perris station serves the MetroLink mass transit train service in Corona, California.[7]


Commercial airports

General aviation airports

Government, law, and politics


Riverside County is organized as a General Law County under the provision of the California Government Code. The county has five supervisorial districts, and one supervisor is elected from each district every four years.[10]

A General Plan was prepared for the county by the firm of Earth Metrics in the year 1994;[11] in 2003 the County Supervisors authorized updating the plan with respect to certain unincorporated areas.


The Riverside Superior Court is the state trial court for Riverside County with 14 courthouses: Riverside Historic Courthouse, Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside Family Law Court, Riverside Juvenile Court, Southwest Justice Center – Murrieta, Moreno Valley Court, Banning Court, Hemet Court, Corona Court, Temecula Court, Larson Justice Center – Indio, Indio Juvenile Court, Palm Springs Court and Blythe Court.[12]

The main courthouse is the Riverside Historic Courthouse. This landmark, erected in 1903, was modeled after the Grand and Petit Palais in Paris, France. The courthouse, designed by Los Angeles architects Burnham and Bliesner, has a classical design – including a great hall that connects all the departments (courtrooms).[13] In 1994, the courthouse was closed for seismic retrofits due to the 1992 Landers and 1994 Northridge earthquakes. The courthouse was reopened and rededicated in September 1998.[14]


Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


Riverside County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 48.1% 318,127 49.7% 329,063 2.2% 14,717
2008 47.9% 310,041 50.3% 325,017 1.8% 12,241
2004 57.8% 322,473 41.0% 228,806 1.1% 6,300
2000 51.4% 231,955 44.9% 202,576 3.7% 16,596
1996 45.6% 178,611 43.1% 168,579 11.3% 44,423
1992 37.1% 159,457 38.6% 166,241 24.3% 104,577
1988 59.5% 199,979 39.6% 133,122 1.0% 3,247
1984 63.5% 182,324 35.5% 102,043 1.0% 2,835
1980 59.9% 145,642 31.5% 76,650 8.6% 20,986
1976 49.2% 97,774 48.5% 96,228 2.3% 4,556
1972 58.0% 108,120 38.4% 71,591 3.6% 6,693
1968 52.9% 83,414 38.8% 61,146 8.3% 13,110
1964 43.1% 61,165 56.8% 80,528 0.1% 95
1960 56.2% 65,855 43.4% 50,877 0.5% 544
1956 62.2% 56,766 37.3% 34,098 0.5% 465
1952 65.1% 51,692 33.9% 26,948 1.0% 788
1948 55.7% 32,209 40.3% 23,305 4.1% 2,350
1944 53.9% 23,168 45.3% 19,439 0.8% 346
1940 51.4% 21,779 47.2% 20,003 1.4% 598
1936 48.9% 16,674 49.9% 17,011 1.2% 422
1932 50.2% 14,112 45.4% 12,755 4.4% 1,245
1928 77.9% 17,600 21.1% 4,769 0.9% 212
1924 62.0% 9,619 8.5% 1,318 29.5% 4,579
1920 69.6% 9,124 21.3% 2,798 9.1% 1,196

Riverside has historically been regarded as a Republican county in presidential and congressional elections. In 1932, it was one of only two counties (the other being Benton County, Oregon) on the entire Pacific coast of the United States to vote for Hoover over Roosevelt.[17] In 2008, Barack Obama narrowly carried the county, becoming the first Democrat to do so since Bill Clinton in 1992.

In the House of Representatives, a substantial portion of Riverside County lies in California's 36th congressional district, with parts in the 41st 42nd, and 50th districts. Riverside County is divided into four congressional districts. Two of the representatives of the districts are held by Democrats, with the 36th by Raul Ruiz, the 41st by Mark Takano and the other districts are held by Republicans, with the 42nd by Ken Calvert, and the 50th by Duncan D. Hunter.

In the State Assembly all of the 64th district and parts of the 63rd, 65th, 66th, 71st, and 80th districts lie in the county. The 63rd is currently vacant, the 64th is represented by Republican Brian Nestande, the 65th by Republican Paul Cook, the 71st by Republican Jeff Miller, and the 80th by Democrat Manuel Perez. In the 80th Assembly District, which has a significant Democratic voter registration edge, Democrats were able to take back the district after 14 years of Republican representation with Perez's victory.

In the State Senate all of the 37th district and parts of the 31st, 36th, and 40th districts are located in the county. The 31st, 36th, and 37th districts are held by Republicans, Robert Dutton, Dennis Hollingsworth, and Bill Emmerson respectively, and the 40th is held by Democrat Denise Moreno Ducheny.

Riverside County voted 64.8% in favor of Proposition 8 which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20122,268,7833.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[27]
2012 Estimate[28]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Riverside County had a population of 2,189,641. The racial makeup of Riverside County was 1,335,147 (61.0%) White (40.7% Non-Hispanic White), 140,543 (6.4%) African American, 23,710 (1.1%) Native American, 130,468 (6.0%) Asian (2.3% Filipino, 0.8% Chinese, 0.7% Vietnamese, 0.6% Korean, 0.5% Indian, 0.2% Japanese, 0.1% Cambodian, 0.1% Laotian, 0.1% Pakistani), 6,874 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 448,235 (20.5%) from other races, and 104,664 (4.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 995,257 persons (45.5%); 39.5% of Riverside County is Mexican, 0.8% Salvadoran, 0.7% Honduran, 0.6% Puerto Rican, 0.3% Cuban, and 0.2% Nicaraguan.[29]


As of the census[30] of 2000, there were 1,545,387 people, 506,218 households, and 372,576 families residing in the county. The population density was 214 people per square mile (83/km²). There were 584,674 housing units at an average density of 81 per square mile (31/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 65.6% White, 6.2% Black or African American, 1.2% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 18.7% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. 36.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 9.2% were of German, 6.9% English, 6.1% Irish and 5.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 67.2% spoke English and 27.7% Spanish as their first language.

In 2006 the county had a population of 2,026,803, up 31.2% since 2000. In 2005 45.8% of the population was non-Hispanic whites. The percentages of African Americans, Asians and Native Americans remained relatively similar to their 2000 figures. The percentage of Pacific Islanders had majorly risen to 0.4. Hispanics now constituted 41% of the population.

There were 506,218 households out of which 38.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.4% were non-families. 20.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.0 and the average family size was 3.5.

In the county the population was spread out with 30.3% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 28.9% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 99.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.8 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $42,887, and the median income for a family was $48,409. Males had a median income of $38,639 versus $28,032 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,689. About 10.7% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.5% of those under age 18 and 7.6% of those age 65 or over.


Universities and colleges

Military installations

Places of interest

County Parks and Trails

State Parks

See also

Inland Empire portal
Southern California portal
Greater Los Angeles portal




  • Fitch, Robert J. (1993). Profile of a Century: Riverside County, California, 1893–1993. Riverside County Historical Commission Press. pp. 300. OCLC 28661359
    • (a reprint of the first three chapters of Along the Old Roads.)

Further reading

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  • .
  • .

External links

  • Official Riverside County website
  • Official Riverside County, Department of Information Technology website
  • Official Riverside County Sheriff website
  • Official Riverside County Fire Dept. web site
  • Official Riverside County District Attorney's Office web site
  • Official Riverside County Regional Parks District web site

Coordinates: 33°44′N 115°59′W / 33.73°N 115.98°W / 33.73; -115.98

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