El Centro (Spanish for “The Center”) is a city and county seat of Imperial County, California, United States. Take a look below for 20 amazing and fascinating facts about El Centro, California, United States.
1. El Centro is the largest city in the Imperial Valley, the east anchor of the Southern California Border Region, and the core urban area and principal city of the El Centro metropolitan area which encompasses all of Imperial County.
2. El Centro is also the largest American city to lie entirely below sea level (−42 feet or −13 meters).
3. The city, located in southeastern California, is 113 miles (182 km) from San Diego and less than 20 miles (32 km) from the Mexican city of Mexicali.
4. The city was founded in 1906 by W. F. Holt and C.A. Barker, who purchased the land on which El Centro was eventually built for about $40 per acre ($100 per hectare) and invested $100,000 ($2,900,000 in 2020 dollars) in improvements.
5. The modern city is home to retail, transportation, wholesale, and agricultural industries.
6. There are also two international border crossings nearby for commercial and noncommercial vehicles.
7. El Centro’s estimated population as of 2019 was 44,079, up from 42,598 at the 2010 Census.
8. Spanish explorer Melchor Díaz was one of the first Europeans to visit the area around El Centro and Imperial Valley in 1540.
9. The explorer Juan Bautista de Anza also explored the area in 1776 (an elementary school in El Centro now bears his name).
10. Years later, after the Mexican–American War, the northern half of the valley was annexed by the U.S., while the southern half remained under Mexican rule. Small scale settlement in natural aquifer areas occurred in the early 19th century (the present-day site of Mexicali), but most permanent settlement (Anglo Americans on the U.S. side, Mexicans on the other side) was after 1900.
11. Originally part of San Diego County, the Imperial Valley was settled by farmers once water from the Colorado River was diverted via canals to irrigate the desert valley floor.
12. In 1906, the land on which El Centro was later built was purchased by W. F. Holt and C.A. Barker.
13. In 1907 Imperial County was split off from San Diego County; by then much of the valley was successfully irrigated.
14. Before the town began, the railroad had established a station and named the place Cabarker.
15. The name honored C.A. Barker, a friend of the landowner.
16. The first post office in El Centro opened in 1905.
17. Early growth was rapid with the city’s population reaching 1,610 by 1910 and more than tripling by 1920 to 5,646 people. One reason for this rapid early growth was El Centro’s successful battle with the City of Imperial to become the county seat.
18. In these early days, relationships among the cities of the Imperial Valley were often intensely competitive, reflecting the particular frontier character of the area and the fact that six cities within a twenty-mile radius were all established within one generation. These cities were in a horse race to win the prize of being the Valley’s leading city and the intense competition is measured by the fact that it took twenty years to get a county fair started because of strong local loyalties on the County Board of Supervisors.
19. The City of El Centro was incorporated on April 16, 1908. One reason for this rapid growth was El Centro’s becoming the county seat of Imperial County.
20. Population growth was slow, but accelerated in the 1930s, and again in the 1940s, despite the city being hard hit by a 7.1 earthquake in May 1940.