Coachella is a city in Riverside County, California; it is the easternmost city and namesake of the Coachella Valley, in Southern California’s Colorado Desert. Take a look below for 20 interesting and fascinating facts about Coachella, California, United States.
1. Coachella is one of California’s fastest-growing cities; when it incorporated in 1946, it had 1,000 residents, but at the 2010 census the population had grown to 40,704.
2. The city is officially bilingual in English and Spanish, though 90% of residents speak Spanish.
3. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 28.95 square miles (75.0 km2), all of it land.
4. The elevation is 68 feet (21 m) below sea level, as the eastern half of the Coachella Valley is below sea level. The saltwater lake, Salton Sea, 10 miles (16 km) south of Coachella, is 228 feet (69 m) below sea level.
5. The city was founded as Woodspur in 1876, when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a rail siding on the site.
6. In the 1880s the indigenous Cahuilla tribe sold their land plots to the railroads for new lands east of the current town site, and in the 1890s, a few hundred traqueros took up settlement along the tracks.
7. In 1901, the citizens of Woodspur voted on a new name for their community and at a town hall meeting, the homeowners settled on “Coachella”.
8. The origin of the name Coachella is unclear. Some locals believe it was a misspelling of Conchilla, a Spanish word for the small white snail shells found in the valley’s sandy soil, vestiges of a lake that dried up over 3,000 years ago.
9. Coachella began as a 2.5-square-mile (6.5 km2) territory gridded out on the mesquite-covered desert floor.
10. Not until the 1950s did Coachella begin to expand into its present range, about 32 square miles (83 km2), an area which contained large year-round agricultural corporate farms and fruit groves, particularly of citrus (lemons, oranges, grapefruit) and date palms.
11. Coachella became a city in 1946. During the incorporation voting process, the first city council was tentatively elected: Lester C. Cox, T. E. Reyes, John W. Westerfield, Lester True, and Paul S. Atkinson.
12. Also elected on November 26, 1946, were City Clerk Marie L. Johnson and City Treasurer John C. Skene. John Westerfield was appointed mayor at the first meeting.
13. By the 1980 census, Coachella’s population had reached at least 10,000 due to relatively slow population growth.
14. Due to a high percentage of Hispanics in the city, Coachella was a scene of Chicano political activism including protests and visits by United Farm Workers leader César Chávez in the 1960s and 1970s.
15. In 2018, Harrison Street (the main street in town) was renamed for him.
16. The film director Frank Capra is interred in the Coachella Valley Cemetery. The agricultural area surrounding Coachella was where the United Farm Workers union staged strikes and protests, including visits by UFW leader César Chávez.
17. Downtown Coachella is under renovation as the area experiences an economic boom which has brought increasing numbers of people in the city – Pueblo Viejo (the old neighborhood) as locals of Hispanic origin sometimes call it.
18. Despite its image for Mexican immigration, a large percentage are US citizens, born and raised in Coachella. A multi-generational Mexican American subculture has taken root in the town.
19. Much of its population consists of younger Latino families (an estimated 90 percent of Hispanic origin) and, in the outlying areas, migrant farm workers. The city is officially bilingual in the English and Spanish languages, although city council meetings are nominally spoken and performed in English. Historically, Coachella was predominantly Mexican/Latino (including Central America) and/or Native American, but had other ethnic groups like Arabs, Armenians, Filipinos, Italians, Japanese and recent immigrants from Southeast Asia and the former Yugoslavia.
20. Three popular fiestas are celebrated each year in town: Cinco de Mayo (May 5), the 16 de Septiembre Fiestas Patrias (Mexico’s Independence from Spain) and the 12 de Diciembre (the patron saint of Mexico, Santa Maria de Guadalupe) to celebrate the Virgin Mary.