City of Montebello
Official seal of City of Montebello
Location of Montebello in Los Angeles County, California
Location of Montebello in Los Angeles County, California
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
 • MayorWilliam "Bill" Molinari
 • Total8.4 sq mi (21.6 km2)
 • Land8.2 sq mi (21.4 km2)
 • Water0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)  1.32%
200 ft (61 m)
 • Total62,150
 • Density7,536.9/sq mi (2,910.0/km2)
Time zoneUTC-8 (PST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP code
Area code323
FIPS code06-48816
GNIS feature ID1656573

Montebello is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 62,150.


Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the land along the Rio Hondo River was populated by the Tongva (Gabrielino) part of the Uto-Aztecan family Native Americans. The Tongva occupied much of the Los Angeles basin and the islands of Santa Catalina, San Nicolas, San Clemente and Santa Barbara. When the Spanish explorer Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo arrived off the shores of Santa Catalina, the Tongva came out in their canoes to meet with him in 1542. The language of the Tongva was different from the neighboring Indian tribes and it was called Gabrielino by the Spanish. The Gabrielinos lived in dome-like structures with thatched exteriors. Both sexes wore long hair styles and tattooed their bodies. During warm weather the men wore little clothing, but the women would wear minimal skirts made of animal hides. During the cold weather they would wear animal skin capes. European diseases killed many of the Tongva and by 1870 the area had few remaining native inhabitants.

Franciscan Missionaries, Fathers Angel Somera and Pedro Cambon, founded the original Mission San Gabriel Arcangel on September 8, 1771, near where San Gabriel Boulevard now crosses the Rio Hondo, which is also near the present day Sanchez Adobe Mansion. This marked the beginning of the Los Angeles region's settlement by Spaniards. The San Gabriel Mission was the third of twenty-one [1] missions that would ultimately be established along California's El Camino Real. The San Gabriel mission did well as a cattle ranch and farm, but six years after its founding a destructive flood led the mission fathers to relocate the establishment to its current location farther north in present day city of San Gabriel. The original mission site is now marked by a California Historical Landmark.[2]

During the early years of the mission, the region operated under a Rancho system. The lands which now compose the city of Montebello were originally parts of Rancho San Antonio, Rancho La Merced, and Rancho Paso de Bartolo. The Juan Matias Sanchez Adobe, built in 1844, remains standing at the center of old Rancho La Merced in Eastern Montebello in the La Merced area. Recently restored, is the city's oldest structure.

The Battle of Rio San Gabriel took place in Montebello on January 8, 1847. This battle that gave the control of Los Angeles and Alta California to the United States, and was an important decisive factor in winning the Mexican-American war. Today the site is California State Historical Landmark #385, and there are two old cannons and a plaque commemorating the battle overlooking the river on Bluff Rd. and Washington Blvd. [3]

Following the American Civil War, some 5,000 acres (20 km2) of the East Los Angeles region was owned by an Italian settler from Genoa, Alessandro Repetto. After Repetto's death in 1885, his brother sold his rancho to a consortium of five Los Angeles businessmen including banker Isaias Hellman and wholesale grocer/historian Harris Newmark for $60,000, about $12 an acre. [4]

Later the land was divided among the partners, one large parcel of approximately 2,000 acres (8 km2) going to a partnership of Newmark and his nephew, banker Kaspare Cohn. It was out of the Newmark and Cohn share of 1,200 acres that Montebello had its beginning in May 1899. [5] Eventually, they subdivided this land, after seeking the advice of hydraulic engineer William Mulholland in the design and construction of a water system, which was incorporated as the Montebello Land and Water Company in 1900. [6]

An area of 200 acres (0.81 km2) adjacent to the tracks of the San Pedro, Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad (now part of the Union Pacific Railroad) were developed into a townsite called Newmark, and the remainder of the land was subdivided into five acre lots suitable for small-scale agriculture. On Mulholland's suggestion, this land was given the name Montebello, which was adopted as the city's name, replacing the original name Newmark. [7] The name, Montebello, which means beautiful hill in both Italian and Spanish, is shared with several other communities in Europe and the Americas.

Montebello was originally an agricultural community. From the turn of the century and through the 1920’s, the area was famed for its production of flowers, vegetables, berries, and fruits. The Montebello Woman’s Club sponsored the city's first flower show in the Montebello High School auditorium in 1912. [8] The Montebello – El Carmel (South Montebello) Improvement Association, the predecessor of the Montebello Chamber of Commerce, operated from September 1907 to April 1912. Its purpose was “to improve and beautify the community.” Some of its achievements were: Whittier Boulevard was paved, trees planted along the streets, laid the groundwork and established the first high school, strived to have the name of Newmark dropped and to have the entire area incorporated as the City of Montebello.[9] On October 19, 1920, the city's name was officially changed to Montebello and it was incorporated as the 35th of the present cities in Los Angeles County, and the official seal contained a red poinsettia in the center.[10]

The discovery of oil by Standard Oil Company on the Anita Baldwin property in 1917 brought about a revolutionary change to Montebello. The agricultural hills soon became a major contributor to oil production. By 1920, its oil fields were producing one-eighth of California's crude oil. For several decades, the Montebello hills were dotted with active oil wells.[11] [12]

Armenian Genocide Memorial in Montebello

Montebello is home to the oldest Armenian Community in Los Angeles County and home to the only Armenian Cathedral (Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral) in California. [13] The Armenian Martyrs Monument at Bicknell Park commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks is the largest monument found on public property in the World. [14] Armenian Church in Montebello]] It is inscribed:

This Monument Erected By Americans Of Armenian Decent, Is Dedicated To The 1,500,000 Armenian Victims Of The Genocide Perpetrated By The Turkish Government 1915-1921, And To Men Of All Nations Who Have Fallen Victim To Crimes Against Humanity."
(Script is also is Armenian). The annual Armenian Food Fair is hosted in May every year at Holy Cross Cathedral in Montebello.

Montebello is also home to a significant Japanese-Peruvian and Japanese-Hawaiian community, who settled in the area after WWII and the internment camps.


Montebello is located 8 miles (13 km) east of downtown Los Angeles at the southwestern part of the San Gabriel Valley. The surrounding cities are Monterey Park, South San Gabriel, and Rosemead to the north, Commerce to the south, Pico Rivera to the east, and Los Angeles and East Los Angeles to the west. It is also sometimes considered part of the Gateway Cities, and the city is a member of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments.

Montebello is located at 34°0′52″N 118°6′52″W / 34.01444°N 118.11444°W / 34.01444; -118.11444Invalid arguments have been passed to the ((#coordinates:)) function (34.014412, -118.114501).Template:GR

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.4 square miles (21.6 km²), of which 8.2 square miles (21.4 km²) are land and 0.1 square mile (0.3 km²) (1.32%) is water.

The city is easily accessible to the Long Beach (710) , San Gabriel River (605) , Pomona (60) and Santa Ana (5) Freeways.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there were 62,150 people, 18,844 households, and 14,867 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,536.9 people per square mile (2,908.6/km²). There were 19,416 housing units at an average density of 2,354.6/sq mi (908.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 46.82% White, 0.90% African-American, 1.23% Native American, 11.64% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 33.85% from other races, and 5.48% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 74.57% of the population, some of which are also included in the census of the white population.[15][16]

The largest percentage of residents who reside in The City of Montebello are Mexican-American. Montebello is the neighboring city just east of East Los Angeles, and is well known for its Mexican-American history and culture, as are the majority of the South East Cities in Los Angeles County.[17] Montebello also has a significant contingent of Armenian-Americans. [1]

There were 18,844 households out of which 40.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 20.1% had a female head of household and 21.1% were non-related individuals. 17.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.28 and the average family size was 3.67.

The 2000 census data counted persons as 28.6% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 18.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.32 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.3 males.[18]

The median income for a household in the city was $38,805, and the median income for a family was $41,257. Males had a median income of $30,423 versus $26,590 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,125. About 14.2% of families and 17.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.3% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure

In the state legislature Montebello is located in the 30th Senate District, represented by Democrat Ronald S. Calderon, and in the 58th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Charles M. Calderon. Federally, Montebello is located in California's 38th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +20[19] and is represented by Democrat Grace Napolitano.

Montebello utilizes a City Council/City Administrator form of government. The City Council provides political leadership and policy direction. The City Administrator provides the leadership and management of the city and the department heads. Montebello has six department heads and some oversee more than one division.

Montebello Redevelopment Agency has three project areas:

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Whittier Health Center in Whittier, serving Montebello.[20]

The United States Postal Service operates the Montebello Post Office at 145 North 5th Street and the Montebello Hills Post Office at 2547 Via Campo.[21][22]

Police Department

The City of Montebello has its own Police Department, consisting of 87 sworn officers, 10 sergeants, and 59 civilian personnel organized into three divisions: Field Services, Investigative Services, and Support Services. Augmenting the department are a Reserve Officer Corps, a Police Explorer Program, a Police Chaplain Corps and a civilian Citizen’s on Patrol program. Their mission statement is:

"The mission of the Montebello Police Department is to provide effective and professional police services of the highest quality, in partnership with the citizens we serve, encouraging mutual respect and innovative problem solving, thereby improving the quality of life in our community."

The Department is committed to community service. They provide a variety of services including Neighborhood Watch, the Citizen’s Academy and a child seat loan program. The Crime prevention Bureau provides free security inspections to local businesses and residents. The department strives to serve the community with five core values of: Quality, Integrity, Service, Compassion, and pride. [2] [23]


Public transportation is provided by the city government's Montebello Bus Lines [24] Montebello Bus Lines is the third largest municipal bus system in Los Angeles County with 9.1 million people riding the buses each year. Its peak period fleet of 67 buses was recently enhanced with the addition of five hybrid gasoline-electric buses. Montebello Bus Lines plans to purchase 25 more hybrid buses in the next three years, replacing 15 of its diesael fuel buses [25]

LINK, which offers a curb-to-curb shuttle to and from the Montebello/Commerce Metrolink station. [26]

The City of Montebello also operates Montebello Dial-a-Taxi, a program which offers transportation for senior residents and qualified disabled persons of any age and their attendants. 15,000 residents utilize this service. [27]


The city is served by the Montebello Unified School District. Montebello U.S.D. serves the city of Montebello, portions of the cities of Bell Gardens, Commerce, Downey, Rosemead, Pico Rivera, and Monterey Park, as well as the unincorporated community of South San Gabriel, and a part of the unincorporated community of East Los Angeles. The District is one of the largest and most diverse in Los Angeles County with an enrollment of more than 35,000 K-12 students and 30,000 adults enrolled in Adult Education. There are eighteen elementary schools, six intermediate schools and four high schools.[28] The four high schools in the Montebello Unified School District are the historic Montebello High School, founded in 1909,[29] Bell Gardens High School, Schurr High School and Vail High School, an alternative high school (grades 10–12).

Saint Benedict School, a private parochial grammar school, K-8, is operated on Saint Benedict Church property. It opened in September 1941 and was formally dedicated on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941. [3]

A private parochial high school, Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School, is also located in Montebello. Originally two separate gender-segregated High Schools, they merged in the 1991, the Sacred Heart of Mary campus moving to the Cantwell campus. This monumental endeavor has taken and incorporated the very best from each of the these two educational traditions.[30]

File:Montebello Barnyard Zoo.JPG
Grant Rea Park Sign / Montebello Barnyard Zoo
Horses on the trails

Montebello City Parks

The Montebello Parks and Recreation Division provides recreational services for all age groups, from small children to the growing senior citizen community. Their Mission Statement is: “Creating Community Through People, Parks & Recreation”.

Sister cities

The City of Montebello has been affiliated with the City of Ashiya, Japan since the inception of the Sister City Program in 1961. Student Ambassadors are chosen to travel to Ashiya every year.[32]

The City of Montebello has been affiliated with the City of Stepanakert, the capital of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic, since 2005, when a much controversial move to facilitate the sister city relationship was made by the Armenian National Committee of the San Gabriel Valley and unanimously approved by the City Council.[33]

Golf Course

The Montebello Golf Course was constructed in 1928 and purchased by the City in 1941. It has a 120 Acre 18 hole course and was remodeled in 1998/1999.

Notable locals

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The current Mayor is William M. Molinari.


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  2. ^ "Los Angeles". California Historical Landmakrs. California Department of Parks & Recreation Office of Historic Preservation. 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  3. ^ *Bauer, K. Jack (1974). The Mexican War, 1846–1848. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-8032-6107-1.
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  5. ^ t was out of the Newmark and Cohn share of 1,200 acres that Montebello had its beginning in May 1899.
  6. ^ "Sixty years in Southern California, 1853–1913, containing the reminiscences of Harris Newmark". American Memory. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  7. ^ Rasmussen, Cecilia (July 29, 2007). "City names stem from trees, ranches - even a goddess". Los Angeles Times. pp. B2. ((cite news)): |access-date= requires |url= (help)
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  19. ^ "Will Gerrymandered Districts Stem the Wave of Voter Unrest?". Campaign Legal Center Blog. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
  20. ^ "Whittier Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  21. ^ "Post Office Location - MONTEBELLO." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
  22. ^ "Post Office Location - MONTEBELLO HILLS." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 6, 2008.
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  25. ^ Author:Sandra T. Molina Staff Writer|Date: July 22, 2007| Publication: Whittier Daily News, The (CA)
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  35. ^ "Judi Evans' Biography". Judi Evans Official Website. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  36. ^ "Bruce Merrifield - Biography". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  37. ^ Aldama, Frederick Luis. "Edward James Olmos". St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. Retrieved 2007-07-30.
  38. ^ Lawrence Weschler, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder (Pantheon Books, 1995), ISBN 978-0679439981, pp. 58-60.
  39. ^ "Nosaj Thing Q&A". Evil Monito Magazine. Retrieved 2009-08-18.