Escondido¬†(pronounced¬†/ňĆ…õsk…ônňądiňźdo ä/¬†“es-cone-DEE-doe”) is a city located inCalifornia, just north of the city of¬†San Diego. The name means “hidden” in¬†Spanish‚ÄĒit occupies a shallow valley ringed by rocky hills. Founded in 1888, it is one of the oldest cities in¬†San Diego County. The city has an estimated population of 144,831.¬†The city is known as¬†Eskondiid¬†in¬†Diegue√Īo.¬†A nationwide study in 2005 ranked Escondido #11 out of 25 of the most¬†conservative¬†cities in America.
In 1846, war broke out¬†between the United States and Mexico, and a key battle was fought in the area just south of Escondido. Known as the¬†Battle of San Pasqual, it pitted Mexican¬†Andr√©s Pico¬†(the brother of then California governor¬†P√≠o Pico) against Americans¬†Kearny,¬†Gillespie, and¬†Kit Carson. A park in Escondido is named for Carson.
The city was home to a large Spanish-speaking population in the first census back in 1850, but after the US won the war, non-Hispanic settlers came to Southern California in increasing numbers. The decade of the 1880s is known as the “Southern California Land Boom” because so many people were moving to the state. In 1886 a group of investors called the Escondido Land & Town Company purchased the 12,814-acre (52¬†km2) area. Two years later in 1888 Escondido was incorporated as a city – the vote was 64 in favor of cityhood with 12 votes against. Railroads like the¬†Santa Fe¬†and¬†Southern Pacific¬†were laid in the 1880s, and the opening of¬†U.S. Route 395¬†in 1930 boosted economic growth in Escondido.
Escondido was primarily an agricultural community, growing muscat¬†grapes¬†initially. After a dam was built in 1894-5 to form what is known today as Lake Wohlford,¬†oranges¬†and¬†lemons¬†were planted in large quantity, as well as a number of¬†olives¬†and¬†walnuts. By the 1960savocados¬†became the largest local crop. Since the 1970s, Escondido has lost most of its agricultural landscape to new housing developments.
Through the 20th century the community grew and the economy diversified. Today the community has approximately 140,000 residents, and an economy based on agriculture, tourism, retail, services, light industry, and high tech. Escondido no longer has a large lower-middle-class population as it once had: most of this socioeconomic group had to move elsewhere when housing prices soared and older neighborhoods were bulldozed or renovated.¬†Escondido has a high¬†real estate appraisal¬†rating, a phenomenon in North San Diego County since the population began to rise steadily in the 1970s.
Looking south west across Escondido from the hills near Dixon Lake.
Escondido is located at 33¬į7’29″ North, 117¬į4’51″ West (33.124794, -117.080850).
According to the¬†United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 94.5¬†km¬≤ (36.5¬†mi¬≤). 94.0¬†km¬≤ (36.3¬†mi¬≤) of it is land and 0.5¬†km¬≤ (0.2¬†mi¬≤) of it is water. The total area is 0.52% water.
The city is growing at a rapid rate with new communities like¬†Hidden Trails¬†appearing at the east end of East Valley Parkway. The city proper is surrounded by several sparsely populated unincorporated communities. These include¬†Jesmond Dene¬†and¬†Hidden Meadows¬†to the north; Felicita Park to the southwest; and Rincon Del Diablo to the southeast. Residents of these communities have Escondido mailing addresses and zip codes, and they are sometimes assigned to Escondido schools, but they cannot participate in city elections.
The city is made up of several neighborhoods:
- Downtown Escondido is an area of approximately 460¬†acres (1.9¬†km2) extending from the intersection of I-15 and Valley Parkway on the west to Palomar Hospital on the east. The Downtown Retail District is an area of 24¬†acres (0.10¬†km2) bounded by Valley Parkway, 2nd Avenue, Maple Street, and Juniper Street.
- Old Escondido is bounded by Escondido Boulevard on the west, Chestnut Street on the east, Fifth Avenue on the north, and Thirteenth Avenue on the south. This area is made up of mostly single-family residential housing.
Escondido tends to have warmer summers and wetter winters than its neighbor San Diego. Yearly precipitation averages around 15¬†inches and varies from year to year. More than 80% of all precipitation takes place from November through March. Snow is very uncommon. Climate is mild enough to allow widespread cultivation of¬†avocados¬†and¬†oranges. Escondido is located in a plant¬†hardiness zone¬†9.
Three lakes are located in or near Escondido, all of which allow boating and fishing:
- Dixon Lake is located in the north.
- Lake Wohlford is located on the north eastern fringe of the city limits.
- Lake Hodges¬†is located just south of the city. A part of Lake Hodges is crossed by¬†Interstate 15¬†via the¬†Lake Hodges Bridge. Often this part of the lake is dry.
There are 43,817 households of which 39.1% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.9% aremarried couples¬†living together, 28.9% are non-families, and 11.7% with a female householder with no husband present. 22.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.1% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.01 and the average family size is 3.50.As of the 2000 census, there are 133,559 people, 43,817 households, and 31,153 families residing in the city. The¬†population density¬†is 1,421.4/km¬≤ (3,680.9/mi¬≤). There are 45,050 housing units at an average density of 479.4/km¬≤ (1,241.6/mi¬≤). According to the 2000 census, the racial makeup of the city is 51.9%White, 2.25%¬†African American, 1.23%¬†Native American, 4.46%¬†Asian, 0.23%¬†Pacific Islander, 19.19% from¬†other races, and 4.81% from two or more races.¬†Hispanic¬†or¬†Latino¬†of any race were 38.7% of the population.
In the city the population is spread out with 29.7% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 17.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 96.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $42,567, and the median income for a family is $48,456. Males have a median income of $32,627 versus $27,526 for females. The¬†per capita income¬†for the city is $18,241. 13.4% of the population and 9.3% of families are below the¬†poverty line. Out of the total population, 17.9% of those under the age of 18 and 5.7% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The city can be divided into two demographically distinct areas. Peripheral hilly areas to the north, southeast, and southwest are relatively wealthy and populated by non-Hispanic whites, and flat areas adjacent to the downtown are predominantly Hispanic. As of 2006-07 school year, non-Hispanic white children comprise 71.7% of all students in Bernardo Elementary School (southwest), 60.8% of all students in L.R. Green Elementary School (southeast), and 54.7% of all students in Reidy Creek Elementary School (north); on the other hand, Farr Avenue, Pioneer and Lincoln Elementary schools (three large schools just north of the downtown) all have more than 85% of Hispanic and less than 6% non-Hispanic white students.
In 2008, there were 567 violent crimes and 4,182 property crimes in Escondido. There were 4 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 31 rapes, 195 robberies, 337 aggravated assaults, 898 burglaries, 2,405 larceny thefts, 879 vehicle thefts, and 27 arsons.
In 2007, the city ranked #65 by violent crimes per capita and #58 by property crimes per capita among 165 cities in California with populations greater than 50,000. Compared with 12 largest cities in San Diego County, it ranked 6th in both categories. Its crime rate was lower in both categories than in San Diego, El Cajon, and National City; higher in both categories than in San Marcos, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Santee. Escondido had higher violent crime rates but lower property crime rate than La Mesa and Chula Vista, lower violent crime rates but higher property crime rates than Vista and Oceanside.
In 1981, Escondido National Little League became the 19th¬†team to make it to the¬†Little League World Series¬†from the state of California. The team was first District 31 champions, then District 8 champions.¬†They then won the¬†Southern California¬†Divisional Tournament at Youth Athletic Park by beating¬†San Bernardino¬†Civitan 3-2 in the quarterfinals, then beating Granada Hills American 5-1 in the semifinals and then beating Ladera National 7-5 in the finals to earn a trip to the Western Regional. At the¬†Western Regional¬†in San Bernardino, the Escondido team won four straight games to earn the trip to Williamsport.
Parks and recreation
Escondido has 13 parks.
Ranch house inside Daley Ranch, Escondido.
- Daley Ranch¬†is a 3,058-acre conservation area acquired in 1996 by the City of Escondido and is managed in perpetuity for the preservation of a biologically unique and diverse habitat area of regional importance. Daley Ranch has over 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. Six distinct trails cover most of the property. Most popular are the Boulder Loop Trail (2.4 miles) which affords views of Escondido, and the Ranch House Loop (2.5 miles), which passes two small ponds and the site of Daley’s original log cabin.
- El Norte Park¬†is a small “green lung” park, off El Norte Parkway in northern Escondido. It features mature trees and a kids playground.
- Grape Day Park¬†is located behind the Escondido city hall and the performing arts complex. Grape Day park was named after the annual grape day harvest, an event held on the first Saturday after Labor Day
- Jesmond Dene
- Kit Carson:¬†Queen Califia’s Magical Circle, the last major international work by French artist¬†Niki de Saint Phalle, is located in Kit Carson Park. De Saint Phalle, a colleague of¬†Salvador Dal√≠¬†and¬†Jasper Johns, is best known for her¬†Stravinsky Fountain, located in Paris, France. The artist chose Escondido as the site for her final work because it reminded her of Italy
- Dixon Lake¬†supplies Escondido with fresh water. Swimming is not allowed, but fishing is, and boats are available for hire. Dixon Lake has about 34 camp sites which look out over the lake, or over Escondido. While entrance to the park is free, the city charges $5.00 (in 2010) for taking a car into the park. However, ample free parking is available outside the gate.
- Lake Wohlford¬†is in the north east corner of Escondido. The lake has some walking trails around the perimeter, and allows fishing.
- Mountain View
- Rod McLeod
- Washington Park¬†is an urban park located on the eastern side of central Escondido. It features two swimming pools, and enough grass to kick a ball around. The park’s numerous mature trees create plenty of shady areas.
- Ryan Park
Grove Park, Escondido. Photo taken June 13, 2010.
- Grove Park¬†was so named to recognize the city’s agricultural history and was built about 2008 (approximate date). It is about 4.5-acres in size and is located in the Mission Park neighborhood.
Downtown has become more active in the past few years with the opening of restaurants, cafes, and galleries. Every Friday night from April through September, the Downtown Business Association hosts the popular “Cruisin’ Grand,” where the public can show and view hot rods and historic cars. A different car club and/or featured attraction (i.e. antique fire trucks, nitro night, midget and sprint cars) is highlighted each week. Cruisin’ Grand also features a DJ, hula hoop contests for children, and 7 trophies each night.
In addition to the many art galleries on Grand, a branch of the¬†Mingei International Museum¬†has recently opened there. This museum displays handcrafts from around the world. Just one block off Grand Ave. is Grape Day Park with the civic center and the¬†California Center for the Arts, Escondido that features two theaters, a visual arts museum, an educational complex, and a conference center. The Escondido Children’s Museum and the Escondido History Center, two independent non-profit museums, are located in Grape Day Park. The Children’s Museum features hands-on exhibits and programs for children up to 10 years of age, with an authentically regional perspective on natural and social science. The History Center features the city’s original Santa Fe Depot, first library, Victorian house, barn, and blacksmith shop. The Pioneer Room of¬†Escondido Public Library¬†(located in the Mathes Center building next to the Main Library) has photographs, maps, oral histories, genealogical collections, directories and yearbooks documenting Escondido’s history.¬†The San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau¬†is located in the California Center for the Arts, and sells half price arts performances and is the only ARTS TIX outlet in San Diego North. The Visitors Bureau also provides literature, maps, and their Travel & Planning Guide free of charge to visitors.
Wild Animal Park
A major tourist attraction just outside Escondido is the¬†San Diego Wild Animal Park, sister park of the¬†San Diego Zoo. The Wild Animal Park shows world animals in open habitat, where they can roam, graze, and fly.
Valley Center¬†is located just north of Escondido. With a history in agriculture, there are many farms and wineries around Escondido, some of which offer tours. Today, Valley Center is portrayed with an image of exo-suburban prosperity, when multi-million dollar homes and properties appeared in the 1990s and now residential and commercial development covers the landscape in the formerly farm-based community. Valley View Casino, owned by the¬†San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians, is located in Valley Center.
Stone Brewing Company
Deer Park Buddhist Monastery
Deer Park Monastery¬†is a¬†Buddhist¬†sanctuary that occupies 400 acres in the hills north of Escondido and west of Daley Ranch. It is one of the two monasteries in the United States under the direction of a well known¬†Zen¬†teacher¬†Thich Nhat Hanh. Deer Park Monastery is home to 27 Buddhist monks and nuns, and it frequently hosts events and retreats that bring people from all over the western United States and from abroad.
Escondido is governed by a¬†mayor-council¬†system. The city council consists of a mayor and four City Council Members. Along with the City Treasurer, they are elected at large to four-year terms. The current mayor is¬†Lori Holt Pfeiler. Current City Council Members are¬†Sam Abed,¬†Olga Diaz,¬†Dick M. Daniels, and¬†Marie Waldron. The current City Manager is¬†Clay Phillips. The current City Treasurer isKen Hugins. The most recent election was held on November 7, 2006.¬†Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler won 59% of the vote, defeating challenger Tim Dagosta. Council member Marie Waldron led the seven-way race for city council, after basing her re-election platform on a controversial housing ordinance that seeks to ban the city’s illegal immigrant population from renting apartments. The ordinance is being challenged by the¬†ACLU¬†in court and might be ruled unconstitutional under California law. Retiring council member Ron Newman was replaced by newcomer Dick Daniels. Issues in the municipal election included managing growth and improving opportunities for business and recreation.
Due to the public outcry and legal challenges to the aforementioned housing ordinance, and the election of Olga Diaz to the City Council, it has since ceased any overt attempts to lower the illegal immigrant population in the city (which, by council member Sam Abed’s estimates, possibly constituted as much as 35,000, or 25% of the city population in 2006), and focused on “quality of life” issues instead. Periodic police checkpoints are instituted to catch unlicensed drivers. An active area of debate is an overnight parking ordinance that would limit the number of cars each household can legally park on city streets.¬†The city is estimated to have lost as much as a quarter of its non-citizen population between 2006 and 2007. Latino activists attribute this to a perception of the city as hostile to immigrants.
State and Federal
In the¬†state legislature¬†Escondido is located in the 38th¬†Senate¬†District, represented by¬†Republican¬†Mark Wyland, and in the 74th and 75th¬†Assembly¬†District, represented by Republicans¬†Martin Garrick¬†and¬†Nathan Fletcher¬†respectively. Federally, Escondido is located in¬†California’s 50th congressional district, which has a¬†Cook PVI¬†of R +5¬†and is represented by Republican¬†Brian Bilbray.
In the¬†United States presidential election of 2008, 53.3% of voters residing in incorporated Escondido voted for¬†John McCain, 44.9% voted forBarack Obama, and 1.8% voted for one of the third-party candidates. Unincorporated areas were considerably more conservative: among voters in neighborhoods of Rincon Del Diablo, Hidden Meadows, and Valley Center, 62.3%, 65.5%, 66.9% of voters respectively cast their votes for John McCain.
Escondido is served by the¬†Escondido Union School District,¬†the Escondido Union High School District,¬†and the San Pasqual Union School District. The city has 19 elementary, five middle, and seven high schools.
Public high schools:
- Escondido High School
- Orange Glen High School
- San Pasqual High School
- Classical Academy High School
- Escondido Charter High School
- Center City High School
- Valley High School
- Bear Valley Middle School
- Del Dios Middle School
- Hidden Valley Middle School
- Mission Middle School
- Rincon Middle School
There is a wide range of¬†API scores¬†for Escondido schools, reflecting the demographic diversity of the city. As of 2007,¬†six elementary schools in the district scored above the 80th percentile of all schools in the state, and eight elementary schools scored below the 20th percentile.
Two highways serve Escondido:¬†Route 78¬†and¬†Interstate 15. Route 78 enters from the west as a¬†freeway¬†which ends at Broadway. The highway follows surface streets and leaves the city heading east into the¬†San Pasqual Valley.
The¬†North County Transit District¬†(NCTD) operates local bus service, with the¬†Escondido Transit Center¬†serving as a hub. The transit center has connections to both the¬†San Diego Metropolitan Transit System¬†and the¬†Riverside Transit Agency.
The¬†Sprinter¬†light rail line, operated by NCTD, links the transit center to¬†Oceanside¬†using the existing 22-mile (35¬†km)-long Escondido Branch trackage of the¬†San Diego Northern Railroad. The rail line opened in 2008, making Escondido one of the first cities in the United States to operate¬†Desiro-class¬†diesel multiple units¬†manufactured by¬†Siemens¬†in Germany. At the¬†Oceanside Transit Center, the Sprinter connects to three¬†commuter rail¬†lines (the¬†Coaster, the¬†Metrolink Orange County Line, and the¬†Metrolink Inland Empire-Orange County Line) and¬†Amtrak’sPacific Surfliner¬†regional rail line.
The¬†California High Speed Rail¬†Association chose Escondido as a proposed stop along the proposed high speed rail system that will reach from Southern to Northern California. A section of the line between¬†San Francisco¬†and¬†Los Angeles¬†was approved by voters in the November 2008 elections.
San Diego Gas & Electric¬†is the electric utility for the city.¬†The Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District serves Escondido.
Notable natives and residents
- Anacani: featured singer with¬†Lawrence Welk¬†orchestra
- Tom Anderson: co-founder of¬†MySpace
- Lester Bangs: rock music critic
- Benjamin Britten: English composer, famous for his opera “Peter Grimes“
- E. H. Bronner: soapmaker
- J.J. Cale: musician who wrote hits such as “Call Me The Breeze“, “Cocaine” and “After Midnight“. In 2006 he released the collaborative album “The Road to Escondido” with¬†Eric Clapton.
- Pete Coscarart: former¬†Brooklyn Dodger
- Gavvy Cravath: right fielder for the¬†Philadelphia Phillies
- Richard Denning: actor
- Mike Esparza: 94.9 radio personality, host of¬†The Mikey Show
- Brittany Hogan: former Miss California
- Randy Johnson: former Major League player with Atlanta Braves, current Special Asst to Oakland A’s GM Billey Beane, Graduate ofEscondido High School
- Elisabeth K√ľbler-Ross: founder and resident of the¬†Shanti Nilaya¬†retreat in Escondido in the late ’70s and early ’80s
- Shannon MacMillan: professional soccer player and graduate of¬†San Pasqual High School
- Deborah Jeane Palfrey: the so-called¬†D.C. Madam
- Mark Redman: professional baseball player and graduate of¬†Escondido High School
- Steve Reeves: bodybuilder
- Travis Ryan: lead vocalist of¬†Cattle Decapitation
- Sean Salisbury: former¬†ESPN¬†anchorman and former¬†NFL¬†quarterback; graduate of¬†Orange Glen High School
- Diego Sanchez: guitarist for¬†Disgorge
- Randy Vasquez: actor
- Eric Weddle: #32 of San Diego Chargers resides in Escondido
- Harold Bell Wright: author in 1920s and 1930s
- Andrea Zittel: contemporary artist
- Allie Trimm: Broadway Actress 2008‚ÄďPresent