|City of Indio|
Indio during the 1950s: Stan Sniff, a local date grower's booth at the annual National Date Festival and Riverside County Fair, selling dates which is one of the region's most popular crops.
The City of Festivals
"The place to be"
Location of Indio in Riverside County, California.
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Incorporated||May 16, 1930|
|• Type||City Council–City Manager|
|• Mayor||Lupe Ramos|
|• Total||33.23 sq mi (86.08 km2)|
|• Land||33.23 sq mi (86.06 km2)|
|• Water||0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2) 0.03%|
|Elevation||-13 ft (-4 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,663.14/sq mi (1,028.25/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−8 (Pacific)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−7 (PDT)|
|GNIS feature IDs||1652727, 2410101|
Indio is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, located in the Coachella Valley of Southern California's Colorado Desert region. It lies 23 miles (37 km) east of Palm Springs, 75 miles (121 km) east of Riverside, 127 miles (204 km) east of Los Angeles, and 148 miles (238 km) northeast of San Diego. The word Indio is Spanish for Indian.
The population was 76,036 in the 2010 United States Census, up from 49,116 at the 2000 census, an increase of 55%. Indio was formerly referred to as "the Hub of the Valley", a Chamber of Commerce slogan used in the 1970s. Today the nickname is the "City of Festivals", a reference to the numerous renowned cultural events held in the city, most notably the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Railroad line construction east out of Los Angeles began in 1873. Trains were operated to Colton on July 16, 1875, and to Indio (then Indian Wells) on May 29, 1876. Moving on eastward from Indio, the railroad reached the west bank of the Colorado River opposite Yuma on May 23, 1877 (a village known as Arizona City prior to 1873). There was delay in getting military authority to lay tracks across the Yuma Indian reservation, and it was September that year before the bridge was completed so trains could operate into Yuma. The Southern Pacific Railroad was to have joined those of the Texas & Pacific, one of several railroads then holding, or seeking, federal authority to build lines from various sections of the country west to the Pacific Coast. But the rail-head of the T & P was at a standstill far off in Texas, so Southern Pacific continued building eastward. (A Historical Sketch of the SOUTHERN PACIFIC 1869-1944 by Erle Heath Editor, The Southern Pacific "Bulletin", www.cprr.org/Museum/SP_1869-1944/).
The City of Indio came about because of the need of a halfway point for the Southern Pacific Railroad between Yuma, Arizona and Los Angeles, since the engines needed to be refilled with water. At first, the would-be city was called Indian Wells,:292 but since many other areas already had that name, Indio (after a Spanish variation of the word "Indian") was chosen instead. After the railroad's arrival in 1876, Indio really started to grow. The first permanent building was the craftsman-style Southern Pacific Depot station and hotel. Southern Pacific tried to make life as comfortable as it could for their workers in order to keep them from leaving such a difficult area to live in at the time. It was at the center of all social life in the desert with a fancy dining room and hosting dances on Friday nights.
While Indio started as a railroad town, it soon became agricultural. Onions, cotton, grapes, citrus and dates thrived in the arid climate due to the ingenuity of farmers finding various means of attaining water, first through artesian wells and later through the valley’s branch of the All-American Canal. However, water also was a major problem for Indio and the city was flooded several times until the storm water canals were created throughout the Coachella Valley.
Businessmen and women found this last frontier land of the continental United States as an ideal place to start fresh. Dr. Harry Smiley and his wife Nell were early residents and stayed in Indio after their car broke down on the way to Los Angeles and became people of influence and helped shape the area. A.G. Tingman was an early storeowner and first Postmaster of Indio, but also well known for taking advantage of miners as they headed to the mountains, selling at rather high prices. Later Dr. June Robertson McCarroll became a leading philanthropist and successful doctor in Indio. She was responsible along with the Indio Woman’s Club for pressing California into adopting the placing of white lines down the streets after she nearly got hit one too many times by passing vehicles. Even though these early founders of the city are considered pioneers, they still partook in the lifestyles of their friends living in such areas as Los Angeles. Indio established itself quickly and kept up with the trends as they were brought in by the railroads.
By the turn of the 20th century, Indio was already more than a fading railroad town. Schools were built, the La Casita hospital provided medical services, and families established roots. By 1920, about one to two thousand year-round residents lived in Indio, while it doubled to 2,500 to 5,000 during the winter months and was advertised as a health resort for senior citizens and those with respiratory diseases and ailments in the rest of the 20th century.
Indio also served as the home of the USDA’s Date Station, a place where leading scientific research was taking place on the fruit that would become a major part of the culture of Indio. The station started in 1907 and was responsible for the ability of local farmers to better understand this unique crop and make the Coachella Valley a leader in American date crops. This also created a tie to the Middle East that led to the theme for the County Fair with the Middle Eastern flair.
Coachella and Thermal soon became larger cities than Indio, but Indio remained the “Hub of the Valley,” as it was called. With the burning of the majority of Thermal and the decline of Coachella, Indio grew again. By 1930, Indio was a thriving area and incorporated. On September 6, 1930, storekeeper Fred Kohler received the first business license in Indio.
Indio was also aided by the visiting soldiers from Patton’s training grounds in Chiriaco Summit located 30 miles to the east. However, Indio saw another decline as the valley’s population begin to move west towards newer cities such as Palm Desert. However, there is now a reversal in this trend and the eastern section of the valley is poised to once again become the center of the Coachella Valley.
The city had significant unemployment rates (in some cases over 20 percent) in the late 20th century and from the recession in the late 2000s. The rate in 2006 was under 5 percent after the local economy rebounded in the real estate boom when more affluent residents moved in. The rapid population growth fueled the city's present need for employment opportunities.
The telephone area code is 760. The city's ZIP codes are 92201 and 92203 north of Interstate 10. About 3 miles (5 km) north and east of Indio is the San Andreas Fault, a major tectonic plate boundary of the Pacific and North American plates.
Indio is home of Riverside County's eastern administration offices. Palm Springs had more people from 1955 to 1992, when the US census announced that Indio surpassed Palm Springs and that title was returned to them. The official elevation of Indio is below sea level; the city hall is 14 feet (4 m) below sea level, as the eastern half of the Coachella valley drops as low as 150 feet (50 m) below sea level (the lake shore of the Salton Sea is 15 miles (24 km) South of Indio).
The climate of the Coachella Valley is influenced by the surrounding geography. High mountain ranges on three sides contribute to its unique and year-round warm climate, with some of warmest winters west of the Rocky Mountains. Indio has a warm winter/hot summer climate (Köppen: BWh): Its average annual high temperature is 89.5 °F (31.9 °C) and average annual low is 62.1 °F (16.7 °C) but summer highs above 108 °F (42 °C) are common and sometimes exceed 120 °F (49 °C), while summer night lows often stay above 82 °F (28 °C). Winters are warm with daytime highs often between 68–86 °F (20–30 °C). Under 4 inches (100 mm) of annual precipitation are average, with over 348 days of sunshine per year. The hottest temperature ever recorded there was 125 °F (52 °C) on July 6, 1905. The mean annual temperature is 75.8 °F (24.3 °C).
|Climate data for Indio, California|
|Record high °F (°C)||97
|Average high °F (°C)||71.9
|Average low °F (°C)||44.6
|Record low °F (°C)||13
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.56
|Source: NOAA (normals 1981–2010)|
Indio is in the Colorado Desert region of the Sonoran Desert. It is adjacent to the geologic Salton Sink and within the site of historic Lake Cahuilla of the Lower Colorado River Valley. Indio is an official National Bird Sanctuary, because of the seasonal bird migration flight routes that cross the town en route to the Salton Sea.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
The 2010 United States Census reported that Indio had a population of 76,036. The population density was 2,604.9 people per square mile (1,005.8/km²). The racial makeup of Indio was 46,735 (61.5%) White (27.0% Non-Hispanic White), 1,805 (2.4%) African American, 741 (1.0%) Native American, 1,693 (2.2%) Asian, 55 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 22,394 (29.5%) from other races, and 2,613 (3.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 51,540 persons (67.8%).
There were 23,378 households, out of which 10,522 (45.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,149 (56.2%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 3,578 (15.3%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,512 (6.5%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,654 (7.1%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 232 (1.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 3,859 households (16.5%) were made up of individuals and 1,777 (7.6%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.21. There were 18,239 families (78.0% of all households); the average family size was 3.60.
The population was spread out with 22,879 people (30.1%) under the age of 18, 7,247 people (9.5%) aged 18 to 24, 20,705 people (27.2%) aged 25 to 44, 15,793 people (20.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 9,412 people (12.4%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.5 males.
There were 28,971 housing units at an average density of 992.5 per square mile (383.2/km²), of which 15,274 (65.3%) were owner-occupied, and 8,104 (34.7%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 5.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 12.5%. 46,780 people (61.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 28,307 people (37.2%) lived in rental housing units.
During 2009–2013, Indio had a median household income of $50,068, with 21.9% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
As of the census of 2000, there were 49,116 people, 13,871 households, and 11,069 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,840.3 people per square mile (710.5/km²). There were 16,909 housing units at an average density of 633.6 per square mile (244.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.4% White, 2.8% Black, 1.0% Native American, 1.5% Asian American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 42.0% from other races, and 3.9% from two or more races. 65.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 13,871 households out of which 48.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.9% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.2% were non-families. 16.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.5 and the average family size was 3.9.
In the city, the population was spread out with 35.3% under the age of 18, 11.1% from 18 to 24, 29.4% from 25 to 44, 15.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females, there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,624, and the median income for a family was $35,564. Males had a median income of $25,651 versus $21,093 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,525. About 16.8% of families and 21.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.2% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over.
From 1984 to 2008, Indio grew many times its previous size. Indio handles unprecedented growth for being a select area of choice for thousands of new residents per year: an estimated 25 new residents are added per day.
City leaders and other locals are expanding city public services, including recreation activities, commercial retail centers and industrial complexes.
The 2010 United States Census recorded the city's population to be about 76,000 residents, but it did not include the addition of seasonal residents. The current population estimate for Indio (as of July 1, 2017) is nearly 90,000.
Indio has been one of Southern California's most important agricultural regions, once responsible for a large percentage of the nation's date crop; however, increasing residential and recreational development, the date groves are now more limited to the south and southeast of Indio. Even the grove of date palm trees at the Riverside County Fair and national Date Festival grounds have been removed by the county.
Travelers from around the world still can stop by Shields Date Gardens, a date grower that maintains a large retail store along State Highway 111. There are citrus groves and vegetable fields surrounding the city limits, but rapid development of new housing tracts and golf courses in the "East Valley" in the 1990s and 2000s has displaced most of the agricultural space.
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In recent years, Indio served as a magnet of job opportunities for immigrants and newcomers from parts of California and across the nation. Job fields such as agriculture, construction, hospitality (hotels and resorts), maintenance, and retail and housekeeping are highly needed in the area.
Light industry is not new to Indio. Between the 1960s and the early 1980s, the Bank of America-owned Giannini Research Institute, Kaiser Inc. and Cabazon Firearms had contracts with both NASA and the US Armed Forces that produced ammunition, computer parts, moon rover parts for the Apollo landing program, and train engines for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Indio sought more corporate businesses and office professions, including fruit packing and shipping firms. Locally-based United States Filter Corporation, Guy Evans Inc., Dimare Fruit Co., West Coast Turf and Japanese-owned Sun World Inc.; and move-in companies such as Borden, Coca-Cola, Ernie Ball, Ernst and Young, Ferguson, Fulton Distributors, Guthy-Renker, Pulte Homes, Sunrise Company, SunScape Tech and Tala Industries choose Indio for the location of transport routes, low economic costs, and growth potential.
According to the City's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Desert Sands Unified School District||2,677|
|2||County of Riverside||1,211|
|3||Fantasy Springs Resort Casino||1,108|
|4||John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital||750|
|6||City of Indio||233|
|7||Riverside County Superior Court||172|
Two Native American owned casinos in and near Indio are the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, owned by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians,  and the Spotlight 29 Casino, owned by the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians. Spotlight 29 formerly was "Trump 29" when it was partly owned by then-businessman Donald Trump for a brief period of time in the 2000s.
Because of the numerous festivals and special events held annually in Indio, the Chamber of Commerce deemed Indio's official nickname to be "The City of Festivals." The Date Festival/County Fairgrounds is a facility that hosts various events year round such as music concerts, 4x4 monster truck rallies, rodeos, and other special events.
Two major annual festivals are the National Date Festival and the Indio International Tamale Festival. Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival is held each February at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, located on Highway 111 in the heart of Indio. Since 1947, this festival has celebrated the date fruit crop of the Coachella Valley. The Tamale Festival is held each December on the streets of Old Town Indio and holds one Guinness World Record as the largest tamale festival (120,000 in attendance, Dec. 2-3, 2000) and once held the record for the world's largest tamale, [over 1 foot (0.3 m) in diameter and 40 feet (12.2 m) in length], created by Chef John Sedlar, but that record has since been surpassed.
In 1993, Paul Tollett, president of Goldenvoice, booked a Pearl Jam concert at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, and six years later, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was born. Since 2001, Coachella has been an annual event that has brought notable music acts to the desert, including: AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N' Roses, Prince, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Radiohead, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Pixies, The Cure, The White Stripes, Jay-Z, Tool, Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction, Roger Waters and several others. Coachella extended the festival to three days in 2007. Organizers eliminated single-day tickets in 2010 and went to three-day passes only. The festival continues to draw large numbers of concertgoers to Indio and the Empire Polo Club, a venue that Rolling Stone said possessed a "lush beauty... that made the desert seem very far away."
In May 2007, Goldenvoice, promoters of Coachella, started Stagecoach, a two-day country music festival held the weekend following the Coachella. Performers have included George Strait, Kenny Chesney, the Eagles, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and Kid Rock.
On April 15, 2016, it was reported that Goldenvoice was trying to bring together The Rolling Stones, The Who, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, and Neil Young for a 3-day mega concert known as Desert Trip to take place from October 7 to October 9, 2016. It would take place at the same venue as the Coachella Music Festival.
Indio is also the site of the annual Southwest Arts Festival, the Cabazon Indian National Pow Wow, the Palm Springs Kennel Club's Annual Dog Show and Rhythm, Wine and Brews Festival at the Empire Polo Club, Heritage Festival at the Coachella Valley History Museum, and the Family Motor Coach Association's Annual Western Region RV Rally at the Fairgrounds.
The Coachella Valley History Museum , on Miles Avenue, has a two-acre campus, which currently includes the Smiley-Tyler House, built in 1926, the 1909 Schoolhouse, and the Date Museum dedicated to the history and development of the fruit (the only date museum in the world), plus gardens and archives preserving historical artifacts of the Coachella Valley.
Indio Hills Palms, which are state park property, are native California fan palms that thrive in many locations but rarely in such numbers as in the canyons of the Indio Hills. Here, along a line where the San Andreas fault captures groundwater that nurtures the palms, is a wild parkland which is part of the adjacent Coachella Valley Preserve. The park contains some fine native palm groves that include Indian, Hidden, Pushawalla, Biskra, Macomber and Horseshoe palms. The nearest palm groves are relatively easy to reach from the trailhead and parking area 4 miles (6 km) north of Indio. There are currently no marked access roads to the property.
In the fall of 1996, the Indio Chamber of Commerce formed a committee to develop a Historic Mural Project to help revitalize the local economy at the time of the statewide economic recession. Several communities have benefited from similar programs, such as Chemainus, Canada; El Paso, Texas; and Eureka, Bishop, Needles, & 29 Palms in California, as well the famous Chicano Park mural to commemorate Hispanic-American life in Barrio Logan, San Diego in the late 1970s.
It began with a suggestion to start a mural project first brought to the city by David Hernandez, a former Indio city council member, after he visited Chemainus. Very little happened with this concept until 1996, when the Riverside County National Date Festival's executive director Bruce Latta and commissioned artist Bill Weber of San Francisco to paint a mural of the Taj Mahal on the Taj Mahal (Garden of Allah) building at the fairgrounds. At the same time, local businessman Bruce Clark, who was instrumental in promoting Historic U.S. Route 99 (Indio Blvd.) to its former status as the Main Street of California. He maintains a website on Historic Route 99 (http://www.indiocaroute99.com/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/). He brought the mural idea forward again after seeing the success of a similar local program in 29 Palms. When Clark presented the idea to the chamber board of directors, the idea was immediately recognized as something that could help the city's economy by encouraging tourism. Indio now has ten murals about the city on the sides of various buildings in Old Town and on a water reservoir tank on Monroe Street.
Riverside County’s East Branch offices are located in Indio.
According to the Riverside County voter registrar, a majority in Indio are affiliated with the Democratic party, while other portions of the Coachella Valley tend to affiliate with the Republican party.
The City operates under a City Council-City Manager form of government with five elected members of the City Council served by a City Manager and staff and City Attorney. The five councilmembers are elected by district for four-year terms. Each year the Council selects the Mayor on a rotational basis and determines assignments for the external commissions and committees at its first meeting of December. The City Council is the legislative body for the City, Public Financing Authority and Redevelopment Agency. Its responsibilities include establishing City policies, adopting of ordinances and resolutions as well as the budget, holding public hearings, authorizing expenditures, and the appointment of the City Manager, City Attorney and the member of City commissions and committees.
Mayor - Lupe Ramos Amith
Mayor Pro Tem - Glenn Miller
Councilmember - Elaine Holmes
Councilmember - Waymond Fermon
Councilmember - Oscar Ortiz
Indio's six elementary and two middle schools are highly rated under the California Distinguished Schools program. Because of Indio's growing population and above-average number of young people with families, the two school districts are expanding, with plans on building more schools, along with remodeling the older ones with new buildings and designs.
Schools in or near Indio:
Desert Sands Unified
Coachella Valley Unified schools
Grace Academy (K-8), Indio Christian Center (1-12), River Springs Charter School (K-12), Our Lady of Perpetual Help (PK-8), Trinity Lutheran Child Development Center (PK, K) and Christian School of the Desert (PK-12), located in nearby Bermuda Dunes
College of the Desert, commonly referred to by its initials (C.O.D), is the Coachella Valley's community college. C.O.D opened an East Valley campus facility in 2002 in the Riverside County Employment Developmental Center located on Monroe Street. Recently, it expanded its classes to a new "East Valley" educational center in Mecca.
Riverside County has a Regional Occupational Program facility in Indio that provides vocational educational courses in the Coachella Valley's job market.
The California Desert Trial Academy College of Law was approved by the California State Bar as an unaccred fixed facility law school in Indio and is currently holding classes in the County Law Library in Indio. Meanwhile, plans are moving forward on the school constructing its own campus buildings in downtown Indio.
Three daily newspapers serve Indio: the Desert Sun, Riverside-based the Press-Enterprise, and the Los Angeles Times, which are available in markets, coffee shops, and book stores. Indio is served by several free weekly publications as well as The Sun Runner Magazine, based out of Joshua Tree, covering the California desert region.
Indio has ten local television stations serving the Coachella Valley and six Spanish-language networks (local or regional affiliates like KUNA-LP and KVER-CA), some of which are over-air signals from Mexico. Eight Los Angeles television stations are available on cable and satellite service.
Four out of 20 Palm Springs area's radio stations are licensed to Indio: KESQ 1400 AM (in Spanish) owned by KESQ-TV/KDFX-CD, KKUU 92.7 FM (Urban/Hip-hop/R&B) owned by Morris Communications, KHCV 104.3, and classic rock KRHQ 102.3 FM owned by RM Broadcasting. However, none of the stations have their offices or studios in Indio. KHCV and KESQ are located in Palm Desert; both KKUU and KRHQ are located in Palm Springs.
Indio has its own police department.
The city of Indio contracts for fire and paramedic services with the Riverside County Fire Department through a cooperative agreement with CAL FIRE. Indio has 4 fire stations utilizing 4 engine companies, 3 paramedic ambulances, and 1 truck company.
Bermuda Dunes Airport (FAA designator: UDD) is on the north-western border of Indio, along I-10 just west of Jefferson Street. It has a 5,000-foot (1,500 m) runway and serves small private planes, air carriers and commuter jets. The Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport in Thermal just a few minutes from Indio, is named for the famous 1920s pilot and Indio resident and used for cargo planes to ship agricultural products, also on the four-lane California State Route 86 expressway or the "NAFTA highway" (in reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement) for international traffic. The closest airport with regularly-scheduled commercial passenger service is Palm Springs International Airport, about 20 miles (32 km) away.
The Greyhound and Amtrak passenger buses have a highly used bus depot in downtown Indio, where buses stop by regularly on the way to stops in Southern California, Arizona, and the Mexican border. A plan for a new transportation center for Greyhound and Amtrak was recently approved. The city is served by the local bus line SunLine Transit Agency ("SunBus"), which services much of the Coachella Valley. Its substation is located on Highway 111 and Golf Center Drive, part of Business Route 10 that connects Indio and Coachella. Highway 111 runs through the city which connects the northern end with I-10 in Whitewater, CA to the southern end in Calexico, California.
John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital is a General Acute Care Hospital in Indio with Basic Emergency Services as of 2006. One of three hospitals in the Coachella Valley, JFK hospital has one of the state's busiest maternity wards and, in 2005, opened a new maternity center in part of hospital expansion plan for more surgical rooms, intensive care units and a new concrete emergency heliport. The Indio (renamed John F. Kennedy) hospital opened in a new location in 1983 on land donated by hospital co-founder Dr. Reynaldo J. Carreon.
The city of Indio has 20 public parks (all operated by the City of Indio), including a park and municipal golf course, a community recreation center, a new senior center one block from the Indio teen center located across from Indio High school, and the Desert Park Wildlife Refuge north of 40th and 42nd Avenues.
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Indio had city-to-city economic exchange programs with San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico in the Sister Cities International (SCI) program. There are similar inter-city exchange agreements with Lynwood, California; Farmington, Minnesota; and American Fork, Utah in the U.S., and officials from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games visited the 2010 National Date Festival to promote the Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada area.
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