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PALMDALE, ENCARTA 98


Palmdale, city in southeastern California, in Los Angeles County. It is located at the southern end of the Antelope Valley on the western fringe of the Mojave Desert. Palmdale is a quickly growing residential community at the northern edge of the Los Angeles metropolitan region.

Leading industries are associated with aeronautics and aerospace, and the United States Air Force Plant 42 provides much of Palmdale's industrial employment. While government owned, the plant consists of eight separate production facilities operated by commercial interests clustered around a common runway complex. Palmdale is also home to the famous Skunk Works of Lockheed Martin that has produced numerous technologically advanced aircraft, from the nation's first jet to the F-117 Stealth fighter. Nearby Edwards Air Force Base, landing site for the Space Shuttle of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA), is a leading employer. Cultural attractions include the Palmdale Playhouse; an annual community event is the Palmdale Fall Festival.

Palmdale traces its history to two separate communities that developed on the Antelope Valley floor. Harold formed at the intersection of the railroad (which arrived in 1876) with the Fort Tejon Road; Palmenthal was settled in 1886 by Midwest families of Swiss and German descent who mistook local Joshua trees for palm trees when naming their community. Lack of adequate water to farm and a decision by the railroad to move its station caused both communities to wither, and by the late 1890s the settlements had effectively relocated to the new station site. In 1899 its name was changed to Palmdale. Completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1914 provided reliable water for farming, and the valley developed as a source of alfalfa, pears, and apples. Industrial development began in 1952 when the federal government purchased Palmdale Airport and created Air Force Plant 42. Palmdale incorporated in 1962. In the early 1990s it was among the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with many of its new residents commuting to work in the Los Angeles area.

Palmdale covers a land area of 264.4 sq km (102.1 sq mi), with a mean elevation of 810 m (2659 ft). According to the 1990 census, whites are 76.0 percent of the population, blacks 6.4 percent, Asians and Pacific Islanders 4.4 percent, and Native Americans 0.9 percent. The remainder are of mixed heritage or did not report ethnicity. Hispanics, who may be of any race, are 21.9 percent of the people. Population (1980) 12,277; (1990) 68,842; (1994 estimate) 103,423.


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