West Covina, like many other cities throughout the United States, has experienced a history of change. Once home to livestock, agriculture and farmers, it is now a rapidly expanding city that attracts auto dealers, large shopping centers and chain restaurants. In 1950, West Covina boasted a population of 4,499. According to the 2000 census, the city’s diverse population reached 105,080 and is now over 111,000. In 1955—post World War II—West Covina was the fastest growing city in the U.S. Today, this fine city is the 50th largest city in Southern California.
West Covina’s humble beginnings can be traced back to the establishment of the San Gabriel Mission in 1771. The mission was originally founded in El Monte, and its territory included the San Gabriel Valley. In 1845, Governor Pico sold much of what we now know as West Covina to John Rowland and William Workman. The first city roads, including Cameron, Merced, Orange, Service and Vine avenues came into existence in 1908. The city of West Covina was incorporated on February 3, 1923 in order to avoid a portion of its land becoming a waste disposal site for the city of Covina.
The transformation from agriculture to industry to commercial/residential and the rapid growth post WWII are not unique to West Covina. However, the city does have features no one else can claim.
Around the time of WWII, West Covina developed the first speed trap in Southern California. In order to keep taxes low and services affordable, West Covina obtained a large portion of its revenue by installing a few stop signs on a large stretch of road that was frequented by racers. West Covina is also the birthplace of New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.