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History of El Centro, California

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One of the most interesting parts about El Centro, CA, is the fact that its history doesn’t stretch all that far back. Despite its short life, El Centro has evolved constantly over the past century and become one of the best-hidden gems in California.

The Beginning

The start of El Centro may not be the most interesting story, but it’s not what you usually hear in terms of a city’s history. Way back in 1906, W.F. Holt and C.A. Barker bought the land that turned out to be El Centro. Even stranger, the land was purchased for a total of just $100,000 at the time.

By 1908, the city of El Centro was incorporated as an official city. This was the beginning of what would turn out to be very rapid growth for a city that is now one of the hottest in California.

Rapid Growth of El Centro

EL Centro San Dunes

By 1910, the population of El Centro was all the way up to 1,610 just two years after its incorporation. By 1920, that population had climbed all the way up to 5,646 people. This growth set El Centro up as one of the premier cities in the area, which led to further growth over the next few decades.

The race to become the biggest city in the Imperial Valley was always fierce, but it became even more competitive when El Centro became the second-largest city in the Imperial Valley in the forties. As a result of the growth of El Centro during the early 20th century, it also became the premier wholesale center in the area.

A Hub for Commerce

Because of the fact that El Centro was located right near both Highway 80 and 99, it became a hot shipping destination for businesses and individuals in the area. Since agriculture was so big in El Centro and the surrounding areas, it would eventually become one of the biggest fruit and vegetable shipping hubs in the area.

Things have shifted a little bit in modern times. By the early 1980s, government business and wholesale/retail trade had become the biggest forms of business in El Centro. Still, the agricultural history and fast-paced growth of El Centro, CA, play a big role in the way the city is today.

If you’re looking for things to do in El Centro on your way to Mexico, see this article.

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