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History of Poway

A small city with a population of about 50,000, Poway is located in San Diego County, California, and has a rich history. Its name comes from the Kumeyaay language and it is believed to mean “meeting place of the valleys,” which is an apt description considering the town’s location, nestled between mountain peaks.

City of Poway, California Logo

Early History of Poway

The history of the town goes back to the Diegueño, a group of Yuman-speaking Native American people. They first inhabited vast areas in California and Baja California prior to the American Settlement. Historians believe that the pottery, spear points, arrowheads, and other artifacts found along the bed of Poway Creek indicate that the Diegueño were present in the area as early as the 16th century.

The early written documents attesting Poway date from the early 19th century. Back then, the Mission San Diego de Alcala, who kept cattle in the area, called it “Paguay” (1828). The area was mostly a stock range by the mission and several ranchos.

The American Settlement of the Late 19th Century

Close to the turn of the century, Poway began to transform into a town, being documented as such in 1894. Less than 1,000 people lived and farmed in the area in 1887. But at the start of the 20th century, more farmers began to produce and sell dairy products, fruit, and grain. Despite having fertile soil and a creek, Poway did not attract large scale farmers. This the result of the lack of easily available water.

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Poway in the 20th Century and Today

The late 1950s saw Poway grow significantly. The construction of Lake Poway in 1971 gave residents a permanent source of water. Poway adopted its slogan “City in the Country” after it incorporated in 1980. The 700-acre Poway Business Park was built in the same period, and today is home to more than 500 buildings.

Poway went from agricultural to residential in the past century. It is a popular residential community for commuters who work in and around the San Diego area. The school system consistently ranks among the best in the county. The last census of 2005 estimated its population at 50,542. If you plan to visit Poway, read this article here on Things to do in Poway.

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