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Indio is a city in Riverside Countymarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker, located in the Coachella Valley of Southern California's desert region. It lies east of Palm Springsmarker, east of Riversidemarker, east of San Bernardinomarker, and east of Los Angelesmarker. The population was 49,116 at the 2000 census. The word indio is Spanish for Indian. Indio was once referred to as "the Hub of the Valley", the city Chamber of Commerce jingle in the 1970s.


The town was laid out in 1894 by A.G. Tingman, a Southern Pacific Railroad construction boss. Tingman was also Indio's first storekeeper and postmaster. Millionaire land owner and railroad tycoon Henry E. Huntington of Los Angelesmarker jointly funded the town site. A previous small "gulch" in the 1880s known as Indian Wells was in the current day intersection of Bliss Avenue and Fargo Street, founded in the site where a Cahuilla Indian village Tekwit was due to proximity to natural Artesian water wells.

Indio was chosen as a railroad stop because it was the halfway point between Los Angelesmarker and Yuma, Arizonamarker. Tingman Avenue—once downtown Indio's main street—was named in Tingman's honor. Tingman Avenue was removed in the early 1960s during the construction of a highway overpass on Jackson Street designed to eliminate a railroad grade crossing and traffic congestion along Indio Boulevard (old Highway 99). Another over-the-track bridge, Auto Center (now Golf Center) Drive, an extension of State Route 111 opened in 1977, and the Monroe Street bridge opened in 1989.

Today, the Southern Pacific's successor, the Union Pacific Railroad maintains that original rail corridor as the main transcontinental line between Los Angeles and New Orleans, Louisianamarker, but the large train switching yard that brought Indio growth over the years is gone, moved to Colton several years ago, and also the coming of U.S. Route 99 in 1926 contributed to Indio's growth. Once California's main north-south highway, US 99 was decommissioned in 1964. Its present-day replacements are State Route 111, State Route 86 and Interstate 10. However, locals still used Indio Blvd., declared "Historic Route US 99" in 2001 as a major traffic artery. The historic route is part of Indio's "East Valley renaissance" of renewed economic growth and expanding tourism.

The original 1903 railroad station, a two-story wooden structure unique to the Southern Pacific, burned to the ground in 1966. Some of the station's artifacts were salvaged, and can be viewed at the Coachella Valley Historic Museum and Cultural Center in downtown Indio. The Southern Pacific rail depot is east of Jackson Street on 45th Avenue, but the railroad's regional headquarters moved to Coltonmarker near San Bernardino, Californiamarker in 1990.

The other major business in Indio was the aerospace/military defense contractor, Giannini Research Institute moved in 1967, but its facility closed in 1985. The city had unemployment rates (in some cases over 20 percent) in the late 20th century, but the rate in 2006 was under 5 percent after the local economy rebounded when more affluent new residents moved in.

The aforementioned present-day Indio Boulevard was the site of the world's first use of a painted line to delineate lanes of traffic in 1915. This innovation was spearheaded by Dr. June McCarroll for whom a stretch of Interstate 10 through the city is named. Interstate 10 was constructed in the mid-1970s when Indio was smaller, so the route bypasses the city, reducing traffic downtown. As a result, business activity declined in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, Indio is growing and developing the area along I-10; more drivers notice the city , and can take an off-ramp to downtown Indio.

The site of the Coachella Valley Historic Museum and Cultural Center was the home of Dr. Reynaldo Carreon. Dr. Carreon, the area's first doctor, opened a hospital in 1933. The hospital was later torn down for the Larson Justice Center, a county courthouse and prison. The Carreon ranch was given to John Nobles and his wife, Miranda in the 1930s, established a mostly black residential area known as "Nobles Ranch." (on the original site of the Indio Polo Club) When John Nobles died in the 1940s the land was given to his Granddaughter Eva Strickland, but sold a few years later and his home was demolished in 1994 to make way for a shopping center; however in 2004 a Statue was build in his honor.


Indio is located at (33.719871, -116.231889). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of . of it is land and 0.04% is water.

The telephone area code is 760 (it was 714 and 619 in the past, but Indio and the Coachella Valley are expected to have a new area code by 2009). The city's Zip codes are 92201 and 92203 north of Interstate 10. About north and east of Indio is the San Andreas Faultmarker, a major tectonic plate boundary of the Pacific and North American plates.

Indio has the Riverside county's eastern branch offices, because Indio was historically the main population center of the Coachella valley, except when Palm Springs had more people from 1955 to 1992, when the US census announced Indio surpassed Palm Springs and that title was returned to them. The official elevation of Indio is below sea level; the city hall is below sea level, as the Eastern half of the Coachella valley drops as low as below sea level (the lake shore of the Salton Seamarker is South of Indio).


Indio has a desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). It has an average 335 days of sunshine, and total of 156 days of high temperatures over .

Nature and wildlife

  • Indio is officially a national bird sanctuary, due to winter bird flight migration routes cross the area, on route to the Salton Sea.


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/sq mi (244.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.4% White, 2.77% Black, 1.04% Native American, 1.51% Asian American, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 42.02% from other races, and 3.89% 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 3.48 and the average family size was 3.88.

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.

In the past quarter a century (from 1984 to 2008), Indio has grown many times its previous size. It is often said Indio and the surrounding area is the fastest growing region in both California and the nation. 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.

Expected to have 5,000 new single family homes and 1,000 apartment units by the year 2012, the city may well have over 100,000 residents for the next US census count in 2010. City leaders and other locals are expanding city public services, including recreation activities, commercial retail centers and industrial complexes.


Two major contributions to the local economy are year-round agriculture and tourism, although the majority of tourist activity is seasonal between October and May.


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, with all the new residential and recreational development, the date groves are now more limited to south and southeast of Indio. Even the grove of date palms at the Riverside County Date Festival fairgrounds has been torn out 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 in Indio. 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.

Employment and job growth

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 (hotel resorts), maintenance, retail and housekeeping are highly needed in the area.

Indio sought more corporate businesses and office professions, like fruit packing and shipping firms. Locally-based United States Filter Corporation, Guy Evans Inc., Dimare and Sun World; and move-in companies such as Ernst and Young, Ferguson, Fulton Distributors and SunScape Tech choose Indio for the location of transport routes, low economical costs and growth potential.

Arts and culture

Annual events

There are numerous festivals and special events held annually in Indio and because of it the Chamber of Commerce created Indio's official nickname: "The City Of Festivals."

Two major regularly-scheduled annual festivals are the National Date Festival and the world-famous Indio International Tamale Festival.

The Date Festival is held each February at the Riverside County Fairgrounds, located at Highway 111 in the heart of Indio. It is known internationally as the celebration of the Coachella Valley's date fruit crop.

The Tamale Festival is held each December on the streets of Old Town Indio and has earned two Guinness World Records: the largest tamale festival (120,000 in attendance Dec. 2-3, 2000) and the world's largest tamale, [over in diameter and in length], created by Chef John Sedlar. In the 2006 Guinness Book, it states that the, "Tamale festival is the world's largest cooking and culinary festival."

Since 1999, Indio has hosted the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivalmarker at the Empire Polo Field.

In May 2007, Goldenvoice, promoters of the Coachella,marker started Stagecoach, a two-day country music festival that is held the weekend following the Coachella. In its short history, the event has already featured amazing performances by Willie Nelson, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, the Eagles, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Kid Rock and others.

The Date Festival/County Fairgrounds' Grandstand Arena Stadium is the site for live music concerts (mostly amateur bands), 4x4 monster truck rallies, rodeo or horse riding events, and world-famous camel races during the National Date 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 at the Empire Polo Club, the Family Motor Coach Association's Annual Western Region RV Rally at the Fairgrounds, and the U.S. Field Hockey Association's annual Hockey Festival held every November.

Points of interest

Indio Hills Palms, 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 faultmarker 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 north of Indio. There are currently no marked access roads to the property.

Indio's old town historic mural program

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, as Indio was one of California's most economically affected areas at the time. This concept is not new. Several communities have benefited from similar programs, such as Chemainus, Canadamarker; El Paso, Texasmarker; and Eurekamarker, Bishopmarker, Needlesmarker, & 29 Palmsmarker in California, as well the famous Chicano Park mural to commemorate Hispanic-American life in Barrio Logan, San Diegomarker 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 Franciscomarker to paint a mural of the Taj Mahalmarker 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, brought the mural idea forward again, after seeing the success of a similar program in 29 Palms. When Clark presented the idea to the chamber board of directors, the timing and membership was right and the idea was immediately recognized as something that could provide a major impact on city economics, pride and tourism. Indio since now has ten murals about the city's history and development on the sides of various buildings in old town.


In the state legislature Indio is located in the 40th Senate District, represented by Democrat Denise Moreno Ducheny, and in the 80th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Manuel Perez. Federally, Indio is located in California's 45th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of R +3 and is represented by Republican Mary Bono Mack.

The growth in population increased political representation, as the area (including Palm Desert, Californiamarker) are covered by the 45th and 46th US congressional, and 64th and 80th state assembly districts, created by each city's partisan majorities (Monroe Street and Interstate 10, where the elevation is sea level, also is a political representative boundary-mostly Democrat to the east, mostly Republican west), signified the city's new socioeconomic divide, replaced the older north/south divide of Indio Boulevard and State Route 111. Recently, Interstate 10 from Monroe street to the Cabazon Indian Reservation became another socioeconomic divide.

According to the Riverside County board of voter registration, the majority of moved-in(younger) registered voters are affiliated with the Democratic party, while large portions of the Coachella Valley (except Palm Springs) tend to affiliate with the Republican political party. In recent years, new suburban residents (mostly retired transplants) are usually Republican, while long time residents (mostly Hispanic) tend to be Democrat.


Indio is served by two public school districts: Desert Sands Unified and on the city's south eastern corner, Coachella Valley Unified. Desert Sands' headquarters is located in La Quinta.marker

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

  • ELEMENTARY (grades K-5): Carrillo Ranch, Dr. Reynaldo J. Carreon Jr. Academy, Amelia Earhart (Int'l studies), Dwight D. Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Andrew Jackson, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, James Madison, James Monroe (in Bermuda Dunes), Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Van Buren, Woodrow Wilson, and Horizon Elementary (independent studies) in La Quinta.

  • MIDDLE/JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS (grades 6-8): Desert Ridge Academy (Fall 2009); Thomas Jefferson; Indio Middle; John Glenn (California Distinguished School); and Horizon Middle (independent studies) in La Quinta.

  • HIGH SCHOOLS (grades 9-12): Indio Highmarker; La Quinta High in La Quinta; Shadow Hillsmarker (Fall 2009); Amistad High, a continuation high school; and Horizon High (independent studies) in La Quinta.

  • ADULT SCHOOL: Courses include: GED TEST preparation, ESL Beg/Int/Adv classes, Citizenship classes, a RossettaStone Language lab, and more.

Coachella Valley Unified schools

  • ELEMENTARY (grades K-5): Mountain Vista Elementary.

  • MIDDLE/JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS (grades 6-8): Cahuilla Desert Academy.

Private schools

Grace Academy (K-8), Indio Christian Center (1-12), 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.marker

Higher Education

In 2002, College of the Desert, or C.O.D., the valley's community college, opened an East valley campus facility in the Riverside County Employment Developmental Center located on Monroe Street. Recently, it has expanded its classes to a new "East Valley" Educational center in Mecca.marker

Riverside County has a Regional Occupational Program facility in Indio that provides vocational educational courses in the Coachella valley's job market.


Three daily newspapers serve Indio, the Desert Sun, Riverside-based the Press-Enterprise and the Los Angeles Times are available in markets, coffee shops and book stores. Two weekly papers, The Indio Sun owned by the Desert Sun is focused on local news and issues, and the Desert Post Weekly and the D from the Press-Enterprise, are artistic/pop culture variety papers.

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 are over-air signals from Mexico. About eight Los Angelesmarker television stations are available on cable and satellite service.

Three out of 20 Palm Springs area's radio stations are licensed to Indio: KESQ 1400 AM (in Spanish) owned by KESQ-TVmarker/KDFX-CAmarker, KKUU 92.7 FM (Urban/Hip-hop/R&B) owned by Morris Communications, and smooth jazz KJJZ 102.3 FM owned by RM Broadcasting. However, none of the stations have their offices or studios in Indio. KESQ is located in Palm Desert; both KKUU and KJJZ are located in Palm Springs.

Public Safety

Law enforcement is covered by the Indio Police Department, where Bradley Ramos is the current chief of police. There is also a regional station of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department at the corner of Avenue 48 and Oasis Street; the deputies assigned here protect the nearby cities of Coachella,marker La Quinta,marker the unincorporated towns of Thermal,marker Mecca,marker Bermuda Dunesmarker and the Augustine Indian Reservation.

The city contracts with the Riverside County Fire Department through a cooperative agreement with CAL FIRE California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for fire protection and emergency medical services. The City of Indio has 4 fire stations with 4 engine companies, 3 paramedic ambulances and 1 truck company.



Bermuda Dunes Airportmarker (FAA designator: UDD) is on the north-western border of Indio, along I-10 just west of Jefferson Street. It has a runway and serves small private planes, air carriers and commuter jets. The Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airportmarker in Thermalmarker 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 86S expressway or the "NAFTA highway" (in reference to the North American Free Trade Agreement) for international traffic.

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, Arizonamarker and the Mexican border. A recently-approved plan for a new transportation center for Greyhound and Amtrak will break ground and open for service as early as Sep. 2010. The city is part of the local SunBus line, 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.

Health care

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 boasts to being 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 Dr. Carreon himself.

Parks and recreation

The city of Indio has 10 public parks (all operated by the Coachella Valley Recreation and Parks District), a city-operated park near the municipal golf course, a community recreation center, a renovated senior center across from City Hall and the public library, a new teen center across from Indio High school and a Desert Park wildlife refuge north of 40th and 42nd Avenues.
  • City of Indio Park and Desert Wildlife Park.
  • Miles Avenue Park (formerly City Park), near the Coachella Valley History Museum.
  • Indio Community Center and Park, across from Indio High School.
  • South Jackson Park with Pawley Pool facility, a soccer field, a little league baseball stadium and a YMCA/Boys & Girls club.
  • North Jackson Park (renovated), near Jackson School.
  • Tingman Park under the Jackson street bridge/Indio Boulevard (Historic US Route 99), named for city co-founder Pat Tingman.
  • Dominguez Park on Crown Way, named for Al Dominguez, the city's first Mexican-American councilman in the 1950s/60's.
  • Carreon-Nobles Ranch Park with water tower arts mural of local history.
  • Yucca (Lane) Park-Playground (renovated).
  • Indio Terrace Park (closed in 1989, reopened in 1996).
  • Shields/Westside Park-Playground.
  • Proposed Indio Village Sports Park with softball and soccer fields.
  • Proposed Fiesta Tamale Park near Civic Center Mall.

Notable natives and residents

In the past, celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable and Frank Sinatra are known to visited Indio in the 1950s, often their private air planes arrived in the Indio Airport closed in 1960 and the landing strips became a residential area. Current renowned residents are actor William Devane and farm labor activist Sam Maestas, and the city's Indian Palms and Indian Springs country clubs are places for celebrity star-sightings, such as Lindsay Lohan and Salma Hayek. Local rumor has it that Anna Nicole Smith had a vacation home in Indio and visited Lake Cahuilla with her son, Daniel Smith, as the trip was featured in an episode of The Anna Nicole Show.

The news media visited the Riverside County courthouse (Larson Justice Center) where Robert Downey Jr. stood trial for his arrest and conviction for drug possession while he was on vacation in Palm Springs back in 2000-01. Coincidentally, his son's name is Indio and rumor has it he frequently visited or wintered in the area.

Jaqueline Cochran lived in Indio and was a famour pilot from the 1930s/40s.

Perhaps the most notable resident in the 1940s was Lieutenant-General George Patton, he visited Indio often during his training of U.S troops at nearby Camp Young during World War II. His wife Bea Patton had a home, known as Whittier Ranch in Indio, but he mostly stayed on base with his troops. The recently restored home still stands today on the corner of Jackson Street and Avenue 48 and will stay in its current location when sold to a private buyer. Recently, three of the over 5,000 War in Iraq soldier causalities lived in Indio, but one Jesus Gonzalez is an Indio native, has a memorial plaque dedicated to him in the Civic Center.

Pop culture

Indio has appeared in movies, television and music. The city's namesake appeared on a circus poster in a fast food joint scene of the 1990 comedy movie Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead. A little league record-holding batter from Indio was one of the talented youth athletes on the intro of sports comedy movie Jerry Maguire. Indio was also the site of an episode of Monster Garage in which a Ford Mustang convertible was converted into a lawn mower. Huell Howser's state travel show California Gold stopped by "Old Town Indio" to report on the city's older dwellings had swamp coolers for permanent residents to stay cool in the summer. The Jackie & Bendermarker morning show's Harry Potter E! True Hollywood Story parody mentions Indio as the town that Harry Potter is arrested in during a Meth lab bust. In October 11, 1991 Jimmy Swaggart was pulled over into an Indio gas station off Indio Blvd. Swaggart was with the company of a prostitute that admitted that Swaggart had propositioned for sex. Indio was a location for film, The Beast with 1 Million Eyes, starring Dona Cole and Chester Conklin. And an episode of the animated The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show titled The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam announces the upcoming second installment of the episode as Rimsky & Korsakov Go to Palm Springs, or Song of Indio. Indio was mentioned 3 times on the Phil Hendrie Show radio comedy, once about the bus station, a car wash business and a grocery store that the host made jokes about his travels in the city. There was a hip-hop single titled "Indio" on youtube by Lil Tweety, an Indio High School alumni from the class of 2004.


The annual National Date Festival's main attraction is the nightly musical pageant Arabian Nights in an open air amphitheater of the grandstand arena. After the National Date festival, a "SuperFiesta del Sinaloa" follows to honor Indio's historic ties with the Mexican state of Sinaloamarker, a large source of local immigration. A great amount of immigrants also come from the Mexican state of Michoacanmarker, especially from the municipalities of Jiquilpanmarker, Sahuayomarker and even from small communities such as La Lagunita and Paredones.

In Oct. 2006, Indio approved a US Olympic Team training facility (for basketball and ice skating) though not yet broke ground for construction, may be open to the public. The Landmark Golf Club opened in 1998 had the Skins Game for four years. It is now known as Terra Lago. Indio has several other golf courses: such as the Plantation, Heritage Palms, Sun City Shadow Hills, Indian Springs and Indian Palms. The Indio (municipal) Golf Club is the second longest par-3 executive course in the USA. The course is open until 10:00 pm thanks to the new lighting upgrades. It has two world famous polo clubs: Empire and Eldorado on the city's southwestern end that hold annual polo and special events. Prince Charles of Englandmarker and former Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson were seen in the polo clubs.

The local electricity provider, Imperial Irrigation District wasn't affected by the 2000-01 California energy crisis, residents pay 65% less on their electric bills than neighbors to the west, under Southern California Edison. In 2001, Forbes magazine designated Indio west of Monroe street (and nearby La Quinta, Bermuda Dunesmarker and Indian Wellsmarker ) as one of America's wealthiest areas. Indio had city-to-city economic exchange programs with Mexicali, Baja Californiamarker, Mexico in the Sister Cities International (SCI) program. There are similar inter-city exchange agreements with Lynwood, Californiamarker and American Fork, Utahmarker both in the U.S.marker.


  1. Book-web
  2. California Department of Health Services
  3. Vanessa Marcil Bio - Vanessa Marcil Biography - Vanessa Marcil Stories

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