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Rialto is a city in San Bernardino Countymarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker. According to Census Bureau estimates, the city had a total population of 93,284 in 2005. Rialto is home to four major regional distribution centers: Staples, Inc., which serves stores across the entire West Coast of the United States, Toys "R" Us, FedEx and Target in the northern region of the city, in the Las Colinas community. One of the United States' largest fireworks companies, Pyro Spectaculars, is also headquartered in Rialto.


Rialto is located at (34.111360, -117.382403) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 56.7 km² (21.9 mi²). 56.6 km² (21.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.05% is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were:
  • 91,873 people
  • 24,659 households
  • 20,516 families residing in the city.

The population density was 1,622.0/km² (4,200.7/mi²). There were 26,045 housing units at an average density of 459.8/km² (1,190.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was:

There were 24,659 households out of which 52.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.6% were married couples living together, 18.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.8% were non-families. 13.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.69 and the average family size was 4.01.

In the city the population was spread out with 37.7% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 29.1% from 25 to 44, 16.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,254, and the median income for a family was $42,638. Males had a median income of $34,110 versus $26,640 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,375. About 13.8% of families and 17.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.7% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.


Rialto's crime rate was above the national average every year from 1999 to 2007. In 2006, Rialto fielded 0.89 police officers per 1,000 residents, less than one-third the national average.


In the state legislature Rialto is located in the 32nd Senate District, represented by Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod, and in the 62nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Wilmer Carter. Federally, Rialto is located in California's 43rd congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +10 and is represented by Democrat Joe Baca.

Transit system

The City of Rialto is situated between Interstate 10 and Interstate 210. According to statistics approximately 55% of the working class in the city of Rialto commute more than to get to work and almost 13% travel to and from Los Angelesmarker and San Bernardinomarker. Metrolink's San Bernardino Line, takes approximately one hour and twenty minutes to commute each way and to San Bernardino 5–7 minutes. The same trip via Interstate 10 or 210 takes between 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic volume and driver speed to Los Angeles and San Bernardino.


1907 First Christian Church, now Rialto Historical Society.

Serrano Indians

Ancient artifacts discovered by archaeologist suggest that the city of Rialto was settled prior to the year 1500. Such artifacts, now found at the Rialto Historical Society (201 N. Riverside Ave), indicate that the Serrano Indians lived in the Rialto area between 1500 and 1800 AD. No trace was left behind to suggest the eventual relocation of this group of people.

Records indicate that in 1769 the King of Spain awarded portions of this area to selected Spanish Dons.

Settler families and agricultural boom

In 1851, the Mountain Family purchased the Lugo ranch (now San Bernardinomarker) and claimed several other portions of the bench which later became known as Rialto. This claim was later disallowed by the United States Government.

By the year 1854, many families began to move into the area and developed Rialto into a heaven for vineyards, citrus groves and ranches. Early residents of Rialto prided themselves for the cultivation of muscat grapes and thus became an important contribution to the economy. Original cuttings of the muscat grapes were sent to neighboring counties.

An adobe building from this time period, which had many uses over the years, is the oldest building in Rialto and is now restored in Bud Bender Park "Lilac Park".

Origins of the city's name

A group of Methodists arrived in 1887 seeking a new college site. Although the college was never built, it was the Methodists who started the town of Rialto. It is not known how Rialto got its name though two beliefs are always disputed. One story suggests that "Rialto" is a contraction of rio (river) and alto (high). Another belief is that the area was named after the Rialto Bridgemarker located in Venice, Italymarker as the river that once crossed the city was reminiscent of the one in Italy. In either case, the bridge soon became a community symbol and became known as the "Bridge of Progress."


In 1887 a railroad connector line was built between San Bernardinomarker and Pasadenamarker by the Santa Fe Railroad. Along the line, townsites were located every 2,600 yards and by the fall of that year over 25 new towns were built. This same year the Semitropic Land and Water Company was formed to organize the purchase and selling of real estate, water, and water rights and privileges.

First schools

In the fall of 1888 it became evident that schooling was needed so the first school was built and Brooke School District was formed. Records show that up until 1920, the Brooke School District was in continuous operation, except for a very short time in 1888. The prominent Rialto Trapp family bought the first school house in 1921, remodeled the building, and members of the family resided in it until it was destroyed by fire. The Rialto School District (today Rialto Unified School District), was formed in 1891. The staff consisted of two teachers, and a principal with separate play areas for the boys and girls. BCS moved its campus to Rialto in 1896.

Growing reputation

Despite the land boom of the 1880s and the crash of 1889, Rialto continued to grow. In 1893 there were half a dozen businesses and 35 homes. Rialto's popularity quickly began to grow as it became known as a town of lovely homes and pretty shaded drives.

Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce was established in 1907. Within four years the population had grown to 1,500 with 40 businesses and a local newspaper. The Chamber made its decision to incorporate in the spring of 1911. The election results on October 31 of the same year were 135 for the incorporation of the city and 72 against. Rialto thus became a sixth class city.

Citrus became an important commodity in Rialto's early growth and at one time seven packing plants were in use sorting, packing and shipping citrus to all areas of the country.

Development of the transit system

Historic Pacific Electric depot, now a restaurant.
Boxcars, Rialto, California
Foothill Boulevard was repaired in 1913 and became U.S. Route 66 a section of the transcontinental Highway System. In 1914 Los Angeles' Pacific Electric Railway completed its San Bernardino Line through the City of Rialto, with a junction at Riverside Avenue for the Riverside Line. Today the Tracks above First Street are a part of the Union Pacific and the Pacific Electric depot on Riverside Avenue is Cuca's Restaurant.

Growing community

Rialto's population growth had increased to 3,156 by 1950. In 1956 the population soared to 15,359. By 1964 it showed increase to 23,290 and 33,500 in 1978. Rialto is four miles (6 km) wide and 8 1/2 miles long. Rialto's population grew to over 80,000 as of December 1994.

Rialto today

Masterplanned community

A fire in the 1920s swept through and destroyed many of the buildings in the downtown area.

Today, Rialto has matured with new store fronts, updated buildings and rising modernization. Despite its location within the Inland Empire (the fastest growing community in the nation), Rialto has maintained an atmosphere of a quiet suburban community, especially compared with nearby San Bernardino and Ontario. Its proximity to greater metropolitan areas such as the Riverside-San Bernardino Areamarker and Orange County, has made of Rialto a bedroom-community for those who seek a quiet place to live in and a relatively short commute to work.

As a commitment to the city's housing charm, the City of Rialto is in the process of developing a masterplanned community with a variety of housing choices and new job opportunities. The development, named "Renaissance Rialto", did not begin in earnest until 2008 and will likely take 5 – 10 years complete.

According to the city website, the building of a Super Wal-Martmarker is in current negotiations. If built, this construction will be done in the southern region of the city, where a current Wal-Martmarker already exists.[16058]


Rialto is served by the Rialto Unified School District [16059].It has a Christian School called Bloomington Christian School on Bloomington Avenue for Junior high and high schoolthe western portion of Rialto is served by Fontana Unified School District [16060]the southern portion of Rialto is served by Colton Joint Unified School District.

In the news

Water controversy

Rialto’s water supply had often been described as being the purest in the region. In the late 1990’s, however, local water officials discovered perchlorate contamination in the city’s drinking water supply that contained as much as 800 times the recommended limit according to safety recommendations issued in other states.

The contaminant, which has seeped into several of the town’s drinking water wells, is suspected to have been dumped into the soil back in the 1950s and 1960s by industrial sites owned by Goodrich Corporation and Black & Decker. Both companies, most likely under contract with the Department of Defense, operated weapons manufacturing facilities which used massive quantities of rocket fuel. According to former employees at the plant, rocket fuel routinely leaked from the facility during operations and workers regularly disposed of rocket fuel in unlined pits behind the plant.

After many years of negotiations, despite their responsibility, Goodrich Corporation and Black & Decker still have not agreed to clean their toxic waste from the environment in northern Rialto. While the companies delay, many Rialto citizens drink water that is polluted by rocket fuel and related chemicals. Studies have shown that perchlorate consumption, at the levels measured in the affected wells, can lead to Attention Deficit Disorder, learning disabilities and decreased IQ. Victims of this incident suffer from many of these disorders.

With several other wells unusable due to contamination, the drought-prone city teeters on the brink of running out of water. Residents have also been forced to pay water bill price hikes to pursue the polluters for clean water. [16062]

2005 recall election

On September 13 2005 the Rialto city council voted to dissolve the Rialto Police Department and replace it with a contract with the San Bernardino County sheriff's department. Soon after the vote, a San Bernardino County court issued an injunction on the change because the vote was done in secret. As a result two city council members, Ed Scott and Winfred Lee Hansen, are up for recall. [16063]In March 2006, city leaders decided to keep the Police Department. [16064]

Movie Industry

The movie Transformers and several commercials by UPS and car ads have been shot on the local Interstate 210 between Alder Ave. and Linden Ave.

City of Rialto's Hall of Fame

City of Rialto's Inaugural Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place on Saturday, November 17, 2007.

2007 Inductees:Derek Parra - Speed Skating, David Lang - Football, Ricky Nolasco - Baseball, Brandie Burton - Golf[16065]

Notable people from Rialto


Book featuring the history of Rialto by John Anthony Adams
  • Only ten acres remain of the original citrus groves that once predominated the city in the early 1800s
  • The City of Rialto leases the portion of land, where the old adobe house is located (Bud Bender Park), to the Rialto Historical Society for $1 annually.
  • As part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing, in mid-2004 John Anthony Adams authored a book about the City of Rialto bearing the name of the city. [16066]
  • The television show, Fear Factor, used a portion of the then uncompleted highway 210 in Rialto for one of their notably-extreme stunts.
  • The Transformers was filmed on the portion of I-210 between Alder Ave. and Linden Ave.
  • In 1994, Rialto Western Little League hosted the Southern California Championship for the Major Division, in which the winner went on to participate in the Regional Tournament. The winner was Northridge City Little League, who went on to play in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvaniamarker. The Tournament was held at Lilac Park, now known as Bud Bender Park, where the old adobe house is located.
  • The 2007 Fox television show, Drive, was filmed on Interstate 210 between Alder Ave. and Linden Ave.
  • Rialto was the location of the chops shop that Eddie Mars wife was hiding out at is the classic Humphrey Bogart movie, The Big Sleep.
  • The freeway scenes in The Hangover were filmed on a portion of the I-210 running through Rialto from Alder Ave. and into San Bernardino.


  1. Rialto, California. Retrieved on April 14, 2009.

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