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Sparks is a city in Washoe Countymarker, Nevadamarker, United Statesmarker. The population was 66,346 at the 2000 census. As of July 1, 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the population has grown to 88,602. Although Sparks was originally distinct from Renomarker, they have both grown toward each other to such a degree that today the border between them is purely political. They are often referred to as a twin city (i.e. "Reno-Sparks").

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it (0.25%) is water.Stormwater surface runoff from the city drains to the Truckee River, a sensitive hydrological element because it empties into Pyramid Lakemarker, which has no outlet and is the habitat of two endangered species.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 66,346 people, 24,601 households, and 16,630 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 26,025 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 78.38% White, 2.40% African American, 1.18% Native American, 4.99% Asian, 0.50% Pacific Islander, 9.11% from other races, and 3.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 19.70% of the population.

There were 24,601 households out of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.4% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,745, and the median income for a family was $52,029. Males had a median income of $35,215 versus $28,242 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,122. About 6.5% of families and 8.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.8% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

History

In the early historical period, the area that is now Sparks was inhabited by the Washoe people. Euro-American settlement of area began in the early 1850s. Early settlers often sold cattle to Californiamarker-bound emigrants. The emigrants' cattle were commonly weak and sick from the long and arduous journey along the California Trail, and they needed fresh animals to take them over the Sierra Nevada. As part of the deal, the settlers would receive the emigrants' cattle, and then fatten them up to sell to the next year's batch of emigrants.

The population density in the area remained very low until 1904 when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a switch yard and maintenance sheds there. The city that sprung up around them was first called Harriman after Edward Harriman who was then president of the railroad. The city was quickly renamed Sparks after John Sparks, who was the Governor of Nevada at that time. This gesture was an unsuccessful attempt to forestall safety and tariff regulation of the railroads by the state.

Sparks remained a small and sleepy town until the 1950s, when economic growth in Reno triggered a housing boom in the area of Sparks north of the railroad. In the 1970s the area south of the railroad started to fill up with warehouses and light industry. In 1984 the tower for John Ascuaga's Nugget was finished, giving Sparks its first, and to this date only, high-rise casino. In 1996, the redevelopment effort of the old and unsightly B Street business district across from the Nugget that started in the early 1980s took a step forward with the opening of a multi-screen movie complex and the construction of a plaza area. This area, now known as Victorian Square, is a pedestrian-friendly district that hosts many open-air events.

Under direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a comprehensive dynamic water quality computer model, the DSSAM Model was developed (Earth Metrics, 1987) to analyze impacts of a variety of land use and stormwater management decisions throughout the Truckee River Basin; this model was used to develop a set of surface runoff stormwater management measures for Sparks in the 1980s.

Education

Private schools

Sparks has a few private elementary schools such as Legacy Christian School, Excel Christian Schoolmarker, and the Lamplight Christian School. Renomarker has a several private high schools, including Bishop Manogue Catholic High School and Sage Ridge School.

Transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Sparks. The city's passenger rail station is centrally located on Nugget Avenue east of 11th Street, within the Union Pacific Railroad Yard. Amtrak Train 5, the westbound California Zephyr, is scheduled to depart Sparks at 8:55am every day and serves the cities of Reno, Truckee, Colfax, Roseville, Sacramento, Davis, Martinez and Emeryvillemarker, across the bay from San Franciscomarker. Amtrak Train 6, the eastbound California Zephyr, is scheduled to depart Sparks at 4:08pm every day and serves the cities of Winnemucca, Elko, Salt Lake, Provo, Helper, Green River, Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Denver, Omaha, Galesburg, and Chicagomarker.

Notable residents

Notable people from Sparks, Nevada
Name Native Profession Reason for notability
T.J. Bell motor sport driver Auto Racing Club of America
Brian Crane syndicated cartoonist Pickles
Jim Gibbons politician Governor of Nevada
Jena Malone actress
Karl Rove political activist, lobbyist and pundit
Brian Retterer athlete (swimmer) NCAA Champion at Stanford Universitymarker


References



Further reading

  • Earth Metrics Inc, C.M. Hogan, Marc Papineau, et al. Development of a dynamic water quality simulation model for the Truckee River, Environmental Protection Agency Technology Series, Washington D.C. (1987)


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