Get to know Downey, CA

The city of Downey is a part of the Gateway Cities and is the birthplace of the Apollo Space Program.  The area had been inhabited by Tongva Native Americans before the Mission San Gabriel Arcangel was founded in 1771.  After flooding forced the mission to relocate, the Spanish governor made land concessions.  Present-day Downey was located on the northwest portion of  Rancho Los Nietos, which was given to Manuel Nieto in 1784.  Upon his death, his four children inherited the land.  When the land was partitioned in 1833, Josefa Cota, the daughter-in-law of Manuel, was given Rancho Santa Gertrudes.  This served as the center for social life east of the pueblo of Los Angeles.  Following the Mexican-American War, American settlers came to the area and married into established Spanish families.  Modern day Downey was founded in 1873 and became a dairy hub.  It was named for the youngest governor of California, John Gately Downey.  Agriculture, particularly orange groves, was important to the area prior to World War II.  The city was incorporated in 1956.  Beginning in World War II, the city served as an important aerospace center.  Following cuts in defense in the 1990’s, the seventy-year history of airplane and space manufacturing ceased, and the Rockwell International plant closed in 1999.  The largest employers in Downey are Kaiser Permanente and the Stonewood Center.  Popular attractions include the Columbia Memorial Space Center and one of the oldest operating McDonald’s restaurants.  Famous residents have included Richard and Karen Carpenter, Miranda Cosgrove, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

Quick Facts

Population: 113,407

Median Household Income: $62,897

Median Property Value: $424,900


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