San Gabriel was founded in 1771 and incorporated on April 24, 1913. The Franciscan Fathers founded the Mission that became a major vehicle in the growth of Southern California, at a time when adjoining areas were still frontier lands. The mission became known as the "pride of the California Missions" because it provided later missions and settlements with such supplies as soap, wax, cloth, hides and food. The introduction and acclimation of orange trees and grapevines to the area made The Fathers' the forerunners of the agricultural industry in Southern California.
City pride is evident throughout the community with a newly renovated civic auditorium, spring family festivals, and a new community initiated paramedic program. The 1,500-seat San Gabriel Auditorium is home to one of the region's cultural treasures, the highly commended Music Theatre of Southern California.
Three of the city's four parks provide picnic and playground areas for family parties and for everyday play and enjoyment. Smith Park offers lighted tennis, basketball and handball courts, a wading pool for kids, youth and tot playground areas and a 25 meter swimming pool that is open for public recreational swimming and swim lessons during the summer months.
There are many special events offered throughout the year including the Lunar New Year Celebration, the Pancake Breakfast and Easter Egg Hunt, Egg Decorating Contest, the City's Birthday Street Festival, the Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest, the Turkey Trot 5K and 10K Run, the Christmas Tree Lighting Program and the Rent-a-Claus Program.
The community’s residents and businesses, together with city officials, have also helped to make San Gabriel a safer place to live. In the past few years, 66 Neighborhood Watch groups have established a strong community policing effort. There is also strength in San Gabriel provided by its non-profit and community-based organizations. La Casa Community Center provides parenting skills and childcare to hundreds of families. The San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, located in the heart of the community, reaches out to residents with a variety of programs.
The San Gabriel Unified School District has five elementary schools, a middle school, and two high schools. The Community Education Center (CEC) provides an alternative to traditional high school for students. The CEC brings opportunity to some of the at-risk and other vulnerable youth of San Gabriel. Students in various parts of the city are also served by the Alhambra School District. There are numerous community colleges, state colleges and universities within a short drive.
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