All the warmth of Southern California and the advantages of a gorgeous natural environment unite to create a place that is at once beautiful, historic, cultural, economically diverse and inviting. Located 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Monrovia is part of the San Gabriel Valley, just eight miles east of the City of Pasadena in Los Angeles County.
This growing city of nearly 40,000 residents distinguishes itself from other communities with its dynamic small-town charm and collection of high-tech industry. A world of amenities is available here: everything from world-class cultural facilities to glorious recreational outlets to top-rated education and healthcare is available right at residents’ fingertips.
Monrovia is ideally positioned to continue its trend for controlled growth. The city’s vibrant economy fosters enhanced job creation while a commitment to revitalization and development ensures that Monrovia maintains its attractive neighborhoods. Visitors are encouraged to experience all that Monrovia has to offer: a welcoming community, the brilliant California backdrop and the promise for a prosperous future.
During the late 1880s, a group of men who were successful in both banking and railroad building converted what had once been part of the vast lands of Mission San Gabriel into a community. With only scattered homes and several dirt roads, they managed to build a small town that was “typical of its time, yet unique in spirit.” It still is.
On May 17, 1886, lots were sold for the first time at $100 or $150 each; however, to purchase a lot, each owner was required to build a house within the first six months (which cost at least $2,000). This protected the town from land speculators and allowed it to survive during the collapse of the land boom several years later. The founders, as officers and directors of the Monrovia Land and Water Company, promised to plant 8,000 pepper trees along the streets, provide free water to the town and install electric streetlights. The company’s president was William Monroe. Monroe was not the first settler in the City of Monrovia. He was, however, the most important of the founders and the town is named for him.
Following the Civil War, Monroe was superintendent of construction for the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1875, after several lines were built, he moved his family to Los Angeles. By 1880 he had become a member of the Los Angeles City Council and was very active in the community. He left Los Angeles in 1882 for another construction project but returned in 1884. With money earned from the construction project and from the sale of a railroad car of mules, Monroe bought 210 acres of Rancho Santa Anita from E.J. “Lucky” Baldwin. He moved his family into a tent on the property until they built a small cottage where they lived until their permanent home, “The Oaks,” was completed. “The Oaks” is still standing at 250 N. Primrose Avenue. Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia’s Main Street, is named for his elder daughter Myrtle.
The Monroe family periodically returned to Monrovia many times over the years. Mrs. Monroe died at the age of 86 in 1932, and three years later, Mr. Monroe died at the age of 94. William Monroe and his family are buried in Live Oak Cemetery on Duarte Road in Monrovia. William Monroe found success in a variety of careers, including school teacher, banker, hotel manager, mayor, council member, real estate developer, broker, railroad contractor and railroad superintendent. He will be remembered here, though, for the town he founded.
Data: City of Monrovia Site