A Brief History of Claremont
Claremont Chamber of Commerce
205 Yale Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711
Tel. (909) 624 1681
History & Culture
The Cahuilla Indians were the first known inhabitants of the Claremont region. In 1771,
as the Spanish period in California began, Mission San Gabriel was founded. The lands
owned by the mission stretched from the San Bernardino Mountains to San Pedro Bay.
Claremont was part of this vast tract, and many Indians were employed as shepherds for the
padres. They continued to work for the Spaniards until smallpox took its heavy toll in
1862 and 1873. By 1883 the Cahuilla were gone. Jedediah Smith, the first white man to
enter California overland, passed through the Claremont region in 1826. W. T.
("Tooch") Martin, the first white resident of Claremont, filed a claim in 1871.
On his 156 acres near Indian Hill, Martin lived by hunting game and keeping bees.
In 1886 Claremont became a community when the Santa Fe Railroad completed its
connection between Chicago and Los Angeles. Pomona College was founded in 1887. This was
the beginning of the Claremont Colleges.
At the same time Pomona College began, the citrus business was starting in Claremont.
The citrus industry grew rapidly with thousands of acres in citrus fruit, and water
cooperatives were formed for irrigating the groves. The industry continued to flourish
until about 1950. The city, which covered about 3.5 square miles at its incorporation in
1907, now covers almost 12 square miles. From a population of 100 in 1910, Claremont today
can claim almost 35,000 residents.
The early Spanish, college, and citrus industry influences can be seen in the community
today with lush remnants of citrus and oak groves and a physical character reminiscent of
both its Spanish heritage and college-town influence. Many buildings within the community,
mirror the rich fabric of their past.
Claremont has many fine representations of architectural periods, and it is this mix
and the sense of scale and continuity that single out Claremont as a unique community in
Claremont has long been known as a cultural arts center for the Pomona Valley. It
continues to provide opportunities for a variety of cultural pursuits showcasing local
talent as well as attracting well-known national artists. The Claremont Colleges spearhead
activities by presenting art exhibits. Groups such as the Fine Arts Foundation and the
Curtain Raisers expand the capabilities of the galleries and theaters they support and
ensure the involvement of the general public in planning programs and benefiting them.
A superb expression of the area's dedication to fine cultural entertainment is Bridges
Auditorium, situated at the Claremont Colleges. The art of such world-renowned musicians,
entertainers, and singers as Benny Goodman, Bette Davis, Marcelle Marceau, and Johnny
Mathis has graced the Bridges' stage. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Chinese
Opera Theater, and a wide variety of popular plays are presented each year.
In addition to the opportunities for cultural activities offered through the colleges,
Claremont has an excellent paleontological museum at Webb School, a symphony orchestra,
and a chorale group. There are also private galleries and crafts cooperatives. Finally,
the city's human services department provides concerts and other cultural events as well
as a variety of culturally oriented classes and programs.
Claremont residents recognize the importance of cultural activities for the enhancement
of their quality of life.