Covina is a city in Los Angeles County, California, about 22 miles (35 km) east of downtown Los Angeles, in the San Gabriel Valley region. The population was 47,796 at the 2010 census, up from 46,837 at the 2000 census. The city’s slogan, “One Mile Square and All There”, was coined when the incorporated area of the city was only (some say slightly less than) one square mile.
Covina is often confused with West Covina which is actually larger in both area and population, located to its south and westside. Irwindale lies to the west, as well as the unincorporated area of Vincent, and the city of Baldwin Park. Azusa and Glendora are to the north, the unincorporated community of Charter Oak to the northeast, San Dimas to the east, the unincorporated areas of Ramona and Via Verde, and the city of Pomona to the southeast.
Present day Covina was originally within the homelands of the indigenous Tongva people for 5,000 to 8,000 years. In the 18th century it the became part of Rancho La Puente in Alta California, a 1770s Spanish colonial and 1842 Mexican land grants.
The city of Covina was founded in 1882 by Joseph Swift Phillips, on a 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) tract that was purchased from the holdings of John Edward Hollenbeck, one of the 1842 grantees of Rancho La Puente. In 1875 Hollenbeck had purchased a failed coffee plantation from 3 Costa Rican brothers, Pedro Maria Badilla, Julian Badilla, and Pedro Antonio Badilla, the latter who purchased it from the heirs of Hollenbeck’s 1842 co-grantee John A. Rowland.
The City of Covina was named by a young engineer, Frederick Eaton, who was hired by Phillips to survey the area. Impressed by the way in which the valleys of the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains formed a natural cove around the vineyards that had been planted by the region’s earlier pioneers, Eaton merged the words “cove” and “vine”, and in 1885, created the name Covina for the new township.
The city was incorporated in 1901, the townsite being bounded by Puente Street on the south, 1st Avenue on the east, the alley north of College Street on the north, & 4th Avenue on the west. The city’s slogan, “One Mile Square and All There”, was coined by Mrs F. E. Wolfarth, the winner of a 1922 slogan contest sponsored by the chamber of commerce, when the incorporated area of the city was only (some say slightly less than) one square mile, making it the smallest city in area in the country.
No freeways pass through the city limits (except for a very small stretch of I-10), although it is centered in the midst of Interstate 210 (Foothill Freeway) to the north, Interstate 10 (San Bernardino Freeway) to the south, Interstate 605 (San Gabriel River Freeway) to the west, and the State Route 57 (Orange Freeway) to the east.
The Southern Pacific Railroad, which reached Covina in 1884, and the Metrolink San Bernardino Line pass through the city just north of the downtown area. The town is located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains in the San Gabriel Valley. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.0 square miles (18 km2). 7.0 square miles (18 km2) of it is land and 0.22% of it is water.
©Photo by Martin Getz