Although I've been interested in Covina history for decades now, I still get confused sometimes about what happened when. So, I finally decided to make a list of as many significant events as I could think of, and put them all in chronological order. I must say, I wish I'd done this a long time ago! It makes things much easier to understand and remember.
Most of the dates cited below were gleaned from Donald H. Pflueger's "Covina: Sunflowers, Citrus, Subdivisions," Castle Press, Pasadena, 1964; Dr. Barbara Ann Hall's "Images of America: Covina," Arcadia Publishing, 2007; and online communications with Covina-area historians Glenn Reed, Tom Armbruster and Jim Harris. Please bear in mind: this timeline is still a work-in-progress. Corrections, additions, and their supporting documentation are welcomed!
September 8, 1771 – European settlement of what will become Los Angeles County commences with the founding of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in the province of Las Californias in New Spain. First built on the bank of the Rio Hondo near today's Whittier Narrows, the mission moves to its present location after a flood in 1776.
November 25, 1826 – Jedediah Smith is the first U.S. citizen to venture into the valley of the San Gabriel. His party camps at Mud Springs, in today's San Dimas north of Puddingstone reservoir.
November, 1836 – During a period of instability following the dissolution of the First Mexican Republic and the ensuing Texas Revolution, Californio Juan Bautista Alvarado leads an uprising and seizes the governorship of Alta California.
April 24, 1846 – The first hostilities of the Mexican-American War. During the war, rancho owners Rowland and Workman (now also a Mexican citizen) both participate in military actions in southwestern Alta California.
February 2, 1848 – The war ends with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which cedes Alta California to the United States. Under its terms, Rowland and Workman retain ownership of Rancho La Puente.
September 9, 1850 – California becomes the 31st State in the Union.
1854 – The first orange trees are planted in Rancho La Puente.
1865 – The first general store in the Covina area is built at "Four Corners," where the San Bernardino stagecoach road intersected the Azusa Cañon road, just east of today's Orange Avenue. Orange trees are also planted there.
1868 – Rowland and Workman agree to partition Rancho La Puente; Rowland becomes the sole owner of the land which will later become Covina.
October 13, 1873 – "Don Juan" Rowland dies.
1876 – The Southern Pacific Railroad reaches Los Angeles. Its right-of-way does pass through Rancho La Puente, but to the south of the San Jose Hills, bypassing the Azusa Valley.
September 2, 1876 – Costa Ricans José Julián Badilla and Pedro Maria Badilla purchase 5,563 acres of Rancho La Puente from widow Charlotte Rowland for $45,000, where they intend to start a coffee plantation. The Badilla brothers subsequently build two frame houses on the San Bernardino stagecoach road at the southwest corner of its intersection with today's Hollenbeck Avenue.
Fall, 1876 – Lower Azusa School – the first schoolhouse in what will become the Covina area – opens for classes at the southwest corner of Cypress Avenue and Azusa Street (now Lark Ellen Avenue).
1877 – Eugene C. Griswold builds a general store and meeting hall at the intersection of today's Citrus Avenue and Cypress Avenue, which also becomes the area's first post office. Griswold's pioneer settlement is named "Citrus."
1879 – The Badilla coffee plantation fails. John E. Hollenbeck buys the Badilla lands for $16,692.
1882 – Joseph Swift Phillips buys a portion of the former Badilla lands south of the San Bernardino road from J. E. Hollenbeck for $30,000. Phillips and his family take up residence in the Julián Badilla house.
1883 – Frederick Eaton begins surveying the 2,000-acre Phillips Tract. Eaton subsequently names the townsite within the subdivision "Covina." Eaton also names one of the tracts' main streets "Badillo," misspelling the land's previous owners' surname.
December, 1883 – Covina's first schoolhouse – the Phillips School – opens at the southeast corner of San Bernardino Road and Citrus Avenue.
Early 1884 – Joseph Moxley buys the first parcel of land in the Phillips Tract – 20 acres at the southwest corner of San Bernardino Road and Barranca Street – and builds the tract's first residence.
December 12, 1884 – Newspapermen J. R. Conlee and H. N. Short arrive in Covina to start The Covina Independent, and soon after erect the new townsite's first structure – their print shop – at the southwest corner of Citrus and Badillo.
January, 1885 – The Phillips Tract officially opens, The Covina Independent publishes its first edition, and Covina's first general store is built by F. E. Grover at the northeast corner of Citrus and Badillo. A blacksmith shop, butcher shop, and grocery soon follow.
1885 – Samuel Allison builds the first residence in the Covina townsite at 160 West Badillo. Newspaper editor Conlee's house goes up soon after at 202 West College Street.
1886 – J. S. Phillips plants 12 acres of orange trees on his property at San Bernardino Road and Hollenbeck Street.
Fall, 1886 – J. R. Hodges builds Covina's first permanent structure out of concrete on the south side of Badillo Street east of the Pioneer Blacksmith Shop.
1887 – Covina's first telephone is installed in Hodges' "Concrete Block."
1890s – Citrus cultivation steadily grows to become the dominant form of agriculture in the Covina area.
1891 – The Citrus Union High School District is formed to jointly serve the communities of Azusa, Covina and Glendora. Citrus Union's first classes are held that September in an abandoned hotel in the defunct settlement of "Gladstone" north of Covina.
August, 1893 – Area orange growers form the Azusa-Covina-Glendora Citrus Association. Several small packing houses are opened along the Santa Fe rail line through Azusa and Glendora. Lemon growers form a similar association in 1895.
1894, 1897 – Successive new Covina Grammar School buildings are constructed at Citrus Avenue and San Bernardino Road.
September 9, 1895 – The new spur line of the Southern Pacific Railroad through Covina begins service, and two weeks later, the Covina Citrus Association is formed.
October 10, 1895 – The town's first bank opens: a Covina branch of the Azusa Valley Bank.
December, 1895 – The Houser Bros. packing house – Covina's first large-scale citrus processing operation – is erected alongside the new Southern Pacific rail line.
1896 – With its own citrus industry, rail transportation links and financial institutions now established, Covina's future is assured, and its first boom begins.
1897 – The Chapman-Workman Building goes up at the northwest corner of Citrus and Badillo.
1899, 1901 – The First National Bank building is constructed in stages at the northwest corner of Citrus and College.
Fall, 1899 – Covina starts its own high school, holding classes in the Grammar School building. Lillian Harris is the first graduate of Covina High in Spring, 1900.
1900 – The Reed Block is erected at the northeast corner of Citrus and Badillo.
August 11, 1900 – Covina's first hotel – The Vendome – opens at the northwest corner of Citrus and Cottage Drive.
August 6, 1901 – Covina becomes an incorporated city.
1902 – Fifty street lights are installed in and around town.
December, 1902 – Construction of the first Covina High School building is completed. It is located on the north side of School Street near Second Street on the same plot of land as the Grammar School.
November 4, 1903 – The C. W. Tucker photographic studio opens for business.
November 5, 1903 – The first spike is driven for the Pacific Electric Railroad trolley line along Badillo Street. (Full interurban service in the P.E. network would not begin until June 5, 1907, however.)
1904-05 – Flood-prone Walnut Creek is channelized from Azusa Avenue west to the San Gabriel River, and Lucky Baldwin's 4th Subdivision in Rancho La Puente lays out the grid of streets of what will later become West Covina.
October 28, 1905 – Joseph Phillips dies.
1906 – A Carnegie Library is built at the southeast corner of Second Street and Italia Street.
1909 – Warner & Whitsel open their new two-storey brick grocery store on Citrus Avenue. The building is known to later generations of Covinans as Custer's.
March 1, 1909 – The rancho period ends upon the death of Lucky Baldwin.
March 30, 1909 – Dedication of the new Covina Union High School building at the northwest corner of Citrus and Puente.
August 7, 1909 – Covina Argus editor J. L. Matthews encourages adoption of the name "West Covina" for the farming community to the south and west of the city.
August, 1910 – The Isis Movie Theater opens in the Reed Block. It will later be known as the Star Theater, and eventually the Covina Theatre.
1915 – The San Gabriel Grand Lodge of the Masonic Order obtains 55 acres on East Badillo Street in Charter Oak to build its new home for indigent children. The Masonic Home is dedicated in 1917.
April, 1916 – The street clock in front of the Finch Brothers Jewelry Store on Citrus Avenue is installed.
1919 – The fourth and last Covina Grammar School is constructed at Citrus and San Bernardino. The old high school building is moved to the south side of School Street, and is dedicated as the Covina Masonic Lodge in 1920.
Summer, 1922 – The city's first hospital opens at the northwest corner of Badillo and Second. Two years later, Covina Hospital moves to a permanent location at 275 West College Street. Around 1950, it is renamed Inter-Community Hospital.
February 23, 1923 – The residents of West Covina vote in favor of incorporation.
1924 – The Magan Clinic opens at 155 West College Street, a block away from Covina Hospital.
January 30, 1930 – Dedication of the new City Hall on East College Street.
1935 – Four-lane Garvey Boulevard (U.S. Highway 99) is completed through the eastern San Gabriel Valley and over Kellogg Hill to Pomona.
1945-1955 – High demand for new suburban housing after World War II results in a shifting of the local economy from agriculture to residential real estate and construction, ushering in Covina's second boom.
March 28, 1947 – Citing competition from private automobiles, Pacific Electric ends its trolley service to Covina.
May, 1949 – The new United States Post Office is opened at the southwest corner of College and Second.
August 1, 1952 – The first stores of West Covina Center are opened on Garvey Boulevard just west of Glendora Avenue.
1953 – The Covina Grammar School on Citrus is closed, and the building subsequently sold to Aerojet-General Corp.
1954-55 – Construction of Shoppers Lane at the southeast corner of Citrus and Rowland.
1955-56 – Construction of the original West Covina Plaza shopping center on Garvey Boulevard west of Vincent.
1955 – The historic Badilla/Phillips house at San Bernardino Road and Hollenbeck is burned down in a fire department training exercise.
1956 – Covina High School moves to a new campus on Hollenbeck, and West Covina High School moves into the old Covina Union High School buildings until its own new campus opens for classes in 1957.
1956-57 – The San Bernardino Freeway (Interstate 10) is extended through the West Covina area, and is completed on April 26, 1957.
October 24-26, 1957 – The Eastland Shopping Center opens, becoming the sixth modern mall in the Southland and the first to be built adjacent to a freeway.
1959 – Classes begin at the new Northview High School at Azusa Avenue and Cypress.
1960 – The abandoned Covina Union High School's main building on Citrus is gutted in an arson fire, and is subsequently razed.
1963 – The present Covina Public Library is constructed on the site of the old Carnegie Library on Second Street.
1964 – Classes begin at the new South Hills High School at Barranca and Cameron in West Covina.
1969 – The former Covina Grammar School/Aerojet building is razed to clear the site for a proposed new Civic Center, which is never built.
1986 – Covina celebrates the centennial of its founding.
2001 – Covina celebrates its centennial as an incorporated city.