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Happy 111th Birthday, Rialto

Updated: Jan 23

The city of Rialto is what we call home. But many of us do not know the rich history right here in our backyard of Rialto.

Rialto was originally the land of the Serrano Indians in the 15th century. The Serrano Indians were native to the surrounding San Bernardino Mountains and had been settlers far before American settlers began to move west. Unfortunately, the size of the Serrano Indians tribe shrunk due to smallpox outbreaks in 1840 and 1860.

Soon after, in 1842, one of California's rising prominent families, the Lugo family, was granted the land of "Rancho San Bernardino." Soon construction of the first-ever school and other houses began on a minimal magnitude surrounded by large orange trees.

Fast forward to when route 66 began to be built, starting in 1926, which connected Chicago to Los Angeles and was a critical factor in war mobilization. Post-WWII, Route 66 fostered migration for many from East to West. This historic, and quite a famous road, runs right through Rialto on Foothill Boulevard.

Route 66 is the main reason why Rialto began to gain in population. Additionally, new motels started to be built on the road to accommodate travelers. Before this, only expensive hotels existed for the wealthy class, but motels began to gain popularity in California.

One notable motel is the "WigWam Village Motel," located on Foothill Boulevard. This motel is unique because it was built as a tepee at the peak of Route 66 usage. Most Rialto residents pass by these motels often, but it is a notable historical landmark.

This motel is one of seven wigwam motels established throughout Route 66, built between 1933 to 1949, including in Alabama, Florida, Arizona, and Louisiana. However, our local motel is only one out of three motels still functioning.

Moreover, Rialto was named after the Rialto Bridge, built in Venice, Italy. Thus, scattered throughout our city, citizens see Rialto bridges. For example, in Joe Sampson park, a Rialto bridge connects the streets to the park. The name has a symbolic meaning as, "The Bridge to Progress" or "Bridge City."

Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy

Rialto became an incorporated territory in 1911. Thus, it is a relatively new city with a little over 100 years of existence. Nevertheless, the current generation can still impact the city and possibly witness firsthand the growth over the next couple of decades.

Happy Birthday, Rialto!


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