Huntington Beach, California

From Academic Kids

Huntington Beach, sometimes called Surf City, is a seaside city in Orange County, in southern California. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 189,594. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the south, by Seal Beach on the north-west, by Costa Mesa on the east, by Newport Beach on the southeast, and by Garden Grove, Westminster and Fountain Valley on the north.

It is known for its long 14 km (8.5 miles) beach, mild climate, and excellent surfing. The waves are a unique natural effect caused by edge-diffraction of ocean swells by the island of Catalina. Because the coast curves so strongly eastward at Huntington Beach, the local beach actually faces south, making for strong surf and often harsh, per southern California standards, weather.

Huntington Beach incorporated in 1909 under its first mayor, Ed Manning. Its first high school was built in 1906. Its team, the Oilers, are named after the city's original natural resource.

The climate is generally sunny, dry and cool, although evenings can be excessively damp. In the morning and evening, there are often strong breezes, 15 mph (25 km/h). Ocean water temperatures average 55 to 65 F (10 to 15 C). In the summer, temperatures rarely exceed 85 F (25 C). In the winter, temperatures rarely fall below 55 F (10 C), even on clear nights. There are about 10 inches (250 mm) of rain, almost all in mid-winter. Frost occurs only rarely on the coldest winter nights.

Huntington Harbor is suitable for light craft, and includes a dock, launching ramp, basic services and a restaurant.

The harbor entrance is sometimes restricted by the US Navy, which loads ships with munitions at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station to the north of the main channel.



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 81.7 km² (31.6 mi²). 68.3 km² (26.4 mi²) of it is land and 13.4 km² (5.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 16.38% water.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 189,594 people, 73,657 households, and 47,729 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,773.9/km² (7,183.6/mi²). There are 75,662 housing units at an average density of 1,107.0/km² (2,866.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 79.22% White, 0.81% Black or African American, 0.65% Native American, 9.34% Asian, 0.24% Pacific Islander, 5.81% from other races, and 3.94% from two or more races. 14.66% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 73,657 households out of which 29.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.7% are married couples living together, 9.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 35.2% are non-families. 24.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.7% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.56 and the average family size is 3.08.

In the city the population is spread out with 22.2% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 36 years. For every 100 females there are 100.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 98.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $64,824, and the median income for a family is $74,378. Males have a median income of $52,018 versus $38,046 for females. The per capita income for the city is $31,964. 6.6% of the population and 4.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 8.2% of those under the age of 18 and 4.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Many families spend 40% or more of their incomes on housing. Single family dwellings within two miles of the beach normally sell for $400,000 or more. Two bedroom apartments usually rent for $2,000 per month or more.

Culture and Amenities

Huntington Beach is the site of the world surfing championships, held in late summer every year, and usually televised. The city is often referred to as "Surf City" because of this high profile event, its history, and culture of surfing. In 1985, the event erupted into a riot with police vehicles being overturned and burnt.

The city is mentioned in the Beach Boys song "Surfin Safari."

The city also has the oldest Independence Day parade in the western United States. This is often televised locally.

The Central Library is located in Central Park in a notable building designed by Richard Neutra, Dion Neutra and Mario Pei. It houses almost a half-million volumes, as well as a theatre, gift shop and fountains. The library was founded as a Carnegie library in 1916, and has been continuously supported by the city and local activists. The library has significant local historical materials and has a special genealogical reference collection. It is independent of the state and county library systems.

Downtown, there is an active art center, a colorful shopping district, free clinic, youth hostel and a museum of surfing.

Downtown, there once was the famous restaurant and music club "The Golden Bear." In the late '60s and '70s it hosted many famous bands and acts. It was closed because of rioting.

Huntington Beach also has Golden West College, which offers two-year associates of arts degrees, and transfer programs to the state universities.

The public TV station KOCE TV operates from the Golden West College campus, in conjunction with the Golden West College Media Arts program.

The northern and southern beaches are state parks. Only the central beach is maintained by the City. The northern beach is actually a sand bar fronting the Bolsa Chica Harbor. Camping and RVs are permitted in the north beach. Camping spaces for the 4th of July and the Surfing Championships must be reserved many months in advance.

Because of its land-use policies, Huntington Beach has the largest ratio of park area to person of any city in the United States. Almost all schools have playing fields arranged for public access as parks, with park-like amenities near major streets, and schools near the centers of blocks. Since Huntington Beach contains a power generating station, the high-voltage rights-of-way are numerous, and have also been zoned as parks with walkways. Huntington Beach also has a very large Central Park, vegetated with xeric (low water use) vegetation, and the more pleasant native wildlife and plants, supplemented with Australian trees.

Natural Resources

The northern edge of the harbor is a marsh, Bolsa Chica. A part of the marsh is Bolsa Chica Wildlife Refuge.

Large parts of Bolsa Chica are privately owned, or owned by the city and planned for development. As of 2001, there is an active political dispute between developers and local conservationists, with active local organizations on both sides.

Huntington Beach also sits above a large natural salt dome containing oil. Although the oil is mostly depleted, extraction continues at a slow rate, and stil provides significant local income. There are several off-shore extraction facilities.

Huntington Beach has an off-shore oil terminus for the tankers that support the Alaska Pipeline. The terminus pipes run under Goldenwest Street to an inland oil storage facility at Gothard and Talbert Streets. This is the largest, or second largest oil storage facility on the West Coast.

A great disadvantage of the oil industry is that the sand fleas and sand dollars have become rare on the beach, which is stained with tar sands. The beach is no longer hunted by birds.

Because of the proximity of oil, and nearby refineries, the local gas prices tend to be lower than anywhere else in Southern California.

"Nice place, but is it safe?"

The city is consistently listed among the top 10 safest cities in the USA in terms of crime. However, Huntington Beach is also one of the most emergency-prone settled areas on the West Coast of the United States. This is a direct result of its attractive geographic features. It has an active Community Emergency Response Team training program, that trains citizens as FEMA-Certified Disaster Service Workers as a part of a free program run by the fire department's Office of Emergency Services.

The beach was naturally constructed by the Santa Ana River's delta. Some of the most attractive settled areas of Huntington Beach lie beneath the 100-year and 50-year flood zone. Some parts of the delta require powered pumping to remove water during heavy rains. Some parts do not drain effectively at all, and in these areas, local flooding is common during heavy rain.

In 1926, the Santa Ana River dam failed, and flash-flooded its entire delta. The southern oceanic terminus of this delta is now a settled area of Huntington Beach. The flood and dam-endangered areas are protected by a levee, but lenders require expensive flood insurance in the delta. The distant dam is still functional, but silting up, which is expected to reduce its storage volume, and therefore its effectiveness at flood-prevention.

Since it is a seaside city, Huntington Beach has had tsunami warnings, storm surge (its pier has been rebuilt three times), sewage disgorgements, tornados and waterspouts. The cold offshore current prevents hurricanes.

Large fractions of the settled delta are in earthquake liquefaction zones above known active faults. Most of the local faults are named after city streets.

Many residents (and even city hall) live within sight and sound of active oil extraction and drilling operations. These occasionally spew oil, causing expensive clean-ups. Large parts of the developed land have been contaminated by heavy metals from the water separated from oil. The local oil has such extreme mercury contamination that metalic mercury is regularly drained from oil pipelines and equipment. Oil operations increase when the price of oil rises. Some oil fields have been approved for development. The worst-polluted areas have been reclaimed as parks. At least one superfund site, too contaminated to be a park, is at the junction of Magnolia and Hamilton streets, near Edison High School.

The city's Emergency Operations Coordinator has said that in a nuclear war, the city would probably be severely damaged in a first-strike against military targets. Huntington Beach adjoins the U.S. Navy's Seal Beach Naval Weapons Center. Since the center stores munitions, and these are believed to include nuclear weapons, the Center is likely to be first-strike target for ground-burst thermonuclear weapons. Huntington Beach would almost certainly suffer severe collateral damage. It is within the severe damage zones for any but the smallest nuclear weapons. Huntington Beach also includes a very large Boeing installation, which is an attractive strategic target.

External links



There are several attractions and well-known resorts in the city of Huntington Beach, CA.

  1. The Hilton Resort in Huntington Beach (the older of the two resorts)
  2. The Hyatt Resort and Spa, very new with several swimming pools ~110,100 ft² (10,000 m²)
  3. The Surfing Museum in downtown Huntington Beach
  4. Downtown, including many local surf shops, cafes, and restaurants.
  5. The pier that goes off mainstreet and into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier is a restaurant called Ruby's.
  6. The Beaches and world class surfing. Surfing competitions are held here each year.

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