Sitting snug by Santa Ana river in Riverside County, California, 51 miles east of LA, with an area of 14.3 square miles and an estimated 26,700 residents, Norco is home to several hundred acres of parkland and one of the biggest horse trail networks in the country. City architecture follows a Western theme with rural, traditional, and informal influences with heavy equestrian orientation. The locals’ love for animal-keeping, particularly horses, have earned their city the nickname of Horsetown USA.
Before Horsetown USA found its place as part of the $100 billion American horse industry, Norco, short for North Corona and named after the North Corona Land Co., was a young settlement that opened its gates on May 13th, 1923. “Norco, the Vale of Dreams Come True” as the LA Times called it before its grand-opening, was the culmination of developer Rex Clark’s vision of an idealistic community of farmers and ranchers harvesting rewards of their hard work and labor without any boss lording over them, cramped city apartments, and polluted air. This was a refuge for people who had had enough of the increasing commercialized city life and were looking to make their own way in the world. Norco was officially incorporated as a city in Riverside County on December 28th, 1964.
Before its incorporation as a city, the settlement of Norco grew at a gradual pace over a period of 4 decades. The census of 1950 recorded a population of 1,584 people, the number growing to about 5,000 by the end of the next decade. After its incorporation, however, the city saw rapid growth with the census of 1970 recording a population increase of 192% and official population figures as 14,511. That number has increased over the decades with the last census carried out in 2010 recording a population of 27,063. However, the United States Census Bureau’s population and housing unit estimates from 2016 estimate a fall of 1.3% in population for the first time.
Figures from the 2010 census record a population density of 1,895.4 residents per square mile. Racial makeup of Norco was recorded as follows:
- White: 19.9%
- Non-Hispanic White: 56.4%
- African American: 7%
- Native American: 0.9%
- Asian: 3.1%
- Pacific Islander: 0.2%
- Other Races: 9.3%
- Mixed (Two or More Races): 3.2%
Government and Representation
In order to safeguard its animal-keeping rights, Norco switched to being a charter city in 2003, governed not by general law, but in accordance with its own charter. The charter retained all of the California State’s General Law provisions except those relating to animal-keeping rights, lot-sizes, and horse trails. A majority vote of 4 out of 5 in the City Council is required to modify ordinances pertaining to these topics.
Norco sits in the 31st Senate District in the State Legislature and in the 60th Assembly District. Democrat Richard Roth performs duties of State Senator, and Democrat Sabrina Cervantes serves as Assemblyman. In the US House of Representatives where Norco holds 42nd position in California Sate’s congressional districts, Republican Ken Calvert serves as Congressman.
Community & Business in Horsetown USA
Norco prides itself in being a close community of like-minded animal loving residents that cherish small town family values and are actively involved in community schools, civic groups and churches. Its geographic placement on the I-15 Freeway headed to Los Angeles has also made Norco ideal for conducting business, with the residents’ nurturing small town values enhancing the city’s business model. City officials work in coalition with the business community to nurture and safeguard a dynamic business culture and further economic development. This has resulted in a culture-rich community that cherishes education, technological developments, recreation, and commerce.
With focus on, education, technology and civic values, the city’s biggest employers are the Corona-Norco Unified School District, the California Rehabilitation Center, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
The Corona-Norco Unified Schools District employs over 5,000 people, and Norco College, a Riverside Community College campus, serves over 10,000 students from Norco and adjoining cities. It’s renowned for its Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, which has the distinction of being among the first of its scope and scale in the State of California. Recognized as the technology campus of the District, Norco College has become an enormous resource for the local business community.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Corona is responsible for conducting quality assurance and reliability tests on naval weapon systems to assess if they’re combat-ready. The center employs over 1000 people.
Residents of Norco have long adopted an animal-loving, horse breeding lifestyle, making it one of Norco’s primary resources and scoring it a distinguishable place in America’s profitable horse industry. Animal lovers in Norco manage the Norco Animal Rescue Team which was formed in the aftermath of the 2003 San Bernardino and San Diego wildfires to provide safe haven to animals being evacuated from affected areas. It now continues its task of rescuing animals from perilous situations and from areas affected by natural disasters and threats, mobilizing at all considerable fire-threats in the area since 2014.
Norco became Horsetown USA in 2006 when it initiated a series of promotions popularizing the title, and was later granted a federal trademark. The Horsetown logo now overlooks the city entrance with horse murals and statues adorning street corners, town squares, and real-estate. Horsetown USA is augmented by a characteristic Western appearance stretched along Sixth Street, horse-trails sprawling across neighborhoods and commercial districts, and hitching posts and horse crossings scattered across the city. The refreshingly Western lifestyle of Norco’s equestrian community has had a massive influence in promoting the hospitality industry. Equestrian parks and sports centers like the George Ingalls Equestrian Event Center stretching over 44 acres, and SilverLakes Sports Complex enhance the city’s tourism appeal and solidify its position as a sports and recreational destination. These sports centers host various national and regional tournaments as well as international events, which has attracted a number of developers, restaurateurs and hotel chains to the area, bringing on a new phase of economic growth for the city.