|Population: 354,000 people|
County: Los Angeles
Palmdale was founded in 1886. The history of appearance of this city is quite curious. About fifty families of emigrants from Germany and Switzerland that had firstly located in the Mid West, decided to move to California. On their way they thought that when they would come across palm trees, the Ocean should be somewhere close. Already being in California – in the Valley of antelopes separated from the ocean by a mountain ridge Saint Gabriele, the immigrants saw trees of a yucca shortleaf, having accepted them by mistake for palm trees, they decided, that they reached the destination and stopped in that place. So there appeared a small village Palmenthal, which founders tried to be engaged in agriculture, but without great success – the hot climate and lack of water affected. Gradually the life in Palmenthal came to full decline, and its population moved closer to the railway being under construction and the station, which received the name Palmdale, i.e. “the palm valley”.
After completing the construction of the Californian aqueduct, business of the local landlords started to flourish, and Palmdale in due time became a prosperous farmer town. Probably even today it would have remained the same, if not the radical turn of the fortune, which occurred in the 1950s. In 1952 the Federal Government bought the local airport with the adjoining areas for creation of the aircraft-industry test center – The U.S. Air Force Plant 42 (USAF Plant 42). A year later the enterprise Skunk Works manufacturing experimental flying devices of company Lockheed Martin was based in Palmdale, and then other giants of the aviation and space industry: Northrop Grumman, Rockwell, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, British Aerospace joined to Lockheed. So Palmdale became a "capital", namely: “The space capital of America” states the motto of the city nowadays. And there is not a slightest exaggeration – even the word "capital" related to Palmdale, doesn’t need quotation marks. During half-a-century history of local aircraft factories dozens of kinds of civil and military planes were manufactured here: L-1011 Tri-Star, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk and F-22 Raptor, B-1B and B-2 Spirit and many other winged machines. American space shuttles are assembled here, and they are coming back here from time to time for repairs and maintenance. The development and testing of new aircrafts, including experimental samples of space hardware that should come to replace Shuttles, never stops here.
Just to give a better understanding of the grandiose scales of the space complex created in the south of California, it should be well added that Edwards Air Force Base is located close to Palmdale, from where new and repaired Shuttles are sent inside cargo Boeings through the entire country to the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dozens of enterprises, scientific centers and proving grounds of private space companies, NASA and US Air Forces can be found in the vicinity of Palmdale, in the area of the Mohave desert. Moreover there is a federal dispatching center in Palmdale itself, which carries out management of flights in the entire western region of the USA.
Owing to space "boom", Palmdale has got into the top 10 list of the most fast-growing cities in the USA: only for the last 20 years the population of Palmdale has grown twelvefold, and its territory – within slightly over than 30 with years since 1962 when Palmdale was founded – has grown 50-fold. Modern Palmdale is one of top-100 cities of the USA greatest in regard to the area it occupies. The Boeing Company constructed a hangar in territory of USAF Plant 42, which is considered to be one of the greatest buildings in the world and which Tom Hanks used to shooting his "Terminal" movie. One can also state another curious fact about the exclusiveness of Palmdale – it is the largest city in America without its own hospital, and only this year they are planning to open a trauma centre in Palmdale.
The City of Lancaster, located in the center of the Antelopes Valley, was found in 1867 at the beginning of the Californian “railway boom.” A historical chain of events in the story of Lancaster, which began with construction of railway station, may be called quite typical for such cities. Even late echoes of the Gold Rush didn’t bypass it – minor traces of gold were spotted in 1898 in hilly area to the north of the city, and gold-diggers rushed there in hope for luck. At the same time, the story of Lancaster is extraordinary in its own way. For example the fact that Lancaster was far not the last city according to the Californian measures that achieved the right to be referred to as an independent city more than 100 years after its establishment – it was incorporated only in 1977. Nearby Lancaster there is Llano Del Rio – one of the few cities-phantoms in Los Angeles district, and also rather unusual – it is not an abandoned settlement of gold diggers, as the majority of others in California, but a former commune, remains of the unsuccessful experiment in construction of "the radiant future" in a village.
Actually Lancaster already merged with its nearest neighbor Palmdale long time ago. But according to some special administrative attribute the world popularity and other laurels of the “space capital” of America were inherited by Palmdale only, and Lancaster was forced “to be content” with the role of a basic city of an Edwards Air Force Base having, by the way, 12 runways (!) and located 20 miles to the north. To immortalize the names of the most outstanding test pilots and the astronauts served at the Edwards AFB in human memory, the Aerospace Walk of Honor was founded in Lancaster in 1990. One of the first obelisks of the Walk was established in honor of General James Doolittle, “Jimmy201D” – a national hero of America, a pilot-expert who made the first-ever absolutely "blind flight" in 1929, and in 1942 revenged Japan for Pearl Harbour, having headed the well-known raid of 16 American bombers to Tokyo. This event has for ever become history of the Second World War under the name of "Doolittle Raid".
However Lancaster has been living not only by aviation. Traditional Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, annual festival of arts and the crafts, named in honour of a golden Californian poppy, stages of the national championship on rally are held. And Hollywood cinematographers do not forget about Lancaster either: shootings of such widely known films as "Terminator 2. Judgment Day" and "Lethal Weapon 3" took place here. Frank Zappa, the legendary rock-musician – an eternal mocker, a philosopher and a "splinter in the society’s body" – started his career in this city. His contribution to musical culture and great figure have been recognized as "equal to Duke Ellington" still during his lifetime.