San Luis Obispo, California Population 2019
San Luis Obispo History
The Chumash people were the original inhabitants of the area that is now San Luis Obispo. In the 18th century, Gaspar de Portola's expedition entered the city. The name at the time was recorded as Canada de Los Osos. During the 1770s, missions were established throughout California, and it was decided that the area known as La Canada de Los Osos would become the fifth mission. In 1772, the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was built, and this would later become San Luis Obispo.
During its earliest history, the mission included a church, storerooms, barracks, the priests’ home, a mill, tannery and land for farming. After the Mexican War of Independence, there was a call for the secularization of California’s missions, although this didn’t occur until the 1830s. In 1834, the mission became a parish, and the land holdings were broken into land grants known as ranchos. Despite the land grants, the community remained in the same place and is now the center of the modern city of San Luis Obispo.
When California was annexed to the U.S. following the Mexican-American War, San Luis Obispo was incorporated as a town and was the first town in San Luis Obispo County. The town quickly earned a reputation of violence because of the robberies and murders that occurred and became known as Tiger-Town.
The town’s economy was thriving in the 1850s as the price of beef rose after gold was discovered. Cattle was a primary driver of the economy until a drought occurred in the 1860s. At that point, more of a focus was put on mined goods, agriculture and dairies.
The city continued to grow with the construction of the Pacific Coast Railway and roads. Growth continued through the 20th century with the addition of many new homes, businesses, and other establishments, although many historic buildings remain intact today. The Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa has been restored, and it is the city center, which is surrounded by shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The city is very appealing to visitors and residents of all ages particularly for its outdoor activities including hiking, diving, sailing, and surfing.
San Luis Obispo Population Statistics
San Luis Obispo has a current estimated population of over 47,000. The city’s total area is just over 13 square miles, and it has a population density of over 3,619 people per square mile.
The largest group is people aged 18 to 24, which make up 34.7% of the population. Over 12% of the population is under the age of 18, while 12% are at least 65 years old. There are more males than females, with 110.2 men for every 100 women. About 26.6% of the population lives below the federal poverty line.
San Luis Obispo has a very diverse economy. Its top employer is California Polytechnic State University, which employs over 2,600 people. Other major employers include the County of San Luis Obispo, California Men’s Colony, Pacific Gas, and Electric and the Cal Poly Corporation.
San Luis Obispo Population Growth
San Luis Obispo’s population has continually grown since it was first established. In 1880, the city’s population was over 2,000. This number had more than doubled to over 5,000 when the 1910 census was taken. By 1950, the population exceeded 14,000 and at the time of the next census, had grown to over 20,000.
The city’s population experienced growth in the double-digit percentages until 2000, when it slowed slightly. However, it is continuing to grow at a steady and slow rate, with recent estimates showing that the population is up 5.3% since the last census was taken in 2010.