Moreno Valley is a city located in Riverside County California. With a 2020 population of 211,688, it is the 20th largest city in California and the 114th largest city in the United States. Moreno Valley is currently growing at a rate of 0.73% annually and its population has increased by 1.41% since the most recent census, which recorded a population of 208,751 in 2020. Spanning over 51 miles, Moreno Valley has a population density of 4,130 people per square mile.
The average household income in Moreno Valley is $78,656 with a poverty rate of 14.03%. The median rental costs in recent years comes to $1,587 per month, and the median house value is $335,700. The median age in Moreno Valley is 30.9 years, 30.1 years for males, and 31.9 years for females.
Moreno Valley is located in Riverside County, California about 16 miles south of San Bernardino. The city is part of the San Bernardino-Riverside Metro Area, also known as the Inland Empire, which has a metro population estimated at 4.2 million. Moreno Valley is one of the ten largest cities in the Inland Empire which usually refers to all of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Moreno Valley also belongs to the Greater Los Angeles area which is the second-largest metropolitan area in the United States with an estimated population of 18.8 million.
Diversity and Population Statistics
Moreno Valley has a diverse ethnic and racial makeup. Since the 1990s, African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos have replaced the White non-Hispanic majority. The city is home to many immigrants from Southeast Asia, Central America, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. The city is home to a community of Samoans who settled largely in Sunnymead. Between 2006 and 2007, the black population of Moreno Valley increased by 13% as many African-American families left Los Angeles County for a lower cost of living and greater opportunities. During the same time, Latinos became the majority.
When Moreno Valley became a city in 1984, it had a population of 49,700, up from just 18,800 in 1970. Rapid growth led to a population of more than 118,000 within just six years. By 1990, Moreno Valley was the second largest city in Riverside County. Throughout the 1990s, Moreno Valley was one of the fastest growing cities in the United States.
While Moreno Valley is no longer growing as rapidly as it did in the 1980s and 1990s, it continues to see sizable growth due to the rising cost of living in Orange and Los Angeles Counties. In 2018, Riverside County ranked as the top county in California for population growth with a county-wide population growth of more than 27,000 people.
As a city, Moreno Valley’s history is fairly short. The region was settled in the 1880s by farmers who depended on water from Frank Brown’s Bear Valley Land and Water Company which pumped water from nearby Bear Valley. The first townsite in Moreno Valley was located near today’s Van Buren Boulevard -- a road then called the Road to Temecula which later became part of the I-215 highway. The directors and officers of the company named the town Moreno in honor of Frank Brown as “moreno” is Spanish for “brown.” By the 1890s, the area was called Moreno Valley.
The whole valley was practically deserted by the 1900s after a severe drought and increased water demands from agriculture decreased the water supply. In 1900, the area was called the “City on Wheels” as steam-powered tractors hauled about 100 homes every year down to Riverside. Moreno Valley was revived in 1918 when the U.S. Air Force built March Field outside of Riverside to train fighter pilots. March Field eventually became a full Air Force base and its presence allowed Moreno and nearby unincorporated communities to grow.
Moreno Valley grew rapidly during the 1980s when the City of Moreno Valley was incorporated and absorbed the towns of Edgemont, Sunnymead, and Moreno.