Montclair Was Incorporated In 1956 As Monte Vista

In 1897, Mrs. Edward Fraser pushed for the creation of “The Township of Marquette,” lying between Pomona to the West and Ontario to the east, for the purpose of developing the property there.
In the early 1900s Emil Firth, a Los Angeles land developer, renamed a 1,000-acre land tract in the area containing Marquette “Monte Vista.” All of the tracts were laid out in 10- 20- and 40-acre lots with special terms as enticements to plant orchards and build homes. The tract opened in 1907, with the first settlement within it called Narod, at a latitude 34.058 and longitude of 117.685, located between what is today Benson Avenue and Vernon Avenue just north of Mission Boulevard. Among the buildings which made up the settlement was a large orange-packing house, the Little White Church of Narod, a hotel and a dry goods store.  The quality of goods at Narod Market attracted shoppers from Ontario and Pomona.
Following the boom after World War II, residents of the Monte Vista Land Tract feared annexation by Ontario, Upland or Chino, and formed the Monte Vista Improvement Association as part of an effort to control their destiny.
In response to a petition by local residents, the district’s first fire department was formed by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors in 1948, and in 1949 a $50,000 bond issue was approved to construct a station and buy equipment. In 1950 the station was completed and housed two fire trucks. The department employed three full-time firefighters and 13 who were on call.
In 1956, the residents of the Monte Vista Land Tract were asked to vote on an incorporation proposal in that year’s April 10 election. The formation of the City of Monte Vista, with a total population of 8,008 and a land area of 4.2 square miles, was approved by a vote of 682 to 455. Consolidated with that vote was the selection of a city council. James West, who was an orange grower and pest control company operator, was chosen mayor by virtue of his being the top voter-getter with 482 votes. Paul Frame, a real estate broker and builder who polled 421 votes; Miller Buchanan, a poultryman who garnered 404 votes; Glen Wolf, the proprietor of an equipment sales and rental business who brought in 386 votes and Dana Pankey, a minister who claimed 355 votes, were elected to the four council positions.
The council members-elect held informal meetings at West’s home. On April 25, 1956 Montclair was certified by the state of California as a general law city. The first official meeting was held on May 8, 1956, in a former butcher shop owned by Phil Hurst at 5326 San Bernardino Avenue. Henry Busch was selected as Montclair’s city attorney, and the council moved to hire Larry O’Rourke, who had been acting as city administrator, to serve as the city manager and city clerk. Ben Smith was appointed chief of police and shortly afterwards a staff of four patrolmen and one woman dispatcher were hired. At the end of its first year of existence the City of Monte Vista had ten full-time employees.
Two years later, because there was another community in California using the name Monte Vista, the city’s name would be changed to Montclair, which was approved by the city’s voters on April 8, 1958.
On April 25, 1964, the city’s current civic center, located at Benito and Fremont, was dedicated.

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