The city constitutes part of the Gateway Cities and is home to approximately 84,000 people.
During the Mexican-American War, a man named Pio Rico the last Mexican governor of California owned much of the land that comprises today's Whitter.
Pio Pico built a large hacienda on the San Gabriel River, which is today known as Pio Rico State Historic Park. After the war, German immigrant Jacob F. Gerkens acquired 160 acres of land in the area and built a cabin known today as the Jonathan Bailey House. A few years later, Gerken became the first chief of police of the Los Angeles Police Department. His land was eventually bought by a group of Quakers, whom developed the land into a thriving citrus ranching region, producing the Quaker Brand. The Quaker Brand fruit was shipped all over the country, and when walnut trees were planted, Whitter also became the largest walnut grower in the United States. After the addition of the railroad and World War II, Whitter burgeoned. Housing shortages in southern California contributed to the growing of the city, and in 1955, the new Civic Center was completed. By 1961, the city was home to around 67,000 people. Whittier was named after one of the Quaker religious group's poets, John Greenleaf Whittier. Mr. Whittier wrote a poem in honor of the city, and his relevance to the city's history is honored with statues and a small exhibit at the Whittier Museum. One of his statues can be found in Whittier's Central Park, and the other, Barefoot Boy (previously placed in City Hall), displays his poem The Barefoot Boy. While John Greenleaf Whittier never actually set foot there, the city still bears his name as it is rooted in the Quaker tradition.
Whittier is home to the Whittier College (former Whittier Academy), which was built in 1891 and is nicknamed The Poet. By 1906, the college was a modern educational institution with laboratories, boarding halls, a large gymnasium and athletic fields; but due to the economic depression, the first bachelors degrees weren't awarded until 17 years later. The Whittier College Campus is also home to the historic Mendenhall building, which was donated by Leona May Mendenhall in honor of her husband. The Mendenhalls were among the founding families of Whittier, and the building is of great historic significance to the city.
Modern day Whittier comprises several distinct neighborhoods. Uptown Whittier is the traditional central business core, and above it is the neighborhoods of Central Park and Hadley-Greenleaf. Both have been designated historic districts, and contain many beautiful Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival homes. The other neighborhoods are East Whittier, Friendly Hills, Murphy Ranch and Leffingwell Ranch. The area farthest east of Whittier is sometimes called Sunglow.
Shopping and dining can be enjoyed at the Whittwood Town Centre, which features numerous large tenants like JC Penney, Target, Sears and Vons, as well as number of restaurants including Carino's Italian.
Finally, it is worth knowing that Whittier boasts a little bit of fame as well, as it has been the backdrop for several movies and television shows in the past. Some of the better-known productions include Back to the Future, Father of the Bride II, Terminator 3, and more recently, the TV-series True Blood.