The Tehachapi area is known for the nearby Tehachapi Loop (a popular railfan site), Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm, The Indian Point Ostrich Ranch, the Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park and Tomi-Kahni Resource Center (Native American), and excellent air conditions for gliding. Ten miles to the west at Keene, is the National Chavez Center, established to share the legacy of Cesar Chavez.
The California Correctional Institution maximum security prison, also known as Tehachapi State Prison, is in the area; as is proximity to Edwards Air Force Base (40 miles to the east).
The Errea House, originally built in the early 1870s in Tehichipa, was moved to Techachapi in 1900 and is now a museum; it is also listed on the NRHP.
The Kawaiisu people (also Nuwu (“people” in Kawaiisu), or Nuooah) are the Native American tribe whose homeland was the Tehachapi Valley, and seasonally the southern Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert, for thousands of years.
One possibility for the origin of the name Tehachapi comes from the Kawaiisu language. It may be derived from the word for “hard climb” or tihachipia, according to the Tomi-Kahni Resource Center. The settlement has been formerly known and spelled as: Tehachapai; Tehachapa; Tehachepi; Tehachipi; and Summit Station.
Previously known as ‘Old Town’, Tehachapi was established in the 1860s. It is now registered as California Historical Landmark #643 for being the oldest settlement in the Tehachapi Valley.
Construction of the original Southern Pacific-SP railroad depot was the beginning of the downtown core. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)—and was the oldest building in downtown Tehachapi until it burned in June 2008. The building had been in the final stages of becoming a museum. It has since been rebuilt using the original plans with only minor modifications to meet modern building codes. The new depot was dedicated on June 5, 2010.
On July 21, 1952 Tehachapi was devastated by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake on the little-known White Wolf Fault.
The population was 14,414 at the 2010 census, up from 10,957 at the 2000 census.
Census Pop. %±
1890 255 —
1910 385 —
1920 458 19.0%
1930 736 60.7%
1940 1,264 71.7%
1950 1,685 33.3%
1960 3,161 87.6%
1970 4,211 33.2%
1980 4,126 −2.0%
1990 5,791 40.4%
2000 10,957 89.2%
2010 14,414 31.6%
Est. 2016 12,495 −13.3%
U.S. Decennial Census
The 2010 United States Census reported that Tehachapi had a population of 14,414. The population density was 1,445.7 people per square mile (558.2/km²).
The racial makeup of Tehachapi was 9,426 (65.4%) White, 1,297 (9.0%) African American, 206 (1.4%) Native American, 238 (1.7%) Asian, 21 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 2,725 (18.9%) from other races, and 501 (3.5%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5,466 persons (37.9%).
The Census reported that 8,487 people (58.9% of the population) lived in households, 6 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 5,921 (41.1%) were institutionalized.
There were 3,121 households, out of which 1,199 (38.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,504 (48.2%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 418 (13.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 181 (5.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 194 (6.2%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 18 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 879 households (28.2%) were made up of individuals and 428 (13.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72. There were 2,103 families (67.4% of all households); the average family size was 3.34.
The population was spread out with 2,599 people (18.0%) under the age of 18, 1,542 people (10.7%) aged 18 to 24, 5,891 people (40.9%) aged 25 to 44, 3,115 people (21.6%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,267 people (8.8%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.4 years. For every 100 females there were 234.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 283.0 males.
There were 3,539 housing units at an average density of 354.9 per square mile (137.0/km²), of which 1,841 (59.0%) were owner-occupied, and 1,280 (41.0%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 12.2%. 4,913 people (34.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 3,574 people (24.8%) lived in rental housing units.
As of the census of 2000, there are 10,957 people, 2,533 households, and 1,709 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,144.0 people per square mile (441.6/km²). There are 2,914 housing units at an average density of 304.2 per square mile (117.4/km²).
The racial makeup of the city is 57.17% White, 13.80% Black or African American, 1.35% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 23.82% from other races, and 2.97% from two or more races. 32.70% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 2,533 households out of which 35.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.5% are married couples living together, 14.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% are non-families. 28.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 13.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.59 and the average family size is 3.19.
In the city, the population is spread out with 18.5% under the age of 18, 12.9% from 18 to 24, 42.7% from 25 to 44, 16.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 33 years. For every 100 females there are 224.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 270.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $29,208, and the median income for a family is $40,030. Males have a median income of $50,446 versus $26,023 for females. The per capita income for the city is $18,220. 20.4% of the population and 17.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 24.5% of those under the age of 18 and 15.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.