Covina is a small city in Los Angeles County, California, about east of downtown Los Angeles, in the San Gabriel Valley region. The population was 47,796 at the 2010 census, up from 46,837 at the 2000 census. The city's slogan, "One Mile Square and All There", was coined when the incorporated area of the city was only (some say slightly less than) one square mile, making it the smallest city in area in the country.
Covina is often confused with West Covina which is actually larger in both area and population, located to its south and westside. Irwindale lies to the west, as well as the unincorporated area of Vincent, and the city of Baldwin Park. Azusa and Glendora are to the north, the unincorporated community of Charter Oak to the northeast, San Dimas to the east, the unincorporated areas of Ramona and Via Verde, and the city of Pomona to the southeast.
The city was founded in 1882 by Joseph Swift Phillips, on a tract that was purchased from the John Edward Hollenbeck holdings. Hollenbeck purchased the failed coffee plantation from 3 Costa Rican brothers, Pedro Maria Badilla, Julian Badilla and Pedro Antonio Badilla, the latter who purchased it from the heirs of John A. Rowland in 1875. The City of Covina was named by a young engineer, Frederick Eaton, who was hired by Phillips to survey the area. Impressed by the way in which the valleys of the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains formed a natural cove around the vineyards that had been planted by the region's earlier pioneers, Eaton merged the words "cove" and "vine", and in 1885, created the name Covina for the new township.
The city’s slogan, “One Mile Square and All There”, was coined by Mrs F. E. Wolfarth, the winner of a 1922 slogan contest sponsored by the chamber of commerce, when the incorporated area of the city was only (some say slightly less than) one square mile, making it the smallest city in area in the country.
The city was incorporated in 1901. It would be orange and grapefruit trees, not vineyards, that would soon blanket the area and make it famous. By 1909, the city was the third largest orange producer in the world, and it still claimed to have “the best oranges in the world” as late as the 1950s. Since World War II, however, the orange groves have been largely replaced by single-family (houses) and multiple-family (apartments) dwellings.
The Covina Valley Historical Society maintains an extensive archive illustrating the city’s history in the 1911-built Firehouse Jail Museum, Covina’s first municipal building, located immediately behind City Hall in Covina’s Old Town.