Rowland Heights is an affluent unincorporated community and census-designated place of , located in and below the Puente Hills in the San Gabriel Valley, in Los Angeles County, California. The population of the census-designated place (CDP) was 48,993 at the 2010 census, up from 48,553 at the 2000 census. Because Rowland Heights is an unincorporated community instead of an incorporated city, it is dependent upon County of Los Angeles representation (County Board of Supervisors).
The Mexican land grant Rancho La Puente was granted to John Rowland and William Workman in 1842. In 1868, John Rowland and William Workman divided Rancho La Puente, leaving Rowland the eastern half and Workman the western half. Rowland Heights was originally part of the Workman Temple homestead in California's rancho days. The original John A. Rowland homestead was behind the 99 Ranch Market near the corner of Gale Avenue and Nogales Street.
Rowland Heights has grown significantly during the 1990s. Originally built on a pig farm that covered much of modern day Rowland Heights, the Rowland Homestead was mostly orange groves until the eastward sprawl from Los Angeles spawned working-class communities and affordable housing developments then formed. As the 60 freeway was extended beyond the western boundary, the community continued growth equal to that of most communities in Southern California. Development next to the freeway, zoned for industrial investment, eventually helped to support the housing developments that continue well into the 21st century.
Since the 1990s, there has been a significant demographic shift as many upper-middle-class to even higher class immigrants from Taiwan, China, and South Korea have settled in the hillside homes of Rowland Heights (and in neighboring regions such as Hacienda Heights, Walnut, and Diamond Bar). Also, Rowland Heights has also attracted immigrants from mainland China because the area is advertised in China as having good homes and convenient shopping centers. Additionally, Latinos have maintained a long-standing presence in the lower sections. The city has developed an eclectic suburban "Chinatown" and "Koreatown", mostly in the form of upscale strip malls on Colima Road, with another concentration around Nogales Street. There are several large Asian supermarkets - such as a 99 Ranch Market (billed as the chain's largest location during the late 1980s), Hong Kong Supermarket, and Monterey Park-based Shun Fat Supermarket (a relatively recent development that replaced Vons market) - in the area. Also there are Korean supermarkets such as Galleria Market (formerly known as DoReMi Market/HanGook Market) and Greenland Market.
Once predominantly Anglo and Hispanic since inception in 1842, this area has gradually become one of the Chinese centers in the greater Los Angeles beginning in the 1990s. Originally formed by the stream of business expansions from Monterey Park (now a heavily mainland Chinese enclave), which is the undisputed "Chinatown" of Los Angeles, Rowland Heights has become an area comparable to a "Chinatown" by itself largely populated by Taiwanese. Local Taiwanese refer to Rowland Heights as "Little Taipei", due to its high concentration of Taiwanese restaurants and businesses. It has become the center for Chinese commercial and cultural activity in the southeastern region of the San Gabriel Valley. While Rowland Heights and adjacent areas are still predominantly Waishengren (mainland Chinese refugees who retreated to Taiwan in 1949), in recent years many mainland Chinese emigres have also been increasingly purchasing homes and starting small businesses in the area. As an example, some eateries of Taiwanese cuisine are now actually operated by mainland Chinese. Additionally, there are several popular eateries in the area, including Supreme Dragon (serving mainland Chinese noodle and dumplings), a Taiwanese-style food court inside a strip mall, and Happy Harbor Seafood Restaurant (inside of the 99 Ranch Market center) as well as several trendy restaurants geared toward the young and affluent Asian population such as a large Thai restaurant called Coconut Bay Bar & Grill across from 99 Ranch Supermarket.
Possibly owing to Rowland Heights as evolving into the cultural center for the Chinese diaspora,
mostly 49er Taiwanese (multi-generational natives of the island formerly known as Formosa), with a growing number of mainland Chinese - and as the connection to and from northern Orange County (mostly to the city of La Habra), Fullerton Road in Rowland Heights is among the heavily traversed roads in the region.
In March 2012, Rowland Heights became a popular site when a , two-story granite rock was parked on Pathfinder Road. This rock, which originated from Riverside County, was travelling on its way to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass exhibition.
As with most housing patterns in the Southland, pricier homes are usually found on the nearby hills, as well as with the S&S Homes built in the late 80s and 90s, while more affordable housing is located closer to the freeways. In this case, these are located near Highway 60 by the City of Industry.