Montebello is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, in the southwestern part of the San Gabriel Valley. It is located on 8.4 sq mi (22 km2) of land just 8 mi (13 km) east of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities, and the city is a member of the Gateway Cities Council of Governments. The name, Montebello, means “Beautiful mountain” in both Italian and Spanish. In the early 20th century, Montebello was a well-known source for oil reserves. The population was 62,500 at the 2010 census; according to the California Department of Finance, the estimated population of Montebello on January 1, 2011, was 62,789.
Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the land along the Rio Hondo River was populated by the Tongva (Gabrielino) part of the Uto-Aztecan family Native Americans. The Tongva occupied much of the Los Angeles basin and the islands of Santa Catalina, San Nicolas, San Clemente and Santa Barbara. When the Spanish explorer Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo arrived off the shores of Santa Catalina, the Tongva came out in their canoes to meet with him in 1542. The language of the Tongva was different from the neighboring Indian tribes and it was called Gabrielino by the Spanish. The Gabrielinos lived in dome-like structures with thatched exteriors. Both sexes wore long hair styles and tattooed their bodies. During warm weather the men wore little clothing, but the women would wear minimal skirts made of animal hides. During the cold weather they would wear animal skin capes. European diseases killed many of the Tongva and by 1870 the area had few remaining native inhabitants.
Franciscan Missionaries, Fathers Angel Somera and Pedro Cambon, founded the original Mission San Gabriel Arcangel on September 8, 1771 near where San Gabriel Boulevard intersects the Rio Hondo River. Additionally, it is also close to the present day Sanchez Adobe Mansion. This marked the beginning of the Los Angeles region's settlement by Spaniards. The San Gabriel Mission is the fourth of twenty-one missions that would ultimately be established along California's El Camino Real. The San Gabriel mission did well as a cattle ranch and farm, but six years after its founding a destructive flood led the mission fathers to relocate the establishment to its current location farther north in present day city of San Gabriel. The original mission site is now marked by a California Historical Landmark.