Before proclaiming itself the aerospace capital of the world, the town of Palmdale was an agricultural community. Settlers of Swiss and German descent, moving west from Illinois and Nebraska, populated the area in 1886, and most residents made their living as farmers, growing alfalfa, pears, and apples. After World War II, with the creation of Edwards Air Force Base and U.S. Air Force Plant 42, the region evolved into a center for aerospace and defense activities, with contractors such as McDonnell Douglas, Rockwell, Northrop, and Lockheed establishing factories here. Until the housing crisis and recent recession struck, Palmdale was one of Southern California's fastest-growing cities.
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