The community was settled in 1869 by its first known permanent resident, sheep rancher Robert Allison. From the 1860s to 1900 the area was known for sheep and poultry ranching and vegetable crops. In the early 1900s the community acquired its name when large citrus groves were planted and lemon and orange growing and shipping became the area's major industry. By World War II, most of the citrus groves had disappeared and suburbanization had begun. By 1960, most of the easily developable land was gone.
Lemon Grove was incorporated as a general law city in 1977. Now, approximately 26,000 people live in established neighborhoods including single-family homes, condominiums, and apartment buildings. Municipal parks provide recreational opportunities, and schools and churches are scattered throughout the city.
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