Moreno Valley is a city located in Riverside County, California, and is part of the San Bernardino-Riverside Metropolitan Area. A relatively young city, its rapid growth from the late 1980s to the early 2000s made it the second-largest city in Riverside County by population, and one of the Inland Empire's population centers. As of the 2010 census, the population was 193,365. The city is closely tied to Riverside, California, the county seat and largest city in the county, which borders Moreno Valley directly to the west. Moreno Valley is also part of the Greater Los Angeles area.
The city derived its name from the small community of Moreno, which became part of the city of Moreno Valley when the city was incorporated in 1984. Frank E. Brown, one of the people that established the town of Moreno in 1882, declined to have the town named after him, so to honor him instead, the town was named Moreno, Spanish for brown
Moreno Valley is located at a geographic crossroad. To the east lies the San Gorgonio Pass and Coachella Valley; to the south are Lake Perris, Perris, and the San Jacinto Mountains; to the north are the San Bernardino Valley and San Bernardino Mountains. To the west lies neighboring Riverside. It is relatively close to Ontario International Airport.
One of the most visible geographical features in Moreno Valley, visible from almost anywhere in the city, is Box Springs Mountain. This mountain at the northwest end of the city towers over the city, providing a concrete landmark. The face of the mountain that faces the city has a large "M" constructed upon it. This was built privately at the encouragement of the City Council, which argued it would foster unity. The letter is located on public land and is maintained entirely by charity. The letter had lights installed on December 3, 2005 to celebrate Moreno Valley's 21st anniversary of its incorporation and the completion of the repairs of heavy damage to the M, due to excessive rain the year before. The mayor at that time, Bonnie Flickinger, has said that the citizens liked it that way and that the council would try to get it to light up regularly. Between December 2, 2009 and December 6, 2009, Moreno Valley, along with Edison lit up the "M" in celebration of the city's 25th anniversary. Several Eagle Scout projects have been dedicated to maintaining the letter.
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