Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Lake Havasu City is a lakeside city located in the Mohave County of the US State of Arizona. The area in which the city is situated was once just an expanse of desert. But in the mid-20th century, a business tycoon visiting the area believed that it had the potential to become a thriving city. He purchased land in the area, and Lake Havasu City was set up within the next twenty years. The city is now a popular tourist destination among outdoor adventurers and people who want a break from big city life and cold weather. Indeed, Lake Havasu City attracts more than 835,000 visitors annually.

Geography Of Lake Havasu City

View of Lake Havasu, Arizona.
View of Lake Havasu, Arizona, taken from the London Bridge. Editorial credit: Pamela Au / Shutterstock.com

Lake Havasu City is located on Arizona’s side of the California-Arizona border. As its name implies, the city is located on the eastern shore of Lake Havasu, which is part of the Colorado River. Across the lake from the city is Chemehuevi Native American Reservation. Adjacent to Lake Havasu City, in the northwest, is the small town of Desert Hills. Further to the northwest is the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Overlooking Lake Havasu City are the Mohave Mountains, which parallel the southeast-flowing stretch of the Colorado River. The lakeside coastline of Lake Havasu City consists mainly of two state parks: Lake Havasu State Park in the north and Havasu Riviera State Park in the south. Lake Havasu’s city limits also consist of an island in the lake, referred to simply as “the Island.” This island is linked to the city’s mainland by London Bridge, which was relocated from London, England. Lake Havasu City covers a total area of 120.14 sq. km, of which 0.12 sq. km is occupied by water and 120.02 sq. km is occupied by land. 

Demography And Economy Of Lake Havasu City

Aerial view of the Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
Aerial view of Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Lake Havasu City has a population of 57,555 residents. More than 93% of these residents are White, of which 79.7% are non-Hispanic, and 13.7% are Hispanic. Other Hispanic residents make up 2.52% of the population, while residents of mixed racial heritage make up 1.38%, Native Americans 1.26%, and Asians 1.06%. More than 89% of Lake Havasu City’s residents speak only English, and 9% speak Spanish. Over 92% of the city’s population was born in the United States, while nearly 16% was born in the city itself. The average household income in Lake Havasu City is $70,306, while the city’s poverty rate is 10.34%. The most significant economic sectors in Lake Havasu City regarding the number of employees are Retail trade, healthcare & social assistance, and accommodation & food services.

Attractions In Lake Havasu City

Hot Air Balloons over London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
Hot Air Balloons over London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. 

Arguably, Lake Havasu City’s biggest claim to fame is the London Bridge. This bridge was originally built across the Thames River in London, England, in 1831. It replaced the original London Bridge, a stone bridge constructed in 1209. However, by the early 20th century,  the second London Bridge was sinking under the weight of heavy automobile traffic. In fact, by 1924, the bridge's east side was about 9-12 cm lower than the west side. Thus, London Bridge would need to be rebuilt once again, though instead of destroying the bridge that needed to be replaced, London’s leaders decided to try and make money selling it. In 1967, the London Community Council began to seek out potential buyers for the London Bridge. The winning bid was that of Lake Havasu City’s founder, Robert McCulloch, who bought the bridge for $2.4 million. The bridge was dismantled, and its 10,276 exterior granite blocks were shipped to Lake Havasu City. Once rebuilt across the Bridgewater Channel to “the Island,” the bridge was rededicated in a ceremony on October 10, 1971, which was attended by over 50,000 American and British spectators and other dignitaries.

Other Attractions

Tourists enjoying in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Tourists enjoy in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. 

Most of Lake Havasu City’s other attractions attract tourists looking for hot, sunny weather and outdoor adventures. These attractions include more than 643 km of coastline on which many sandy beaches straddle the turquoise waters of Lake Havasu. These beaches can be used for swimming during most of the year, not to mention other activities on the water. For visitors who enjoy birdwatching, the city is home to more than 355 species of desert birds, many of which can be found in two nearby wildlife refuges. Other outdoor activities that people can enjoy in and around Lake Havasu City include star-gazing, meteorite-hunting, rock-hounding, hiking, fishing, golfing, and off-roading.

History Of Lake Havasu City

Sculpture of Robert McCulloch and C.V. Wood Jr. in Lake Havasu City
Sculpture of Robert P. McCulloch Sr, Founder and C.V. Wood Jr., Master Planner of London Bridge at Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Editorial credit: Laurens Hoddenbagh / Shutterstock.com

What is now Lake Havasu City was once just an empty expanse of the Arizona desert. Lake Havasu itself was formed by constructing a dam on the Colorado River between 1934 and 1938. During World War II, the shores of Lake Havasu hosted an Army Air Corp rest camp. In 1958, a business tycoon named Robert McCulloch purchased 13.57 sq. km of property on the lake's eastern shore along Pittsburgh Point, the peninsula that eventually would be transformed into "the Island." Four years later, McCulloch purchased another 13.57 sq. km of federal land in the surrounding region. On September 30, 1963, the Mojave County Board of Supervisors established the Lake Havasu Irrigation and Drainage District, thereby making the land that would become Lake Havasu City a legal entity. To sell the land he had purchased and create the thriving city that he envisioned, McCulloch organized a series of air charters to bring potential land buyers to the area. He targeted mainly people who lived in colder climates in marketing his property. Shortly after the last parcel of land was sold in 1978, Lake Havasu City was officially incorporated. Just two years after it was founded, Lake Havasu City already had a population of 17,000. The city’s population grew at a steady pace of 1,000 residents per year from this point onwards. By the year 2000, the population of Lake Havasu City was just shy of 42,000. Many people who moved to the city did so to escape big city life and enjoy the beautiful Arizona weather. In 1971, Lake Havasu City’s famous London Bridge was completed. As its name indicates, the bridge originally came from London, England. It was then reconstructed over a dry piece of land. This land was then dredged underneath the bridge to create what is now known as the Bridgewater Channel and “the Island” across the bridge.

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