Lafayette is a city located in Contra Costa County, California. As of 2020, the city’s population is 25,391. The city is part of the larger San Francisco Bay Area and has its station on the BART (Bay Area Public Transit) public transit system. Lafayette is located between Walnut Creek, Moraga, and Orinda, and, together with the latter two towns, is considered locally as part of “Lamorinda”.
Lafayette was named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a French military officer of the American Revolutionary War. In the 1860s, Lafayette was briefly the site of a Pony Express station. In the mid-1900s, Lafayette evolved from an agricultural village into a commuter town and the city was incorporated in 1968.
Lafayette is separated from Berkeley and Oakland by the Berkeley Hills, a geographical boundary located within the East Bay. Much like the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, Lafayette enjoys a mild a Mediterranean climate. However, the climate differences can be striking. Summers are generally warm, dry and very sunny; winters are cool and damp, with occasional freezes. Mornings are foggy. During the summer, temperatures can go beyond 100 °F in Lafayette and its surrounding cities. The areas west of the hills and nearer to the bay can remain up to 20 degrees cooler.
The population density of the 2010 United States Census was 1,552.8 people per square mile. The racial makeup of Lafayette was 84.7% White, 0.7% African American, 0.3% Native American, 9.0% Asian, 2.1% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 4.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race are 5.8% of the population. The population was spread out, with 24.9%) under the age of 18, 5.1% aged 18 to 24, 19.6% aged 25 to 44, 33.8% aged 45 to 64, and 16.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 45.2 years. For every 100 females, there are 94.5 males, and for every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 91.3 males. In 2016, it was reported that the median household income in Lafayette was over $140,000.
The region directly east of the hills from Lafayette is generally known for its more suburban or rural atmosphere. Lafayette’s wildlife includes mixed woods and oak woodlands. The southwestern part of Lafayette has the Lafayette Reservoir, and Briones Regional Park extends into the northern part of Lafayette.
In November 2006, Lafayette area residents began placing crosses on a hill overlooking the Lafayette BART station and Highway 24. They were place to represent and memorialize the American soldiers who have died in the Iraqi war, which at that time was ongoing. By January 2014, there were approximately 6,000 crosses in place. There is also a large sign that displays the total number of deaths. The memorial has generated a lot of public attention, media coverage, and counter-protests due to its visibility below the commuter highway. The memorial is located on public property.