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city, Los Angeles county, southwestern California, U.S. North of the city of Los Angeles, Palmdale lies at the southern end of Antelope Valley. The area was first settled in the 1880s, when the towns of Harold and Palmenthal were formed, the former by railroad workers and the latter by settlers of Swiss and German descent from Nebraska and Illinois. The two towns were abandoned after several years of dry weather (which made farming difficult), and the city of Palmdale was formed in 1899. It was a small farming community until the mid-20th century, when, with nearby Lancaster, it became a focus for industrial development, chiefly aircraft assembly and electronic research; in the 1990s, with the rapid economic expansion of Antelope Valley, it was one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Angeles National Forest is south of the city, and Edwards Air Force Base is northeast. Inc. 1962. Pop. (1990) 68,842; (2000) 116,670.