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Santa Clarita is near the San Fernando fault zone and was affected by the 1971 San Fernando earthquake, also known as the Sylmar quake.
The city was also affected by the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and many commercial and residential buildings were devastated by its aftermath, including the nearby Newhall Pass, the Valencia Town Center, and Six Flags Magic Mountain.
He purchased a number of the old Spanish and Mexican land grants in the state for a total of 143,000 acres (58,000 ha) between Monterey and Los Angeles counties.
After railroads, Newhall turned to real estate and ranching.
The city has annexed a number of unincorporated areas, contributing to the large population increase. Santa Clarita was incorporated in December 1987 as the union of four unincorporated communities, Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia, most of which are situated on the land of the former Rancho San Francisco.
It is located about 35 miles (56 km) northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and occupies most of the Santa Clarita Valley. The four communities retain separate identities, and it is common for residents to refer to a specific neighborhood when asked where they are from.
The Antelope Valley Freeway (SR-14) runs northeast-southwest through an irregular east border, and the Newhall Pass is the city's southernmost point.
Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park and Stevenson Ranch are both commonly associated with Santa Clarita, but are located just outside the city limits.
Rain falls primarily from December through February.