During the early 1970s, Duarte was so poor that it had to use hand-me-down stop signs from Arcadia.
Then the city took advantage of new redevelopment laws, tore down old structures and built commercial developments and housing. By the mid-1980s the city was "full of new people and full of hope," civic leaders said in asking that Duarte be named an All-American City.
On Monday, the Denver-based National Civic League recognized the resurgence, selecting Duarte, population 20,688, as a finalist for its 42nd All-America City Award.
The league was established in 1894 by Theodore Roosevelt and others to promote citizen participation in solving community problems.
A 16-member screening committee reviewed 97 applications before selecting 30 cities ranging from Anacortes, Wash., to Shoreham, R.I. Only two other California cities, Lynwood and Modesto, were named finalists.