The land Montclair rests on today was used as community land for grazing and watering cattle well into the 1890s. In 1907, a land developer named Emil Firth purchased 1,000 acres west of modern day Upland and named it Monte Vista. Firth subdivided the land for sale with orchards and residence development in mind. The southern portion of Monte Vista became the settlement of Narod and shared the citrus orchard culture representative of the Pomona Valley from 1890-1945. As World War II's end brought Monte Vista a population and housing boom, Ontario residents attempted to annex the area during the early 1950s with their own city growth in mind. Monte Vista's residents refused and instead incorporated as the city of Monte Vista in 1956 but wass forced to rename two years later because the federal government would not grant the city a post office in anticipation of potential mailing conflicts with a Northern California city also named Monte Vista. The city held a "Name Your Community Contest" in search of a new name, upon which Montclair was chosen after a resident survey.
In 1964, Montclair began work with land developers for the construction of Montclair Plaza. The result was a successful indoor mall that saw major expansion in 1985 with the addition of a second floor. The mall's popularity continually drew commerce east, away from the city of Pomona. When Victoria Gardens, an open air mall, city center, and public library, opened further east in Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair Plaza's own popularity declined, resulting in remodel work in 2008 and the malls' rebranding as Montclair Place in 2015.
Montclair is located very close to private universities/colleges, including the Claremont Colleges, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and local community colleges such as Mt. San Antonio Community College, just to name a few.