Fresno, California

Fresno, the Raisin Capital of the World, is the largest city in the San Joaquin Valley of central California. This thriving metropolis sits midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, a melting pot of nearly a half a million people from many races and cultures. It is the seat of three state universities: the Fresno Pacific University, the California State University Fresno, and the Fresno City College (the state's oldest junior college). The name Fresno is a Spanish word for "ash tree".

Fresno began as a station on Central Pacific RR in 1872. Since its settlement, Fresno's economic growth had been closely tied to irrigated, extensive farming. The city has grown into one of the nation's leading producer of many agricultural produce, including grapes, cotton, tomatoes, wheat, oranges, figs, and lettuce. Its agribusiness is supported by food processing (wine, beer, canned fruits, etc), cattle, and dairy farming as well lumber and mining. Over the years, Fresno has branched out into many more industries. Today, its economic portfolio also includes manufacturing of agricultural chemicals and machinery, vending machines, glass and plastics, computer software, and orthopedic appliances. While agribusiness remains the main fuel of its economy, the city has managed to evolve into a commercial, financial, processing, distribution, and service center in San Joaquin Valley.

Fresno has a lot to offer those who enjoy city life as well as the outdoors. The city also has a bustling nightlife, various places to eat, places to see and can also offer you a great shopping experience. People of any age or any profession will surely find the city exciting and vivacious to their own liking.

Fresno History

Fresno was a name given by the Spanish explorers to the valley along the San Joaquin River. The name, which means "ash tree", referring to the grove of trees along the river banks. The Spanish explorers did not settle the region because the place was considered uninhabitable.

In fact, the settlement of the area that is now Fresno did not begin until after the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1872. Shortly after, a store was opened. The town was built when the entire population of Millerton moved together to the railroad line. Millerton was then located grew along the river banks of San Joaquin River. A massive flooding in 1867 threatened the safety of the community, encouraging many of them to relocate to avoid the possibility of flooding. Many residents were also drawn by the convenience of being near a railroad line.

The railroad builders named the new town, Fresno Station. This was later shortened to Fresno. Two years later, county residents elected to move the county seat from Millerton to Fresno.

The town was laid out on a rough and desert area; the countryside was barren. To transform the country into a fertile farming area, irrigation canals called " church ditches" (named after Morris Church, the first to create such canals) were developed. The irrigated soils allowed for extensive wheat farming. Soon, local farmers as well as French, Italian, and Swiss immigrants also grew grapes by the acres. Grape-growing became the dominant force in Fresno's rapid growth.

In 1875, a devastating drought swept through California, drying the grapes on the vine. To recoup costs, Frances Eisen, the father of Fresno County's wine industry, packed the shriveled grapes and sold them as "Peruvian Delicacies", initiating in the process the raisin industry. In 1885, the city of Fresno was incorporated.

Along with growth were some tragedies. In the 1880s, the city suffered several devastating fires just before it was incorporated. One, in 1882, burned down an entire block. Another took place in 1883.

In 1886, Frank Roeding experiment with cross-fertilization using wasps to grow Smyrna figs. This was the start of another successful industry in the valley. Roeding's fig business was run by his son for many years.

By 1900, Fresno's population had grown to nearly 12,500. Immigrants of the same nationality or place of origin built communities. Soon, ethnic neighborhoods abound in the city. There was Chinatown, Little Armenia, Little Italy, and German Town.

Meanwhile, Fresno's agricultural industry continued to flourish. Many new industries were introduced. In time, the city became the commercial, transportation, and manufacturing center of the increasingly growing San Joaquin Valley.

About Fresno, California

Fresno is more than just a commercial success. It is a community of diverse cultures, blessed with charming historic districts, a thriving art scene, excellent restaurants, vibrant downtown, and a full cultural calendar.

The city also offers some of the most architecturally stunning neighborhoods. The Tower District, located north of downtown Fresno, is a neighborhood built around the Tower Theater. The residences and small shops here feature show unique architectural styles that range from Craftsman Bungalow to Victorian. The Tower District, a National List of Historic Places, still retains its small business character. The Van Ness Extension on Marks and West Avenues is the most upscale neighborhood of Fresno. It offers fantastic views of the bluffs and picturesque river and lake settings. The historic community of Old Fig Garden boasts of lush landscaping and is the site of Fresno's annual "Christmas Tree Lane", one of the US' oldest running Christmas traditions. Southwest of 99 Freeway is the West Side. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Fresno, it showcases homes that date as far back as the 1930s. Though West Side is traditionally associated with the African-American community, the neighborhood is actually a rich mix of cultures.

The City of Fresno is also a city of cultural celebrations. From celebrations honoring the customs of its various communities, to stage performances, to festivals celebrating nature's bounty, the city has it all. For over the last 75 years every spring, the city joins the Bob Matthias Fresno Relays. June calendar includes free biweekly concerts in Woodward Park. July follows this up with the Obon Odori Festival, a Japanese carnival featuring Japanese games, music, food, and dance. Also in July, the High Sierra Regatta, the city's most prestigious boating event, takes place at Huntington Lake. September 16 is Mexican Independence Day, bringing thousands of people to the street to dance to live mariachi or to enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine. October sees tens of thousands of tourists, as people from many cities and townships nearby arrive at the city to join the Big Fresno Fair. There's music, horse racing, trade shows, entertainment, agricultural exhibits, and many more! In December, residents walk up and down the Christmas Tree Lane in the Old Fig Garden.

Fresno is also committed to preserving its history as evident in the rich number of museums in the city. There's the Meux House, the African and American Historical and Cultural Museum, the Legion of Valor Museum, and the Fresno Art Museum. All kinds of arts are embraced in the city, and they can be experienced at the Fresno Grand Opera, the Fresno Philharmonic, Artist's Repertory Theater, and many other historic theaters.

At night, Fresco is just as vibrant as it is during daytime. There's a myriad of dining, wining, music, and entertainment options.

About Fresno County, California

Fresno County, the Garden of the Sun, is the most prosperous agricultural county in the US. Located in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the county extends from foothills of the Sierra California Mountains in the east to the Coast Range in the West. Named by Spanish explorers for two particular ashes that grew in what is now the town of Minkler, the once arid land of Fresno, CA, is now one of country's leading producer of many agricultural crops that include grapes, cotton, apples, figs, oranges, and wheat. Ttotal gross revenue from the 250 crops harvested annually is four billion dollars.

Fresno County is also a melting pot of cultures. It is the home to over 930,000 residents from over 90 different nationalities that include Whites, Chinese, Portuguese, Mexican, Armenian, and Indian.

History: The region where Fresno lies was once a dry, rough desert. Spanish explorers discovered it during a search for mission sites. They named it Fresno, but they did not settle the region. The site would remain undeveloped until after irrigation was introduced in the middle half of the 19th century. In 1846, Fresno became the property of the United States following the American-Mexican War. When gold was discovered in California, miners flocked to the foothills of the Sierras. In 1856, Fresno County was formed from the areas of Mariposa, Tulare, and Merced Counties.

The first county seat was the community of Millerton, which grew along the banks of San Joaquin River. In 1869, Millerton was ravaged by a devastating flood.

In 1872, the Central Pacific Railroad chose the region as the station for its railroad telegraph office. A new town called Fresno Station emerged. Many Millerton residents relocated to the new town to grab the economic opportunities there and to avoid possible flooding in their old community. In 1874, Fresno was elected the new county seat. A devastating flood in 1944 completely destroyed Middleton, and the little town never recovered.

In the 1880s, Moses Church dug the first canals for irrigation. These canals transformed the arid region of Fresno County into a region that could support extensive farming. Fresno County became a fertile "garden". To date, Fresno County is producing 250 different types of crops.