Modesto /məˈdɛstoʊ/ (Spanish for "modest"), officially the City of Modesto, is the county seat and largest city of Stanislaus County, California, United States. With a population of approximately 201,165 at the 2010 census, it is the 18th largest city in the state of California and forms part of the Modesto–Merced combined Statistical Area. The Modesto Census County Division, which includes the cities of Ceres and Riverbank, had a population of 312,842 as of 2010.
Modesto is located in the Central Valley, 90 miles (140 km) north of Fresno, 40 miles (64 km) north of Merced, California, 92 miles (148 km) east of San Francisco, 68 miles (109 km) south of the state capital of Sacramento, 66 miles (106 km) west of Yosemite National Park, and 24 miles (39 km) south of Stockton. Modesto has been honored as a Tree City USA numerous times. It is surrounded by rich farmland; Stanislaus County ranks sixth among California counties in farm production. Led by milk, almonds, chickens, walnuts, and corn silage, the county grossed nearly $3.1 billion in agricultural production in 2011. The farm-to-table movement plays a central role in Modesto living as in the Central Valley.
Filmmaker George Lucas, who was born in Modesto, graduated from Thomas Downey High School in 1962 and attended Modesto Junior College, immortalized the city in his award-winning 1973 film American Graffiti. Although it was not actually shot in Modesto, the film portrayed the spirit of cruising and friendship on Modesto's 10th and 11th Streets in 1962, and inspired a revival of interest in 1950s pop culture, including the TV show Happy Days and its spin-offs.
The city's annual Architectural Festival honors Modesto's history as a testing ground for mid-century modern architecture during the 1940s and '50s. Modesto's mid-century buildings have been featured four times in Museum of Modern Art publications.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2011, which interviews 1,000 participants about their jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities, ranked Modesto 126 out of the 190 cities surveyed. In December 2009, Forbes ranked Modesto 48th out of 100 among "Best Bang-for-the-Buck Cities". In this ranking, Modesto ranked 8th in housing affordability and travel time but also ranked 86th in job forecast growth and 99th in foreclosures.
The City of Modesto was originally a stop on the railroad connecting Sacramento to Los Angeles. When Modesto was founded in 1870, it was to be named Ralston after financier William C. Ralston. Ralston's modesty prompted him to ask that another name be found, and the town was named Modesto in recognition of his modesty.
Modesto's population was over 1,000 residents in 1884. With fields of grain, a nearby Tuolumne River for grain barges, and railroad traffic, the town grew. Irrigation water came from dams installed in the foothills, and irrigated fields of vegetables and fruit and nut trees flourished. By 1900, Modesto's population was over 4,500. During World War II, the area provided canned goods, powdered milk, and eggs for the US armed forces and Allied forces. For the next few decades, Modesto's population grew about two percent per year to over 100,000 in 1980, and over 200,000 in 2001.
The city's official motto, "Water Wealth Contentment Health," is emblazoned on the downtown Modesto Arch, which is featured in local photographs and postcards. The motto was selected in a contest held in 1911, where the winner won $3 as his prize. (The original winner, "Nobody's got Modesto's goat", was later declined by town officials.) Modesto's motto is sometimes spoofed as "The land gets the water, the bankers get the wealth, the cows get contentment, and the farmers get the health."
Although the city is located on the Tuolumne River and near the Stanislaus River, it has no operating port for oceangoing ships due to the shallow depths of these rivers, and also due to a small dam on the Tuolumne River near Highway 99. In Modesto there is also a small creek aptly named Dry Creek, which although badly polluted by agricultural runoff, is adjacent to several parks in Modesto. Most of the rivers and streams are otherwise not accessible to public use or view due to fences and private property rights. There are no public boat ramps or docks within the city limits. Although summertime brings high temperatures, swimming is prohibited by local ordinance in rivers, creeks, and the many irrigation canals. Rivers and lakes near Waterford are wide enough to be accessible for a kayak, or small motorboat, and there are several points of public access. This access was given as part of a government plan when hydroelectric power dams were installed upstream for valuable flood control, irrigation, and electric power generation. The nearest large open seaport is the Port of Stockton, used for oceangoing ships that transport goods, particularly cement, fertilizer, and agricultural products, from California to overseas.
The Modesto Nuts Minor League Baseball Club of the class A California League is the main attraction for locals between Easter and Labor Day. The Nuts are the Single A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners and play 70 home games each season.
For 67 years, Modesto was a hotbed for track and field competition as host of the Modesto Relays each May, sponsored most of the years by local produce company S&W Foods. The creation and lifetime project of meet director Tom Moore, 30 world records were set at the meet held at Modesto Junior College.
In the past 10 years, Modesto has hosted many music festivals such as SummerFest, the Downtown summer concert series, featuring Chris Isaak, Hootie & the Blowfish, The Doobie Brothers and Styx.
X-Fest, deriving from its real name Xclamation Festival, is a 21 and over music festival in downtown Modesto. Starting in 2000, X-Fest has evolved into a large outdoor event stretching 15 blocks and featuring the world's largest disco which covers four blocks on its own. In 2008 X-Fest featured 50 bands and a crowd of 15,000 people. Much of the profits end up in local non-profit charities. Some business owners and citizens of Modesto complain of rowdy and often drunk Mardi Gras atmosphere exhibited at X-fest. Events like these may have helped propel Modesto to be ranked, in Feb. 2010 by Men's Health magazine, as the 12th drunkest city in America, based on alcohol-related deaths, DUI and other arrests. The last X-fest occurred in Modesto in 2015.
Summers in Modesto are also marked by the revival of American Graffiti, the 1973 film written and directed by Modesto native George Lucas. Lucas' film paid homage to teenage life in 1962 based on his own experiences growing up in the city of Modesto. The city council refused to let the film be shot in Modesto, so he was forced to make the film elsewhere. The city has since realized the importance of its connection to the award-winning film, and the city is preparing new tourist attractions and events to welcome Graffiti tourists. The Modesto Convention and Visitors bureau report that the leading request for information is American Graffiti-related. The annual festival, Graffiti Summer, celebrates this event and lasts the entire month of June, attracting thousands of visitors and car enthusiasts along with hundreds of classic and antique cars.
Modesto City Schools was established for students in the community in 1871. The current enrollment is approximately 32,000 students. The district operates 23 elementary schools (K-6), four junior high schools (7–8), seven comprehensive high schools (9–12), and an alternative education program that includes an opportunity and continuation school, independent study and adult evening high school. The seventh comprehensive high school, Joseph Gregori High School, was recently completed. Modesto's oldest high school, Modesto High School, also offers an International Baccalaureate program, and is the only high school in Stanislaus County accredited for this program. There are other elementary school districts within and adjacent to the limits of Modesto City Schools that feed into the high schools. They include Sylvan Union (serving the eastern portion of Modesto), Stanislaus Union and Hart-Ransom.
Stanislaus County (/ˈstænɪslɔːs/ or /ˈstænɪslɔː/) is a county located in the Central Valley of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 514,453. The county seat is Modesto.
Stanislaus County comprises the Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area. The County is located just east of the San Francisco Bay Area and serves as a bedroom community for those who work in the eastern part of the Bay Area.
The first European to see the area was Gabriel Moraga in 1806. The region was named Rio Estanislao in honor of Estanislao, a mission-educated renegade Native American chief who led a band of Native Americans in a series of battles against Mexican troops until finally being defeated by General Mariano Vallejo in 1826. Estanislao was his baptismal name, the Spanish version of Stanislaus (Polish: Stanisław), itself the Latin version of the name of an 11th-century Polish Catholic Saint Stanislaus the Martyr.
Between 1843 and 1846, when California was a province of independent Mexico, five Mexican land grants totaling 113,135 acres (458 km2; 177 sq mi) were granted in Stanislaus County. Rancho Orestimba y Las Garzas, Rancho Pescadero and Rancho Del Puerto were located on the west side of the San Joaquin River, and Rancho Del Rio Estanislao and Rancho Thompson on the north side of the Stanislaus River. Additionally, in 1844 Salomon Pico received a Mexican land grant of 58,000 acres (235 km2; 91 sq mi) in the San Joaquin Valley, somewhere near the Stanislaus River and the San Joaquin River in what is now Stanislaus County. However, the grant was never confirmed by the Land Commission.
Stanislaus County was formed from part of Tuolumne County in 1854. The county seat was first situated at Adamsville, then moved to Empire in November, La Grange in December, and Knights Ferry in 1862, and was definitely fixed at the present location in Modesto in 1871.
As the price of housing has increased in the San Francisco Bay Area, many people who work in the southern reaches of the Bay Area have opted for the longer commute and moved to Stanislaus County for the relatively affordable housing.
As of the census of 2000, there were 446,997 people, 145,146 households, and 109,585 families residing in the county. The population density was 299 people per square mile (116/km²). There were 150,807 housing units at an average density of 101 per square mile (39/km²). The racial/ethnic makeup of the county was 69.3% White, 2.6% Black, 4.2% Asian, 1.3% Native American, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 16.8% from other races, and 5.4% from two or more races. 31.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 8.4% were of German, 6.3% English, 6.0% American, 5.5% Irish, and 5.1% Portuguese ancestry according to Census 2000. 67.8% spoke English, 23.7% Spanish, 1.5% Syriac, and 1.3% Portuguese as their first language.
There were 145,146 households out of which 41.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.0% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.5% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.03 and the average family size was 3.47.
In the county, the population was spread out with 31.1% under the age of 18, 9.8% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.4 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $40,101, and the median income for a family was $44,703. Males had a median income of $36,969 versus $26,595 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,913. About 12.3% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.
United States: Modesto