Fresno, California

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Fresno, California
Flag Seal
Nickname: "Fresno, the All American City & Raisin Capital of the World"
Location in the state of California
County Fresno
Mayor Alan Autry
 - City 271.4 km²
 - Land 270.3 km²
 - Water 1.1 km²
 - City (2006) 471,479<ref name=e1>Template:Cite web</ref> (city proper)
 - Density 1,582.2/km²
  1,002,284 (metro area)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

Fresno is the sixth-largest city in California and the county seat of Fresno County. As of the 2005 California Department of Finance estimate, Fresno had a population of 471,479<ref name=e1/>, making it the largest city in California's expansive Central Valley. The city is the core cultural and economic center of the Fresno metropolitan area, the second largest metropolitan area in the Central Valley with a population of 1,002,284. Fresno is located at 36°47' North, 119°48' West. Its ZIP code is 937xx.


[edit] Government

Fresno has a modified strong-mayor form of local government, with a Mayor (Executive branch) and seven City Council members (Legislative branch) elected for no more than two, four-year terms. The current mayor, actor Alan Autry was elected in November 2000. He was re-elected on March 2 2004 with over 72% of the vote, and his second term will last until January 2009.

The City Council consists of seven members, elected by district, as follows.

  • District 1 (west-central) - Blong Xiong
  • District 2 (northwest) - Brian Calhoun
  • District 3 (southwest) - Cynthia Sterling
  • District 4 (east-central) - Larry Westerlund
  • District 5 (southeast) - Mike Dages
  • District 6 (northeast) - Jerry Duncan
  • District 7 (central) - Henry T. Perea

The city is home to Fresno Division of the United States District Court. Opened in 2006, the 16-story federal courthouse hears civil, criminal and miscellaneous actions arising from 16 counties. In addition, the city is the seat of the 5th Appellate District of the State Court of Appeals and the Fresno County Superior Court.

[edit] Economy

Fresno serves as the economic hub of Fresno County and California’s Central Valley. While the unincorporated area and rural cities surrounding the City of Fresno remain predominantly tied to large-scale agricultural production, the City has been undergoing significant economic transformation.

Agriculture’s decreasing role in the urban economy is reflected in the decreasing reliance on agricultural employment in the County. Currently, just 15% of employment results from agriculture, a significant decrease from just 20 years ago. This transformation has led to increased friction between rural and urban interests, as land is converted to non-agricultural use and resources such as water go increasingly to more urban uses such as industry and housing.

The City’s current economy is led by Fresno’s position as the hub for education, healthcare, government and professional services for the Central Valley of California. Construction employment has rapidly expanded as residential and commercial construction underwent a recent prolonged period of expansion. Food processing has led the manufacturing sector with such notable companies as Sun-Maid, Kraft Foods and Foster Farms. Non-food companies specializing in machinery manufacturing, medical devices and water technology are also prevalent. Distribution has many centers in the city, led by the 80 acre site of the Gap Stores. Public sector employment is also a major contributor to the city’s economy with The City of Fresno, Fresno Unified School District, the County of Fresno, Community Hospitals and the IRS as the largest employers.

[edit] Geography

Fresno is located at 36°46′54″N, 119°47′32″W (36.781549, -119.792113)GR1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 271.4 km² (104.8 mi²). 270.3 km² (104.4 mi²) of it is land and 1.1 km² (0.4 mi²) of it (0.42%) is water.

Fresno is about 60 miles south of Yosemite National Park. It is the closest major city to the park. Because it sits at the junction of Highways 41 and 99 (41 is the park's southern access road, and 99 branches east from Interstate 5 to serve the urban centers of the San Joaquin Valley), the city is a major gateway for visitors coming from Los Angeles. The city also serves as an entrance into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks via Highway 180.

Fresno has three large public parks, two located in the city limits and one in county land to the southwest. Woodward Park, which features the Shinzen Japanese Gardens, numerous picnic areas and several miles of trails, is located in North Fresno and is adjacent to the San Joaquin River Parkway. Roeding Park, located near Downtown Fresno, is home to the Chaffee Zoological Gardens, and Rotary Playland and Storyland. Kearney Park is the largest of the Fresno region's park system and is home to historic Kearney Mansion and plays host to the annual Civil War Revisited, one of the largest annual Civil War reenactments in the U.S.[1]

Fresno also has 54 smaller parks.

[edit] Demographics

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 427,652 people, 140,079 households, and 97,915 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,582.2/km² (4,097.7/mi²). There were 149,025 housing units at an average density of 551.3/km² (1,427.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 50.17% White, 8.36% Black or African American, 1.58% Native American, 11.23% Asian (mostly Hmong), 0.14% Pacific Islander, 23.36% from other races, and 5.16% from two or more races. 39.87% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 140,079 households out of which 40.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 17.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.1% were non-families. 23.3% 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 2.99 and the average family size was 3.57.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.9% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 17.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $32,236, and the median income for a family was $35,892. Males had a median income of $32,279 versus $26,551 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,010. About 20.5% of families and 26.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.5% of those under age 18 and 10.7% of those age 65 or over.

An October 2005 study by the Brookings Institution, entitled "Katrina's Window: Confronting Concentrated Poverty Across America" ranked Fresno as the city with the highest percentage of those living below the federal poverty threshold concentrated in specific neighborhoods. [2]

[edit] Education

4-Year Institutions:

2-Year Institutions

[edit] Origins and history

The County of Fresno was formed in 1856. It was named for the abundant mountain ash trees lining the San Joaquin River. Fresno is the Spanish word for ash tree. The county was much larger than it is today, comprising its current area plus all of what became Madera County and parts of what are now San Benito, Tulare, Kings, Inyo, and Mono counties.

Millerton, then on the banks of the free-flowing San Joaquin River and close to Fort Miller, became the county seat after becoming a focal point for settlers. Other early county settlements included Firebaugh's Ferry, Scottsburg, and Elkhorn Springs.

The San Joaquin River flooded on Christmas Eve, 1867, inundating Millerton. Some residents rebuilt, others moved. Flooding also destroyed the town of Scottsburg that winter. Rebuilt on higher ground, Scottsburg was renamed Centerville.

In 1867, Anthony Easterby purchased land bounded by the present Chestnut, Belmont, Clovis and California avenues. Unable to grow wheat for lack of water, he hired Moses J. Church in 1871 to build an irrigation canal. Church then formed the Fresno Canal and Irrigation Company, a predecessor of the Fresno Irrigation District.

In 1872, the Central Pacific Railroad established a station near Easterby's farm for its new Southern Pacific line. Soon there was a store. Around the station and the store grew the town of Fresno Station, later called Fresno. Many Millerton residents, drawn by the convenience of the railroad and worried about flooding, moved to the new community. Fresno became an incorporated city in 1895.

Two years after the station was established, county residents voted to move the county seat from Millerton to Fresno. When the Friant Dam was completed in 1944, the site of Millerton became inundated by the waters of Millerton Lake. In extreme droughts, when the reservoir shrinks, ruins of the original county seat can still be observed.

In the nineteenth century, with so much wooden construction and in the absence of sophisticated firefighting resources, fires often ravaged American frontier towns. The greatest of Fresno's early-day fires, in 1882, destroyed an entire block of the city. Another devastating blaze struck in 1883.

The "Fresno Municipal Sanitary Landfill" was the first modern landfill in the United States, and incorporated several important innovations to waste disposal, including trenching, compacting, and the daily covering of trash with dirt. It was opened in 1937 and closed in 1987. Today, it has the unusual distinction of being a National Historic Landmark as well as a Superfund Site.

Before World War II, Fresno had many ethnic neighborhoods, including Little Armenia, German Town, Little Italy, and China Town. During 1942, in what is now North Fresno, was an assembly center for the relocation of many Japanese Americans. [11] (See: Japanese American internment)

In 1995, the FBI's Operation Rezone sting resulted in several prominent Fresno and Clovis politicians being charged in connection with taking bribes in return for rezoning farmland for housing developments. Before the sting brought a halt to it, housing developers could buy farmland cheaply, pay off council members to have it rezoned, and make a large profit building and selling inexpensive housing. Sixteen people were eventually convicted as a result of the sting (Most were unrelated convictions) [12].

[edit] Cultural and commercial attractions

[edit] Fresno Metropolitan Museum

The Met displays traveling exhibitions, shows from its own collection, lectures and other outreach programming. The museum also has a science center called the Reeves ASK Science Center that was developed in partnership with San Francisco's Exploratorium. The museum's historic home in The Fresno Bee Building is currently closed for renovations, and is scheduled to reopen in Fall of 2006. In the meantime, the Reeves ASK Science Center has been relocated to 933 Van Ness Avenue in downtown Fresno. The Met participates in Fresno's ArtHop program, and hosts outreach events and fundraisers on an annual basis, including First Friday Films, Christmas at the Met and a science-education based Bubble Festival.

[edit] Arte Américas

Arte Américas is a local Latino cultural center. Arte Américas was founded in 1987 by artists and teachers "To make the Central Valley a flourishing place for Latino arts." It presents art exhibits and the performing arts. [13]

[edit] Fresno Art Museum

The museum is located in Radio Park, and puts up a rotating series of exhibits. It participates in the monthly Art Hop, and has a variety of film programs, including classic films, anime, and international selections. Fresno Art Museum is also home to Rhythms of Art, a ground-breaking program founded by Fresno composer and jazz pianist Armen Nalbandian, in which music is composed and performed for featured exhibits. Additionally, the museum hosts the Fresno Poets' Association readings in the Bonner Auditorium.

[edit] Fresno Grand Opera

The Fresno Grand Opera produces internationally-acclaimed opera and world-class concerts.

[edit] Fresno Philharmonic

The city supports a well respected regional philharmonic orchestra. [14]

[edit] Arts Council’s monthly Art Hop

Fresno Arts Council holds a monthly Art Hop that features many artists in the Fresno area and is held every first Thursday of the month from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.. One of the biggest art events takes place during the annual Rogue Performance Festival in March.

[edit] Save Mart Center

The Save Mart Center is a newer professional-level indoor arena (cap:18,000) completed in 2003, located at the Shaw Avenue and Hwy 168 interchange in NE Fresno. It has hosted a wide range of music acts, from The Rolling Stones to Madonna, as well as a huge variety of other events. It is currently the home of the Fresno State Men's & Women's Basketball teams and the Fresno Falcons hockey team of the ECHL. The arena was recently ranked among the top 25 in the world for number of tickets sold.

[edit] Forestiere Underground Gardens

The Forestiere Underground Gardens ([15]) in northwest Fresno near Highway 99, is a spectacular subterranean creation built by Baldasare Forestiere over a period of 40 years. It features nearly one hundred chambers, passageways, courts and patios, dug beneath the hard pan soil. Fruit-bearing trees planted below the ground protrude through openings at ground level. Forestiere resided here, benefiting from cooler temperatures during the high heat of the Central Valley in summer as well as warmer conditions within the ground during winter. The Gardens are an impressive example of non-traditional vernacular architecture. Forestiere's creation and his story offer parallels to Simon Rodia and the Watts Towers, both Italian-immigrants born in 1879, settling in California and creating one-of-a-kind residences by hand and in seclusion. For a fictionalized account of Forestiere and his obsession, see the short story "The Underground Gardens" by T. Coraghessan Boyle, published in The New Yorker, (May 25, 1998).

[edit] Fresno Filmworks

Fresno Filmworks brings films to Fresno that would not generally be seen at the movie mega-plexes. They show foreign, art, and independent films from around the world on the second Friday of each month (December is the only exception) and in May they hold a three day long Annual Film Festival. All showings are at the historic Tower Theatre.

[edit] Fresno Reel Pride

Fresno Reel Pride is one of the oldest and largest LGBT film festivals in the United States. Now located in the historic Tower Theatre and at the nearby Starline, Reel Pride is a celebration of gay and lesbian cinema and has been recognized as a premiere cultural event in central California. Fresno Reel Pride presents an annual five-day film festival each September in addition to special film screenings throughout the year.

[edit] Neighborhoods

[edit] Downtown

Since the 1980s, Downtown was known as a depressed, or neglected part of the city, but since the 1990s it has been through a major revitalization. Many of the buildings that were once abandoned for many years have been remodeled. It has added new structures as well, such as Grizzlies Stadium and the Federal Courthouse, and eventually more high-rise buildings will be added to the city's skyline. Some buildings, such as the old location of the Vagabond Hotel, were turned into commercial lots and lofts. Currently under construction is "Old Armenian Town," which advertises office space and lofts (completion of the project will be sometime in 2007).

[edit] Sunnyside

One of Fresno's first affluent areas, Sunnyside is located on Fresno's far east side, bounded by Chestnut Avenue to the West. While now considered less affluent than other sections of Fresno, it is still home to notable residents.

[edit] Old Fig Garden

A historic community set among mature trees, Old Fig Garden has long been one Fresno's most prestigious neighborhoods. The Fig Garden is an area of approximately 6 square miles which was once on the northern fringe of Fresno, but the city has since incorporated all of the surrounding land, making Fig Garden a county "island." The city's annual "Christmas Tree Lane" is found on a section of Van Ness Boulevard during the holiday season.

[edit] Tower District

Centered around the Historic Tower Theatre, just north of downtown Fresno, this vibrant and culturally diverse area of shops and homes has been restored after a significant decline in the mid-1990s. The neighborhood features restaurants and nightclubs, as well as many independent shops and bookstores.

[edit] Huntington Boulevard

Homes from the early 20th century line this boulevard in the heart of the historic Alta Vista Tract. The surrounding streets, Kerckhoff and Balch Avenues, have homes from the Arts and Crafts era which, like the downtown, are being renovated and brought back to their historic roots. During Christmas, the homes along the boulevard are adorned with lights and decorations. The nation's tallest living Christmas Tree, located at Huntington and 6th Street, is the highlight of the event. This area is near the Fresno Fairgrounds and within walking distance of much of downtown.

[edit] Van Ness Extension

Van Ness Avenue transforms from a downtown "main street" into a boulevard that leads to Fresno's most expensive and expansive estates. As it passes through the Tower District and Old Fig Garden there are many historic homes and estates of gradually increasing profile to be seen.

[edit] Kearney Boulevard

Named after early 20th century entrepreneur and billionaire M. Theo Kearney, Kearney Boulevard extends from Fresno Street in downtown Fresno about 20 miles west to Kerman, California. The part of the road within the city limits features large, early 20th century homes. A small, two-lane rural road for most of its length, Kearney Boulevard is lined with tall palm trees.

[edit] Sierra Sky Park

Formed in 1946 by a unique agreement in transportation law to allow personal aircraft and automobiles to share certain roads, William Smilie developed the nation's first planned aviation community. Still in operation today, the public use airport provides a unique neighborhood which spawned interest and similar communities worldwide.

[edit] Professional sports

Club Sport Founded League Stadium (or Arena)
Fresno Grizzlies Baseball 1998 Pacific Coast League Chukchansi Park
Fresno Falcons Hockey 1946 ECHL Save Mart Center
Central Valley Coyotes Arena Football 2002 af2 Selland Arena
Fresno Fuego Soccer 2003 USL Premier Development League Chukchansi Park

[edit] Notable residents

(In alphabetical order)

[edit] Media

[edit] Newspaper

[edit] Television

[edit] Sister Cities

Fresno has seven sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

[edit] Transportation

[edit] Highways

Fresno is served by a main north/south freeway California State Highway 99. Other highways include the California State Highway 168 (Sierra Freeway), which is an east-west bound freeway that leads to the city of Clovis and Huntington Lake, California State Highway 41 (Yosemite Freeway/Eisenhower Freeway) that comes into Fresno from the south via Paso Robles, and California State Highway 180(Kings Canyon Freeway) that comes from the west via Mendota and from the east in Kings Canyon National Park.

Fresno is known for being the largest American city not directly linked to an Interstate highway. Perhaps in light of this, but probably more because of increasing traffic on Interstate 5 on the west side of the Central Valley, much discussion has been made to upgrade CA-99 to interstate standards and, eventually, incorporate it into the interstate system, most likely as Interstate 9. Major improvements to signage, lane width, median separation, vertical clearance, and other concerns must be performed for a significant portion of the existing highway before it can even be considered for redesignation as I-9.

[edit] Airports

Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)/(FYI), originally named Fresno Air Terminal, is the largest airport, and site of commercial airline service. The airport serves an estimated 1.2 million passengers annually on both domestic and international flights.

Historic Fresno Chandler Executive Airport (FCH) is located 1 1/2 miles west of Downtown Fresno. Built in the 1920s, it is one of the oldest operational airports in California. The airport currently serves as a general aviation airport.

Sierra Sky Park is located in Northwest Fresno. It is a privately owned airport, but is open to the public. The airport was America's first aviation community. Extra-wide streets surrounding the airport allow for residents of the community to literally "drive" their airplane home!

[edit] Rail

Passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak San Joaquins. The main passenger rail station is the recently renovated historic Santa Fe Railroad Depot located in Downtown Fresno. The Bakersfield-Bay area mainlines of the BNSF and UP railroads cross in Fresno; the San Joaquin Valley Railroad also operates former Southern Pacific branchlines heading west and south out of the city.

[edit] List of mayors

[edit] References


[edit] External links

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