Martinez (Spanish: Martínez) is a city and the county seat of Contra Costa County, California, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. Take a look below for 15 awesome and fun facts about Martinez, California, United States.
1. The population was 38,290 at the 2020 census.
2. The city is named after Californio ranchero Ygnacio Martínez.
3. The downtown is notable for its large number of preserved old buildings and antique shops. Martinez is located on the southern shore of the Carquinez Strait in the San Francisco Bay Area, directly facing the city center of Benicia and the southeastern end of Vallejo, California.
4. In 1824, the western side of Martinez, Alhambra Valley was included in the Rancho El Pinole Mexican land grant to Ygnacio Martínez.
5. East of these lands was the Rancho Las Juntas, a grant made to Irish born William Welch in 1844; his land lay between the lands of Don Martinez and Don Pacheco.
6. In 1847, Dr. Robert Semple contracted to provide ferry service from Martinez to Benicia, which for many years was the only crossing on the Carquinez Strait.
7. By 1849, Martínez served as a way station for the California Gold Rush. The town was laid out in 1849 by Col. William M. Smith and named for Martinez.
8. It became the county seat in 1850, but could not incorporate at the time because it lacked the 200 registered voters required, and only became a city in 1876.
9. Martinez was the home of naturalist John Muir from 1880 until his death in 1914. He was buried about a mile south of the building that is now the John Muir National Historic Site. Also nearby is the Vicente Martinez Adobe, built in 1849 by the son of Ygnacio Martinez.
10. The first post office opened in 1851.
11. In 1860, Martinez played a role in the Pony Express, where riders would take the ferry from Benicia (particularly if they missed the steamer in Sacramento).
12. The first oil refinery in the Martinez area was built in 1904 at Bull’s Head Point, a then-unincorporated waterfront area two miles east of the downtown district. That area soon became known as Mococo, following the 1905 arrival of a smelting works, operated by the Mountain Copper Company (Mo Co Co).
13. That first facility, operated by the Bull’s Head Oil Company, was followed in 1908 by a test refinery built by the Pacific Coast Oil Company. Shortly thereafter, Pacific Coast became part of Standard Oil (now Chevron), and consolidated their oil refining operations in the Point Richmond, Hercules, Rodeo waterfront corridor some 12 miles to the west of Martinez.
14. In 1913, the Golden Eagle facility became the third oil refinery to be built in the area. It was located in the newly-created company town of Avon, immediately to the East of Martinez. A fourth refinery, built by the Shell Oil Company on land adjacent to the Martinez City limits, went online in January 1916.
15. The Shell Oil refining facility is still operational today (Currently owned by PBF Energy), maintaining the position of Martinez as a significant petroleum processing center. The Golden Eagle Refinery (currently owned by Marathon Petroleum Company) was idled in April 2020 as a response to lower petroleum demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.