Colma is a small incorporated town in San Mateo County, California, on the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. Take a look below for 20 fun and amazing facts about Colma, California, United States.
1. The population was 1,507 at the 2020 census.
2. The town was founded as a necropolis in 1924.
3. With most of Colma’s land dedicated to cemeteries, the population of the dead—not specifically known but speculated to be around 1.5 million—outnumbers that of the living by a ratio of nearly a thousand to one.
4. This has led to Colma’s being called “the City of the Silent” and has given rise to a humorous motto, formerly featured on the city’s website: “It’s great to be alive in Colma”.
5. The most common origin of the name “Colma” is the Ohlone word mean “springs” or “many springs”.
6. There are several other proposed origins of Colma. Erwin Gudde’s California Place Names states seven possible sources of the town’s being called Colma: William T. Coleman (a local landowner), Thomas Coleman (a local resident), misspelling of Colmar in France, misspelling of Colima in Mexico, a re-spelling of an ancient Uralic word meaning death, a reference to James Macpherson’s Songs of Selma, and two Ohlone possibilities, one meaning “moon” and one meaning “springs”.
7. Before 1872, Colma was designated as “Station” or “School House Station”, the name of its post office in 1869.
8. The community of Colma was formed in the 19th century as a collection of homes and small businesses along El Camino Real and the adjacent San Francisco and San Jose Railroad line.
9. Several churches, including Holy Angels Catholic Church, were founded in these early years.
10. The community founded its own fire district, which serves the unincorporated area of Colma north of the town limits, as well as the area that became a town in 1924.
11. Heinrich (Henry) von Kempf moved his wholesale nursery here in the early part of the 20th century, from the land where the Palace of Fine Arts currently sits.
12. The business was growing, and thus required more space for von Kempf’s plants and trees. von Kempf then began petitioning to turn the Colma community into an agricultural township.
13. He succeeded and became the town of Colma’s first treasurer.
14. In the early 20th century, Colma was the site of many major boxing events. Middleweight world champion Stanley Ketchel fought six bouts at the Mission Street Arena in Colma, including two world middleweight title bouts against Billy Papke and a world heavyweight title bout against Jack Johnson.
15. Originally, Colma’s residents were primarily employed in occupations related to the many cemeteries in the town. Since the 1980s, however, Colma has become more diversified, and a variety of retail businesses and automobile dealerships has brought more sales tax revenue to the town government.
16. In 1986, 280 Metro Center opened for business in Colma; it is now recognized as the world’s first power center.
17. Colma station on BART and SamTrans buses serve the city.
18. Colma has one private school, Holy Angels School, a Catholic school for preschool through 8th grade.
19. Tales of the City (novel and 1993 miniseries) has a minor character named Candi Moretti, a waitress whose name tag says she is from Colma.
20. Colma (1998), the fourth studio album released by guitarist Buckethead, makes reference to the town of Colma.