Modesto (Spanish for ‘”modest”‘) is the county seat and largest city of Stanislaus County, California, United States. Take a look below for 20 interesting and awesome facts about Modesto, California, United States.
1. With a population of 218,464 at the 2020 census, it is the 19th largest city in the state of California and forms part of the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto Combined Statistical Area.
2. Modesto is located in the Central Valley, 68 miles (109 km) south of Sacramento and 90 miles (140 km) north of Fresno.
3. Its distance from other places include 40 miles (64 km) north of Merced, California, 92 miles (148 km) east of San Francisco, 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.
4. The city is surrounded by rich farmland. Stanislaus County ranks sixth among California counties in farm production, and is home to Gallo Family Winery, the largest family-owned winery in the United States.
5. Led by milk, almonds, chickens, walnuts, and corn silage, the county grossed nearly $3.1 billion in agricultural production in 2011.
6. The farm-to-table movement plays a central role in Modesto living as in the Central Valley.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. The City of Modesto was originally a stop on the railroad connecting Sacramento to Los Angeles.
10. 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.
11. Modesto’s population exceeded 1,000 residents in 1884. With fields of grain, the 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.
12. By 1900, Modesto’s population was more than 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.
13. The city’s official motto, “Water Wealth Contentment Health,” is emblazoned on the downtown Modesto Arch, which is featured in local photographs and postcards.
14. The motto was selected in a contest held in 1911, with a $3 prize for the winner. (The original winning motto, “Nobody’s got Modesto’s goat”, was later declined by town officials.)
15. 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.”
16. The Rockabilly genre of music originated in Modesto with the formation of Maddox Brothers & Rose on KTRB Radio in 1937. The “Hillbilly Boogie” sound, featuring the string slapping percussive sound by Fred Maddox, would become popular on a national scale and would later be the foundation for Rockabilly. Fred Maddox’s bass is housed at the Experience Project Museum in Seattle, Washington.
17. The city’s annual Architectural Festival honors Modesto’s history as a testing ground for mid-century modern architecture during the 1940s and 1950s. Modesto’s mid-century buildings have been featured four times in Museum of Modern Art publications.
18. 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 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. Modesto celebrates Graffiti Summer annually and features the Historic Cruise Route and Walk of Fame of Graffiti Legends. Downtown Modesto features a series of Graffiti-themed and other cultural murals.
19. The McHenry Mansion is a restored historic home located at Fifteenth and I Streets. The McHenry family built the house in 1883 after the patriarch of the family, Oramil McHenry, left twenty thousand dollars in his will. The mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1978.
20. The Hawke Castle is a historic residence built in 1929. It was influenced by the Norman architecture, and is now the property of George Thayer Real Estate.