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Modesto is a large city in California's Central Valley, surrounded by fertile farmland that fuels the area's thriving agricultural industry. Almonds, milk, chickens and walnuts are among the area's biggest products, and much of the Modesto dining scene is inspired by the farm-to-table movement. Despite its very large population, Modesto maintains a sense of small-town charm and is home to many vineyards, orchards and ranches. Local artists and live entertainment are abundant as well, contributing to the city's flourishing arts and culture scene.
The History of Modesto
The city of Modesto was founded in 1870, originally serving as a railroad stop on the busy route between Sacramento and Los Angeles. The city was going to be named Ralston, after a successful businessman named William C. Ralston. When he politely asked that another name be chosen, however, the Spanish word for "modesty" ("modesto") was selected.
By the late 1800s, the community was flourishing. Grain fields, railroad traffic and irrigation water fueled its growth, and the local economy expanded with the growth of vegetable fields and fruit and nut tree orchards. Modesto fulfilled an important role during World War II, supplying eggs, milk and canned goods to the U.S. and Allied forces. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, its population grew rapidly. By 2001, Modesto's population surpassed 200,000.
Living in Modesto
Modesto has numerous festivals, museums, and parks that provide plenty of activities and entertainment for both locals and visitors, especially the large number of young families that call the city home. Downtown Modesto hosts weekly farmers markets, as well as monthly Art Walks that visit different venues. The downtown district is also home to many restaurants and nightlife destinations and is a popular spot for locals on weekends.
Throughout Modesto, you'll also find several historical points of interest to explore. The McHenry Mansion is an 1880s estate that was owned by Robert McHenry, a successful banker and rancher. Today, you can take tours of the home and observe many restored rooms. The McHenry Museum is located just across the street from the historical home and contains a range of exhibits based on Modesto's history. A more modern-day point of interest is George Lucas Plaza. The plaza contains a bronzed statue inspired by Lucas' well-known film "American Graffiti." The film was set in Modesto, inspired by Lucas' childhood and teenage years in the city.
Modesto City Schools manages the public schools throughout the city, including comprehensive high schools, independent study programs and adult education schools. There are also several private schools in Modesto, most of which are on faith-based campuses. You can also find two small higher education campuses in Modesto: Modesto Junior College and Community Business College.
Resources for Moving to Modesto
If you're getting ready for a move to Modesto, the following information will be helpful:
- Utilities: The Modesto Utilities Department and Pacific Gas & Electric are the major utilities providers in Modesto.
- Garbage and Recycling: The city provides collection services for trash, recycling and compostables.
- Transportation: The Modesto Area Express operates many routes throughout the city and makes more than 800 stops.
Although home prices in Modesto are on the rise, they're still relatively affordable by California standards. Modesto is a far more affordable option than other large California cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which makes it a popular option for families and young professionals.