Manteca is a city in the central valley of California, about 80 miles east of San Francisco. It was founded in 1861 by Joshua Cowell. Cowell claimed around 1,000 acres (4 km²) and built houses on what is now the corner of Main and Yosemite where Bank of America now stands. In 1873, the Central Pacific Railroad laid track directly through the area. The residents wanted to refer to their new train station as "Cowell Station", but there was already a Cowell Station near Tracy. So, the residents agreed to change the name of the community, choosing "Monteca" as the new name. This was misprinted as "Manteca" (Spanish for lard) by the railroad, and the mis-spelled version was eventually accepted as the name of the town. Hence in 1918, Manteca was incorporated as a city and Joshua Cowell became its first mayor.
Manteca's slogan is "The Family City", and it lies at a crossroads of major highways and railroads. As recently as the 1970s Manteca existed primarily on agriculture, and was still barely a stop between two freeways, Interstate 5 and State Route 99. The continuing rise in bay area housing prices has caused more workers to look eastward for a cheaper place to live or a better place to raise their families. Since the construction of the 120 bypass portion of State Route 120, Manteca has become a popular choice for these commuters. The 1990s saw an increase in the city's population, and the construction of its fourth high school. The population of Manteca continues to increase, with some housing being constructed on what was once farmland to the north and southeast.
A recurring name in Manteca is "East Union". It was first used in 1857 for a school established in what is now Manteca. The school was named East Union in order to differentiate it from Union School, which is in an area now within Lathrop, California. A cemetery named East Union was established in 1872 and remains one of San Joaquin County's oldest landmarks. A road bordering the cemetery was named Union Road after the cemetery and is now one of the main streets through the city. In 1966, the city of Manteca started another high school to relieve overcrowding in Manteca High School. The new school was given the name East Union High School in tribute to an old farmhouse school.
Large construction projects are underway or planned in an attempt to establish Manteca as a regional shopping and entertainment center. Projects include the now finished Big League Dreams Sports Park, The planned Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley lifestyle mall, an outdoor strip mall, a possible future performing arts center, a possible future convention center, the newly finished Stadium (shopping) Center, and many corporate/chain hotels. In addition to the already existing Starbucks at Yosemite and the 99 Freeway, Starbucks opened two new stores in Manteca in July 2006 with plans of opening two more in the next two years.
In November 2006, the sales tax in Manteca was raised from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent.
There were 16,368 households out of which 43.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.2% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 18.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.39.
In the city the population was spread out with 31.6% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,677, and the median income for a family was $51,587. Males had a median income of $43,283 versus $27,772 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,241. About 7.2% of families and 9.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.7% of those under age 18 and 6.4% of those age 65 or over.
A regional rail service for commuters to San Jose is provided by the Altamont Commuter Express, or ACE.