is the county seat
and largest municipality of Monterey County
in the U.S. state
. The most current estimate from the California Department of Finance, places the 2006 population at 148,350, showing a decline since 2000. The city has been characterized by the lack of affordable housing
. The largely suburban city is located at the mouth of the Salinas Valley
roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean
and enjoys a mild climate. Salinas is known for being an agricultural center as well as being the hometown of famed writer and Nobel prize laureate John Steinbeck
Salinas began around 1856 as the Halfway House, a stagecoach stop between Monterey
and San Juan Bautista
. In 1867, a post office was established, Salinas City was laid out, and the city was incorporated ten years later. The city was named after the word for Salty Marsh in Spanish. Salinas River
Salinas' economy is largely based upon agriculture. Located in one of California's richest farming regions, the area produces a variety of fruits and vegetables, including lettuce, strawberries, watermelons, broccoli, carrots, cabbages, and spinach. Therefore many major vegetable producers are headquartered in Salinas. The historic prevalence of row crops is documented by aerial photographic interpretation of Earth Metrics, which study also indicated a major conversion of cropland to urban uses over the time period 1956 to 1968, with that trend continuing for the next decades as well.
Salinas was also the birthplace of writer and Nobel Prize laureate John Steinbeck. The recently revitalized historic downtown, featuring much fine Victorian architecture, is home to the National Steinbeck Center by Kasavan Architects, Executive Architect, the Steinbeck House (open weekdays) and the John Steinbeck Library. The city is currently meeting with a group of local businesspeople who have received preliminary approval for a plan to build a mixed-use development on the site of the old Cominos Hotel which was torn down in the early 1990s due to earthquake damage. The plan calls for a high-rise hotel, conference facilities, retail and condominiums. Plans to restore the old Chinatown (featured in John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden), just north of downtown, began in March 2007 with a vision of mixed uses emphasizing walkable neighborhoods, affordable and workforce housing, social services, retail and public green spaces. Cartoon voice artist Don Messick died here on October 24, 1997 from a stroke.
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 19.0 square miles (49.2 km²), all of it land.
The city lies approximately 18 meters (59 ft) above sea level and is located roughly eight miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Gabilan and Santa Lucia mountain ranges border the Salinas Valley to the east and west, respectively. Both mountain ranges and the Salinas Valley run approximately south-east from Salinas towards King City.
Conveyor belt weather
Salinas enjoys cool and moderate temperatures due to the "natural air conditioner" that conveys ocean air and fog in from the Monterey Bay to Salinas while towns to the north and south of Salinas experience hotter summers as mountains block the ocean air. Thus Salinas weather is closer to that of the Central Coast of California rather than that of inland valleys and thus enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with typical daily highs ranging from the low 50s (°F) in the winter to the low 70s (°F) in the summer. The difference between ocean and air temperature also tends to create heavy morning fog during the summer months (known as the marine layer) driven by an onshore wind created by the local high pressure sunny portions of the Salinas Valley which extend north and south from Salinas and the Bay.
The average annual rainfall for the city is approximately 14.4 in. Occasionally there is snowfall on the peaks of the Gabilan and Santa Lucia mountain ranges, but snow in the city itself is extremely rare, occurring about once every 10-20 years on average.
Arts & Culture
Salinas boasts an emerging arts scene led by the First Fridays Art Walk
and the innovative use of non-traditional or business venues to exhibit art and host live local music. The oldest gallery in Salinas, the Valley Art Gallery, has been active for over 30 years, the Hartnell College Gallery hosts world-class exhibitions of art during the school year, the National Steinbeck Center
has two galleries with changing exhibits, and the city's newest @Risk Gallery features cutting-edge and visionary exhibitions. The Art Walk, held in the downtown area, features 50 venues.
Live theater companies in Salinas include Ariel Theatrical located in the Wilson's Children's Theater in Oldtown Salinas, and the Western Stage , a professional company associated with Hartnell Community College.
Live local music is available at many restaurants in the downtown area, and during the First Fridays Art Walk. Concerts are held at the historic Fox California Theater , Sherwood Hall , and the Salinas Sports Complex , as well as Hartnell Community College
Salinas is home to many public murals, including work by John Cerney which can be viewed in the agriculutral fields surrounding the city. Claes Oldenburg placed his sculpture, Hat in Three Stages of Landing in Sherwood Park at the center of the city.
As of the census of 2005, there were 150,061 people, 39,297 households, and 31,025 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,948.4 people per square mile (3,068.1/km²). There were 39,659 housing units at an average density of 2,086.8/sq mi (805.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 44.10% Hispanic, 65.16% White, 5.90% Asian American, 3.27% African American, 1.26% Native American out of which 49.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.6% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 17.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.69 and the average family size was 4.08.
In the city the population was spread out with 32.0% under the age of 19 or younger, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 33.7% from 25 to 44, 15.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females there were 117.7 males. For every 102 females age 18 and over, there were 117.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $43,728, and the median income for a family was $44,669. Males had a median income of $35,641 versus $27,013 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,495. About 12.8% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.1% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
Median household income in the city tended to be significantly higher alongside the city limits, especially in the northern Harden Ranch and Creekbridge neighborhoods. East Salinas and the downtown area suffered from a very low median households income as well as high crime rates. South and North Salinas featured roughly the same level of median households income with the latter being home to city's wealthiest newly constructed neighborhoods.
The Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital
and Nativdad Medical Center
are both located in Salinas.
Salinas Municipal Airport
is located on the southeastern boundary of the City of Salinas, three miles (5 km) from city center. It is a general aviation facility occupying , with three runways serving single and twin engine aircraft and helicopters, as well as an increasing number of turbopropeller and turbine-powered business jets.
The airport has an air traffic control tower in operation twelve hours/day, 7 days/week. The Airport Terminal is located on Mortensen Avenue and houses Airport Office staff as well as professional offices. The City is currently accepting proposals for leasing and operation of the restaurant located within the Terminal. Salinas Airport Commissioners gave the nod to a proposed project that would bring a 100-room hotel, offices and hangars to a vacant lot in front of the Salinas Municipal Airport terminal. The Salinas Jet Center would include a national chain hotel, of office space, four large complexes combining more offices with airplane hangars and a 24-hour, full-service plane-fueling station. The project would also include a taxiway to allow planes to come and go from the new hangars.
The airport has full Instrument Landing System (ILS) and VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) located on the airport. The ILS has a Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System, with Runway Alignment Indicator Lights. The VOR approach has Runway End Identifier Lights. All but the ILS runway, RWY 31, have Visual Approach Slope Indicators (VASIs).
Airport operational statistics
Aircraft based on the field: 224; Single engine airplanes: 160; Multi engine airplanes: 49; Jet airplanes: 1; Helicopters: 14; Aircraft operations: avg 237/day; Transient general aviation 57%; Local general aviation 40%; Air taxi 5%; Military less than 1%
California International Airshow
Salinas Airport is the location of the annual California International Airshow (http://www.salinasairshow.com/) The airshow
often features top-tier aerobatic
teams such as the Canadian Forces Snowbirds
, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels
, with the proceeds going to local charities.
California Rodeo Salinas
Salinas is a major stop on the professional rodeo circuit. The California Rodeo Salinas
(pronounced the Spanish way "roDAYo") began in 1911 as a Wild West Show on the site of the old race track ground, now the Salinas Sports Complex
. Every third week of July is Big Week, when cowboys and fans come for the traditional rodeo competitions, including bullriding. Rodeo-related events held in Salinas and Monterey include cowboy poetry, winetasting, a carnival, barbecues and a gala cowboy ball.
, the national passenger rail system, serves Salinas
, operating its Coast Starlight
daily in each direction between Seattle, Washington
and Los Angeles
Salinas is known as the Salad Bowl of America or Salad Bowl of the World. Over 80% of the lettuce grown in the United States is grown in the Salinas Valley. The city's labor force is 54.6% blue collar and 45.4% white collar. According to the 2000 US Census, 24% of the population worked in sales and office occupations, 21.4% worked in management, professional, and related occupations, 16.2% worked in service occupations, 14.9% worked in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations, 14.4% worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations, and 9.1% worked in construction, extraction, and maintenance occupations.
In 2005 Salinas was ranked as the least affordable city in the United States. According to Alen Tugend, writing for the New York Times, "in 2005, the least-affordable place in the country to live, measured by the percentage of income devoted to mortgage payments, was Salinas, Calif." While the median household income
in Salinas remains near the national median at $50,165, the median home price in the city has risen to $560,600. The large discrepancy between household income levels and the median home price is largely due to a surge in house prices in the coastal California. Between 2004 and 2005, home prices within the city rose by 23.3%. The city has seen double digit growth in its median home prices each consecutive year between 2000 and 2005. During the 2000 US Census
, the median asking price for a home was $229,000. Since then home prices have risen by $326,000 (142%) to over a half-million dollars. Household income, however, only rose a relatively modest 16.27%. Today Salinas has a far higher median home price than considerably more affluent
communities such as Bellevue, Washington
with a median home price of $405,000 and a median household income
of $88,432. As of 2006, the city's median household income remained 8.6% above the national median of $46,000, while the median home price had risen to 232.68% above the national median of $167,500.
However, in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis, home prices are in the process of returning to some semblance of affordability. The real estate research website Zillow's data shows that, as of mid-2008, home prices in Salinas had returned to early 2004 levels, eliminating nearly all of the appreciation of the speculative bubble peak years.
During the first half of this decade, the Salinas city government struggled to deal with funding shortages. A downturn in the state economy, combined with an unusually low per-capita tax base, forced the city to curtail certain services. During the crisis, Salinas almost became the first city in the United States
to close its libraries. However, an outpouring of private donations provided an ample stop-gap measure, keeping the libraries open with reduced hours. Donations were raised through Rally Salinas!
, a grassroots fundraising organization launched by the city's mayor, to keep the libraries open through 2005.
In November 2005, voters approved a tax measure to fund several vital services in the city, including libraries, by a 61 percent vote. The measure, known locally as Measure V, will provide some $11 million in funding to take effect in the 2007 fiscal year. The measure will allow the city to start restoring more than $15 million in service cuts including the closure of three recreation centers and the elimination of graffiti abatement and crossing guard money for schools. An independent oversight committee was appointed by the City Council to oversee the money raised by the tax increase, which will be in place for the next 10 years. In April 2006, the committee recommended dedicating 70% of revenues to restoring library and police services.
In 2006, the city's financial situation was considerably improved, as Salinas officials announced a budget surplus. In July 2007, library restoration had progressed enough to increase open hours to 117 (across the three branches), which was the number before the budget cuts but only 68% of the system's peak of 171. In late July, the city announced the hiring of a new library director who declared a long-term goal of opening the system 7 days a week. Various community groups, including Friends of the Salinas Public Library and the Salinas Library Commission, are championing the effort for reinvention of the library system to improve and expand services.
One of the city's most serious problems is violent crime-gangs. While the city's current violent crime rate is above the national average, historic trends suggest improvement. The number of aggravated assaults fell from 844 in 1993 to 661 in 1998. In 2004, there were 11.4 murders per 100,000 residents, more than twice the national average of 5.5. In 2005, however, the city's homicide rate decreased dramatically to a record low of 4.96 homicides per 100,000 persons, approximately 15% below national average where it remained for 2006. But in 2007 there were 14 homicides. Overall the rate of homicides per 100,000 persons has remained largely stagnant since the mid 1980s, having returned from its record high levels in mid and late 1990s.
|Type of Data
|Salinas Homicide rate
|| 20.0 |
|National homicide rate
|| N/A |
SOURCE: US Department of Justice Statistics, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005
Salinas has seven school districts serving the city core and adjacent unincorporated areas. The largest school district in Salinas is the Salinas Union High School District (grades 7-12) with 13,578 students enrolled in 10 campuses.
The Salinas City Elementary School District is the largest elementary school district in Salinas. Salinas City Elementary has 12 schools and 7,954 students.
and also Santa Rita union school district with 4 campuses including Santa Rita elementery, New Republic elementery, La Joya elementery and Gavilan view middle school.
School closures / openings
In April 2005, in a last ditch effort to keep the district solvent, the Salinas City Elementary School District
voted to close two elementary schools, Boronda School and Lincoln School. Closing Roosevelt School (K-6) was considered but the school was saved by its historical ties to John Steinbeck
, who attended it as a child. Lincoln School is scheduled to reopen for the '08 - '09 school year for grades kindergarten through second grade.
The newest school in Salinas is Boronda Meadows Elementary, built in 2005. Boronda Meadows was to have been a magnet school. This magnet school was to be divided into two campuses, one for technology and the other for fine arts. With the closing of Boronda and Lincoln schools, the magnet school idea was dropped in favor of a traditional school setting.
Opportunities for higher education include Hartnell Community College
and California State University Monterey Bay
, in nearby Seaside, CA
School districts in Salinas
- Monica Abbott, softball pitcher for the University of Tennessee and the U.S. National softball team, the NCAA career leader in strikeouts, was born and raised in Salinas and attended North Salinas High School.
- Everett Alvarez Jr. was born in Sacramento but raised in Salinas. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1955. He was the first POW shot down over Vietnam during the Vietnam war. He spent over 8 years as a POW from 1964 to 1973. In 1996 Salinas Union High School District opened a new high school named in his honor. He wrote two books, "Chained Eagle" and "Code Of Conduct." He currently lives in Maryland.
- Chris Dalman grew up in Salinas, and attended Palma High School. He was a four-year letter-winner at Stanford University and an eight-year NFL veteran with the San Francisco 49ers, playing in (Super Bowl XXIX) and in three NFC championship games. He was the assistant offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons from 2005-2006, and is now the offensive line coach at Stanford.
- Jackie Greene, singer-songwriter and blues musician
- Twin brothers, Alvin and Calvin Harrison reside in Salinas and graduated from North Salinas High School. They are athletes who won gold medals in the US 4x400 m relay squad at the Olympic Games in 2000. The team was retroactively disqualified when Alvin and Calvin Harrison were found guilty of doping. They were both later barred from competitive racing for 4 years after testing positive for a banned substance.
- Vanessa Hudgens, born in Salinas, but raised in Southern California, is a singer and actress best known for her 2006 role in the Disney Channel film High School Musical.
- Ernie Irvan, a former NASCAR driver, is a native of Salinas and resides there.
- Joseph Robert Kapp, an American football quarterback during 1960s, Minnesota Vikings standout, labeled "Toughest Chicano" in the NFL by Sports Illustrated.
- "Slim" Keith, (born Nancy Gross), Hollywood and New York socialite, formerly married to producer Leland Hayward and director Howard Hawks, dubbed the original "California Girl", was born in Salinas.
- Craig Kilborn A former sportscaster at KCBA-TV Channel 35 in Salinas who went on to host 'The Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn' (CBS network 1999), resided there.
- Xavier Nady, a current Major League baseball player for the New York Yankees, was drafted by the San Diego Padres and later traded to the New York Mets. (While not a current resident of Salinas, Nady was raised in Salinas.) Nady played little league for the Yankees of the Hartnell Little League, and was the Northern California Player of the Year while starting for Salinas High School from 1995 - 1999.
- Carl Nicks is a National Football League offensive lineman for the New Orleans Saints who graduated from North Salinas High School.
- Kassim Osgood is a National Football League wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers who graduated from North Salinas High School.
- Efrem Giovanni "Van" Partible, creator of cartoon character Johnny Bravo and 1989 Salinas High School graduate.
- Del Rodgers, former NFL running back and kickoff returner for the Green Bay Packers, graduated from North Salinas High School.
- John Steinbeck (1902-1968), one of the best-known and most widely read American writers of the 20th century, winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 and a Pulitzer Prize in 1940, was born and raised in Salinas. "I remember Salinas, the town of my birth, when it proudly announced it had reached four-thousand citizens.. even those people who joy in numbers and are impressed with bigness are beginning to worry, gradually becoming aware that there must be a saturation point and the progress may be a progression toward strangulation. And no solution has been found." – Travels with Charley (1961)
- Anthony Toney, former NFL running back for the Philadelphia Eagles graduated from North Salinas High School.
- See also: Media in Monterey County
Local newspapers include the The Salinas Californian and Monterey County Herald. Television service for the community comes from the Monterey-Salinas-Santa Cruz designated market area (DMA).
Local radio stations include: