Walnut Creek is a suburban community located 16 miles east of the city of Oakland in Contra Costa County, California, United States. It lies in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. While not as large as neighboring Concord, Walnut Creek serves as the business and entertainment hub for the neighboring cities within central Contra Costa County, due in part to its location at the junction of the highways from Sacramento and San Jose (I-680) and San Francisco/Oakland (SR-24). As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 64,296.
What is now Walnut Creek was later the site of four Mexican land grants. One of those land grants – measuring – went to Doña Juana Sanchez de Pacheco, who deeded it to her two grandsons. Ygnacio Sibrian, one of the grandsons, created the first roofed home in the valley in about 1850.
In those early days, Walnut Creek was known as "The Corners," after the place where roads from Pacheco and Lafayette met. This Corner is now known as the Mt. Diablo Boulevard and North Main Street intersection. The first town settler was William Slusher, who built a dwelling on the bank of Walnut Creek, which was then known as “Nuts Creek” in 1849. In the year 1855, Milo Hough of Lafayette built the hotel named “Walnut Creek House” in the corners. A blacksmith shop and a store soon joined the hotel, and a year later, Hiram Penniman (who built Shadelands Ranch) laid out the town site and realigned the Main Street of today. Two decades later, the community changed its name from The Corners to Walnut Creek.
In December 1862 a U.S. Post Office was established, and the community was named “Walnut Creek.” The downtown street patterns laid out by pioneer Homer Shuey on a portion of one of his family’s large cattle ranches in 1871-1872 are still present today.
Walnut Creek began to grow with the arrival of Southern Pacific Railroad service in 1891. On October 21, 1914, the town and the surrounding area of 500 acres (2 km²), were incorporated as the 8th city in Contra Costa County.
A branch line of the Southern Pacific railroad ran through Walnut Creek until the early 1960s. The mainline of the Sacramento Northern Railway also passed through Walnut Creek. Both railroads had stations here. Today, the Pittsburg/Bay Point – SFO Line line of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) serves Walnut Creek with a station adjacent to Highway 680.
With the opening of the Broadway Shopping Center, Contra Costa County's first major retail center, in 1951, the city took off in a new direction, and its population more than tripled from 2,460 in 1950 to 9,903 in 1960.
Today, Walnut Creek has been routed underneath downtown through a series of tunnels starting at the southwest end of Macy’s and ending just southwest of Maria Maria Restaurant and bar. Slusher’s dwelling was built in the area of modern-day Liberty Bell Plaza.
Walnut Creek has undergone major development in its downtown area, which growing cities throughout the nation have looked to as a model. The city government has successfully attracted upscale retailers while maintaining a degree of economic diversity, though older residents sometimes decry the shift in demographics and the steep increase in real estate prices. In the summer of 2008, Neiman Marcus announced that it would be the next luxury store to open in Walnut Creek.
Walnut Creek is located at (37.909956, -122.047373). Portions lie in both the San Ramon Valley and the Ygnacio Valley below the western slopes of Mount Diablo.
The area is characterized by a mediterranean climate with cool, moist winters and warm to hot dry summers. Average annual rainfall approximates , with slight variations occurring in microclimates based on elevation and topography. Winter daytime temperatures average in the mid 50s with little daily variation, while summer daytime temperatures average in the high 80s. 100 degree weather occurs numerous times during summer heatwaves, while occasional light frosts may occur during clear, calm winter nights. The climate allows for the successful cultivation of many plants and crops, being warm enough for citrus yet cold enough for apples. The Ruth Bancroft Garden is a renowned botanical garden that showcases the diversity of plants that can be successfully grown.
Walnut Creek owns more open space per capita than any other community in the state of California. In 1974, Walnut Creek voters approved a $6.7 million bond measure that allowed the city to purchase 1,800 acres (7 km²) of undeveloped hillsides, ridge lines, and park sites. Walnut Creek owns parts of Lime Ridge Open Space, Shell Ridge Open Space, Acalanes Ridge Open Space, and Sugarloaf Openspace. There is also open space in the retirement community, Rossmoor.
11.8% were of English, 11.4% German, 10.2% Irish and 6.9% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 81.8% spoke English, 4.4% Spanish, 2.7% Chinese or Mandarin, 1.5% Tagalog, 1.3% Persian and 1.3% Russian as their first language.
There were 30,301 households out of which 20.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 6.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% were non-families. 38.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09 and the average family size was 2.78.
In the city the population was spread out with 17.6% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 25.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 85.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $63,238, and the median income for a family was $83,794. Males had a median income of $66,482 versus $45,220 for females. The per capita income for the city was $39,875. About 1.7% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 3.6% of those age 65 or over.
The California Symphony (notable for its commitment to the performance of music by American composers) has been based in Walnut Creek since its inception in 1986.
Civic Arts Program
The city organizes education in graphic arts, sculpture, pottery, and performance arts such as dancing for various age groups is actively supported and encouraged by the Civic Arts Program
Clay Arts Guild
Clay Arts Guild (CAG) is a non-profit volunteer organization supporting ceramics arts education under the Civic Arts Program of Walnut Creek. The organization is notable for its long history in the region (established in 1964) and the numerous sculptors and potters who have practiced, taught classes, and/or given masters seminars through its offices.
Activities supported by CAG include: