Stockton, California

Stockton is a city in California and the seat of San Joaquin County (the fifth largest agricultural county in the United States). Stockton's population estimate for 2008-01-01, according to the California Department of Finance, is 289,927. Stockton is the fifth largest inland city in California, behind Fresno, Sacramento, Bakersfield, and Riverside.

Encompassing Interstate 5, State Route 99 and State Route 4, Stockton is located about inland of San Francisco bay. Stockton is surrounded by the rich and fertile lands of the California Central Valley and is home to the first inland seaport in California. In and around Stockton are thousands of miles of waterways and rivers that make up the California Delta.

Over the past decade, Stockton and the nearby cities of Tracy and Manteca have experienced a population boom. This is largely due to thousands of people settling in the area to escape the relatively high cost of living of the San Francisco Bay Area. This influx of new residents, however, resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of living of Stockton, although it is still significantly lower than any Bay Area city of comparable size.


The first human beings to settle along the streams and riverbanks in and around what is now Stockton were countless generations of Native Americans, including members of the Yokuts and Valley and Sierra Miwok tribes, who lived in the delta's waterways, using them for food and transportation. The northern San Joaquin Valley was also the southern end of the Siskiyou Trail, a centuries-old footpath leading through the Sacramento Valley, over the Cascades, and onward to Oregon.

When Captain Charles Maria Weber, a German immigrant, decided to try his hand at gold mining in late 1848, he soon discovered that serving the needs of gold-seekers was a more profitable venture. It was for this reason that he founded Stockton in 1849 when he purchased over 49,000 acres (200 km²) of land through a Spanish land grant. The area now known as Weber Point is the same spot where Captain Weber built the first permanent residence in the San Joaquin Valley. During its early years, Stockton was known by several names, including "Tuleburg", "Gas City" and "Mudville". Captain Weber decided on "Stockton" in honor of Commodore Robert F. Stockton. Stockton was the first community in California to have a name not of Spanish or Native American origin. The city was officially incorporated on July 23, 1850, by the County Court, and the first city election was held on July 31, 1850. In 1851, the City of Stockton received its charter from the State of California. Early settlers included gold seekers from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Pacific Islands, Mexico and Canada. The historical population diversity is reflected in Stockton street names, architecture, numerous ethnic festivals, and in the faces and heritage of a majority of its citizens.

Geography and climate

Stockton is located at 37°58' North, 121°18' West; its land area is 60.9 square miles (136 km²); its water area is 1.02 square miles (2.5 km²). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 62.1 square miles (144.9 km²), of which, 60.9 square miles (141.7 km²) of it is land and 1.2 square miles (3.2 km²) of it (2.22%) is water. The city lies at the nadir of the San Joaquin Valley.


Population by year
1860 N/A
1870 N/A
1880 N/A
1890 14,424
1900 17,506
1910 23,253
1920 40,296
1930 47,690
1940 N/A
1950 70,853
1960 86,321
1970 109,963
1980 148,283
1990 210,943
2000 243,771
2007 290,141
As of the census of 2000, there were 243,771 people; 78,556 occupied housing units; and 82,042 housing units. The racial makeup of the city was 43.3% White, 11.2% Black or African American, 1.1% Native American and Alaska Native, 19.9% Asian, 0.4% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 17.3% from other races, and 6.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 32.5% of the population.

The average household size was 3.04 and the average family size was 3.59. The median age was 29.8 years. The median income for a household in the city was $35,453, and the median income for a family was $40,434. The per capita income for the city was $15,405. About 18.9% of families and 23.9% of the population were below the poverty line.

In 2005, Forbes magazine listed it as having 6,570 crimes per 100,000 residents — the highest listed; and 0.8% of engineers within total employment — the lowest listed. The city had the 7th lowest (of 150) educational attainment (bachelor's degree or higher over the age 25).

Central Connecticut State University surveys from 2005 and 2006 ranked the city as the most illiterate of all U.S. cities with a population of more than 250,000.



Edward J. Chavez was elected mayor of Stockton in 2004 and officially began his term on January 1, 2005. Chavez succeeded Gary Podesto to the mayorship. His term expires December 31, 2008. Chavez joined the Stockton Police Department in August 1973 as an undercover officer. Working his way up, he was appointed Chief of Police in August 1993 and served until his retirement in 2003.

J. Gordon Palmer, Jr. was named City Manager on March 7, 2006. Palmer had served as Deputy City Manager since 2004. Prior to working for the City, he served as Deputy Port Director with the Port of Stockton from 2000 to 2004, and Manager of Master Planning at the Port of Long Beach from 1989 to 2000. From 1977 to 1989, he was a regional planner and then principal economist with the Southern California Association of Governments.


Although historically an agriculturally based community, Stockton's economy has since diversified into many other areas. These include telecommunications and manufacturing among others. Because of the new focus on renewable energy, the proximity to agriculture will become even more important in the future as research and development combine agriculture with alternative fuels.

Stockton is in a unique position vis-a-vis its proximity to both the San Francisco and Sacramento markets. Partly due to this and the availability of relatively inexpensive land, several companies have chosen to base their regional operations in Stockton. These include Duraflame, Pac-West Telecommunications, Golden State Lumber Company and several others.

Stockton is rapidly becoming the community of choice for companies looking for an area to move or expand industries related to renewable energy. The Port of Stockton is one of the largest receivers of wind turbines in the world. Stockton’s rail capacity makes distribution from the Port seamless. The sun and wind potential in Stockton is among some of the best in the country and with 2000 acres available, the Port is already home to biodiesel and ethanol plants. The City of Stockton and the Port have worked in partnership to focus resources on developing green sustainable industry. The City of Stockton has been leading the way with their own policies for supporting green and renewable technologies. Stockton is working with local educational institutions from High School, community college and four year Universities to educate the workforce for the booming renewable energy industry.

Real estate crash

Stockton was disproportionately affected by the collapse of the sub-prime lending market in 2007, and led the United States in foreclosures for that year, with one out of every thirty homes posted for foreclosure..

Stockton's Weston Ranch neighborhood, a 15-year-old subdivision of modest tract homes, has the worst foreclosure rate in the area according to ACORN, a national advocacy group for low and moderate-income families.

On September 19, 2007, CNN reported that Stockton led the nation in the 100 largest metro areas that are forecast to witness a decline in the median existing single-family house price.


Television stations

As part of the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto television market, Stockton is primarily served by stations based in Sacramento, but may carry some San Francisco Bay area television stations' airwaves. These are listed below, with the city of license in bold:

Radio broadcast stations

FM Stations

  • KJOY 99.3: Adult Contemporary
  • KMIX 100.9: Regional Mexican
  • KQOD 100.1: Rhythmic Oldies
  • KSTN-FM 107.3: Regional Mexican
  • KUOP 91.3: News/Talk and Jazz
  • KWIN 97.7: Rhythmic Top 40
  • KYCC 90.1: Christian
  • KLOVE 90.7: Christian
  • KRXQ 98.5: Alternative Rock
  • The Hawk 104.1: Classic Rock

AM Stations

  • KCVR 1570: Spanish Adult Hits
  • KSTN 1420: Classic Hits
  • KWG 1230: Catholic, switched formats to News/talk. One of California's oldest running AM radio stations.
  • KWSX 1280: Spanish Oldies simulcast of KMRQ 96.7 Manteca

In addition, several radio stations from nearby San Francisco, Sacramento and Modesto are receivable in Stockton.

Print media

  • The Record a daily newspaper
  • Vida en el Valle a weekly bi-lingual newspaper
  • La Voz a weekly newspaper (Spanish language)
  • Caravan is a local community arts and events monthly newspaper.
  • 209Vibe is an alternative monthly newspaper covering music, entertainment and culture.


Stockton has access to several different modes of regional and international transportation:


Due to its location at the 'crossroads' of the Central Valley and a relatively extensive highway system, Stockton is easily accessible from virtually anywhere in California. Interstate 5 and State Route 99, California's major north-south thoroughfares, pass through city limits. In addition, Stockton is minutes away from Interstate 80, Interstate 205 and Interstate 580.

Stockton is also connected to the rest of the nation through a network of railways. Amtrak and Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) both make stops in Stockton, with Amtrak providing passenger access to the rest of the nation. Moreover, Union Pacific meets the cargo rail needs of the city. Recently, BNSF Railway opened a much needed $150 million intermodal freight transport facility in southeast Stockton, which satisfies long-haul transportation needs.


Stockton is served by Stockton Metropolitan Airport, located on county land just south of city limits. The airport has been designated a Foreign Trade Zone and is mainly used by manufacturing and agricultural companies for shipping purposes. Since airline deregulation, passenger service has come and gone several times. Most recently, domestic service resumed in June 2006 with service to Las Vegas by Allegiant Air, and the days of service/number of flights were expanded a few months later due to demand. Also in 2006, Aeromexico had planned to provide service to and from Guadalajara, Mexico, but the airport's plan to build a customs station at the airport was initially rejected by the customs service. However, the possibility of building this station is currently a continuing matter of negotiation between the airport and the customs service, and Aeromexico has indicated a continuing interest in eventually providing service. Ground transportation is available from Hertz, Enterprise, Yellow Cab and Aurora Limousine. Air service to Phoenix began in September 2007.


The Port of Stockton is a fully operating seaport approximately 75 nautical miles (120 km²) east of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Set on the San Joaquin River, the port operates a 2,000 acre (8.5 km²) transportation center with berthing space for 17 vessels. The port also includes 1.1 million square feet (102,000 m²) of dockside transit sheds and shipside rail trackage and 7.7 million square feet (715,000 m²) of warehousing. Adjacent to the port is "Rough and Ready Island," which served as a World War II-era naval supply base until it was decommissioned as a result of BRAC 1995.


Primary and Secondary

Stockton is home to three public school districts, Stockton Unified School District, Lodi Unified School district, and Lincoln Unified School District.There are over 30 private schools which include St. Mary's High School, Presentation Catholic School, and Annunciation Catholic School.


Stockton is home to several institutions of higher education. The largest is the University of the Pacific, which moved to Stockton in 1924 from San Jose. The university campus has been used in the filming of several Hollywood films (see below), partly due to its aesthetic likeness to East Coast Ivy League universities. The university's most notable appearance was in Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Also located in Stockton are National University (the second largest private university in the state), Maric College of Stockton, San Joaquin Delta College, Humphreys College and School of Law which has its main campus in Stockton and a branch campus in Modesto, CA, Heald College, MTI Business College, and University of Phoenix.

California State University, Stanislaus established its Stockton campus on the grounds of the former Stockton State Hospital, which was founded in 1853 and closed in 1996. The hospital was the first state mental institution in California.

Events of historical significance

Completion of port and deepwater channel

The extensive network of waterways in and around Stockton were fished and navigated by Native Americans for centuries. Even prior to the California Gold Rush, the San Joaquin River was navigable by ocean-going vessels, making Stockton a natural inland seaport. From the mid 19th century onward, Stockton was the region's transportation hub, dealing mainly with agricultural products. Modernization of the port and deepening of the Stockton Deepwater Channel to San Francisco Bay were completed in 1933, giving rise to commercial opportunities that have fueled the city's growth ever since, and paving the way for the Rough and Ready Island naval base which placed Stockton in a strategic position during the Cold War.

Charles Manson Family Members Living in Stockton

Lynette Fromme, Also known as "Squeaky Fromme", moved to Stockton, California, with friends Nancy Pitman and Priscilla Copper, a pair of ex-convicts named Michael Monfort and James Craig, and a couple, James and Lauren Willett. When the Willetts died within days of each other in 1972, the housemates were taken into custody on suspicion of murder. However, she was released due to a lack of evidence.

The 1989 Cleveland Elementary School shooting

On January 17, 1989, the Stockton Police Department received a threat against Cleveland Elementary School from an unknown person. Later that day Patrick Purdy, a mentally ill resident, opened fire on the school's playground with a semi-automatic rifle, killing five children, all Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees, and wounding twenty-nine others and a teacher, before taking his own life. This event received national news coverage and is sometimes referred to as the Stockton Massacre.

Then-Mayor Barbara Fass' subsequent work on gun control received national attention and sparked nationwide efforts that sought to ban semi-automatic military-style rifles like the one used in the shooting.

Closure of Stockton's naval reserve center

In September 1996, the Base Closure and Realignment Commission announced the final closure of Stockton's Naval Reserve Center on Rough and Ready Island, which had served as a major communications outpost for submarine activities in the Pacific during the Cold War. While many other base closures in the region were seen as largely negative due to job loss, Stockton residents welcomed the newsfact. The site is currently being considered for commercial development.

Awards and Honors

Stockton received an All-America City award from the National Civic League twice, in 1999 and 2004. 2004's award was based on a 60-member delegation's presentation titled "The Dream Lives On!", and featured three community-driven projects: Community Partnership for Families, Downtown Alliance, and the Peace Keeper Program. The 1999 award recognized the Apollo Night Talent and Performing Series, the conversion of the Stockton Developmental Center into an off-campus center for the California State University at Stanislaus, and the LEAP (Let Education Attack Pollution) program.

Sunset magazine named Stockton Best Tree City in the western United States in March 2002., and "Best of the West Food Fest" in March 2000.

Stockton boasts 49 city, state, and national historical landmarks, dating as far back as 1855.

Downtown revitalization

Beginning in the late 1990s under the mayorship of Gary Podesto, Stockton's downtown has experienced a dramatic turnaround and revitalization. Although much work yet remains, over the past decade downtown Stockton has, without question, transformed from a crime-ridden eyesore to a family-friendly destination. Newly built or renovated buildings include:

Projects currently under consideration by the city council inlcude a marina, south-shore housing, the revitalization of the Robert J. Cabral neighborhood, bridges across the Stockton Deep Water Channel, and a high-rise building that may include condominiums.

Professional sports

Stockton is home to several minor league franchises:

The Stockton Ports play their home games at Banner Island Ballpark, a 5,000 seat facility built for the team in downtown Stockton. A 10,000 seat arena, the Stockton Arena, located in downtown Stockton, is the home of the Stockton Cougars, Stockton Thunder and Stockton Lightning.

University of Pacific was the summer home of the San Francisco 49ers Summer Training Camp from 1998 til 2002.

Entertainment and Culture


  • The Stockton Symphony is the third-oldest professional orchestra in California (founded in 1926), after the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • University of the Pacific is known for its music conservatory and for being the home of the Brubeck Institute, named after Dave Brubeck, a Pacific alum and jazz piano legend. The institute maintains an archive of Brubeck's work and offers a fellowship program for young musicians. The Brubeck Institute Jazz Quartet is composed of Pacific students and tours widely.
  • San Joaquin Delta College has a growing jazz program and is home to several official and unofficial jazz bands composed of Delta and Pacific students and faculty.
  • Indie-rock band Pavement was formed in Stockton in 1989 by Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg. Much of their early material was recorded in Stockton. They refer to themselves in the song Unfair as "the last psychedelic band, from Stockton, Northern Cal".
  • Singer Chris Isaak was born in Stockton in 1956.
  • The Apollo Night talent show draws about 1,500 people to the Stockton Civic Auditorium annually to watch performances by aspiring Northern California musicians.
  • Stockton-based producers Hallway Productionz have created beats for well-known musicians, including Blackalicious. The duo produced several tracks on Ice Cube's 2006 album "Laugh Now, Cry Later" which sold over 500,000 copies as well as T-Bone's "Bone-A-Fide," which was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. Hallway Productionz-produced tracks also appeared in the movies "Waist Deep," "Freedom Writers"and "XXX: State of the Union. The Duo's second major Project came with the release of WC's 2007 album "Guilty By Affiliation" Producing 6 of the 14 tracks on the album.
  • R&B singers Bear and Erin Jennae appeared on the Billboard charts in 2006 and 2007, respectively.
  • In 2006 Tim Sovinec, a Stockton youth pastor and guitarist for the Christian rock band everybodyduck, became the first local resident to perform at the arena.
  • In 2006 Latin Magic Band became the first local act to perform at both the arena and the 2,000-seat Bob Hope Theatre.
  • Rapper Okwerdz received an Australian Gold record in 2008 for his work with the Hilltop Hoods.

Auditoriums and concert halls

Stockton boasts several concert halls, including the following:

Visual art

  • The Stockton Arts Commission, a city organization, offers grants to local visual and performing artists. The commission also hosts an annual arts awards program and open studios tours.
  • Stockton has an extensive public art program. Public art projects include 'Stockton Rising," a sculpture by Scott Donahue located outside of the Stockton Arena. Nearby, a work by Napa artist Gordon Huether features 30,000 Mattell cars attached to the west side of the Stockton Arena parking garage. Several downtown manhole covers also were designed by local artists.
  • Murals depicting the city's history decorate the exteriors of many downtown buildings.
  • In addition to its history galleries, The Haggin Museum, located in Victory Park, displays fine art of late 19th and early 20th century artists such as Jean Beraud, Albert Bierstadt, Rosa Bonheur, William Bouguereau, Paul Gauguin, Jean-Leon Gerome, Childe Hassam, George Inness, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jehan-Georges Vibert, and Jules Worms. It also hosts temporary touring exhibitions.
  • In 2005, the Downtown Stockton Alliance began sponsoring a monthly art walk during the summer. The event features local artists exhibiting their work at downtown businesses and galleries as well as in some otherwise vacant storefronts. Musicians also perform throughout downtown as part of the event.
  • Critically-acclaimed silhouette artist Kara Walker was born in Stockton.
  • Stan Lee named Stockton the birthplace of the Fantastic Four in 1986, after Joe Field successfully petitioned Marvel Comics to change it from the fictional "Central City."
  • The popular western TV series The Big Valley was set just outside Stockton.


Stockton is home to several museums. These are:

  • The Haggin Museum features collections and exhibits related to local history and California history, and owns important works by late 19th and early 20th century artists. Notable among them is Albert Bierstadt, who was well-known for interpreting the towering grandeur of Yosemite and much of California's magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains.
  • The Tidewater Art Gallery features the work of local artists.
  • The Elsie May Goodwin Gallery is maintained by the Stockton Art League.
  • The University of the Pacific’s Reynolds Gallery and San Joaquin Delta College’s Horton Gallery feature contemporary work by students and local and nationally-known artists.
  • The Children's Museum of Stockton is housed in a former warehouse on the Downtown waterfront, and boasts many interactive displays.
  • The Filipino American National Historical Society has proposed the construction of the National Pinoy Museum in the Little Manila district. The museum would be dedicated to the history of Filipino-Americans. Stockton once had one of the largest population of Filipinos in the United States.

Performing arts

Founded in 1951, Stockton Civic Theatre offers an annual series of musicals, comedies and dramas. It maintains a 300-seat theater in the Venetian Bridges neighborhood. The company also hosts the annual Bravo awards for the local performing arts.


Stockton hosts several annual festivals celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the city. These include:

  • The Stockton Asparagus Festival (April)
  • Penny Day At The Park For Literacy Awareness (August)
  • Black Family Day (Sept)
  • The Brubeck Festival (April)
  • The Earth Day Festival (April)
  • Cambodian New Year (April)
  • The Stockton Quilting Bee (July)
  • The Filipino Barrio Fiesta (August)
  • San Joaquin International Film Festival (May)
  • The Greek Festival (September)
  • The Jewish Food Fair (June)
  • The Stockton Festival of Lights and Boat Parade (December)
  • The Stockton Obon Bazaar (July)
  • The Record's Family Day at the Park
  • The Chapman Family Days Picnic (September)
  • Lunar New Year (Jan or Feb)
  • Hmong New Year (November)

Motion Pictures

A number of motion pictures have been filmed in Stockton Over the years, filmmakers have used Stockton's waterways to stand in for the Mississippi delta, the surrounding farmland as the American plains and midwest, and UOP's campus as an Ivy League college. Some of the movies filmed in Stockton include:

Stockton was also the setting of the 1960s Western TV series The Big Valley which starred Barbara Stanwyck.

Sister cities

Stockton has seven sister cities worldwide:


External links

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