Fresno and the surrounding area produce about 60 percent of
the worlds raisins and about 90 percent of the raisins sold on the U.S. market. In
recent years, the citys economy has expanded to include manufacturing, service, and
The name Fresno, meaning ash tree in Spanish, was first
applied to the nearby Fresno River because ash trees were seen growing
along its banks. The city assumed the name in 1872 when the Central Pacific Railroad
founded it as a station.
FRESNO, Calif. The raisin capital of the world is Fresno. It lies in
the flat San Joaquin Valley, about 184 miles
(296 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco.
Fresno is built around Courthouse Square. Interesting spots are City Hall, the
Discovery Center, and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art, History, and Science.
The Forestiere Underground Gardens are a network of underground rooms,
gardens, and grottoes.
Institutions of higher education include Fresno City College and California State
The largest of Fresno's city parks is Roeding. In the park are
athletic fields and a zoo.
In the irrigated fields surrounding Fresno, grapes, cotton, and figs are grown.
Food processing is the area's major industry. Grapes are crushed to make
wine and are dried to make raisins in one of the world's largest dried-fruit processing
plants. The manufacture of farm machinery, transportation equipment, and vending machines
is also important.
Because the Fresno area was hot and dry, both Spanish and Mexican settlers
avoided it. In the 1860s a Dutchman named A. J. Manssen settled there and dug a well. He
was joined by a few other settlers. Fresno's real start came in 1872, when the Central
Pacific Railroad, pushing southward through the Central Valley, reached the site. Fresno's
steady growth began when irrigation was introduced.
The city was incorporated in 1885. Fresno has a council-manager form of
government. (See also California.) Population (1990 census), 354,202.
Clovis (California), city, Fresno County, south central California, in
the fertile San Joaquin Valley, near Fresno; incorporated 1912.
It is a fruit-packing and food-processing center. The city probably is named for Clovis
Cole, an early wheat farmer here. Population (1980) 33,021; (1990) 50,323.
Fresno and its Metropolitan Area The city of Fresno occupies a land area of 256.7
sq km (99.1 sq mi).
The downtown was revitalized in the 1960s with the completion of a major shopping mall and
a convention center, which underwent expansion in the mid-1990s. At the center of the
downtown area is Courthouse Park. Several structures of architectural and historical
significance are located near the park.
Northwest of the park is the old Fresno City Hall, constructed in the
early 1940s and now the police headquarters.
The new site of City Hall, built in 1992, is west of the park.
Nearby is the citys best-known landmark, the Old Fresno Water Tower (1894). The surrounding district is a
retail and residential neighborhood with mostly low-rise architecture. To the southeast is
the Santa Fe Depot, a railway station built in 1896 in the California Mission Revival
Style; a second nearby station was scheduled for construction by the end of the decade.
South of this station is the Warehouse Row Historical District, containing several
restored structures from the early 20th century.
The Fresno metropolitan area encompasses Fresno and Madera counties in addition to Fresno,
the region includes the cities of Chowchilla, Clovis, Firebaugh, Madera, Mendota,
Sanger, and Selma. Economy The driving force in Fresnos economy is
agriculture. Local farmers produce more than 250 different crops, including cotton,
grapes, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, oranges, and nectarines.
Fresno and the surrounding area produce about 60 percent of the worlds
raisins and about 90 percent of the raisins sold on the U.S. market. In recent years, the
citys economy has expanded to include manufacturing, service, and industrial
Among the largest public employers are the U.S. Internal Revenue Service
and the city and county governments.
Fresno is linked to northern and southern California by State Highway 99,
which passes along the citys western border. Highway 41 connects Fresno with the
central coast and with Yosemite National Park.
The Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Southern Pacific railroads provide freight service to
Fresno, and daily passenger service is available via Amtrak.
The Fresno Yosemite International Airport serves more than 1 million
passengers per year.
Population Fresno was the fastest-growing big city in the United States during
with a growth rate of 61.3 percent.
Its 1990 census population was 354,202, up from 218,202 in 1980.
The population estimate for 1994 was 386,551.
The Fresno metropolitan area grew from 578,000 in 1980 to 755,580 in
1990, reaching an estimated 844,000 in 1995. Much of the growth was fueled by the arrival
of families from the more crowded Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas, who
were attracted by Fresnos affordable housing and low cost of living.
The relocation of businesses from other urban areas offered new employment opportunities.
According to the 1990 census, whites constitute 59.3 percent of
Fresnos population; blacks, 8.3 percent; Asians and Pacific Islanders, 12.5 percent;
and Native Americans, 1.1 percent.
The remainder were of mixed racial heritage or did not report ethnicity. Hispanics, who
may be of any race, make up 29.1 percent of the population.
Education and Culture The Fresno Metropolitan Museum of Art, History, and
Science houses a permanent collection of historical objects and fine art and contains the
William Saroyan Gallery, highlighting the literary works of 20th-century author William
Saroyan, a Fresno native.
The Fresno Art Museum specializes in modern and contemporary art,
featuring a permanent gallery dedicated to Mexican art.
The African American Historical and Cultural Museum displays an
extensive photographic collection documenting the accomplishments of blacks in the San
Nearby is the Artes Americas Museum, featuring Hispanic art.
The citys performing arts groups include the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra, Fresno
Lyric Opera Theatre,
and Fresno Ballet.
California State University at Fresno (1911), the
California School of Professional Psychology at Fresno (1973), and
Fresno, city in central California, seat of Fresno County, located at the
hub of the states fertile San Joaquin Valley, which is one of the richest farming
areas in the United States.
Annual events in Fresno include the William Saroyan Festival
(held in May), Fresno Highland Gathering and Games (September), and the Big Fresno Fair
Saroyan, William (1908-81). Author and playwright. Born on Aug. 31, 1908,
in Fresno, Calif. His subjective short stories celebrated the joy of living in spite of
poverty, hunger, and insecurity. His initial literary impact was made with 'The Daring
Young Man on the Flying Trapeze' (1934). Among his plays, original in their technique, was
'The Time of Your Life', awarded the 1940 Pulitzer prize.
Recreation Among the citys many parks is Roeding Park, which contains the Chaffee
Woodward Park features the Shin-Zen Japanese Friendship Gardens.
Two amusement parks are located nearby.
Kearney Park, located 11 km (7 mi) west of Fresno,
is the site of a museum preserving the memory of
M. Theo Kearney, a leader of the local raisin industry.
Fresno is a gateway to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national
parks. Huntington & Shaver Lakes to the North East. Huntington Lake is about 86 miles
from Fresno at 7,000 ft elevation, Shaver Lake is about 1/2 way up
from Clovis CA to Huntington Lake, Lake Edison is above Huntington Lake &
is very rustic & considered to be great for back packing. Huntington & Shaver Lakes offer fishing, camping & boating [water skiing]. They have great snow skiing at Sierra Summit [China Peak]
San Joaquin River, in California, rises in Sierra Nevada near Yosemite
National Park, flows w. and n. to meet the Sacramento River near its mouth.
The athletic teams of California State University at Fresno provide year-round
entertainment for sports fans.
Visitors to the city can take one of Fresno Countys many tours, including the
Taste and Sample Tour. Government Fresno is a charter city with a strong mayor form of
government, in which the mayor acts as city executive. The seven members of the city
council are elected by district; the mayor is elected on a citywide basis.
The mayor and council members may serve a maximum of two four-year terms.
History Evidence of human presence in the Fresno area dates back at least 8000 years.
The Yokuts people were the sole inhabitants of the region until the mid-19th century.
The first white settlers were Forty-Niners who arrived during the California gold rush,
which began in 1848.
Fresno County was created in 1856, but the city was not founded until the coming of the
Central Pacific Railroad in 1872.
The building of the first irrigation system in 1876, facilitated be Moses Churchs
church ditches, spurred development of the regions rich agricultural
potential. Local citizens voted to incorporate the city of Fresno in 1885. Fresno grew
steadily throughout the 20th century.
In 1910 it was the scene of a protracted labor dispute led by the radical Industrial
Workers of the World (IWW). Chester H. Rowell, editor of the Fresno Morning
Republican, later became one of the leaders of the statewide progressive reform
movement. By the mid-1950s Fresno County had become the nations
leading agricultural county. One of Fresnos challenges in the 1990s is the
assimilation of the citys massive population growth. The citys development
projects in the 1990s included the expansion of the convention center and the construction
of a sports stadium.
California State University, Fresno, public, coeducational institution
in Fresno, California, and part of the California State University System. The campus at
Fresno was founded in 1911. The school confers bachelors degrees in a variety of
fields. It offers courses of study in the arts and sciences, agriculture, business,
education, the fine arts, applied technologies, engineering, child and family studies,
communications, computer science, law, performing arts, health sciences and technology,
farm and ranch management, fashion, range management, real estate, recreation and leisure
services, and social work. The university awards masters and doctoral degrees in